POPE Francis said the drastic reduction in pollution during COVID-19 lockdowns globally ought to lead to greater concern for the environment.
“The lockdown has reduced pollution and revealed once more the beauty of so many places free from traffic and noise,” said Francis in a report by Reuters which cited his address from St. Peter’s Square on Sunday. “Now, with the resumption of activities, we should all be more responsible for looking after our common home,” he said.
The pope’s comments come several days after the Vatican published a 225-page manual urging Catholics to disinvest from fossil fuel industries. It also asked followers to closely monitor companies in sectors such as mining to check if they are damaging the environment.
Air and water pollution levels plummeted in many places, said Reuters.
In Venice, the usually dark waters of the city’s canals were so clean because of reduced boat traffic that fish could be seen for the first time in many years, it said.
Dolphins swam closer to ports, racoons emerged in New York’s Central Park and mountain goats roamed streets in Wales.
In some cities, such as Milan, pollution reduction spurred officials to plan more pedestrian islands and cycling paths.
The Roman Catholic Church is currently marking the fifth anniversary of Francis’ landmark encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praised Be) on the need to protect nature.
Francis, speaking a day after the United Nations World Refugee Day, also said the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need to ensure protection for refugees because they had become more vulnerable to exploitation.