Speaking to thousands of faithful assembled in a general audience, Pope Francis denounced what he called the world's "culture of waste." It is this culture of waste, said the Pope, that leads not only to environmental degradation but also extends to a mentality that has led to a lack of reverence for human life.
 
The June 5 address by the Pope spoke to what he called "human ecology" and the influence of the culture of waste in which he said the waste of food, for example, is equivalent to stealing from the poor. “The popes have spoken of human ecology, closely linked to environmental ecology,” Francis said. “We are living in a time of crisis. We see this in the environment, but above all we see this in mankind. The human person is in danger: this is certain, the human person is in danger today, here is the urgency of human ecology.”
 
“And it is a serious danger because the cause of the problem is not superficial, but profound,” the pope added. “It is not just a matter of economics, but of ethics and anthropology.”
 
Speaking on what had been heralded as World Environment Day, Pope Francis discussed the story of creation in the Book of Genesis and God's intention that men and women were placed on earth to care for it. “And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean?” Pope Francis asked. He echoed the words of Pope Benedict XVI, who said that the world must “grasp the rhythm and logic of creation” in order to follow through with God's plan.
 
Pope Francis said of the gift of creation received from God, "But we are often driven by pride of domination, of possessions, manipulation, of exploitation; we do not ‘care’ for it, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a free gift that we must care for. We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation … we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs."
 
"The popes have spoken of human ecology, closely linked to environmental ecology. We are living in a time of crisis: we see this in the environment, but above all we see this in mankind ... Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules. God our Father did not give the task of caring for the earth to money, but to us, to men and women: we have this task! Instead, men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the 'culture of waste."
 
Speaking to the contrast between rich and poor, the Pope said ":If you break a computer it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs, the dramas of so many people end up becoming the norm. If on a winter’s night, here nearby in Via Ottaviano, for example, a person dies, that is not news. If in so many parts of the world there are children who have nothing to eat, that's not news, it seems normal. It cannot be this way! Yet these things become the norm: that some homeless people die of cold on the streets is not news. In contrast, a ten point drop on the stock markets of some cities, is a tragedy. A person dying is not news, but if the stock markets drop ten points it is a tragedy! Thus people are disposed of, as if they were trash." 
 
"We should all remember, however, that throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the the poor, the hungry! I encourage everyone to reflect on the problem of thrown away and wasted food to identify ways and means that, by seriously addressing this issue, are a vehicle of solidarity and sharing with the needy." 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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