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On Care for our Common Home

In recent weeks the whole planet has sizzled in sweltering temperatures as a heatwave has engulfed everywhere from Japan, to Canada and we are feeling the heat ourselves here in the UK.

I am quite perverse when it comes to the heat and I’ll do anything in my power to stay cool and out of the sun – I’m even writing this in an air conditioned supermarket café! This aversion to anything over room temperature has made me acutely aware of the suffering extreme weather can cause. We are lucky to have air conditioned cars and buildings that we can dive into, but across vast swathes of the planet people regularly die either from exposure to the heat or in the floods that often come next.

As Catholics, we cannot be unmoved by this – we are called to respond to human suffering and I am proud to find the Church has been banging the eco drum for years. We can no longer deny the human factor in climate change, and in 2015, Pope Francis used his second encyclical, Laudato Si, subtitled “On care for our common home” to encourage the faithful in pursuit of a greener future. Each of us can do something, however small in our lives, to make a difference to climate change. Here are some quotes from Pope Francis on the issue that should inspire us to do more:

“As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.” —Speech, Manila, Philippines, January 18, 2015

“A Christian who doesn’t safeguard creation, who doesn’t make it flourish, is a Christian who isn’t concerned with God’s work, that work born of God’s love for us.”—Meditation, Vatican City, February 9, 2015

“May the relationship between man and nature not be driven by greed, to manipulate and exploit, but may the divine harmony between beings and creation be conserved in the logic of respect and care.”—General audience, Vatican City, April 22, 2015

“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”—Papal encyclical, Vatican City, May 24, 2015

Perhaps one of the most humbling quotes comes from Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Vatican’s council for peace and justice, who said: “The first step is to humbly acknowledge the harm we are doing to the Earth through pollution, the scandalous destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, and the spectre of climate change.

“And to realise that when we hurt the Earth, we also hurt the poor.”

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