Pope: Conservation not going 'green,' but being Christian

Acts of conservation of the earth are not “going green” but being Christian, Pope Francis said Monday during his morning Mass.

Vatican Radio reported that the remarks came as Francis reflected on the creation of the universe passage in the Book of Genesis, what he referred to as the “first creation.”

“In the ‘first creation’ we must respond with the responsibility that the Lord gives us: ‘The earth is yours, take it forward; let it grow.’ Even for us there is a responsibility to nurture the Earth, to nurture Creation, to keep it and make it grow according to its laws. We are the lords of creation, not its masters,” he said.

Francis added that the first response to the work of God is “to be protectors of Creation.”

“When we hear that people have meetings about how to preserve creation, we can say: ‘No, they are the greens!’ No, they are not the greens! This is the Christian! This is our response to the first creation of God. And our responsibility.

“A Christian who does not protect Creation, who does not let it grow, is a Christian who does not care about the work of God, that work that was born from the love of God for us. And this is the first response to the first creation: protect creation, make it grow,” he said.

The pope also spoke of the “second creation” in which Jesus re-created what had been ruined by sin. Francis called the second creation more wonderful than the first, and urged people to seek reconciliation within themselves and within their community, “because reconciliation is the work of Christ.”

The pope’s latest message on protecting creation comes as international negotiators are meeting in Geneva to further prepare a draft agreement on climate action to bring to Paris in December.

The United Nations climate change meetings, which began Sunday and continue through Friday, will work to refine the Lima Accord, which included a provision that all nations would make commitments to reducing carbon emissions. Negotiators will meet several more times throughout 2015 before a potential global agreement aimed at addressing climate change is given to world leaders in Paris to sign.

Francis has stated that he intends to release his encyclical on the environment before the Paris climate talks in order for it to influence the Paris talks. He estimated it will publish in June or July.

Read the full Vatican Radio report.

[Brian Roewe is an NCR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianRoewe.]

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