Pope Francis backs environment cleanups during pandemic

Francis, speaking to a few hundred people gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, encouraged initiatives to care for the planet that began as a result of the pandemic, such as one on Sunday to clean up the banks of the Tiber River in Rome.

Pope Francis, framed by one the fountains that adorn St' Peter's Square, delivers his blessing as he recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, June 21, 2020.
Pope Francis, framed by one the fountains that adorn St' Peter's Square, delivers his blessing as he recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, June 21, 2020. –(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is encouraging grass-roots movements to protect the environment after coronavirus lockdowns have “revealed once more the beauty of so many places free from traffic and noise.”

Francis, speaking to a few hundred people gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, encouraged initiatives to care for the planet that began as a result of the pandemic, such as one on Sunday to clean up the banks of the Tiber River in Rome.

Francis has made environmental protection a hallmark of his papacy and just this past week, the Vatican released a guide on implementing his 2015 encyclical “Praised Be,” which blamed wealthy countries and corporate interests for destroying the Earth in search of profit.

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Scientists around the world are studying the effects of lockdowns and industrial shutdowns on air and sea pollution as well as wildlife.

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