In his annual Earth Day message, Pope Francis told Catholics they need to work together for the environment just as with the pandemic.
Francis said, “If we have deteriorated the Earth, the response will be very ugly.”
“By failing to care for “our garden-home”, the earth, and our brothers and sisters, the Pope said, we have sinned against the earth, against our neighbors, and ultimately against the Creator.”
Therefore, he said, we need to think about our common home in a new way. We need that new perspective to help restore “a harmonious relationship with the earth and with the rest of humanity.”
He also said that we should not consider the Earth to be a “storehouse of resources for us to exploit.”
I think most believers would say they agree with that, even while acting in a manner that says otherwise.
But I can’t help pondering the pontiff’s words and considering the environmental effects of the pandemic. This week, CBS News published “before and after” photos of various cities in the pandemic. The “before” photos showed gloomy, hazy skies. The “after” pictures showed bright blue skies and cleaner water.
You can see a dramatic difference — for the better — in all of the images.
It took a global pandemic to make people stop abusing mother earth for a few weeks. The effects of the lack of human activity where there used to be a great deal appear obvious.
I wouldn’t suggest the planet has some sort of spiteful personality, of course.
But what if our carelessness with respect to stewardship of our natural resources has affected the climate just enough to allow this particular virus to get a stronger foothold?
Or, what if our future carelessness — because it’ll surely return — makes it easier for the next one to do so?
Our responsibilities to care for our limited natural resources ought to be enough incentive. Unfortunately, they never seem to be.