In his message for the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” Thursday, Pope Francis said that human-induced global warming, as well as a loss of biodiversity are “sins” against God, which must be atoned for by planting trees, avoiding the use of plastic and paper and “separating refuse.”
“Global warming continues, due in part to human activity,” Francis said, adding that “2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still.”
“This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events. Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact,” he wrote.
Repeatedly citing the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who has “courageously and prophetically continued to point out our sins against creation,” Francis made his own a new list of such environmental sins, which include pollution, global warming and deforestation.
For human beings to “destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation,” to “degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate,” to “contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life–these are sins,” he wrote.
Summing up, the Pope stated that “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God.”
Lamenting “the devastation of the environment,” Francis said that “God gave us a bountiful garden, but we have turned it into a polluted wasteland of debris, desolation and filth.”
Specifically regarding a loss of biodiversity, the Pope suggested that now there are fewer species to give glory to God.