Pope Francis continues to make the environment an important aspect of his messages and homilies. In a recent address to workers he talked about the importance of creation (a) and in the impromptu version which he spoke “from the heart” talked about the culture of waste, a continuous theme which he often relates to the environment, even when he was a Cardinal. Here the highlights of the speech:
a) Work must be combined with the preservation of creation so that this may be responsibly safeguarded for future generations. Creation is not a good to be exploited but a gift to look after. Ecological commitment itself affords an opportunity for new concern in the sectors linked to it, such as energy, and the prevention and removal of different forms of pollution, being alert to forest fires in the wooded land that is your patrimony, and so forth. May caring for creation, and looking after man through dignified work be a common task! Ecology… and also “human ecology”!
b) Work means dignity, work means taking food home, work means loving! To defend this idolatrous economic system the “culture of waste” has become established; grandparents are thrown away and young people are thrown away. And we must say “no” to this “culture of waste”. We must say “we want a just system! A system that enables everyone to get on”. We must say: “we don’t want this globalized economic system which does us so much harm!”. Men and women must be at the centre as God desires, and not money!
These reflections do not only concern believers but all people of good will, all those who have at heart the common good of the country, as is the case for problems of environmental ecology that can greatly help us to understand those of “an ecology of man” (cf. ibid., Address to the Bundestag, Berlin, Germany, 22 September 2011). The family is the privileged school for learning generosity, sharing, responsibility, a school that teaches how to overcome a certain individualistic mind-set which has worked its way into our societies. Sustaining and promoting families, making the most of their fundamental and central role means working for a just and supportive development.