The pope has called for an end to plastic pollution of the oceans and universal access to drinking water. This adds to his eco-friendly profile, but claims of an inadequate response to pedophilia accusations still swirl.
Addressing 100 business leaders at the Vatican on Saturday, Pope Francis said: "Each of us has to be responsible for others and for the future of our planet." He also reiterated that access to drinking water should be a basic human right.
This comes amid ongoing concern that Francis has not done enough to deal with pedophilia in the Catholic Church.
In his a message on the fourth World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Francis said, "We cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic."
"We need to pray as if everything depended on God's providence, and work as if everything depended on us," he said.
Read more: Want to stop plastic pollution? Take a hike
"Sadly, all too many efforts fail due to the lack of effective regulation and means of control, particularly with regard to the protection of marine areas beyond national confines."
Francis wrote a document called "Laudato Si" (Praised Be) on protecting the environment from global warming in 2015.
A growing problem
In December 2017, about 200 nations agreed to limit plastic pollution of the oceans, warning that the amount of such material could outweigh fish by 2030.
UN figures show 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean annually, killing marine life and feeding into the human food chain.
The pope also said that access "to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right" and deplored that for many it was "difficult if not impossible."
He denounced as "unacceptable" the privatization of water resources at the expense of the "human right to have access to this good."
"Our world owes a great social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity," he said.
One in nine people lack access to safe water, according to Water.org, an environmental pressure group.
Not divided by water
Francis prayed that "waters may not be a sign of separation of peoples, but of encounter for the human community," a reference to the thousands of people who have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe in search of a better life.
"Let us pray that those who risk their lives at sea in search of a better future may be kept safe," Francis added.
jbh/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)