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Pope Francis has begun working on a new document that will address a broad range of issues related to the “care of creation”, including protection of the environment and defence of the nature and dignity of the human person.
Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, confirmed on 24 January that the Pope was preparing a text on ecology, which he opined “could become an encyclical”. But he underlined that it would specifically emphasise “human ecology”, a term denoting a holistic understanding of all that the Church calls creation – from the human person to the universe and its natural resources. The spokesman said he text was only in its early stages and he could not say when it would be finished.
Ever since his election as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis has consistently repeated that all people, but especially Christians, have the duty to care for creation.
“Let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment,” he said at Mass on 19 March as he began his Petrine Ministry.
Of the many times the Jesuit Pope returned to the theme since then, he offered some of his most poignant reflections at the 5 June general audience, which coincided with World Environment Day. He noted that caring for creation was not only respecting the environment.
“The human person is in danger today, hence the urgent need for human ecology!” Francis warned. He said this included significant economical, ethical and anthropological aspects. “Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste’,” he said.
In such a culture, the Pope continued, people “are no longer seen as a primary value to be respected and safeguarded,” citing special concern for the poor, disabled, the unborn and the elderly.
Above: Graffiti by pop artist Maupal depicting Pope Francis as a superhero appeared on a wall in Rome this week. Photo: CNS/Robert Duncan