By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Caring for all of creation includes paying particular attention to the needs of young people and the aged, Pope Francis told the audience of a Catholic radio station in Argentina.
As he did last August, Pope Francis granted a telephone interview Aug. 8 to a station operated by Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Campo Gallo, speaking for just under an hour with Fathers Joaquin Giangreco and Juan Ignacio Liebana.
When the priests asked Pope Francis about “Laudato Si’,” his environmental encyclical, Pope Francis emphasized the need for everyone to work together to care for each other and for the environment.
“Care for the earth, the water and for all that God has given us,” the pope said.
Pope Francis offered his support to priests and other church workers who are encouraging people to defend the forests in Argentina’s Yungas and Chaco regions; Argentina has lost millions of acres of forests in the past 30 years to commercial soybean farming operations.
“It’s heartbreaking when they clear forests to plant soybeans,” the pope said.
The encyclical, he told the radio’s listeners, is about more than protecting plants, animals, water, air and soil.
“We must make a great effort and take care of one another so as not to be a sad family; we must take care of the children and grandparents with that tenderness that Jesus taught us to have in caring for one another,” the pope said.
Human beings, he said, were not created to live alone, but as a family.
Today young people need special support to continuing being hopeful about the future and in preparing to contribute to society, work and begin families, he said. “I don’t want sad young people, youths who retire” before they even begin to work.
“Young people need to dedicate their lives to great things and do so joyfully,” he said. They need to dream because “those who don’t dream have nightmares.”
Pope Francis also asked the radio station’s listeners to pray for progress in the sainthood cause of “Mama Antula,” as Maria Antonia de Paz Figueroa was known. The 18th-century consecrated laywoman was from the province of Santiago del Estero, the same province where Campo Gallo is located.
“Mama Antula is an example of the strength of the Santiago people,” the pope said.
She promoted the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and formed a small group of young women who lived in community, prayed together, did works of charity and assisted the local Jesuits. When the Jesuits were expelled from Argentina in 1767, she cared for as many of their institutions as possible and continued directing people in the Ignatian exercises. Pope Benedict XVI declared her venerable in 2010; the verification of a miracle attributed to her intercession is needed for beatification.