“The wounds inflicted on our mother earth are wounds that also bleed in us”, Pope Francis lamented today on the occasion of World Environment Day.

– The coroanvirus pandemic, a call to the world “to be united as a great human family”

The pontiff’s latest remarks on the urgency of caring for our common home came in a a letter he addressed to Colombian president Iván Duque.

For the UN-sponsored day for the protection of the natural world, the Colombian capital Bogotá was due to host a global event on the theme of biodiversity, but due to the coronavirus pandemic the event was moved online.

In his message, the Pope made reference to the “challenging situation” caused by COVID-19, which he said “reminds us that in the face of adversity, new paths always open in order for us to be united as a great human family”.

– “We cannot remain silent” on the “destruction and exploitation” of the planet

Picking up on a theme that has been a constant through his pontificate, the pontiff wrote in his message 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”, Francis implored, insisting that “caring for ecosystems demands a look to the future, one that is not concerned only with the immediate moment or that seeks a quick and easy profit, but rather one that is concerned for life and that seeks its preservation for the benefit of all”.

“Our attitude toward the present state of our planet should indeed make us concerned for and witnesses to the gravity of the situation”, the Pope stressed, pleading that “we cannot remain silent before the outcry when we realise the very high costs of the destruction and exploitation of the ecosystem”.

Despite the temptation to let down our guard during the virus crisis, the pontiff highlighted that the pandemic “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”.

“We have the chance to reverse course, to commit ourselves to a better, healthier world and to pass it on to future generations. Everything depends on us, if we really want it”, the Pope appealed.

Francis concluded his message for Environment Day with an invitation to the world to listen to “the cry that mother earth lifts up to us” and to participate in the Laudato si’ year for the fifth anniversary of the pontiff’s encyclical, so as to “become more committed to the care and protection of our common home, and of our most vulnerable and marginalised brothers and sisters”.

The Pope closed with an appeal to world leaders to “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”.

– A warning to the young people of the ‘Scholas Occurrentes’ Foundation not to turn in on themselves in moments of crisis

Also on Friday, the Pope reflected on the coronavirus crisis in a virtual meeting with the young people of the Pontifical ‘Scholas Occurrentes’ Foundation, sending them a video message of support and encouragement.

“Crisis originally means ‘rupture’, ‘tear’, ‘opening’, ‘danger’, but also ‘opportunity'”, Francis reminded the youths, recalling that “life overall is bigger than our own life and therefore it breaks. But this is life! It grows, it breaks”.

“In crisis, we are invaded by fear, we close ourselves off as individuals, or we begin to repeat what is convenient for very few, emptying ourselves of meaning, covering up our own call, losing our beauty”, the Pope warned the young people of Scholas.

Instead of letting people turn in on themselves, Francis celebrated that Scholas and its leaders, volunteers and students look in “through the cracks in the world – not just with the head but with the whole body, to see if another response comes back from this opening”.

“And this means educating”, the Pope highlighted.

“Either education involves listening, or it does not educate. Education creates culture, or it does not educate. Education teaches us to celebrate, or it does not educate”, he said.

“In this new crisis that humanity is facing today, where culture has been shown to have lost its vitality, I want to celebrate that Scholas, as a community that educates, as an intuition that grows, opens the doors of the Universidad del Sentido, the University of Meaning. Because to educate is to seek the meaning of things”, the Pope continued.

Francis encouraged the Scholas Foundation, last of all, to bring together “the dream of children and young people with the experience of adults and the elderly”.

“This encounter must always take place  as otherwise there is no humanity, because there are no roots, no history, no promise, no growth, no dreams, no prophecy”, he warned.

More on Novena on Pope Francis and our common home:

Pope ‘updates’ Laudato si’ five years on: “All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of Creation”

On anniversary of Laudato si’, Pope prays cry of the Earth and cry of the poor “may become the birth-pangs of a more fraternal and sustainable world”

Pope sings ode to Creation, “the Creation that we do not protect but which bears the signature of God”

How well do you know Laudato si’? Here’s a reminder of the key points of the Pope’s ‘green’ encyclical

Beginning Laudato si’ Week, Pope issues “urgent” appeal for “renewed dialogue” on future of planet


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.