Pope Francis called on the international community to recognize ecocide as a “crime against peace.”
Following through on a proposal made at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, Pope Francis said there are plans to include a definition of ecological sins in the church’s official teaching.
“We should be introducing — we were thinking — in the Catechism of the Catholic Church the sin against ecology, ecological sin against the common home,” he told participants at a conference on criminal justice Nov. 15.
Members of the International Association of Penal Law were in Rome Nov. 13-16 for the conference, which centered on the theme, “Criminal Justice and Corporate Business.”
Pope Francis also denounced the abuse of law and legislation to justify acts of violence and hatred.
Today’s throwaway culture, as well as other “psycho-social phenomenon” 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 that are typical of Nazism.”
“I must confess,” the pope said, departing from his prepared remarks, “that when I hear some speeches, some person in charge of order or the government, I am reminded of Hitler’s speeches in 1934 and 1936.”
“They are actions typical of Nazism that, with its persecution of Jews, gypsies and people of homosexual orientation, represent a negative model par excellence of a throwaway culture and hate,” the pope said. “That is what happened in that time and today, these things are reappearing.”
Today’s “current of punitivism, which claims to solve social problems through the penal system,” has not worked, the pope said. Instead, an “elementary sense of justice” must be applied so that “certain conduct for which corporations are usually responsible, does not go unpunished.”
Chief among those crimes, he added, are 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.”