Pope Francis is calling for environmental protection to be added to a list of primary duties that Catholics should perform.
The move comes a year after the Pope’s landmark encyclical on climate change, in which he asked that every faithful person in the world act to mitigate global warming and protect those affected by it.
The declaration on caring for the environment was issued Thursday as part of the Catholic Church’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
He wants care for the environment to be part of the “seven works of mercy,” putting it on par with feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and visiting the sick.He called on the faithful to use the church’s current Holy Year of Mercy to ask forgiveness for “sins” against the environment by the “irresponsible, selfish” economic system.
“Economics and politics, society and culture cannot be dominated by thinking only of the short-term and immediate financial or electoral gains,” he wrote. “Instead, they urgently need to be redirected to the common good, which includes sustainability and care for creation.”
The Pope cited numerous examples of actions Catholics could take to protect the environment, like turning off unnecessary lights, recycling and carpooling.
He said the richer northern parts of the world owe an “ecological debt” to the poorer southern parts due to the environmental damage the richer nations have caused.
“Repaying [the debt] would require treating the environments of poorer nations with care and providing the financial resources and technical assistance needed to help them deal with climate change and promote sustainable development.”