Editor's Note: Later this summer, Pope Francis will release his encyclical on the environment and human ecology. The highly anticipated teaching document will be the first from a pope to focus specifically on creation and human relationship with it.
In the two years since his papacy began, Francis -- like his predecessors Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II -- has spoken regularly on environmental issues, such as protecting creation, climate change, environmental degradation and natural disasters, water, food and sustainability. As part of the lead-up to the papal encyclical, Eco Catholic will revisit key speeches, addresses and messages from Francis on environmental topics.
Feb. 7, 2015, pontifical message to the Expo of Ideas 2015
[Graphic: Brian Roewe; CNS photo/Barbara Fraser]
Be guardians, not masters of the Earth
With regard to the Earth’s goods we are called “not to lose sight of the origin or purpose of these goods, so as to bring about a world of fairness and solidarity” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 174). The Earth was entrusted to us in order that it be mother for us, capable of giving to each one what is necessary to live.
I once heard something beautiful: the Earth is not an inheritance that we receive from our parents, but a loan that our children give to us, in order that we safeguard it and make it flourish and return it to them. The Earth is generous and holds back nothing from those who safeguard it. The Earth, which is mother of all, asks for respect and not violence, or worse yet, arrogance from masters. We must return it to our children improved, safeguarded, for they have loaned it to us.
The attitude of safeguarding is not the exclusive duty of Christians, it is everyone’s. I entrust to you what I said during the Mass for the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome: “Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be ‘protectors’, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! [...] We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!”
Safeguard the Earth not only with goodwill, but also with tenderness.
Want more stories from Eco Catholic? We can send you an email alert once a week with the latest. Just go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up.
ECO QUOTES ARCHIVE
Why the name 'Francis'
“These days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we?”
Being a Protector, Part 1
“The vocation of being a ‘protector’ … means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us.”
Being a Protector, Part 2
“This is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly.”
Life's most essential element
“Water is the most essential element for life, and the future of humanity depends on our capacity to guard it and share it.”
The gift of knowledge
“The knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit … is a special gift, which leads us to grasp, through creation, the greatness and love of God and his profound relationship with every creature.”
To cultivate or neglect
“Cultivating and caring for creation … means making the world increase with responsibility, transforming it so that it may be a garden, an inhabitable place for us all.”
The culture of waste
“If there are children in so many parts of the world who have nothing to eat, that is not news, it seems normal. It cannot be so!”
Time is running out
“The time to find global solutions is running out. We can find appropriate solutions only if we act together and in agreement. There is therefore a clear, definitive and urgent ethical imperative to act.”
Alternative Energy Sources
“We need only think, for example, of alternative sources of energy, the development of which will assist in the protection of the environment.”
An Important Step
“I think that an important step is to tear down decisively the barriers of individualism, self withdrawal and the slavery of profit at all costs.”
Education in Humanity
“To educate in solidarity therefore means to educate ourselves in humanity: to build a society that is truly human means to put the person and his or her dignity at the centre, always, and never to sell him out to the logic of profit.”
A Case of Exclusion
“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion.”
The fragile world
“Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement.”
People, not numbers
“Those who suffer due to food insecurity and malnutrition are people, not numbers, and precisely because of their dignity as people, they come before any calculation or economic plan.”
An inalienable right
“Hunger is criminal, food is an inalienable right.”
I had to be here
“When I witnessed his disaster from Rome, I felt that I had to be here.”
“Dear young people, the just use and stewardship of the earth's resources is an urgent task, and you have an important contribution to make.”