07/21/2015, 00.00
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For the pope, caring for the environment is caring for humanity and its future

Francis met this afternoon with some 70 mayors from some of the world’s major cities, who are in Rome for a conference on new forms of slavery and climate change, organised by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Speaking to mayors from some of the world’s biggest cities (pictured), Pope Francis urged them to focus on “caring for the environment” with “an attitude of human ecology”, as well as work on meeting the challenges of poverty, migratory flows and urban growth.

Organised by the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, the meeting saw the pontiff address some 70 mayors (pictured) from around the world who are in the Vatican for a two-day workshop entitled ‘Modern Slavery and Climate Change’.

The group of world mayors included the first citizens of several Latin American cities (Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Bogotá), Europe (Rome, Bologna, Florence, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Paris, Stockholm and Krakow), Africa (Johannesburg), Asia (Tehran) and North America (New York, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle). The mayor of Lampedusa, a village located on a small Sicilian island of the same name, was also present. Despite its small size, the island has become a major focal point for migrants.

"A culture of caring for the environment does not simply mean ‘going green’,” said the pope. “Please, take this in the spirit in which it is meant, namely that caring for the environment requires much more. It means an attitude of human ecology.”

For this reason, Laudato si’ “is not a green encyclical, but a social encyclical because within the social life of humans caring for the environment cannot be absolutely excluded.” Hence, we must develop an “environmental consciousness, like the one that was given to us at the beginning” of creation.

"Why this appeal to the mayors?” asked Francis. “Because being conscious of the need to defend the environment implies working from the edges towards the centre, towards the consciousness of humanity.”

“The Holy See can deliver a good speech at the United Nations but change can begin only If it comes from you, from cities, big and small, "where problems tied to immigration and poverty, like slums, accentuated by global warming and desertification" develop.

"I have great hope that a crucial agreement will be reached in Paris,” Francis said, referring to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, “but for this [to happen], the United Nations must get involved, especially with regards to [the problem of] human trafficking.”

At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father and the mayors signed a final declaration on "human-induced climate change”.

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