Pope laments that the poor are the first victims of climate change
The Vatican today released Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Prayer for Creation, which the Church celebrates on 1 September. In it the pontiff refers to COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh in November 2022. He also calls on the richest countries to take more ambitious steps and keep their financial pledges to help those who are most vulnerable. At the same times, such delays do not justify inaction by others.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his Message for the World Day of Prayer for Creation, which the Church will observe on 1 September, Pope Francis warns that “the present state of decay of our common home merits the same attention as other global challenges such as grave health crises and wars.”
Titled "Listen to the voice of creation”, the message was made public today in the Vatican together with Season of Creation, a special month dedicated to this topic that will last until the feast of Saint Francis on 4 October.
In the message, Francis calls on people to listen to the “chorus of cries of anguish” heard over the question of creation.
“In the first place, it is our sister, mother earth, who cries out. Prey to our consumerist excesses, she weeps and implores us to put an end to our abuses and to her destruction.”
But the "countless species that are dying out” are also shouting out, victims of what the pontiff calls " tyrannical anthropocentrism" in his encyclical Laudato Sì’.
So are the “poorest among us”, “Exposed to the climate crisis, the poor feel even more gravely the impact of the drought, flooding, hurricanes and heat waves that are becoming ever more intense and frequent”,
The same is true for Indigenous peoples, “invaded and devastated on all sides”, and young people “anxiously asking us adults to do everything possible to prevent, or at least limit, the collapse of our planet’s ecosystems.”
Upon hearing these cries, “we must repent and modify our lifestyles and destructive systems” because the evangelical call to convert “also entails a different relationship with others and with creation.”
Such conversion is not only individual, but collective. In fact, Pope Francis calls on the faithful to look at the upcoming meetings on the environment promoted by the United Nations, starting with COP27, the climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt) in November 2022.
Noting that the Vatican formally signed the Paris Agreement, the pontiff writes: “The effort to achieve the Paris goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C is quite demanding; it calls for responsible cooperation between all nations in presenting climate plans or more ambitious nationally determined contributions in order to reduce to zero, as quickly as possible, net greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Underlying all this, there is need for a covenant between human beings and the environment, which, for us believers, is a mirror reflecting the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.”
Francis also cites the COP15 summit on biodiversity, which will be held in Canada in December.
“In order to halt the further collapse of biodiversity, our God-given ‘network of life’, let us pray and urge nations to reach agreement on four key principles: 1. to construct a clear ethical basis for the changes needed to save biodiversity; 2. to combat the loss of biodiversity, to support conservation and cooperation [. . .]; 3. to promote global solidarity [. . .]; and 4. to give priority to people in situations of vulnerability,
Finally, acknowledging “an ecological debt’ (Laudato Si’, 51) incurred by the economically richer countries, who have polluted most in the last two centuries”, the pontiff urges them to “take more ambitious steps at COP27 and at COP15.”
“In addition to determined action within their borders, this means keeping their promises of financial and technical support for the economically poorer nations, which are already experiencing most of the burden of the climate crisis.” This requires “further financial support for the conservation of biodiversity.”
At the same time, economically less rich countries also have certain responsibilities; “in this regard; delay on the part of others can never justify our own failure to act. It is necessary for all of us to act decisively.”