To Mark Earth Day, Pope Francis Makes Surprise Sunday Visit to Rome's Villa Borghese

At ‘Earth Village. Living in the City Together’ Event, Francis Urges International Environmental Organizations to Respect, Forgive, Give Freely

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To mark Earth Day which was celebrated Friday,  Pope Francis made a surprise stop Sunday night to the event ‘Earth Village. Living in the City Together’ at Rome’s Villa Borghese.
Just days after world leaders officially signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at UN headquarters in New York, this Rome initiative, sponsored by Earth Day Italia, Connect 4 Climate and the Focolare Movement of Rome, was held in the Eternal City’s well-known park.

“The idea,» the Focolare Movement explained, «is to create a temporary village within the city, with the involvement of numerous initiatives which daily work to make the capital a better place in which to live, where each citizen or tourist, no matter their age, social class or culture, can experience their own irreplaceable contribution to the life of the city,” reported Vatican Radio.

During his discourse, the Pope who last year released his encyclical on the environment ‘Laudato Si: on Care for Our Common Home,’ thanked the participants for ‘turning deserts into forests’ and underscored the importance of ‘gratuitousness’ and ‘forgiveness’ as people work together in this cause.
«I give you a task to do at home,» the Argentine Pontiff also told them, «one day, when you are walking on the street, look at the faces of those you see: they are worried, each is closed in on himself, without smiles or tenderness, in other words, without ‘social friendship,’ we lack this social friendship.»
«Where there is not social friendship, there is hate and war,» the Pope warned, reiterating we are living in the Third World War in pieces. He also lamented when money is made more important than human beings and decried the exploitation of children and young people.
The Holy Father stressed that social friendship is the priority and requires not being afraid to get close to others and help them ‘freely,’ without seeking something in return. He also stressed the importance of pardoning others, because ‘only with forgiveness are spite and resentment distanced.’
The Pope reminded them to «always construct» and «never destroy,» and to overlook differences among those who work toward these goals.
Francis then asked them how does one do this, and responded: «We all have something in common, we are all human. And in this being human, we get close to one another to work with each other. ‘But I am of this religion, or of that one…’ It doesn’t matter! Go ahead and work together! Respect each other! Respect each other! And then you will see this miracle: the miracle of a desert which becomes a forest!»
The Holy Father concluded by thanking the organizers for all they do.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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