QUITO - Pope Francis on Tuesday said protecting the planet was no longer a choice but a duty and called for a new "social justice" where access to the earth's resources would be based on equality instead of economic interests.
In back-to-back speeches on the third day of his trip to Ecuador, the pope made his first full-court press on environmental issues since the publication last month of his landmark ecology encyclical "Laudato Si.".
Speaking before a group that included indigenous people of the Equatorial Amazon, he also renewed his call for special protection for the area because of its vital importance to the planet's ecosystem.
The pope has said he wanted the encyclical to influence a United Nations climate change summit in Paris in December and has now effectively taken his campaign to convince governments on the road. In September he takes his message to the United States and the United Nations.
"One thing is certain: we can no longer turn our backs on reality, on our brothers and sisters, on Mother Earth," he said in a first speech at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.
While he did not specifically mention climate change or its causes, he quoted often from the encyclical, which said there was a "very solid scientific consensus" on global warming and its human causes.