Pope Francis has called on governments across the globe to protect the oceans for the benefit of future generations. Source: Vatican News.
The Pontiff made the comments in a message to the 8th Our Ocean Conference held in Panama last week.
The conference theme was “Our Ocean, Our Connection” to highlight the importance of knowledge as “the basis of our actions and policies to ensure the protection of our ocean”.
The event took place separately but at the same time as national governments held UN-sponsored, breakthrough talks in New York in which they agreed to a new “High Seas Treaty” to codify conservation efforts of ocean areas beyond national jurisdictions.
The Pope’s message, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, was released yesterday. In it, the Pope said, “Our understanding of the complex and amazing mechanisms and balances of the oceans allows us to appreciate the role they play for everyone, not just coastal communities”.
He noted that all people depend on the oceans and are rightly considered the “common heritage” of humanity.
The oceans, he added, were given to us “as a gift from the Creator”, and we must therefore work to use them fairly and sustainably in order to pass them on to future generations.
Pope Francis urged the politicians and business leaders at the conference to embrace an “integral vision of ecology” in line with his encyclical, Laudato Si’.
He noted that the oceans face a host of threats, including pollution, acidification, and illegal fishing. The Pope also tied in the many migrant tragedies that occur on the high seas and the harsh treatment of seafarers.
He called on governments to recognise the “interconnectedness and interdependence between communities and countries” that the oceans embody.
Last month, the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania released a statement focused on the oceans, which speaks of the need for “deeper ecological conversion” and to embrace “the challenge of integral ecology”.
Pope Francis: Oceans are God’s gift for all generations (Vatican News)
The oceans of the world are interwoven with the future hopes of all peoples (FCBCO)