Pope calls for new work of mercy: Care for environment

A peace flag is seen as Pope Francis leads an encounter with young people in Assisi Italy in this Oct. 4 2013 file

Pope Francis has called for urgent action to stop climate change, saying care of the environment should be added to the traditional works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.

Francis made the ambitious proposal in a message to mark the church's World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which he instituted previous year in a bid to highlight his ecological concerns.

Francis welcomed the accord, but said world temperatures looked liked setting new records this year and urged voters everywhere to make sure their governments did not backtrack.

Although some people remain skeptical still, the scientific community has largely acknowledged that global warming due to pollution is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events.

The Pope went on to say, "The sciences alone, however, whether natural or physical, are not sufficient to understand the mystery contained within each person: when man is viewed in his totality", he continued, "we are able to have a profound understanding of the poorest, those most in need, and the marginalized".

"When we mistreat nature, we also mistreat human beings", Francis said.

Turkson on Wednesday was also appointed to head the Vatican's new super-dicastery responsible for the environment, migration, health care and peace and justice matters, issues that are all closest to Francis' heart.

Then that confession should lead to concrete changes in Catholics' daily behavior, no matter how small: Pope Francis suggests turning off lights to avoid wasting energy, taking care not to cook more food than necessary and using public transportation or carpooling to cut down on gasoline use.

In his message, titled "Show Mercy to our Common Home" and which is divided into 6 points, Pope Francis noted the frequent remarks of Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople on the need to care for our common home, drawing attention "to the moral and spiritual crisis at the root of environmental problems". "Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence ..."

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In that August 2015 letter, the pontiff wrote that an annual commemoration of Creation would offer an opportunity to thank God for the "wonderful handiwork entrusted to our care, and to implore God's help for the protection of creation", an idea he reiterated on his latest pro-environment message.

In the face of our sins Jesus calls us sons and daughters, he said, adding that "this is the moment of grace, of forgiveness, a moment of inclusion in the life of Jesus, in the life of the Church".

The Creator, he said, "does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us...for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward".

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