Pope on Environment Day: We cannot pretend to be healthy in a world that is sick

A volunteer collects rubbish on the beach in Sri Lanka on World Environment Day. (Vatican News)

On World Environment Day, Pope Francis calls for a change in attitudes, so that we may leave a better and healthier planet to later generations.

The celebrations for this year’s day, marked annually on June 5, was scheduled to take place in Colombia but were held online instead due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter addressed to Colombian President Ivan Duque, Pope Francis stresses that “the protection of the environment and respect for the biodiversity of the planet are issues that affect us all.”

“We cannot pretend to be healthy in a world that is sick”, the pope wrote. “The wounds inflicted on our mother earth are wounds that also bleed in us.”

Pope Francis said that caring for ecosystems demands “a view to the future” that is truly concerned for life, rather than “quick and easy profit.”

He warned that our attitude towards the present state of our planet should “make us concerned for and witnesses to the gravity of the situation.”

“We cannot remain silent before the outcry when we realize the very high costs of the destruction and exploitation of the ecosystem,” he added. “This is not a time to continue looking the other way, indifferent to the signs that our planet is being plundered and violated by greed for profit, very often in the name of progress.”

Everything depends on us, Pope Francis said, stressing that we have the chance to commit ourselves to passing a better, healthier world on to future generations.

He then recalled the recent celebrations of the fifth anniversary of his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’, noting that it “drew attention to the cry that mother earth lifts up to us”.

Finally, the pope expressed his trust that all deliberations and conclusions “will always foster the building of an increasingly habitable world and a more humane society, where all of us have a place and no one is ever left behind.”