Vatican City – Following a proposal made to the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, Pope Francis said there were plans to include a definition of ecological sins in the official teaching of the church.
“We should introduce – we thought – in the Catechism of the Catholic Church sin against ecology, ecological sin against the common home,” he told participants at a conference on criminal justice on November 15.
Members of the International Criminal Law Association were in Rome from November 13-16 for the conference, which focused on the theme “Criminal Justice and Business”.
François also denounced abuses of law and legislation to justify acts of violence and hatred.
Today’s throwaway culture, as well as other “psychosocial phenomena” pose threats to the common good while insidiously promoting a “culture of hate,” he said. These threats, he added, often take the form of “symbols and actions typical of Nazism”.
“I must confess,” said the Pope, departing from his prepared remarks, “that when I hear certain speeches, a person in charge of order or government, it reminds me of Hitler’s speeches in 1934 and 1936. “
“These are typical actions of Nazism which, with its persecution of Jews, Gypsies and people of homosexual orientation, represent a negative model par excellence of a culture of the throwaway and of hatred,” said the Pope. “That’s what happened then and today these things are reappearing.”
The “current stream of punitivism, which claims to solve social problems through the penal system,” has not worked, the Pope said. Instead, a “basic sense of justice” must be applied so that “certain conduct for which companies are generally responsible does not go unpunished”.
Foremost among these crimes, he added, are acts which “can be considered” ecocides “: massive contamination of air, land and water resources, large-scale destruction of flora and fauna, and any action likely to produce an ecological disaster or destroy an ecosystem. “
François also called on the international community to recognize ecocide as a “fifth category of crime against peace”.
According to the Rome Statute, which was adopted by the International Criminal Court in 1998, the four main international crimes currently established are: crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and crimes of aggression.
“On this occasion, and through you,” the Pope told conference participants, “I would like to call on all leaders and representatives of this sector to contribute to efforts aimed at ensuring adequate legal protection for our common home”.
In the final synod document, the bishops defined ecological sin as a sin against God and future generations which “manifests itself in acts and habits of pollution and destruction of the harmony of the environment”.
A true model of justice, said the Pope, can find “its perfect incarnation in the life of Jesus” who, after being violently treated and put to death, brought “a message of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation”.
“These are values that are difficult to achieve but necessary for the good life of all,” said the Pope. “I don’t think it is a utopia, but it is a great challenge. A challenge that we must all face if we are to deal with the problems of our civilized coexistence in a rational, peaceful and democratic way.”