Photos from the space station show planet earth as a beautiful blue marble with two-thirds of it covered by water. But here on earth, it is not so beautiful. We hear stories and see pictures of destruction. Ocean plastics kill millions of marine animals each year. Whales die with stomachs filled with plastic refuse. Coral reefs that sustain fisheries and tourism are disappearing. Every year 300 million tons of metals, sludge, and solvents are dumped into the world’s waters. One-third of fish species are threatened with extinction.
The Bishops of the Philippines once asked: “Who has turned the wonder world of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of color and life?” We who are causing this destruction can and must reverse our direction and come to the aid of our planet. Following the lead of Pope Francis, we must protect and preserve our oceans.
How? First we must acknowledge the reality, the destruction that continues. We must grow in appreciation of the place that the oceans play in our lives. Life came from and continues to come from water, from the oceans. Pope Francis has called for an “ecological conversion.” Not only must birds and animals be protected but now the oceans themselves.
Fr. Peter Schineller, SJ
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (USA & Canada)