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Teachers,professors students, loving the world and each other.

July 14, 2015 ·  By Pope Francis

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Drawing on the encyclical, he began by reminding everyone that God does not only give us life, “he also gives us the earth, he gives us all of creation” and he gives us human beings “ a task, a mission” to “cultivate, protect and care for it.” Francis emphasized the urgency and importance of this task today, and explained that “there is a relationship between our life and that of mother earth, between the way we live and the gift we have received from God.”

He reminded his academic audience that “the human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together” and said, “We cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation.” One thing is certain, he stated, “We can no longer turn our backs on reality, on our brothers and sisters, on mother earth. It is wrong to turn aside from what is happening all around us, as if certain situations did not exist or have nothing to do with our life.”

In the university setting, he said, “it would be worthwhile reflecting on the way we educate about this earth of ours, which cries out to heaven.” He went on to pose some challenging and insightful question to both professors and students.

He asked educators:“Do you watch over your students, helping them to develop a critical sense, an open mind capable of caring for today’s world? A spirit capable of seeking new answers to the varied challenges that society sets before us? Are you able to encourage them not to disregard the world around them? Does our life, with its uncertainties, mysteries and questions, find a place in the university curriculum or different academic activities? Do we enable and support a constructive debate which fosters dialogue in the pursuit of a more humane world? “ He also raised a more general question for the family, schools and teachers: “How do we help our young people not to see a university degree as synonymous with higher status, money and social prestige. How can we help make their education a mark of greater responsibility in the face of today’s problems, the needs of the poor, concern for the environment?”

Then turning to the students, Francis asked them: “Do you realize that this time of study is not only a right, but a privilege? How many of your friends, known or unknown, would like to have a place in this house but, for various reasons, do not? To what extent do our studies help us feel solidarity with them?”Francis

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