Pope urges Christians to save polluted planet from "debris, desolation and filth"

His remarks coincide with Francis' Holy Year of Mercy, which focuses on the church's merciful side.

"Economics and politics, society and culture can not be dominated by thinking only of the short-term and immediate financial or electoral gains", he wrote. "The world's poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact".

Pope Francis is proposing adding care for the environment to the traditional, Gospel-inspired seven works of mercy that Christians are called to perform.

Catholics now subscribe to seven corporal and seven spiritual "works of mercy" - obligations that include sheltering the homeless, visiting prisoners and burying the dead.

"In fact, today there can not be a service to integral human development without special attention to migration", it said, adding that this is why in the statutes, also published today, it is placed "directly under the guidance of the Holy Father".

He asked the world's one billion Roman Catholics to embrace a green agenda, saying defence of the environment should be added to the works of mercy that provide believers with guiding principles and duties they are meant to follow.

The Pope went on to say, "The sciences alone, however, whether natural or physical, are not sufficient to understand the mystery contained within each person: when man is viewed in his totality", he continued, "we are able to have a profound understanding of the poorest, those most in need, and the marginalized".

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday sent greetings to the Christian Social Congress taking place in Doorn, in the Netherlands.

Increase in US home prices slightly less than forecast
Economists said this supported views by Federal Reserve officials that the jobs market was either at or near full employment. According to Blerina Uruci of Barclays Research, the higher reading suggests consumer spending will be on the upswing.

After doing a honest examination of conscience, "we can confess our sins against the Creator, against creation, and against our brothers and sisters", he said, explaining that we confess sins against the environment because "we are penitent and desire to change".

At a Vatican press conference presenting Francis' message Thursday, Cardinal Peter Turkson said the pontiff is calling people around the world to "take a long and hard look at our lifestyles" and to recognize our individual and institutional failings.

In comments to journalists, Terence Ward, author of the book "The Guardian of Mercy" on famous Renaissance painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio's work "The Seven Works of Mercy", and who was also present at the September 1 news conference, said the new work of mercy is meant to be a concrete action that "helps you change your way of thinking".

"Instead, they urgently need to be redirected to the common good, which includes sustainability and care for creation".

As a corporal work of mercy, he said, it "requires simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness and makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world".

"To give polluted water to someone who is thirsty doesn't make sense: Clean the water up first", said Ward.

Quoting his 2015 encyclical on the care of creation, the Pope said that concrete steps to live in a manner more respectful of creation include "avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices".

"And to realise that when we hurt the Earth, we also hurt the poor".

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