Pope to Council of Europe on Environment "Everything is connected, and as a family of nations we must have a common concern: “to see that the environment is cleaner..." FULL TEXT




[Strasbourg, 29 September 2021]

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen!

First of all, I would like to thank the Hon. Rik Daems, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, for the passionate invitation to speak about the care of the environment, our common home, of this gift that we have received and that we must take care of, preserve and carry forward.

The Holy See, although an Observer Country, follows with particular attention and interest every activity of the Council of Europe in this regard, in the certainty that every concrete initiative and decision of this Organization, which can improve the dramatic situation facing the health of our planet , must be supported and well valued.

Precisely in this hemicycle, on 25 November 2014, I underlined the close and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and the Council of Europe and I reiterated that "among the issues that require our reflection and our collaboration is the defense of environment, of this beloved land of ours which is the great resource that God has given us and which is at our disposal not to be defaced, exploited and degraded, but because, enjoying its immense beauty, we can live with dignity ». [1]

Subsequently, in the Encyclical Letter Laudato si ', I returned to the importance of caring for the common home, a universal principle that involves not only the Christian faithful, but every person of good will who has a heart in protecting the environment. This event, which takes place on the eve of COP26, scheduled for next November in Glasgow, will be able to offer, thanks to a greater consideration of the fundamental principle of multilateralism, a valid contribution also for the next United Nations meeting. The Holy See is also convinced that every initiative of the Council of Europe must not be limited only to the geographical space of this continent, but, starting from our beloved Europe, can reach the whole world. In this sense,

There is no more time to wait, we must act. Any instrument that respects human rights and the principles of democracy and the rule of law, fundamental values ​​of the Council of Europe, can be useful in addressing this global challenge.

Nobody can deny the fundamental right of every human being "to live with dignity and to develop integrally"; [2] and if "all of us human beings are born on this earth with the same dignity [...], consequently, as a community we are obliged to guarantee that every person lives with dignity and has adequate opportunities for his integral development". [3]

When, on the other hand, the human being thinks of himself as the lord of the universe, and not as its responsible administrator, when he no longer recognizes his right position in relation to the world, he justifies any kind of waste, both environmental and human, and treats the other people and nature as mere objects.

The ancients already said: “ Esse oportet ut vivas, non vive ut edas ” - “One must eat to live, not live to eat”. One must consume to live, not live to consume. And above all, it must never be consumed wildly, as it happens today. Everyone must use the land what is needed for their livelihood.

Everything is connected, and as a family of nations we must have a common concern: “to see that the environment is cleaner, purer and conserved. And take care of nature, so that it takes care of us ». [4]

Therefore, there is a need for a real change of course, for a new awareness of the relationship of the human being with himself, with others, with society, with creation and with God.

Certainly this ecological crisis, which is "a single and complex socio-environmental crisis", [5] invites us to an interdisciplinary and operational dialogue at all levels, from the local to the international one, but also to an individual as well as collective responsibility . We should therefore also talk about the duties of every human being to live in a healthy, healthy and sustainable environment. On the other hand, when we speak only of rights, we think only of what is due to us. We must also think about the responsibility we have towards future generations, and the world we want to leave to our children and our young people.

I hope that this Parliamentary Assembly and the Council of Europe will be able to identify, promote and implement, with determination, all the initiatives necessary to build a healthier, fairer and more sustainable world: "From the hands of God we have received a garden, our children will not we can leave a desert ». [6]

We act with hope, courage and will, making concrete decisions. They cannot be postponed until tomorrow if their purpose is to protect the common home and the dignity of every human being.

From the Vatican, 23 September 2021                                                     



[1]   Address to the Council of Europe , Strasbourg, 25 November 2014.

[2]  Encyclical Letter All Brothers (3 October 2020), 107 .

[3]   Ibid . , 118.

[4]   Video message to the participants in the "Leaders summit on climate" , April 22, 2021.

[5]  Encyclical Letter Laudato Si '   (24 May 2015), 139 .

[6] Video message for the launch of the Laudato si 'platform , May 25, 2021.

FULL TEXT + Image Screenshot from Vatican.va