ROME — Pope Francis announced a “jubilee for the earth” Tuesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, calling on all to combat the “climate emergency.”
In his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the pontiff has called for repentance, insisting we have “broken the bonds of our relationship with the Creator, with our fellow human beings, and with the rest of creation.”
“Our constant demand for growth and an endless cycle of production and consumption are exhausting the natural world,” the pope laments. “Forests are leached, topsoil erodes, fields fail, deserts advance, seas acidify and storms intensify.”
“Creation is groaning!” he concludes.
The solution to these problems is learning to “listen to the land,” he states, and to occupy our correct place in the “web of life.”
“We also need once more to listen to the land itself,” Francis said. “Today we hear the voice of creation admonishing us to return to our rightful place in the natural created order – to remember that we are part of this interconnected web of life, not its masters.”
“The disintegration of biodiversity, spiralling climate disasters, and unjust impact of the current pandemic on the poor and vulnerable: all these are a wakeup call in the face of our rampant greed and consumption,” he says.
The pope urges all to adopt a simpler, more austere lifestyle.
“We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation, and diet,” he states. “We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods.”
More controversially, Francis calls for “restorative justice” to compensate for the “enormous ecological debt” incurred in the “historic exploitation of the global South.”
“We should not forget the historic exploitation of the global South that has created an enormous ecological debt, due mainly to resource plundering and excessive use of common environmental space for waste disposal,” he writes. “It is a time for restorative justice. In this context, I repeat my call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable countries, in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of Covid-19.”
In his message, the pope reiterates his belief that “we are in the midst of a climate emergency” and therefore “climate restoration is of utmost importance.”
“We are running out of time, as our children and young people have reminded us,” he declares. “We need to do everything in our capacity to limit global average temperature rise under the threshold of 1.5°C enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, for going beyond that will prove catastrophic.”
With the commemoration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the pope also launched an extended “Season of Creation,” which will continue until the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on the fourth of October.
“During this period, Christians worldwide renew their faith in the God of creation and join in prayer and work for the care of our common home,” he states.