Pope Francis has called on the international community to recognize ecocide as a “fifth category of crime against peace". He addressed members of the International Association of Penal Law in Rome at a conference on Nov. 15, which centered on the theme, “Criminal Justice and Corporate Business.”
“On this occasion, and through you,” the Pope told conference participants, “I would like to appeal to all the leaders and representatives in this sector to help with efforts in order to ensure the adequate legal protection of our common home.” By "ecocide", the Pope continued, "the loss, damage or destruction of ecosystems of a specific territory must be understood, so that its enjoyment for part of the inhabitants was or may be severely affected. This is a fifth category of crimes against peace, which should be recognized as such by the international community ".
He appealed to jurists and "to all the leaders and contacts in the sector because they contribute with their efforts to ensuring adequate legal protection of our common home". "We are thinking of introducing into the Catechism of the Catholic Church the sin against ecology, ecological sin, against the common home, because it is a duty," the Pope added.
Support for Ecocide Law also came from an ecumenical gathering of churches organised among others by the World Council of Churches last Summer. The gathering resulted in the Wuppertal call, which recommends to the World Council of Churches to 'explore the possibilities of a UN Council for the Rights of Nature and to explore recognition of ecocide as a criminal offence in the International Court of Justice [this should read International Criminal Court, FW].''
And while the Pope talked about the need to stop ecological sin, the Wuppertal call proclaims that the ecological crisis requieres ecological conversion (metanoia): a change of heart, mind, attitudes, daily habits and forms of praxis.
To restore our relation with the wider Earth community, we indeed need change on both levels. We need laws that protect our common home by criminalizing ecocide, and we need to realize - rediscover - our interconnectedness with the natural world. Restorative justice is uniquely equipped to contribute to both levels of change. Pope Francis also pleaded for restorative justice in his speech, when he said: 'we must head, certainly, towards restorative criminal justice (...) Our societies are called to advance towards a model of justice based on dialogue, on encounter, so that wherever possible, the bonds damaged by the crime may be restored and the damage repaired.'
This advocacy by the Pope to make ecocide a crime against peace and to move towards restorative criminal justice is fantastic high level support and an encouragement for all of us who plant seeds for a culture of Earth stewardship and ecological care.
Mon, 18 November