Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, willingly embraces the concerns of those who would defend the environment:
215. There are other weak and defenseless beings who are frequently at the mercy of economic interests or indiscriminate exploitation. I am speaking of creation as a whole. We human beings are not only the beneficiaries but also the stewards of other creatures. Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. Let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.[Cf. Propositio 56]
He cites a document from a bishops’ conference, a quarter-century into the past:
Here I would make my own the touching and prophetic lament voiced some years ago by the bishops of the Philippines: “An incredible variety of insects lived in the forest and were busy with all kinds of tasks… Birds flew through the air, their bright plumes and varying calls adding color and song to the green of the forests… God intended this land for us, his special creatures, but not so that we might destroy it and turn it into a wasteland… After a single night’s rain, look at the chocolate brown rivers in your locality and remember that they are carrying the life blood of the land into the sea… How can fish swim in sewers like the Pasig and so many more rivers which we have polluted? Who has turned the wonderworld of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of color and life?”[Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Pastoral Letter What is Happening to our Beautiful Land? (29 January 1988)]
It is a sign of saintliness to be concerned for creatures who have been placed into our stewardship. It reflects a care and concern for our sisters and brothers. The love for animals, plants, and environments is not part of some zero-sum game–there isn’t a finite amount of love, even for the human heart. Loving one does not preclude loving others.
Francis, saint, had the measure of it:
216. Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples.