VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is urging world leaders to "listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor" and take measures to protect the environment.

Francis made the appeal Wednesday in announcing that he and the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Patriarch Bartholomew I, would be releasing a joint statement on care for God's creation on Friday.

In 2015, Francis designated Sept. 1 as the church's day for prayer for the environment, framing care for the planet as a moral issue.

In his announcement Wednesday, Francis urged everyone to be respectful and responsible toward the environment: "We also appeal to those who have influential roles to listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, who suffer the most from ecological imbalance."