The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network has taken the unusual step of publishing a second ‘Pope Video’ for the month of September. Usually only one video from the Pope per month is released. This second video is an extended version and involves a collaboration with renowned French journalist and environmental photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand to promote Pope Francis’s concern for the seas and oceans of the world. In it he urges us to pray that politicians, scientists and economists work together to protect the world’s seas and oceans.
The extended video has been released against the backdrop of teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg opening the United Nations Climate Action Summit, and children worldwide, including thousands of Irish children, partaking in global climate protests.
The Pope says, “I’d like to speak to you about something that’s very important and that weighs on my heart: to speak about the oceans”. “Lets not forget that one of every two breaths I take is thanks to the oceans.” Marine phytoplankton is responsible for the production of more than half of the planet’s oxygen, so we can say that the oceans are one of the world’s lungs. The Pope is concerned because “oceans contain the bulk of our planet’s water supply, and also most of the immense variety of living creatures.” He describes a recent meeting he had with fishermen who said, “During the last months we gathered 6 tons of plastic”. The Pope responded, “This is the death of the oceans. It is the death of every living being”.
Yann Athus-Bertrand joins Francis in proclaiming this warning and the urgency of taking measures to protect the oceans. A 2009 ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), he directed that same year his first full-length film, Home, about the state of our planet. It was seen by nearly 600 million people. “I think that the solution to save our planet will be spiritual,” commented Yann Arthus-Bertrand. “So, it’s a great honour to join Pope Francis in this official and global call for action. I totally share his values and the vision he described in Laudato Si’. I’m very proud to act with him about the vital question of the protection of the ocean environment.”
The Pope Video about protecting the oceans asks those responsible for protecting them to mobilize, and calls all Catholics to pray and to remember that “our solidarity with the ‘common home’ is born from our faith.” Francis focuses on the importance of creation, which “is a project of love given by God to humanity.”