Pope Francis challenged Latin America’s youth to take up his environmental protection campaign, saying the defence of God’s creation isn’t just a recommendation but a requirement.
The appeal, delivered at Quito’s Catholic University, is particularly relevant for Ecuador, a Pacific nation that is home to one of the world’s most species-diverse ecosystems in the Galapagos Islands and Amazon rain forest, but is also an OPEC country heavily dependent on oil extraction.
Francis told students and professors that God gave humanity the Earth to not only cultivate, but to care for — a message he framed earlier this month in his headline-grabbing encyclical on the environment.
“It is no longer a mere recommendation, but rather a requirement because of the harm we have inflicted on it by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed it”
He challenged universities to ensure that students’ educations aren’t aimed only at profitable careers but at helping the poor and the environment. He said:
“There is a relationship between our life and that of mother Earth, between the way we live and the gift we have received from God”
He also called for long-term changes beyond short-term goals, saying,
“The tapping of natural resources, which are so abundant in Ecuador, must not be concerned with short-term benefits. As stewards of these riches which we have received, we have an obligation toward society as a whole, and toward future generations.”