Pope Francis on the subway in Buenos Aires, Argentine, when serving as Archbishop Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio (Photo source: Philstar)
In his new encyclical letter,”Laudato Si’, mi’ Signore” (“Praise be to you, my Lord”), Pope Francis urges the world for deeper thinking and dialogues to tackle a range of climate-change-related problems plaguing the planet and specifically cited public transport as one of the practical steps to provide solutions to these problems.
In his 184-page letter traditionally addresses to all members of the of the Catholic Church, the Pope stresses the importance to adopt “a more critical approach” because the world can “no longer sweep [problems brought by climate change] under the carpet.” He points out that “poor transportation,” along with noise and other pollutions, are the causes to “disproportionate and unruly growth of many cities:”
“…We are conscious of the disproportionate and unruly growth of many cities, which have become unhealthy to live in…as a result of urban chaos, poor transportation, and visual pollution and noise…Neighbourhoods, even those recently built, are congested, chaotic and lacking in sufficient green space.
We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.”
In the section on Cultural Ecology, the Pope indicates, “The quality of life in cities has much to do with systems of transport.” The rising issues of traffic congestion, pollution, and over-consumption of non-renewable energy by private vehicles have led to the construction of more roads and parking areas, which in turn spoil urban landscape and destroy the beauty of cities. Public transport, writes the Pope, should be given priority and is a positive example to indicate that although these achievement may not solve all global problems, it can “show that men and women are still capable of intervening positively.”
The letter ends with an strong urge for a “ecological citizenship” in which using public transport and car-pooling are part of the ways to “make a selfless ecological commitment” to our planet.
Pope Francis is known for his personal simplicity and active interest in riding public transport.
For a full text of the encyclical letter, please go to here.