By Vatican News staff writer
Commemorating the 51st Earth Day on Thursday, Pope Francis sent two video messages reminding everyone of the importance of working together to protect our planet.
In a message for the Leaders Summit on Climate, the Pope said the initiative sets world leaders on a path towards the COP26 meeting to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021.
He said the Leaders Summit encourages nations to "take charge of the care of nature, of this gift that we have received and that we have to heal, guard, and carry forward."
"Our concern is to see that the environment is cleaner, purer, and preserved," said the Pope, "and to take care of nature so that it takes care of us."
Earth Day 2021
In a separate video message marking Earth Day 2021, Pope Francis continued in the same vein.
“It is always good to recall things that we have said to one another so that they will not fall into oblivion,” the Pope said. “For some time now, we have been becoming more aware that nature deserves to be protected, even if only because human interaction with God’s biodiversity must take care with utmost care and respect.”
Earth Day is celebrated annually on 22 April to demonstrate support for environmental protection and to promote positive action in care for our common home. This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth.”
Lessons from the pandemic
As the world continues to take measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, Pope Francis highlighted that the crisis has shown us “what happens when the world stops, pauses, even for a few months.”
He noted the pandemic’s impact on nature and on climate change, which shows us all that global nature needs our lives on this planet.
“It affects us all, albeit in multiple, diverse and unequivocal forms; and so it teaches us even more about what we need to do to create a just, equitable, environmentally safe planet,” the Holy Father pointed out.
Furthermore, “the Covid pandemic taught us this interdependence, this sharing of the planet,” Pope Francis said, adding that both global catastrophes - Covid-19 and the climate emergency - show us that we are running out of time.
“We have the means, it is time to act, we are at the limit,” he urged.
Need for joint efforts
Pope Francis further illustrated the importance of taking action to protect the planet by recalling an old Spanish saying: “God always forgives, men forgive from time to time, nature no longer forgives.”
He added that the challenges we are experiencing with the pandemic, which are also manifesting in climate change, must drive us toward innovation and invention and to seek new paths.
In this regard, “we will be more resilient when we work together instead of alone,” Pope Francis affirmed, adding that there is still time to act even though it is difficult to stop the destruction of nature when it has been triggered.
“We do not come out of a crisis in the same way, we come out better or worse,” he stated. “This is the challenge, and if we do not come out better, we are on a path of self-destruction.”
Appeal to authorities
Concluding his message, Pope Francis called on world leaders to act with courage and justice and to always tell the truth to the people, so that they may know how to protect themselves and the planet from the destruction that we cause.