Earth is fragile, pope tells astronauts
who see planet from "eyes of God"
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[November 02, 2017]
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The earth is a
fragile thing that could even destroy itself, Pope Francis told
astronauts on the International Space Station on Thursday, saying they
had an opportunity to see the planet "from the eyes of God".
Francis spent about 20 minutes in a video call to the six crew members
on the space station, asking them several questions, sometimes with the
gee-whiz wonder of a school boy.
"Hello ESA (European Space Agency) in the Vatican. This is Space
Station. We hear you loud and clear."
"Good morning or Good evening. Because when one is in space you never
know," the pope said from behind a desk with a television monitor in
front of him.
The pope seemed moved by comments by mission commander Randy Bresnik,
one of three Americans on board, who said what gave him the greatest joy
in space was "to be able to look outside and see God's creation maybe a
little bit from his perspective."
"People cannot come up here and see the indescribable beauty of our
earth and not be touched in their souls," Bresnik told the pope, adding,
"there's no borders, there's no conflict; it's just peaceful."
In his response, the pope said Bresnik had "managed to understand that
the earth is too fragile and it passes in a moment."
"It is a very fragile thing, the atmosphere is thin, so capable of doing
harm, of destroying itself, and you have gone to look at it from the
eyes of God."
Francis, the second pope to phone the space station - Pope Benedict did
so in 2011 - has made many appeals for the protection of the Earth's
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Pope Francis attends an audio-video connection with crew members of
the International Space Station, ISS Expedition 53, at the Vatican
October 26, 2017. Osservatore Romano/Handout via Reuters
An encyclical, or major letter, he published in 2015 called for
action to reduce the harm from global warming caused by human
Sergey Ryazanskiy, one of two Russians on the space station, said he
had decided to be a cosmonaut because his grandfather was one of the
chief engineers who built Sputnik, the first artificial satellite,
which the Soviet Union sent into a low Earth orbit in 1957 during
the Cold War.
"Roots are our hope and our strength. Don't forget roots," Francis
replied approvingly of the reference to being inspired by a
Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, who acted as translator for his
Russian and American crew mates, thanked the pope for coming "on
board" and "for taking us higher."
Then a voice from mission control announced: "Station: We are now
resuming normal operational communications."
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Peter Graff)
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