By: Antonio Pérez Esclarin
On October 4, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Holy See published the new Apostolic Exhortation “Laudet Deum” (Praise God) on the climate crisis. In this sermon, Pope Francis continues his concerns from the encyclical “Laudato Si”, (Praise be) in which he reminds us that, although the Earth is our common home “a sister with whom we share existence and a beautiful As the mother who welcomes us into her arms”, we mistreat and destroy her. Eight years after this memorable encyclical, Pope Francis complains that we are not taking the ecological problem seriously and highlights the phenomenon of climate change, which fundamentally arises from the irresponsible actions of people. The Pope emphasizes the need to seriously confront pollution and the destruction of nature.
In truth, the situation is regrettable and dire: the air, sea and rivers are mortally wounded. Water is becoming increasingly scarce and polluted. Every day thousands of tons of garbage and toxic chemical components are dumped into rivers, seas and oceans. Due to global warming the permanent snow that provides us with water reduces and glaciers melt. Since 1994, the planet has lost about 400 billion tons of glaciers per year. Swamps and wetlands are also shrinking and groundwater pollution is increasing. Sources of clean water are decreasing; The waste generated from agriculture, mining, factories and landfills is not manageable. According to UNICEF, 3 out of 10 people in the world do not get clean water. And 6 out of ten do not have safe sanitation. Every year 361,000 children under 5 years of age die from diarrhea. Many others die from cholera, dysentery, hepatitis and typhoid fever, diseases caused by water pollution.
Indiscriminate logging, mining, construction of large reservoirs, highways and roads, for timber or for extensive use of livestock and agriculture, are destroying forests. Half of the rainforests that once covered the Earth, about 29 million square kilometers, have disappeared. Seventy-six countries have already lost all of their primary forests and another 11 countries may also lose them in the coming years. The destruction of the Amazon rainforest, the true lungs of humanity, is accelerating at an alarming rate. Like every day of the year, even today 50 thousand hectares of moist forests will disappear. An area equivalent to about 600 football stadiums is destroyed every hour.
Megamining, as is done in the Venezuelan Mining Arc, is destroying entire forests: soil, trees, plants, animals, rivers, people are destroyed. To the violence of the project of development at any cost, the planet reacts in a very bad mood: intermittent droughts and floods; unpredictable waves of cold and heat that blur the boundaries of the seasons; unusual storms, such as hurricane, storm, blizzard; Large-scale human migration, with millions of “climate refugees or migrants”.
Pope Francis ended his sermon with a call for all people of different religions to respond. And it reminds us Catholics that, in the light of faith, we have a responsibility to care for God’s creation, which implies respect for the laws of nature and recognition of the beauty and richness of divine creation.