People, Environment

Pope Calls for Upholding Environmental Rights

Pope Calls for Upholding Environmental RightsPope Calls for Upholding Environmental Rights

Pope Francis declared Friday that there is a “right of the environment” and that mankind has no authority to abuse it, telling more than 100 world leaders and diplomats at the United Nations that urgent action is needed to halt the destruction of God’s creation.

Hoping to spur concrete commitments at the upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris, the pope accused the world’s powerful countries of indulging a “selfish and boundless thirst” for money by ravaging the planet’s natural resources and impoverishing the weak and disadvantaged in the process, AP reported.

He asserted that the poor have inherent rights to education and what he has termed the “three L’s” — lodging, labor and land.

His speech, the fifth by a pope to the UN, was a distillation of his recent teaching document on the environment, “Praise Be,” which has delighted environmentalists and drawn scorn from big business interests.

By bringing the document to life before the UN, Francis made clear his priorities.

“Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity,” he said.

Speaking in the packed UN General Assembly, Francis stated that “a right of the environment” exists.

He said the universe is the result of a “loving decision by the creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the creator: He is not authorized to abuse it, much less destroy it.”

Echoing his encyclical’s key message, he said a “selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.”

The pope was greeted on his arrival at the UN by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a key supporter of his eco-friendly agenda. In his opening remarks, Ban praised Francis for his moral leadership.

“You are at home not in palaces, but among the poor; not with the famous, but with the forgotten; not in official portraits, but in ‘selfies’ with young people,” he said.