Francis calls on world leaders ‘to be protectors of one another and of the environment’
Under bright sunshine in St. Peter's Square, the Argentine pope insisted with his constant message since he was elected by a secret conclave of cardinals last week: that the Church's mission was to defend the poor and disadvantaged. Francis also called on leaders to protect the people and respect the environment.
The Church's mission means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about, he said in the homily.
He said that whenever human beings failed to care for the environment and each other, The way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically in every period of history there are 'Herods' who plot death, wreak havoc and mar the countenance of men and women.
Francis inherits a Church mired in scandals over priests' sexual abuse of children and the leak of confidential documents alleging corruption and rivalry between cardinals inside the Church government or Curia. Plus the Vatican bank, IOR, almost broke, accused of money laundering and unable to comply with the basic European Central bank standards.
In his homily, the new pope called for world leaders to be protectors of one another and of the environment... Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives. Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts.
Follow some of the excerpts from the Vatican's English translation of his homily, which the pope read in Italian.
The vocation of being a protector, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone.
It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.
It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God's gifts!
Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are Herods who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.
Please, 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.
Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be protectors, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions those build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!
Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross.
He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God's people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important.
...To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!
Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope!”