A combination of pictures shows Pope Francis catching a rosary thrown by someone in the crowd as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 5, 2013. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters) (June 5, 2013)
Here is a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I want to focus on the issue of the environment, which I have already
spoken of on several occasions. Today we also mark World Environment
Day, sponsored by the United Nations, which sends a strong reminder of
the need to eliminate the waste and disposal of food.
talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts turn to the
first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, which states that God
placed man and woman on earth to cultivate and care for it (cf. 2:15).
And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for
the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are
we exploiting and neglecting it? The verb "to cultivate" reminds me of
the care that the farmer has for his land so that it bear fruit, and it
is shared: how much attention, passion and dedication! Cultivating and
caring for creation is God’s indication given to each one of us not only
at the beginning of history; it is part of His project; it means
nurturing the world with responsibility and transforming it into a
garden, a habitable place for everyone. Benedict XVI recalled several
times that this task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to
grasp the rhythm and logic of creation. But we are often driven by pride
of domination, of possessions, manipulation, of exploitation; we do not
“care” for it, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a free
gift that we must care for. We are losing the attitude of wonder,
contemplation, listening to creation; thus we are no longer able to read
what Benedict XVI calls "the rhythm of the love story of God and man."
Why does this happen? Why do we think and live in a horizontal manner,
we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs.
"cultivate and care" encompasses not only the relationship between us
and the environment, between man and creation, it also regards human
relationships. The Popes have spoken of human ecology, closely linked
to environmental ecology. We are living in a time of crisis: we see this
in the environment, but above all we see this in mankind. The human
person is in danger: this is certain, the human person is in danger
today, here is the urgency of human ecology! And it is a serious danger
because the cause of the problem is not superficial but profound: it is
not just a matter of economics, but of ethics and anthropology. The
Church has stressed this several times, and many say, yes, that's right,
it's true ... but the system continues as before, because it is
dominated by the dynamics of an economy and finance that lack ethics.
Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules. God our
Father did not give the task of caring for the earth to money, but to
us, to men and women: we have this task! Instead, men and women are
sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the "culture of
waste." If you break a computer it is a tragedy, but poverty, the
needs, the dramas of so many people end up becoming the norm. If on a
winter’s night, here nearby in Via Ottaviano, for example, a person
dies, that is not news. If in so many parts of the world there are
children who have nothing to eat, that's not news, it seems normal. It
cannot be this way! Yet these things become the norm: that some homeless
people die of cold on the streets is not news. In contrast, a ten point
drop on the stock markets of some cities, is a tragedy. A person dying
is not news, but if the stock markets drop ten points it is a tragedy!
Thus people are disposed of, as if they were trash.
of waste" tends to become the common mentality that infects everyone.
Human life, the person is no longer perceived as a primary value to be
respected and protected, especially if poor or disabled, if not yet
useful - such as the unborn child - or no longer needed - such as the
elderly. This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste
and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the
world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from
hunger and malnutrition. Once our grandparents were very careful not to
throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become used to
an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times, we are no longer
able to give a just value, which goes well beyond mere economic
parameters. We should all remember, however, that throwing food away is
like stealing from the tables of the the poor, the hungry! I encourage
everyone to reflect on the problem of thrown away and wasted food to
identify ways and means that, by seriously addressing this issue, are a
vehicle of solidarity and sharing with the needy.
A few days ago,
on the Feast of Corpus Christi, we read the story of the miracle of the
loaves: Jesus feeds the crowd with five loaves and two fishes. And the
conclusion of the piece is important: " They all ate and were satisfied.
And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve
wicker baskets" (Lk 9:17). Jesus asks his disciples not to throw
anything away: no waste! There is this fact of twelve baskets: Why
twelve? What does this mean? Twelve is the number of the tribes of
Israel, which symbolically represent all people. And this tells us that
when food is shared in a fair way, with solidarity, when no one is
deprived, every community can meet the needs of the poorest. Human
ecology and environmental ecology walk together.
So I would like
us all to make a serious commitment to respect and protect creation, to
be attentive to every person, to counter the culture of waste and
disposable, to promote a culture of solidarity and of encounter. Thank
Summary in English
and Sisters: Our Audience today coincides with World Environment Day,
and so it is fitting to reflect on our responsibility to cultivate and
care for the earth in accordance with God’s command (cf. Gen 2:15). We
are called not only to respect the natural environment, but also to show
respect for, and solidarity with, all the members of our human family.
These two dimensions are closely related; today we are suffering from a
crisis which is not only about the just management of economic
resources, but also about concern for human resources, for the needs of
our brothers and sisters living in extreme poverty, and especially for
the many children in our world lacking adequate education, health care
and nutrition. Consumerism and a “culture of waste” have led some of us
to tolerate the waste of precious resources, including food, while
others are literally wasting away from hunger. I ask all of you to
reflect on this grave ethical problem in a spirit of solidarity grounded
in our common responsibility for the earth and for all our brothers and
sisters in the human family.
offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and
visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England,
Scotland, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore and the United States. God
bless you all!