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Loss of Madagascar’s biodiversity is a loss for Earth, Pope says

09 / 09 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

With three shovelfuls of soil in service of a baobab plant, Pope Francis underlined a central message of his trip to Madagascar: protection of the island nation’s natural riches is vital for the country and for the preservation of the “common home.” The pontiff, who is on a seven-day visit to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, landed in Madagascar on Friday evening and met with President Andry Rajoelina on Saturday morning at the presidential palace in Antananarivo, where the tree-planting ceremony was held. “Your lovely island of Madagascar is rich in plant and animal biodiversity, yet this treasure is especially threatened by excessive deforestation, from which some profit,” Pope Francis said addressing a gathering that included senior officials, diplomats and members of civil society. “The deterioration of that biodiversity compromises the future of the country and of the earth, our common home.” Pope Francis planting a baobab tree at the presidential palace in Antananarivo, Madagascar as President Andry Rajoelina looks on. Image Courtesy: Foto ©Vatican Media In doing so, he echoed concerns laid out in his widely cited 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, which called on the faithful to act as stewards of the planet. The document, issued in the third year of his papacy, also notably addressed the issue of human-induced climate change. The visit of the head of the Roman Catholic Church was eagerly anticipated in Madagascar, where 35 percent of people identify as Catholic, according to the Vatican, including President Rajoelina. Nearly a million people showed up for the mass held…

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