Pope Francis, at the end of his week-long tour through Asia, delivered a speech Sunday morning at a Manila university in which he declared that man has a God-given responsibility to protect the environment, The New York Times reports. In shirking that duty we betray God.
"As stewards of God's creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling," the text of the speech reads. According to the Times, the pope went off-script while delivering the speech; when this happens, the prepared text is considered official.
"Respect for the environment means more than simply using cleaner products or recycling what we use. These are important aspects, but not enough," the speech reads, according to the Times. "We need to see, with the eyes of faith, the beauty of God's saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person."
"This country, more than many others, is likely to be seriously affected by climate change," he told the gathered crowd on Sunday morning. In November 2013, Tyhpoon Haiyan killed at least 6,300 people, left a million homeless and displaced 4 million more.
Later on Sunday afternoon, six million people—a record-setting number—gathered to hear Pope Francis speak in the capital. "This is the largest event in the history of popes," Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told NBC News.
Earlier in the week, Francis told reporters that his papal encyclical—a letter from the pope to his biships—on the environment was nearly complete, and should be published in June. He also told reporters that he believed humans are at least partly responsible for climate change.
[Photo credit: AP Images]