Video: Pope Francis speaking on environment at White House.

Pope Francis on environment:

“we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honour it.”

From Scottish Catholic Observer:

At White House the Holy Father commended the US President for proposing ‘an initiative for reducing air pollution;’ Barack Obama said he had seen first-hand how the Catholic Church had helped the poor and homeless.

Pope Francis quoted Martin Luther King Jr as he told 11,000 people gathered on the White House lawn that climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation and that freedom, including religious freedom, must be protected.

The Pope was speaking this afternoon beside US President Barack Obama at the official beginning of his visit to the US.

“We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change,” the Pope said, quoting from Laudato Si’. “Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them.

“Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honour it.”

The Pope was borrowing a phrase the civil rights leader used in his I Have a Dream speech in Washington in 1953.

“The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom,” the Pope added. “I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.”

Earlier, the Holy Father had praised President Obama for passing initiatives to reduce air pollution.