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Pope Francis delivers a blessing to an empty St. Peter's Square on April 13. Vatican Pool / Vatican Media / Vatican Pool via Getty Images

"We have sinned against the earth," Pope Francis said in a forceful Earth Day message Wednesday that reinforced the religious leader's commitment to environmental action.

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Pope Francis delivers his homily on April 9, 2020 behind closed doors at St. Peter's basilica in the Vatican. ALESSANDRO DI MEO / POOL / AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis spoke about the novel coronavirus, suggesting that the global pandemic might be one of nature's responses to the man-made climate crisis.

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Pope Francis celebrates an opening Mass for the Amazon synod, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Massimo Valicchia / NurPhoto / Getty Images

by Justin Catanoso

Pope Francis, in an effort to reignite his influence as a global environmental leader, released an impassioned document Feb. 12 entitled Dear Amazon — a response to the historic Vatican meeting last autumn regarding the fate of the Amazon biome and its indigenous people.

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Pope Francis flanked by representatives of the Amazon Rainforest's ethnic groups and catholic prelates march in procession during the opening of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region at The Vatican on Oct. 07 in Vatican City, Vatican. Alessandra Benedetti / Corbis News / Getty Images

By Vincent J. Miller

The Catholic Church "hears the cry" of the Amazon and its peoples. That's the message Pope Francis hopes to send at the Synod of the Amazon, a three-week meeting at the Vatican that ends Oct. 27.

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Franco Origlia / Getty Images / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pope Francis on Sunday — when Hurricane Dorian began pounding the Bahamas with record strength — urged the world to heed calls made by rising youth and indigenous peoples to take swift action to address the climate crisis and thereby ensure "our common future."

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We are asking Pope Francis to go vegan for Lent to protect the planet | Million Dollar Vegan

Pope Francis is being challenged to go vegan for Lent in exchange for a $1 million donation to a charity or charities of his choice.

The aim of the Million Dollar Vegan campaign—led by 12-year-old activist Genesis Butler of Long Beach, California—is to inspire people to "help fight climate change with diet change," according to a press release for the initiative.

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Pixabay

Pope Francis urged the leaders of big oil companies to see the light on climate change at a first-of-its kind conference held at the Vatican with oil executives, investors and Vatican experts, The Guardian reported Saturday.

"Civilisation requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilisation," the pope said during remarks at the end of the conference, according to The Guardian.

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This was a year of tug-of-war for the environment. With Donald Trump becoming president of the U.S. at a time when wildfires, hurricanes, and floods were devastating the country, it was challenging for scientists, activists and concerned citizens to get their voices heard. But several stood out as global leaders on climate and helped give rise to those who were silenced. Below are 14 of the most notable influencers of 2017 and how they fought for a cleaner, safer environment for all.

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Martin Schulz / Flickr

Pope Francis issued a strong message to negotiators at the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany on Thursday, warning them not to fall into "four perverse attitudes" regarding the future of the planet—"denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions."

Francis, who has long pressed for strong climate action and wrote his 2015 encyclical on the environment, renewed his "urgent call" for renewed dialogue "on how we are building the future of the planet."

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FAO / Giulio Piscitelli

By Andrew McMaster

Speaking at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on World Food Day, Pope Francis addressed the need for governments around the world to acknowledge that climate change and migration were leading to increases in world hunger.

Francis received a standing ovation after a stirring speech in which he said all three issues were interrelated and require immediate attention.

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