To mark the annual "Earth Day" celebration, on Wednesday Pope Francis delivered an impassioned address calling for the global population to take better care of the planet.
"Let us pledge to love and esteem the beautiful gift of the earth, our common home, and to care for all members of our human family," Francis declared during his weekly general audience, livestreamed from the Vatican.
Lamenting the vast damage that human beings have inflicted on the Earth, the Pope went on to issue a stark rebuke: "We have failed to care for the earth, our garden-home; we have failed to care for our brothers and sisters. We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbours and ultimately against the Creator, the benevolent father who provides for everyone and desires us to live in communion and flourish together.
"If I ask the Lord now what he thinks, I don't think he will tell me something very good. We are the ones who have ruined the work of the Lord."
Pope Francis said that Earth Day -- which has been marked every year since its inception in 1970 -- was "an occasion for renewing our commitment to love and care for our common home and for the weaker members of our human family."
In a time of such uncertainty and fear, The Holy See also offered a message of hope and redemption, adding:
"As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst.
"In today's celebration of Earth Day, we are called to renew our sense of sacred respect for the earth, for it is not just our home but also God's home. This should make us all the more aware that we stand on holy ground."