In his weekly general audience Wednesday at the Vatican, Pope Francis said the coronavirus pandemic has shown that there is a link between people's health and the state of the environment.
In his comments to his largely masked and socially distanced crowd, Francis spoke about the interconnectedness of people and the planet. He said to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, "We need to look after and care for each other. And we must support those who care for the weakest, the sick and the elderly."
The pope said people must also extend this care to what he called "our common home — to the Earth and to every creature."
Francis told the crowd that abusing the "ecosystems that God created" was a "grave sin."
He added, "Today, I was reading in the newspaper about those two great glaciers in Antarctica, near the Amundsen Sea. They are about to fall. It will be terrible, because the sea level will rise, and this will bring many, many difficulties and cause so much harm. And why? Because of global warming, not caring for the environment, not caring for the common home," he said.
The pope said there was a practical purpose in caring for the environment.
"We cannot expect to continue to grow on a material level without taking care of the common home that welcomes us," he said.
He added that exploiting nature ultimately means exploiting other people.
Francis is expected to elaborate on the themes of solidarity, fraternity and care for creation in an encyclical he is expected to sign Oct. 3 on living in the post-COVID-19 world.