Today, on the occasion of Environment Conflict Day, Pope Francis has denounced the impact of war on our Common Home.
– War “a dramatic assault on the environment”
“War is the negation of all rights and a dramatic assault on the environment. If we want true integral human development for all, we must work tirelessly to avoid war. #EnvironmentConflictDay #FratelliTutti“, the pontiff posted on his Twitter account earlier this Friday.
The Pope’s tweet was a quote from his 2015 address to the United Nations in New York.
The pontiff again used the words in his new encyclical Fratelli tutti on fraternity and social friendship, where among other things he warns against “placing the partisan interests of one country or group above the global common good” – a situation he cautions could unleash “uncontrollable forces… that cause grave harm to societies, to the poor and vulnerable, to fraternal relations, to the environment and to cultural treasures, with irretrievable losses for the global community”.
– About Environment Conflict Day
Since its foundation by the United Nations in 2001, the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict has been commemorated annually each November 6.
That is with the goal, as the UN explains, of drawing attention to the environment as the “unpublicised victim of war”, as animals, soils, forests, crops and water reserves continue to be plundered, polluted and destroyed to gain military advantage.
In his message for Environment Conflict Day this year, UN Secretary General António Guterres explained that “conflict and the environment are deeply interlinked”.
“Around the world, at least 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts have had an important natural resource dimension. Rising temperatures due to climate change now threaten to further amplify environmental stresses and tensions. And, all too often, the environment is among the casualties of war, through deliberate acts of destruction or collateral damage, or because, during conflicts, governments fail to control and manage natural resources”.
Guterres also called on humanity “to act boldly and urgently to reduce the risks that environmental degradation and climate change present for conflict and commit to protecting our planet from the debilitating effects of war”.
– Pope Francis on war and the environment
Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has been a staunch critic of all forms of armed conflict.
As recently as October 20, for example, the pontiff warned in an interfaith vigil in Rome that “the world, political life and public opinion all run the risk of growing inured to the evil of war, as if it were simply a part of human history”.
“To put an end to war is a solemn duty before God incumbent on all those holding political responsibilities. Peace is the priority of all politics. God will ask an accounting of those who failed to seek peace, or who fomented tensions and conflicts. He will call them to account for all the days, months and years of war endured by the world’s peoples!”
Just as much as the Pope has criticised war, he has been a tireless defender of the natural world.
In an October 10 video message to the TED Conferences global ‘Countdown’ initiative “to champion and accelerate solutions” to global warming, for instance, the pontiff pressed for “urgent” action to avoid “radical and catastrophic” climate change and warned “we only have a few years” left to save the environment.
“The Earth must be worked and nursed, cultivated and protected. We cannot continue to squeeze it like an orange”, Francis also pleaded on that occasion.