Our Green Pope

23 April 08 | Posted in Global Catholic, Vatican

“I think this pope recognizes that for this and the next generation, it may very well be that global warming is the most important international moral issue that faces humankind,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, former editor of the Jesuit magazine, America.

Pope Benedict is not the first pope to talk about the environment – his predecessor, John Paul II was an avid outdoorsman who also expressed alarm about global warming.

But experts say the pope is taking on the issue from a pulpit no one in the world can match – leader of the 1.1 billion member Roman Catholic Church – with a seriousness that is outdoing even John Paul II.green-pope.bmp

“His vocal support particularly for climate solutions could really tip the balance in world action,” said Melanie Griffin, national director for the Sierra Club. “He’s not mincing words.”

In his first homily, Pope Benedict XVI declared that “the Earth’s treasures no longer serve to to build God’s garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction.”

The pope presents climate change as a moral issue, warning that environmental neglect  especially hurts the poor and vulnerable.

Besides Genesis, Benedict and others in the church pushing for an ecological tie to faith have pointed to St. Francis of Assisi, who lived a simple life respectful of the land and wildlife.

“The Catholic Church and Benedict have never been called trendy, but their concern for the environment is an extension of what we believe about creation and what we believe about the creator,” said John Carr, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops office of justice, peace and human development.

Population control, including immigration, are issues many environmental groups believe are central to habitat protection and conservation of resources.  Their stances often go up against Church teaching on birth control and social justice.

But they have found common ground on protecting the earth from rapacious development. “The Catholic Church is not the Sierra Club at prayer, but we do share a commitment to the Earth that is based on a commitment to creation,” Carr said.

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