Amid a child sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, which Pope Francis has yet to directly address, Francis on Saturday decried the "emergency" of plastic debris littering the Earth's oceans.
What did Francis say?
Francis issued a message aimed at "galvanizing" Christians to begin working to conserve the Earth's environment, according to the Associated Press. A more liberal pope, environmental conservation is one of Francis' most emphasized issues.
"Sadly, all too often many efforts fail due to the lack of effective regulation and means of control, particularly with regard to the protection of marine areas beyond national confines," Francis said.
"We cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic," he explained. "Here, too, our active commitment is needed to confront this emergency."
To combat what he sees as a growing problem, Francis urged Christians to "pray as if everything depended on God's providence and work as if everything depended on us."
Why is this a problem?
It's true that a multitude of Christians worldwide see the environment, and working toward its conservation, as a major issue.
However, the Catholic church is currently facing a destructive sexual abuse scandal after Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal Nuncio to the U.S., released a scathing letter accusing Francis of essentially covering up sexual abuse allegations against Theodore Edgar McCarrick, the former Archbishop of the District of Columbia, who was forced to resign his position in the Church this year after the Vatican declared allegations against him to be "credible."
"He knew that [McCarrick] was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end," Viganò alleges.
Unfortunately, Francis has yet to address the allegations against him head on. He has said he would address them at a later date. But declaring ocean debris an "emergency" while the Catholic church faces a sexual abuse scandal is a declaration many found distasteful.