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We are ‘exhausting the natural world,’ pope warns

Pope Francis speaks during his weekly address from the window at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (Photo by Vatican Media via Reuters)

Humanity is pushing the planet to the brink of collapse warned Pope Francis during his message for the World Day of Prayer for Creation.

In his message nearing 2,000 words in length, the pope pointed out how God set aside the Sabbath so the land and its people could be rested and rejuvenated.

“These days, however, our way of life is pushing the planet beyond its limits,” said the pope’s message published Sept. 1.

“Our constant demand for growth and an endless cycle of production and consumption are exhausting the natural world. Forests are leached, topsoil erodes, fields fail, deserts advance, seas acidify and storms intensify. Creation is groaning!” Pope Francis said.

The pontiff pointed out how God’s people were encouraged to rest from working and to let the Earth repair itself.

“Today we need to find just and sustainable ways of living that can give the Earth the rest it requires, ways that satisfy everyone with a sufficiency, without destroying the ecosystems that sustain us,” he said.

The pontiff then alluded on how the COVID-19 crisis has helped shift on how people view their relationship with the environment.  

“In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles. The crisis, in a sense, has given us a chance to develop new ways of living,” Pope Francis said.

“Already we can see how the Earth can recover if we allow it to rest: The air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared,” he said.

“The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment to end our superfluous and destructive goals and activities, and to cultivate values, connections and activities that are life-giving.

“We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation, and diet. We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods.”

In his message the pope also called on the world’s nations to work together to address global environmental challenges — climate change and the loss of biodiversity — and for the cancellation of debt for the most vulnerable countries affected by the pandemic.

“We also need to ensure that the recovery packages being developed and deployed at global, regional and national levels must be regeneration packages,” he said.

“Policy, legislation and investment must be focused on the common good and guarantee that global social and environmental goals are met.”

World Day of Prayer for Creation also marks the beginning of the Season of Creation, which extends to Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. -


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.