Pope speaks out on World Environment Day

Pope Francis has blamed society’s “throwaway culture” for damaging the environment and costing lives.

Speaking during his weekly audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday, the Pope said: “We are living through a moment of crisis. We see it in the environment, but above all we see it in man. The human person is in danger.

“Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of money and consumption. That some homeless people freeze to death on the street, that is not news. On the other hand, a drop of 10 points in the stock markets of some cities is a tragedy. That is how people are thrown away. We, people, are thrown away, as if we were trash.”

Today’s “throwaway culture” is also reflected in frequent waste of food, he said, adding that “food that is thrown away might as well have been stolen from the table of the poor, the hungry.”

Noting that the United Nations had designated the day on which he was speaking (June 5) World Environment Day, Pope Francis recalled the biblical account of creation, according to which God made man and woman to “cultivate and protect the earth.”

“Are we truly cultivating and protecting creation?” the Pope asked. “Or are we instead exploiting and neglecting it?”

He added: “We are often guided by the arrogance of domination, possession, manipulation, exploitation. We are losing the attitude of wonder, of contemplation, of listening to creation, and thus we are no longer able to read there what Benedict XVI calls the ‘rhythm of the love story of God with man.'”

Prior to the audience, the Pope made a half-hour circuit of the square in an open-topped Popemobile, frequently stopping to kiss babies and small children handed to him by members of his security detail. An estimated 90,000 persons attended the audience, 20,000 more than had requested tickets.