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Pope Francis issues the inspiring call: "Let us be protectors of creation"

March 19, 2013:

Pope Francis during his inauguration Mass: Picture courtesy of the Catholic Church of England & Wales

In his first homily as pontiff, Pope Francis I has issued an inspiring call to global leaders and the people of the world to protect "all creation, the beauty of the created world".

During his inauguration Mass in Rome today, Pope Francis said: "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."

ARC welcomes the Pope's comments which clearly establish care of the environment as one of his top concerns, alongside care of "the poorest, the weakest, the least important", as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

In choosing to take the name of St Francis of Assisi - the Catholic patron saint of animals and the environment who was also renowned for his love of the poor - the Pope signalled his priorities. Today his inspiring words confirmed that protection of "God's plan inscribed in nature" will play a key role in his papacy.

"A horizon of hope"

"To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds."
The Pope told the crowd of up to 200,000 people in St Mark's Square "today amid so much darkness we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others.

"To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds."

Without care for the environment and fellow humans, "the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened", he said. "Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world."

The role of protector was not just a Christian one, he said: "It means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about."

Francis said the pope himself must be inspired by the lowly - "the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those who Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, those in prison".

World Youth Day

Pope Francis's comments are particularly significant ahead of this year's World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July. Around three million young Catholics are expected to attend World Youth Day for a week of meetings, worship, music and reconciliation opportunities.

ARC has been asked to help make this enormous gathering more sustainable, and we have prepared a special 12-page handbook outlining the Catholic theology underpinning the Church's commitment to nature and the environment.

The handbook offers advice and information intended to help organisers and pilgrims alike reduce the likely negative environmental impact to the Rio area of so many additional people.

Handbook downloads

  • English version.

  • Portuguese version.

  • Spanish version.

    Link here for the US Catholic Climate Covenant website Who's Under Your Carbon Footprint?

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