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Pope: ‘We Can’t Stay Silent Before One of Greatest Environmental Crises in History’

During Mass in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Pope Tells Indigenous ‘Our Ravaged ‘Throwaway Culture’ Needs You!’

Pope Francis says we can no longer remain silent before one of greatest environmental crises in world history.

He expressed this during the Mass he celebrated this morning with the indigenous community of Chiapas, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Mexico, in the municipal sports centre, noting that as civilization plunders its riches, they ought to learn from the indigenous’ harmony with nature.

The Pontiff began drawing his inspiration from the Psalm heard, which said, ‘The law of the Lord is perfect; it revives the soul.’

The Jesuit Pope noted how the psalmist ‘diligently lists’ everything that the law offers to those who hear and follow it, including reviving the soulgiving wisdom to the simplegladdening the heart, and giving light to the eyes.

This is the law which the people of Israel received from the hand of Moses. Suffering slavery and the Pharaoh’s tyranny, God said, “Enough! No more! I have seen their affliction, I have heard their cry, I know their sufferings (Ex 3:9).”

God’s Face Appears

At this point, the Pope noted, “the true face of God is seen,” and His Word and Law become a symbol of freedom, happiness, wisdom and light.

In the midst of history’s darkest moments, Francis explained, God revealed His face to those who trusted Him.

“In this expression, one hears the yearning to live in freedom, there is a longing which contemplates a promised land where oppression, mistreatment and humiliation are not the currency of the day.

“In the heart of man and in the memory of many of our peoples is imprinted this yearning for a land, for a time when human corruption will be overcome by fraternity, when injustice will be conquered by solidarity and when violence will be silenced by peace.”

Darkness to Not Have Last Word

Our Father, the Holy Father explained, not only shares this longing, but has himself ‘inspired it’ and ‘continues to do so’ in giving us His Son, Jesus, Who walks by our side and sustains His people.

“He becomes the Way, he becomes the Truth, he becomes the Life, so that darkness may not have the last word and the dawn may not cease to rise on the lives of his sons and daughters.”

Efforts to Anaesthetize Our Souls

In many ways, the Pope lamented, there have been attempts to silence and dull this yearning, and efforts “to anaesthetize our soul” and to “subdue and lull our children and young people into a kind of lassitude by suggesting that nothing can change, that their dreams can never come true.

“We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will,” Francis decried.

Our wounded, sinful condition takes its hurt out on the planet, the Pope stressed, leaving the Earth herself to ‘groan in travail’ and be “among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.

Cannot Remain Silent

The environmental challenge that we are experiencing and its human causes, the Pope said, affects us all and demands our response.

“We can no longer remain silent before one of the greatest environmental crises in world history,” he said.

“In this regard, you have much to teach us. Your peoples, as the bishops of Latin America have recognized, know how to interact harmoniously with nature, but yet on many occasions, your people have been misunderstood and excluded from society.”

Francis noted how some have considered their values, culture and traditions “to be inferior,” and others, “intoxicated by power, money and market trends, have stolen your lands or contaminated them.”

‘How sad this is! How worthwhile it would be for each of us to examine our conscience and learn to say, “Forgive me!”

Our Ravaged ‘Throwaway Culture’ Needs You

“Today’s world, ravaged as it is by a throwaway culture, needs you,” he said.

The Pontiff pointed out how culture nowadays seeks to suppress cultural heritage, seeking a homogenized world, and underscored how this makes even more critical that today’s youth “cling to the wisdom of their elders!”

“Today’s world, overcome by convenience, needs to learn anew the value of gratitude!”


After making these appeals, the Holy Father reminded the indigenous present how we ought to rejoice in the certainty that, “The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us.”

After the Mass, the Pontiff will have lunch with indigenous representatives and the papal entourage. At 3 p.m. he will visit the Cathedral of San Cristobal de Las Casas.


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About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a 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 four languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': or

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