Pope Francis has shown us throughout his pontificate that he cares about climate and ecological justice and that he is concerned about the future of our common home.
Not only in his encyclical Laudato Si’, but also repeatedly he has invited Catholics and people of good will to look at their lives and change the way they act, in favor of the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
On the occasion of his 10th anniversary as pontificate, we invite you to recall these 10 important moments in which the Holy Father has called us to take urgent action for the climate crisis:
1. In 2015, at a UN address
On his visit to Kenya, the Pope gave a speech at the United Nations headquarters in Nairobi (UNON) after planting a tree in the city’s downtown park. This trip occurred months after the publication of Laudato Si’, so Francis took the opportunity to disseminate it in that country and throughout the African continent.
There, the Pontiff appealed to “protect and responsibly administer those lungs of the planet full of biodiversity [as we can see in this continent with] the Congo river basin, an essential place for the entire planet and for the future of humanity”.
2. Symposium for energy transition and care for our common home
In 2018 Francis met in an audience with the participants of the Meeting of Leaders of Major Oil and Natural Gas Companies and other Energy-Related Activities.
In his message, the Pope was emphatic: “Civilization requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilization!”
He continued: “I invite you to be the core of a group of leaders who envision the global energy transition in a way that takes into account all the peoples of the earth, as well as future generations; all species and ecosystems.”
In 2019, the meeting was repeated and Francis said: “Faced with a climate emergency, we must take action accordingly, in order to avoid perpetrating a brutal act of injustice towards the poor and future generations.”
3. Pope Francis and his Season of Creation messages
On the 2019 World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the Pope gave for the first time a pontifical message referring to the Season of Creation: “We are beloved creatures of God, who in his goodness calls us to love life and live it in communion with the rest of creation.”
2022 was the first year that this message was given in advance, at a press conference held on July 21 in the Holy See Press Office. In his message, the Pope asked “in the name of God” that large extractive corporations “stop destroying forests, wetlands and mountains, stop polluting rivers and seas, stop poisoning people and food”.
4. His appearance on the big screen speaking out about the climate crisis
In 2022, the film “The Letter” was released; the documentary in which Pope Francis played a leading role, in dialogue with five people affected by the climate crisis first-hand.
The film, presented by YouTube Originals, was produced by the Oscar-winning team Off the Fence (My Octopus Teacher) in collaboration with the Laudato Si’ Movement, the Dicastery for Communication and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The same day of the film’s release, October 4th, 2022, marked the Holy See’s official entry into the historic Paris agreement on climate change.
5. The Amazon Synod
After the synod held in 2019, the apostolic exhortation “Dear Amazonia”, a proposal towards new paths of evangelization and care for the environment and the poor, was published.
In it, Pope Francis shares his “Dreams for the Amazon”, whose destiny should concern everyone, because this land is also “ours”. He formulates “four great dreams”: that the Amazon “fight for the rights of the poorest”, “preserve the cultural richness”, “jealously guard it’s overwhelming natural beauty” and, finally, that the Christian communities be “capable of giving themselves to and incarnating themselves in the Amazon”.
6. A Pope at TED
With the 2020 pandemic, TED Countdown, a global virtual initiative to advocate and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, was launched.
There, Pope Francis participated, urging individuals and organizations to forge a more life-giving future through “concrete and urgent actions” and to divest from fossil fuels.
“Creation desperately needs our love,” he announced, adding later that “our conscience tells us that we cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of those in need, to the growing economic inequalities and social injustices.”
WATCH: The Pope’s participation in TED
7. "We have no more time"
On Earth Day, April 22, 2021, the Pope delivered a strong message to all people of good will: “The COVID crisis and the climate crisis show that we have no more time to wait. That time is pressing and that, as Covid-19 taught us, we do have the means to meet the challenge. We have the means. Now is the time to act, we are at the limit”.
But he was harsher, affirming that “God always forgives, human beings forgive from time to time, nature never”.
8. A space to put our actions in common
“Let us cultivate respect for the gifts of the Earth and creation, let us inaugurate an ultimately eco-sustainable lifestyle and society. We have the opportunity to prepare a better tomorrow for all. We have received a garden from the hands of God, we cannot leave a desert to our children,” said Pope Francis.
Together with the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, the project seeks to train Catholic institutions, communities and families to implement Laudato Si’ in their lives.
9. To popular movements
On Food Day 2021, October 16, the Pope gave a message to Popular Movements in which he asked them to “place the economy at the service of the people in order to build a lasting peace based on social justice and on care for our Common Home.”
He also addressed the large extractive corporations – mining, oil, forestry, real estate, agribusiness, and “in the name of God” asked them “to stop destroying forests, wetlands and mountains, to stop polluting rivers and seas, to stop poisoning food and people.”
10. Future generations "will never forgive us"
Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in 2021, Francis organized the “Faith and Science: Towards COP26” meeting, in which scientists and religious leaders participated. There he called for achieving net carbon emissions as soon as possible and helping poor countries to achieve this.
“We have inherited a garden: we must not leave a desert to our children,” because they “will never forgive us,” the Holy Father said and called for taking “speedy, responsible and shared action to safeguard, restore and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship.”
“It is a moral obligation to cooperate in the healing of the planet” and to be “caretakers of the natural environment with the vocation to care for it.”