'Destroying the Earth is a sin'

Pope Francis
Pope Francis: 'sins against ecology' should be added to the teachings of the Catholic Church and ecocide should be categorised as a crime against peace.


Pope Francis addressed the International Association of Penal Law in the Vatican and proposed that “sins against ecology” be added to the teachings of the Catholic Church. He also went a step further, saying “ecocide” should be a fifth category of crimes against peace at the international level.

The Pope described acts that “can be considered as ‘ecocide’: the massive contamination of air, land and water resources, the large-scale destruction of flora and fauna, and any action capable of producing an ecological disaster or destroying an ecosystem.”

He added: “By ‘ecocide’ we should understand the loss, damage and destruction of ecosystems of a given territory, so that its enjoyment by the inhabitants has been or may be severely affected. This is a fifth category of crimes against peace, which should be recognised as such by the international community.”

Global influence

This is exactly what Stop Ecocide is campaigning for. Jojo Mehta, co-founder of Stop Ecocide, said: ‘We’re thrilled to hear Pope Francis calling for serious harm to the Earth (ecocide) to be made a crime. His comments show he is aware of our work. With his global influence behind this, we hope to see many other Heads of State step forward in support.”

In order to add ecocide to the governing document of the International Criminal Court, known as the Rome Statute, any member Head of State may propose an amendment.

With a two-thirds majority the amendment can be adopted and enforced by those who sign up to it (to enforce for all 122 member States a 7/8 majority is required).

Many of the countries with the largest Catholic populations are signed up to the Rome Statute, including: Brazil (126M), Mexico (98M), Italy (50M), France (44M), Columbia (36M), Poland (33M), Spain (32M) and Democratic Republic of Congo (28M). 

For these member States - and others who aren’t, with sizable Catholic populations like the United States (71M) and the Philippines (85M) - it is important that the Pope said: "We are thinking of introducing into the Catechism of the Catholic Church the sin against ecology, ecological sin, against the common home, because it is a duty."

This Article 

This article is based on a press release from Stop Ecocide. 

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