Wednesday, April 22, 2020

General Audience for Earth Day

This morning's General Audience took place at 9:30am local time (3:30am EDT), in the Library at the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

The Holy Father shared a special catechesis on the occasion of the 50th World Earth Day, and the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical Letter Laudato si' on the care of our common home (Gn 2: 8-9, 15).

After having summarized His catechesis in various languages, the Pope offered particular greetings to the faithful.

The General Audience concluded with the recitation of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic blessing.

Catechesis of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the General Audience

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, we celebrate the 50th World Earth Day.  This is an opportunity to renew our commitment to loving our common home and taking care of the earth and also taking care of the weaker members of our family.  Like the pandemic coronavirus tragedy is demonstrating to us, only together and by taking care of the most fragile among us can we overcome the global challenge.  The Encyclical Letter Laudato si' also bears this subtitle: on care for our common home.  Today, we will reflect together a little on this responsibility that characterizes our passage on this earth (LS, 160).  We need to grow in our awareness of caring for our common home.

We are made of earthly material, and the fruits of the earth support our life.  But, as the Book of Genesis reminds us, we are not simply terrestrial: we also carry within us the vital breath that comes from God (cf Gen 2: 4-7).  Therefore, we live in this common home as members of a unique human family and in biodiversity with others of God's creatures.  As an imago Dei, an image of God, we are called to take care of and to respect all creatures and to nourish our brothers and sisters with love and compassion, especially those who are weak, in imitation of the love that God has for all of us, the love He has shown us in his Son Jesus, who became man in order to share this human condition with us and to save us.

Because of selfishness, we have failed in our responsibility as custodians and administrators of the earth.  It is enough to look at reality with sincerity to see that there is a great deterioration in our common home (LS, 61). We polluted it, we plundered it, endangering our own lives. For this reason, various international and local movements have been formed in order to awaken our consciences. I sincerely appreciate these initiatives, and it will still be necessary for our children to take to the streets in order to teach us what is obvious, that is, the fact that there is no future for us if we destroy the environment that supports us.

We have failed to care for the earth, our home, our garden, and to care for one another. We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbours and, ultimately, against the Creator, the good Father who provides for everyone and who wants us to live together in communion and prosperity. And how does the earth react? There is a Spanish saying that is very clear in this regard; it says: "God always forgives; we men forgive some times yes some times no; the earth never forgives. The earth does not forgive: if we have deteriorated the earth, the answer will be very bad.

How can we re-establish a harmonious relationship with the earth and the rest of humanity? A harmonious relationship ... many times we lose the vision of harmony: harmony is the work of the Holy Spirit. Even in this common home, in the earth, even in our relationships with people, with our neighbours, with the poor, how can we restore this harmony? We need a new way of looking at our common home. Mind you, it is not a repository of resources to be exploited. For us believers, the natural world is the Gospel of Creation, which expresses the creative power of God in shaping human life and in making the world exist together with what it contains so that it can support humanity. The biblical account of creation ends with these words: "God saw what he had done, and behold, it was very good (Gen 1: 31). When we see these natural tragedies that are the earth's response to our mistreatment, I think: If I ask the Lord now what he thinks about it, I don't think he will tell me that it is a very good thing. It was we who ruined the work of the Lord!

As we celebrate World Earth Day today, we are called to rediscover the sense of sacred respect for the earth, because it is not only our home, but also the home of God. From this experience comes the awareness of being on sacred land!

Dear brothers and sisters, let us awaken the aesthetic and contemplative sense that God has placed within us (Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia, 56). The prophecy of contemplation is something we learn above all from the original peoples, who teach us that we cannot care for the earth if we do not love it and do not respect it. They have that wisdom of good living, not in the sense of having a good time, no: but of living in harmony with the earth. They call this harmony good living.

At the same time, we need an ecological conversion that is expressed in concrete actions. As a single, interdependent family, we need a shared plan to ward off threats against our common home. Interdependence obliges us to think of one world, of a common project (LS, 164). We are aware of the importance of collaborating as an international community for the protection of our common home. I urge those with authority to guide the process that will lead to two important international conferences: COP15 on Biodiversity in Kunming (China) and COP26 on Climate Change in Glasgow (United Kingdom). These two meetings are very important.

I would like to encourage the organization of concerted interventions also at national and local levels. It is good to come together from all social conditions and also to give life to a popular movement from below. The same World Earth Day which we celebrate today was born in this way. Each of us can make our own small contributions: We must not think that these efforts will not change the world. Such actions spread a good in society that always produces fruit beyond what can be ascertained, because they cause within this land a good that always tends to spread, sometimes invisibly (LS, 212).

In this Easter season of renewal, let us strive to love and appreciate the magnificent gift of the earth, our common home, and to take care of all members of the human family. As brothers and sisters which we are, let us pray to our heavenly Father together: Send us your Spirit and renew the face of the earth (cf Ps 104: 30).
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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The Holy Father's catechesis was then summarized in various languages and His Holiness offered greetings to each group of those who were following along.  To French-speaking viewers, he said:

Je salue cordialement les personnes de langue française.  En ce temps pascal de renouvellement, engageons-nous à aimer et apprécier le don magnifique de la terre, notre maison commune, et à prendre soin de tous les membres de la famille humaine. En ce temps d’incertitudes, je demande à Dieu de vous soutenir dans l’espérance, l’amour et la solidarité les uns envers les autres.  Que Dieu vous bénisse!

