A Green Pope?

Nearly 200,000 people gathered in front of the Vatican on Tuesday to witness the inauguration of Pope Francis I. Millions of others around the world eagerly awaited his message, which would serve as a blueprint for his papacy.       

Pope Francis did not disappoint, using the ceremony to communicate a strong message of compassion, humility, caring for the world’s poor – and protecting the environment.

“I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political, and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment,” he said.

Pope Francis – described as a simple, humble and approachable leader – reiterated familiar themes throughout the address. “Let us never forget that authentic power is service. Only those who serve with love are able to protect.” He continued to say that protection meant “respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live.”

It remains unclear how Pope Francis’ message of compassion and stewardship will manifest itself over the next several years. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that a plea from one of the most influential leaders in the world for the protection of the vulnerable – including the environment – is a significant step in the right direction. Here’s hoping that this message continues to be the hallmark of his papacy.

As a partner of many faith-based environmental stewardship programs, Earth Day Network welcomes the Pope’s statement of concern for the environment. Please visit our faith page for interfaith and faith-specific resources.