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Saving the World with Pope Francis

Posted by Alicia von Stamwitz on 8/11/16 7:00 AM

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Image: Sean M. Foster.

Since his inaugural Mass in March 2013, Pope Francis has frequently reminded a global audience that care for creation is among his highest priorities. In June 2015, he released his long-awaited encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’ (Praise Be to You), addressing it to “every person living on this planet.”

Named after a canticle by St. Francis of Assisi, the encyclical pairs religious insights with scientific facts to spotlight the gravity of the environmental crisis. As a world leader with a background in science who heads a two-thousand-year-old Church, the pope is uniquely qualified to articulate a compelling vision and mission for the future. The writings, homilies, prayers, talks, and even tweets of Pope Francis in this book gather his most important and inspiring words about our shared responsibility to protect, nurture, and care for “our common home.”

The planet is in peril, the pope is telling us, along with the well-being of the poor who depend on the earth’s natural resources. He chastises world leaders and challenges ordinary people, reminding us that our foolish actions and careless decisions are placing lives at risk. He decries our current assaults on the natural environment and warns of the consequences of climate change. Still, Pope Francis’s message is always ultimately one of hope.

In Caring for Creation, Pope Francis’s words reveal that he believes we can move towards a new kind of conversion—a higher level of consciousness, action, and advocacy that will spark “a bold cultural revolution.”


Take Care of God's Creation

Once I was in the countryside and I heard a saying from a simple person who had a great love for flowers and took care of them. He said to me: “We must take care of the beautiful things that God has given us! Creation is ours so that we can receive good things from it; not exploit it, to protect it.God forgives always, we men forgive sometimes, but creation never forgives and if you don’t care for it, it will destroy you.” This should make us think and should make us ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of knowledge in order to understand better that creation is a most beautiful gift of God.

GENERAL AUDIENCE, ST. PETER’S SQUARE


The Kingdom of God 

When a person discovers God, the true treasure, he abandons a selfish lifestyle and seeks to share with others the charity which comes from God. He who becomes a friend of God loves his brothers and sisters, commits himself to safeguarding their life and their health, and also to respecting the environment and nature. I know that you suffer because of these things. Today, when I arrived, one of you approached me and told me: Father, give us hope! But I cannot give you hope, I can tell you that where Jesus is, there is hope; where Jesus is, there is love for brothers and sisters, there is the commitment to safeguarding their life and their health and to respecting the environment and nature. This is the hope that never disappoints, the hope which Jesus gives!… The Lord says: it is not important to me that you do this or that; it is important to me that the orphan is cared for, that the widow is cared for, that the outcast person is heard, that creation is protected. This is the Kingdom of God!

HOMILY, PARK OF THE ROYAL PALACE, CASERTA SATURDAY, JULY 26, 2014 


A New Earth

The Conciliar Constitution Gaudium et Spes, faced with these questions that forever resonate in the hearts of men and women, states: “We do not know the time for the consummation of the earth and of humanity, nor do we know how all things will be transformed. As deformed by sin, the shape of this world will pass away; but we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide, and whose blessedness will answer and surpass all the longings for peace which spring up in the human heart” (n. 39).… At the same time, Sacred Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this marvelous plan cannot but involve everything that surrounds us and came from the heart and mind of God.

The Apostle Paul says it explicitly, when he says that “Creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Other texts utilize the image of a “new heaven” and a “new earth” (cf. 2 Peter 3:13; Revelations 21:1), in the sense that the whole universe will be renewed and will be freed once and for all from every trace of evil and from death itself. What lies ahead is the fulfillment of a transformation that in reality is already happening, beginning with the death and resurrection of Christ. Hence, it is the new creation; it is not, therefore, the annihilation of the cosmos and of everything around us, but the bringing of all things into the fullness of being, of truth and of beauty. This is the design that God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, willed from eternity to realize and is realizing.

GENERAL AUDIENCE, ST. PETER’S SQUARE WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2014 
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Image: Sean M. Foster.


Each Day, Beauty is Born Anew

Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. Often it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always reemerges and spreads. Each day in our world, beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history. Values always tend to reappear under new guises, and human beings have arisen time after time from situations that seemed doomed. Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power.

APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION, EVANGELII GAUDIUM, 276 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2013 


Any Harm to the Environment Is a Harm to Humanity

Any harm done to the environment…is harm done to humanity…because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. 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 is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good.

ADDRESS TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2015 


The Patron Saint of Integral Ecology

I believe that St. Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.

ENCYCLICAL LETTER, LAUDATO SI’, 10 SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2015

These are selections from Caring for Creation: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis. For sample chapters, please click the link below.


Caring for Creation: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis

Topics: Pope Francis, laudato si, caring for creation, environment