VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Following a proposal made to the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, Pope Francis said there are plans to include a definition of ecological sins in official Church teaching.
“We should introduce – we thought – into the Catechism of the Catholic Church the sin against ecology, the ecological sin against the common home,” he told attendees at a November 15 criminal justice conference. .
Members of the International Association of Criminal Law were in Rome from November 13-16 for the conference, which focused on the theme “Criminal Justice and Business”.
Pope Francis also denounced the abuse of law and legislation to justify acts of violence and hatred.
Today’s throwaway culture, along with other “psychosocial phenomena”, threatens 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,” the pope said, departing from his prepared remarks, “that when I hear speeches, someone 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 quintessential negative model of a culture of throwaway and hatred,” the pope said. “That’s what happened then and now those things are coming back.”
Today’s “current 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 corporations are generally responsible does not go unpunished”.
Foremost among these crimes, he added, are acts which “can be considered ‘ecocide’: the massive contamination of air, land and water resources, the large-scale destruction of flora and wildlife, and any action likely to produce an ecological catastrophe or destroy an ecosystem.”
Pope Francis 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 appeal to all leaders and representatives of this sector to contribute to efforts to ensure adequate legal protection of our common home”.
In the synod’s final document, the bishops defined ecological sin as a sin against God and future generations that “manifests itself in acts and habits that pollute and destroy the harmony of the environment.”
A true model of justice, the pope said, 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,” the pope said. “I don’t think it’s a utopia, but it’s a great challenge. A challenge that we must all meet if we want to deal with the problems of our civilized coexistence in a rational, peaceful and democratic way.”