Religious leaders: Environmental destruction "is a sin"

Destroying Earth's environments is a sin -- plain and simple. 

  Time for another big flood?

Time for another big flood?

While many hold something akin to this view, it's remarkable to hear it said so forcefully by Pope Francis I, the leader of the world's Roman Catholic faithful.

Pope Francis made the off-the-cuff remark recently in southern Italy, when speaking to a local farmer.

"I fully agree with what has been said about 'safeguarding' the Earth, to bear fruit without 'exploitation'.  This is one of the greatest challenges of our time," said the Pontiff.

"In my [South American] homeland, I see many forests, which have been stripped ... that becomes land that cannot be cultivated, that cannot give life."

In May, Pope Francis also underscored the responsibility of humankind to act as "Custodians of creation".

The Pope's remarks follow not long after a 'Fatwa' was declared by Indonesia's Muslim leaders, making it a religious offense to participate in illegal wildlife trafficking.  

And in 2010, global religious leaders called on the world's political leaders at the G20 Summit in Canada to make environmental protection a top priority, along with alleviating poverty.

While a few religious pacesetters have long emphasized sustainability, could this be a fundamental new development?   Are mainstream religious leaders beginning to elevate environmental protection to something approaching sacrosanct behavior?

With Earth's environmental challenges growing daily, let's pray that they do.