Pope Francis pushes 'true right of the environment' at UN

Pope Francis pushes 'true right of the environment' at UN
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Pope FrancisPope FrancisVatican warns bishops not to deny communion to Biden, politicians over abortion We must end the nuclear threat before it ends us 21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion MORE told the United Nations on Friday that world leaders need to affirm a “true right of the environment" as he pushed for action on climate change during an international conference this December. 

Francis said humanity is “part of the environment,” and “any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity.” 


He put his climate plea into religious terms. 

“We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the creator,” he said during a speech at the U.N. in New York. 

“He is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good.”   

Francis said he is “confident” world leaders will reach an agreement on climate change during a United Nations conference this December.

“I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements,” he said.

At the same time, Francis said “solemn commitments are not enough,” and policymakers need to take actual steps toward addressing climate change, among other problems such as human tracking, terrorism and slave labor. 

“Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences,” he said. 

Action on the environment has developed into a key tenet of Francis’s papacy, and he’s worked hard to add his voice and the public heft of the Vatican and the Catholic Church to climate change campaigns. 

Francis published a landmark papal encyclical on the environment this summer, blaming climate change on human action and calling for more of an effort to prevent it. 

During his historic speech to Congress on Thursday, Francis prodded lawmakers to take action on climate change, a call that earned a split reaction from his powerful audience.

In both his speech to Congress and the U.N., Francis said the world needs to strike a balance between economic activity and helping the environment. 

“The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species.” he said Friday. 

“The baneful consequences of an irresponsible mismanagement of the global economy, guided only by ambition for wealth and power, must serve as a summons to a forthright reflection on man: Man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature.”