CARE for “our common home” should be a concern for everyone, not the subject of ideological conflict, Pope Francis has said.
In his annual New Year address on Tuesday of last week to the 183 members of the Diplomatic Corps who currently have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, the Pope told them: “The protection of the home given to us by the Creator cannot be neglected or reduced to an elitist concern.”
Besides climate change, the Pope also spoke on topics including child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, and ongoing efforts for peace around the world, and praised the part played by women in society.
He said: “Care for our common home ought to be a concern of everyone, and not the object of ideological conflict between different views of reality, or, much less, between generations. . .
“At every level we are being urgently challenged to protect our common home and to ‘bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development’.
“They [young people] remind us of the urgent need for an ecological conversion, which ‘must be understood in an integral way, as a transformation of how we relate to our sisters and brothers, to other living beings, to creation in all its rich variety and to the Creator who is the origin and source of all life.’
“Sadly, the urgency of this ecological conversion seems not to have been grasped by international politics, where the response to the problems raised by global issues such as climate change remains very weak and a source of grave concern.”
He also spoke of his disappointment at the outcome of the COP25 climate summit (News, 20 December 2019).
On the issue of child abuse, Pope Francis said that the Vatican had “renewed its commitment to bring to light abuses already committed, and to ensure the protection of minors through a wide range of norms for dealing with such cases in accordance with canon law and in cooperation with civil authorities on the local and international level”.
He continued: ”Given the gravity of the harm involved, it becomes all the more urgent for adults not to abdicate their proper educational responsibilities, but to carry out those responsibilities with greater zeal, in order to guide young people to spiritual, human, and social maturity.”
He told those present that he would be hosting an event, “Reinventing the Global Compact on Education”, on 14 May, having launched the Global Pact initiative in September. “This gathering is meant to ‘rekindle our commitment to and with young people, renewing our passion for a more open and inclusive education, including patient listening, constructive dialogue, and better mutual understanding’. Never before has there been such need to unite our efforts in a broad educational alliance, to form mature individuals capable of overcoming division and antagonism, and to restore the fabric of relationships for the sake of a more fraternal humanity.”
Another “cause for concern” is the “proliferation of political crises in a growing number of countries of the American continent”, the Pope said, which is “accompanied by tensions and unaccustomed forms of violence that sharpen social conflicts and have grave socioeconomic and humanitarian consequences. . .
“Greater polarisation does not help to resolve the real and pressing problems of citizens, especially those who are poorest and most vulnerable; nor can violence, which for no reason can be employed as a means of dealing with political and social issues. Here, in this setting, I would like to mention Venezuela in particular, so that efforts to seek solutions will continue.”
Speaking of peace in the Middle East, he said that it was “imperative to devise suitable and far-sighted solutions capable of enabling the beloved Syrian people, exhausted by war, to regain peace and to begin the reconstruction of the country”.
Pope Francis also warned of growing tensions in Iran: “Particularly troubling are the signals coming from the entire region following the heightening of tensions between Iran and the United States, which risk, above all, compromising the gradual process of rebuilding in Iraq, as well as setting the groundwork for a vaster conflict that all of us would want to avert.
“I therefore renew my appeal that all the interested parties avoid an escalation of the conflict and ‘keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-restraint’, in full respect of international law.”
Yemen was, he said, “experiencing one of the most serious humanitarian crises of recent history amid general indifference on the part of the international community”.
He continued: “The Holy See looks with great hope to the efforts being made by many countries to share the burden of resettling refugees — in particular, those fleeing from humanitarian emergencies — and to provide them with a secure place in which to live, education, and possibilities for employment and reunion with their families.”