Pandemic, a blessing in disguise?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how the Earth can recover "if we allow it to rest" and must spur people to adopt simpler lifestyles to help a planet "groaning", under the constant demand for economic growth, Pope Francis said on Tuesday.

In his latest, urgent appeal to help a fragile environment, Francis renewed his call for the cancellation of the debts of the most vulnerable countries. That action would be just, he said, since rich countries have exploited poorer nations' natural resources.

"In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles," Francis said in a written message.

"Already we can see how the Earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared," he wrote. "The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads." The pontiff urged people to seize the opportunity to examine habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation and diet.

Francis hailed the indigenous communities that "live in harmony with the land and its multiple forms of life."

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