Healthy environment is a collective responsibility, says Pope Francis

September 30, 2021

Pope Francis on September 29 urged the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to also discuss the responsibilities of every human being to protect the environment. 

In a video message, the pontiff said the ecological crisis “invites us to an interdisciplinary and operational dialogue at all levels, from the local to the international one.” 

He said the duty to protect the environment is both an individual and collective responsibility, adding that “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,” said Pope Francis.

The Assembly of the Council of Europe convened a high-level panel and interactive debate on the theme, “The environment and human rights.” 

The conference, which ran from September 27 to 30 in Strasbourg, France, focused on the “right to a safe, healthy and sustainable environment.” 

The Holy See is an Observer Country but “follows with particular attention and interest every activity of the Council of Europe,” said Pope Francis. 

The pontiff reiterated his call to attend to the issues of the environment that “require our reflection and our collaboration.”

“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 goodwill who has a heart in protecting the environment,” he said. 

Pope Francis commended the council for taking into consideration the “fundamental principle of multilateralism,” which he said is “a valid contribution” for the next United Nations climate summit that will happen next month in Glasgow.

“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,” he said. 

Pope Francis called for concrete ecological action, adding that “there is no more time to wait, we must act.”

“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,” he said. 

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