By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Humanity does not own God’s gift of
creation and has no right to pillage it, Pope Francis said.
“We are not custodians of a museum and its
masterpieces that we have to dust off every morning, but rather collaborators
in the conservation and development of the existence and biodiversity of the
planet and human life,” he said Nov. 28.
The pope addressed experts attending a plenary session of
the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Nov. 25-29 to discuss the impact of
scientific knowledge and technology on people and the planet.
People in the modern world have grown up “thinking
we are the owners and masters of nature, authorized to plunder it without any
consideration for its secret potential and evolutionary laws, as if it were an
inert substance at our disposal, causing, among other things, a very serious
loss of biodiversity,” he said.
An “ecological conversion” is needed in which
people recognize their responsibility for caring for creation and its
resources, for trying to bring about social justice and for overcoming “an
unfair system that produces misery, inequality and exclusion,” the pope
said. In fact, with sustainable development, the tasks of taking care of both
people and the planet are inseparable, he said.
The pope said there was a “weak response” in
most international policies to promoting the common good.
He lamented how easily well-founded scientific counsel is
“disregarded” and how politics tends to obey technology and finance
The proof of that, he said, is the way countries are
still “distracted” or delayed in applying international agreements on
the environment as well as the “continuous wars of dominance masquerading
as noble declarations that cause increasingly serious harm to the environment
and the moral and cultural wealth of peoples.”
Pope Francis told the scientists that it was up to them
to “build a cultural model to tackle the crisis of climate change and its
social consequences so that enormous productive capacities are not reserved
only to the few.”
To do that, he said, the scientists would have to be free
of political, economic and ideological interests, too.
Because scientists have been able to study and
demonstrate many crises facing the planet, the pope called on them to be
leaders in proposing solutions to the many problems, such as water, energy and
He said it would be “indispensable” for the world’s
scientists to collaborate and create “a regulatory system that includes
inviolable limits and guarantees the protection of ecosystems before new forms
of power derived from the technological-economic paradigm produce irreversible
damage not just to the environment but also to coexistence, democracy, justice
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