Pope Francis said protecting the planet was no longer a choice but a duty and called for a new “social justice” where access to the earth’s resources would be based on equality instead of economic interests, Reuters reported.
In back-to-back speeches on Tuesday, the third day of his trip to Ecuador, the pope continued his campaign on environmental issues that began with the publication last month of Laudato Si, his landmark encyclical on ecology.
Speaking before a group that included indigenous people of the Equatorial Amazon, he renewed his call for special protection for the area because of its vital importance to the planet’s ecosystem.
The pope has said he wanted the encyclical to influence a United Nations climate change summit in Paris in December and has now effectively taken his campaign to convince governments on the road.
In September, he will take his message to the United States and the United Nations.
“One thing is certain: we can no longer turn our backs on reality, on our brothers and sisters, on Mother Earth,” Francis said in a speech at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.
While he did not specifically mention climate change or its causes, he quoted often from the encyclical, which said there was a “very solid scientific consensus” on global warming and its human causes.
In the encyclical, Francis demanded swift action to save the planet from environmental ruin and called for policies to “drastically” reduce polluting gases and gradually cut dependence on fossil fuels.
“We are also invited to care for [the planet], to protect it, to be its guardians. Nowadays we are increasingly aware of how important this is. It is no longer a mere recommendation, but rather a requirement …” he said.
His choice of Ecuador to make his first post-encyclical speeches on the environment was not casual.
Ecuador is heavily reliant on oil and mining while boasting some of the world’s greatest biodiversity, including the Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin formulated his ideas on evolution.
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