VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said that it is urgent to focus on people and not just on nature on World Environment Day.
“The human person is in danger, this is certain; the human person is in danger today. Here is the urgency of human ecology!” exclaimed Pope Francis June 5 during his general audience.
“We are called not only to respect the natural environment, but also to show respect for, and solidarity with, all the members of our human family,” he told the estimated 70,000 pilgrims who gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis told the crowd that people are often driven by the pride of dominating things, having possessions and manipulation and exploitation.
“We do not care for it; we do not respect it; we do not consider it as a free gift that we must care for,” he affirmed.
“We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation and listening to creation,” the Pope said.
In the Pope’s assessment, the world is not only suffering from an economic management crisis, but also a lack of “concern for human resources.”
Not enough people think about “the needs of our brothers and sisters living in extreme poverty, and especially for the many children in our world lacking adequate education, health care and nutrition,” he said.
“Consumerism and a culture of waste have led some of us to tolerate the waste of precious resources, including food, while others are literally wasting away from hunger,” he warned.
“I ask all of you to reflect on this grave ethical problem in a spirit of solidarity grounded in our common responsibility for the earth and for all our brothers and sisters in the human family,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father called on people to reflect on “our responsibility to cultivate and care for the earth in accordance with God’s command.”
But Pope Francis went a step beyond how people normally think of cultivating and caring for man and creation, saying, “It also involves human relationships.”
In that area, he warned, “Man is not in charge today; money is in charge; money rules.”
Pope Francis said the verb "cultivate" reminds him of the care a farmer gives to his land so that it bears fruit. “How much attention, passion and dedication!” he exclaimed.
The mission of cultivating and caring for creation is part of God’s plan and an indication given to everyone at the beginning of history and now.
“It means nurturing the world with responsibility and transforming it into a garden, a habitable place for everyone,” the Pope said.
He then reminded people of the Bible passage, which he spoke about on the feast of Corpus Christi, in which Jesus performed the miracle of multiplying five loaves of bread and two fishes.
“The conclusion of the piece is important,” said Pope Francis.
“They all ate and were satisfied, and when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled 12 wicker baskets,” he recalled.
According to the Pope, Jesus asks his disciples not to throw anything away.
There were 12 baskets, the number of the tribes of Israel, which symbolically represents all people.
“This tells us that when food is shared in a fair way, with solidarity, when no one is deprived, every community can meet the needs of the poorest,” he said.
The Holy Father said, “Human ecology and environmental ecology walk together.”