I cordially greet all French-speaking people. In this Easter time of renewal, let us commit to love and appreciate the magnificent gift of the earth, our common home, and to take care of all members of the human family. In this time of uncertainty, I ask God to support you in hope, love and solidarity with one another. God bless you!

To English-speaking viewers, he said:

I greet the English-speaking faithful joining us through the media. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you!

To German-speaking viewers, he said:

Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Brüder und Schwestern deutscher Sprache. Dieser Frühling lädt uns ein, uns mit dem Lob der Natur – der Pflanzen und Tiere – an ihren Schöpfer zu vereinen. Vielleicht findet die Schöpfung in diesem Jahr eine besondere Gelegenheit, wieder zu Atem zu kommen und sich zu erneuern. Euch allen wünsche ich eine segensreiche Osterzeit.

I extend a warm greeting to the brothers and sisters of the German language. This Spring invites us to unite with the praise of nature - plants and animals - to its creator. Perhaps this year Creation will find a special opportunity to catch its breath and renew itself. I wish you all a blessed Easter.

To Spanish-speaking viewers, he said:

Saludo cordialmente a los fieles de lengua española que siguen esta catequesis a través de los medios de comunicación social. En estos días iluminados por la Resurrección del Señor Jesús, pidámosle que con su Espíritu vivificante renueve todas las cosas, nos conceda encontrar el sentido del santo respeto por la tierra y estar más atentos a las necesidades de todos los hermanos. Que Dios los bendiga.

I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking faithful who are following this catechesis through the media. In these days, illuminated by the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, let us ask him to renew all things with his life-giving Spirit, to grant us the grace of finding the meaning of holy respect for the earth and to be more attentive to the needs of all our brothers. God bless you.

To Portuguese-speaking viewers, he said:

Saúdo de coração os fiéis de língua portuguesa, fazendo votos de que este tempo de Páscoa, que lembra que a Ressurreição de Cristo é o início da nova Criação, vos impulsione a comprometer-vos ainda mais no cuidado com a casa comum, certos, como nos ensina São Paulo, que “a criação espera com impaciência a manifestação dos filhos de Deus” (Rm 8, 19). Deus vos abençoe.

I cordially greet the Portuguese-speaking faithful, hoping that this Easter season, which recalls the fact that the Resurrection of Christ is the beginning of the new Creation, will encourage you to commit yourself even more to caring for our common home, certain, as Saint Paul teaches us that creation eagerly awaits the manifestation of the children of God (Rm 8, 19). God bless you.

To Arabic-speaking viewers, he said:

حيِّي المؤمنينَ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية، المتابعينَ لهذا اللقاءِ عَبر وسائلِ التواصلِ الاجتماعي. عندما خلقَ اللهُ آدمَ وحواءَ أعطاهُما وصيةَ حراسَةِ الأرض. هي وصيةُ اللهِ لكلِ إنسانٍ من أجلِ بناءِ بيتِنا المشتركِ المهددِ اليومَ بسببِ أنانيةِ الإنسان. لذلك كلُّ واحدٍ منا مدعوٌ أن يحترمَ الخلقَ من خلالِ التعاونِ والمحبة. ليُبارِكْكُم الرّب!

I greet the Arabic-speaking believers who are following this meeting via social media. When God created Adam and Eve, he gave them the guardianship of the Earth. It is God's command for every human being to build our common home that is today threatened by human selfishness. Therefore, each of us is called to respect creation through cooperation and love. God bless you!

To Polish-speaking viewers, he said:

Serdecznie pozdrawiam Polaków. Drodzy bracia i siostry, zjednoczeni braterską miłością z wszystkimi mieszkańcami ziemi, stworzonymi na obraz i podobieństwo Boga i wezwanymi do troski i szacunku dla wszystkich stworzeń, odnówmy nasze zaangażowanie na rzecz ochrony naszego wspólnego domu i prośmy Ojca niebieskiego, aby nieustannie odnawiał mocą i miłością Ducha Świętego oblicze naszej ziemi. Z serca wam błogosławię!

I cordially greet all Poles. Dear brothers and sisters, united by brotherly love, together with all the inhabitants of the earth, created in the image and likeness of God and called to care and respect for all creatures, let us renew our commitment to protecting our common home and ask the heavenly Father to constantly renew the Holy face of our land with the power and love of the Spirit. I bless you with all my heart!

To Italian-speaking viewers, he said:

Saluto cordialmente i fedeli di lingua italiana. Il messaggio che scaturisce dall’evento di Cristo risorto sia per tutti un impegno di testimonianza nel segno dell’amore fraterno e solidale.  Saluto infine i giovani, i malati, gli anziani e gli sposi novelli. Carissimi, nella luce della Resurrezione riscoprite la gioia e la bellezza della vita, che è dono di Dio. A tutti, la mia benedizione.

I cordially greet the Italian-speaking faithful. May the message that arises from the risen Christ be a commitment to bear witness through the sign of fraternal and supportive love.  Lastly, I greet the young, the sick, the elderly and the newlyweds. Dear friends, in the light of the Resurrection, may you rediscover the joy and beauty of life, which is a gift from God. To all of you, I send my blessing.

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