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Pope Francis General Audience 50th Earth Day 22.04.20


Pope Francis  General Audience 50th Earth Day - Care for our common home -  22.04.20



Pope Francis  22.04.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace       Catechesis on the occasion of the 50th Earth Day     Genesis 2: 4-7     Psalm 104: 30
Pope Francis Care for our Common Home - Earth Day 22.04.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we celebrate the 50th Earth Day. It is an opportunity to renew our commitment to love and care for our common home and the weakest members of our family. Just as the tragic coronavirus pandemic is showing us, only together and by embracing the most vulnerable, can we overcome global challenges. The Laudato Si Encyclical Letter has just this subtitle: "on the care for our common home". Today we will reflect a little together on this responsibility that characterizes "our passage on this earth" (LS, 160). We must grow in our awareness of the care for our common home.

We are made of earthly matter, and the fruits of the earth sustain our lives. But, as the book of Genesis reminds us, we are not simply "earthly": we also carry in us the vital breath that comes from God (cf. Gen 2:4-7). We therefore live in this common home as one human family and in biodiversity with the other creatures of God. As an imago Dei, the image of God, we are called to care of and respect all creatures and to nurture love and compassion for our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest, in imitation of God's love for us, manifested in his Son Jesus, who became a man to share this situation with us and save us.

Because of selfishness, we have failed in our responsibility as custodians and stewards of the earth. "But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair"(ibid., 61). We polluted it, we plundered it, endangering our own lives. For this reason, various international and local movements have been formed to awaken our consciences. I sincerely appreciate these initiatives, and it will still be necessary for our children to take to the streets to teach us what is obvious, namely that there is no future for us if we destroy the environment that sustains us.

We have failed to care for the earth, our garden home, and in caring for our brothers and sisters. We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbours and, ultimately, against the Creator, the good Father who provides for everyone and wants us to live together in communion and prosperity. And how does the earth react? There is a Spanish saying that is very clear in this, and says thus: "God always forgives; we men and women forgive sometimes and sometimes we don't; the earth never forgives." The earth does not forgive: if we have made the earth deteriorate, the response will be very ugly.

How can we restore a harmonious relationship with the earth and the rest of humanity? A harmonious relationship ... So often we lose the vision of harmony: harmony is the work of the Holy Spirit. Even in our common home, on the earth, also in our relationship with the people, with our neighbours, with the poorest, how can we restore this harmony? We need a new way of looking at our common home. Let's understand each other, it is not a store house of resources to be exploited. For us believers, the natural world is the "Gospel of Creation", which expresses God's creative power in shaping human life and making the world exist along with what it contains to support humanity. The biblical account of creation concludes: "God saw all that he had made, and saw that it was very good." When we see these natural tragedies that are the earth's response to our mistreatment, I think, "If I ask the Lord now what he thinks, I don't think he will tell me it's a very good thing." We ruined the Lord's work!

In celebrating Earth Day today, we are called to rediscover a sense of sacred respect for the earth, because it is not only our home, but also God's home. This should make us aware of being on holy ground!

Dear brothers and sisters, "Let us awaken the aesthetic and contemplative sense that God has placed in us" (Esort. ap. postsin. Exultation Amazonia, 56). The prophetic gift of contemplation is something we especially learn from indigenous peoples, who teach us that we cannot heal the earth unless we love it and respect it. They have that wisdom of "living well", not in the sense of getting through life well, no: but of living in harmony with the earth. They call this harmony "living well."

At the same time, we need an ecological conversion that is expressed in concrete action. As a single, interdependent family, we need a shared plan to ward off threats against our common home. "Interdependence obliges us to think of one world, with a common plan" (LS, 164). We are aware of the importance of working together as an international community to protect our common home. I urge those with authority to guide the preparations for two major international conferences: COP15 on Biodiversity in Kunming(China) and COP26 on Climate Change in Glasgow (United Kingdom). These two meetings are very important.

I would like to encourage concerted interventions at national and local level as well. It is good to come together from all levels of society and also to create a popular movement "from below". The same Earth Day, which we celebrate today, was itself born just like that. Each of us can make our own small contribution: "We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread" (LS, 212).
In this Easter time of renewal, let us commit ourselves to love and appreciate the magnificent gift of the earth, our common home, and to take care of all members of the human family. As brothers and sisters as we are, let us together plead with our Heavenly Father: "Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth" (cf. Psalm 104:30).