(Source: CD/Vatican News)

“We can no longer look the other way” from the ecological crisis threatening the world today, Pope Francis has warned.

The destruction of biodiversity, the frightening increase in climate disasters and the impact of the epidemic that falls mainly on the poorest and weakest are danger signs that must be analysed and deepened, the pontiff wrote in a message released Saturday to the new newspaper Green and Blue, an editorial initiative of the Gedi group.

This new newspaper is full of information, surveys, interviews, analysis and insights into the field of environmental protection and its economic and industrial applications.

In his message, Pope Francis encouraged media professionals “to explain and highlight the links between human destiny and the natural environment”.

Journalists, in fact, “can contribute to empowering citizens, leaders of nations, those who lead social activities, entrepreneurs and the protagonists of the economy and finance with a view to the urgent and decisive ecological conversion for survival”, the Pope said.

Pope Francis expressed his desire for “quality journalism” which is “always respectful of the dignity of people, starting with those who suffer the most”, and which encourages “new ways of understanding the economy and progress, fighting every form of marginalisation, proposing models of coexistence based on altruism and reconnection with the natural habitat” towards “a renewed model of human, economic, social and political development”.

Fair and sustainable lifestyles, environmental protection and sufficient food and water for all are “the basis on which to build a healthy, prosperous and supportive future for the whole of humanity”, the Pope urged.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pope stressed that “the virus does not stop in the face of barriers, frontiers or cultural and political differences”; it “crumbles so many of our certainties and expectations, and highlights and accentuates the serious pre-existing problems”.

However, we must not give up because “we have a great opportunity to emerge better” from the current crisis, “seeking the true common good along the path of solidarity”, Francis implored.

“If we continue to pursue solutions with the imprint of selfishness and lust for power everything will get worse”, the Pope cautioned. “Only together”, he concluded, “can we truly rise from the planetary drama”.

Green and Blue is available online as of Saturday, and will appear on newsstands beginning on Sunday. A monthly magazine will also be produced.

Francis signs new encyclical Fratelli tutti in Assisi

Also on Saturday, the Pope went to Assisi for the fifth time during his pontificate. There he signed his new encyclical Fratelli tutti, over the tomb of St Francis of Assisi, after celebrating Holy Mass.

The encyclical on fraternity and social friendship was inspired by St Francis, as was the Pope’s second encyclical, Laudato si’, on the care of our common home, published five years ago.

The Pope traveled to Assisi by car. On hand to greet him when he arrived in Assisi were the Bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, Domenico Sorrentino; Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the pontifical legate for the Basilicas of St Francis and St Mary of the Angels in Assisi; the guardian of the Franciscan Friary, also known as the Sacro Convento, Fr Mauro Gambetti, and Father Enzo Fortunato, spokesperson for the Franciscan Friary.

About 20 friars and a few women religious were present for the celebration of Holy Mass, which took place in the crypt of the 13th-century basilica which houses St Francis’s remains.

After the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father spent several minutes in silent reflection and then continued the celebration of Mass.

A special gesture to translators

At the conclusion of Mass, Pope Francis invited Msgr Paolo Braida to bring forward the copies of the encylical to be signed. The pontiff explained that Msgr Braida handles the translations in the First Section of the Secretariat of State. “He oversees everything”, the Pope continued. “This is why I wanted him to be present here, today, and that he would bring the encyclical to me”.

He also introduced two of the priests who also work in the First Section. Father Antonio translated the encylical into Portuguese from the original Spanish, and the second, Father Cruz, oversaw all of the translations from the original Spanish.

“I am doing this as a sign of gratitude to the entire First Section of the Secretariat of State who worked on the translations”, the Pope explained.

At the end of Mass and after the signing of his new encyclical, Francis briefly visited the Franciscan community in the Sacro Convento monastery attached to the basilica.

More on Novena on the Pope’s new encyclical:

Women tell Pope ahead of publication of “sexist” encyclical: “Please don’t pretend to be synodal if you are unprepared to actually listen”

Catholic women ask Pope to change “painful” title of new encyclical ‘Brothers all’: “The masculine noun will alienate many”

Novena analysis: Vatican digs itself into hole trying to defend gender inclusiveness of Pope’s new encyclical ‘Brothers all’

Cardinal Hollerich, on Pope’s new encyclical: “I prefer to say: ‘Fratelli e sorelle tutti’”

Pope to visit Assisi October 3 to sign new encyclical ‘Brothers all’

New encyclical on need for “human and ecological conversion”, “human fraternity” to be published October 4

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.