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Tough Words From Pope Francis: 8 Great Quotes From His U.N. Speech

Pope Francis addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 25. Mary Altaffer/AP hide caption

toggle caption Mary Altaffer/AP

Pope Francis addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 25.

Mary Altaffer/AP

Pope Francis, addressing the U.N. General Assembly today, urged international cooperation not only to solve humanity's largest problems but to save humanity itself.

Quoting a speech to the U.N. by his predecessor Pope Paul VI in 1965, Francis said of the world today: "The real danger comes from man...."

He stressed that humans have a moral duty to protect the earth, saying that it is the creation of God and humans don't have the authority to abuse or destroy it.

The pontiff also threw his support behind the new U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. He spoke of the universal right to decent housing, clean water, jobs and education (he paused to make sure everyone heard him say for boys and girls).

The delegates rose to their feet at the end of the Pope's speech to give him a standing ovation.

Read some of his most powerful quotes on poverty, inequality and human rights from his speech at the U.N. today:

1. On the sacredness of the environment:

"Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity."

2. On climate change's impact on poverty:

"The poorest are those who suffer most from such offenses, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. They are part of today's widespread and quietly growing 'culture of waste.'"

3. On his demands to world leaders:

"...Putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labor, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism and international organized crime."

4. On the U.N.'s greatest mission:

"It must never be forgotten that political and economic activity is only effective when it is understood as a prudential activity, guided by a perennial concept of justice and constantly conscious of the fact that, above and beyond our plans and programs, we are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty, deprived of all rights."

5. On the power of people to fight global poverty:

"Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed. They must be built up and allowed to unfold for each individual, for every family, in communion with others, and in a right relationship with all those areas in which human social life develops – friends, communities, towns and cities, schools, businesses and unions, provinces, nations, etc."

6. On a minimum global standard of living:

"This absolute minimum has three names: lodging, labor and land."

7. On the success of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals:

"For all this, the simplest and best measure and indicator of the implementation of the new Agenda for development will be effective, practical and immediate access, on the part of all, to essential material and spiritual goods: housing, dignified and properly remunerated employment, adequate food and drinking water; religious freedom and, more generally, spiritual freedom and education."

8. On human dignity:

"The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic."

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