US & World

Pope says world leaders cowards on environment

Pope Francis waves from the popemobile as he arrives to celebrate a Mass in Samanes Park, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Monday, July 6, 2015. Latin America's first pope arrived in this port city on Monday for the first big event of a three-nation tour where he's set compassion for the weak and respect for the environment as central themes.
Pope Francis waves from the popemobile as he arrives to celebrate a Mass in Samanes Park, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Monday, July 6, 2015. Latin America's first pope arrived in this port city on Monday for the first big event of a three-nation tour where he's set compassion for the weak and respect for the environment as central themes.
Fernando Vergara/AP

Pope Francis has ended a powerful speech before a gathering of social movements with a fierce condemnation of the world's governments for what he calls "cowardice" in defending the Earth.

Francis said such cowardice is "a grave sin."

Echoing his environmental treatise of last month, the pope said the Earth is, in his words, "being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity" while "one international summit after another takes place without any significant result."

Francis made the comments Thursday evening to more than 1,500 activists — mostly from South America and many from his native Argentina. He told them the future of humanity is fundamentally not in the hands of great powers and elites but of the common people.

He urged them to keep up their struggle. Then he asked them to pray for him — and to send "good vibrations."