The Pope’s Green Message at World Youth Day

17 July 08 | Posted in Events, Global Catholic, Vatican

Environmentalism is emerging as one key theme of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Australia for World Youth Day.

Even before he left Rome, the pope struck a “green” note.  In a message to the people of Australia and the youth from around the world converging on Sydney, Benedict listed environmental concerns among the global phenomena faced by young people. pope-australia.jpg

“They see great damage, done to the natural environment through human greed,” the pope said in his message, released July 4. “They struggle to find ways to live in greater harmony with nature and with one another.”

The pope was asked by an Australian journalist about religious indifference in his country. Benedict replied that while religion does face something of a crisis in the Western world, various forces today illustrate the need for religious faith — among them, environmental challenges.

“In this historical moment, we begin to see that we do need God,” the pope said. “We can do so many things, but we cannot create our climate. We thought we could do it, but we cannot do it. We need the gift of the Earth, the gift of water, we need the Creator; the Creator re-appears in His creation. And so we also come to understand that we cannot really be happy, cannot be really promoting justice for all the world, without a criterion at work in our own ideas, without a God who is just, and gives us the light, and gives us life.”

Among other things, Benedict XVI sees the environmental movement as a promising route for the recovery of a strong sense of “natural law,” meaning the idea that moral limits to human behavior are inherent in nature. In fact, the pope believes ecology could hold the key to teaching young people about Christian morality.

If people are willing to accept that idea about the environment, Benedict may hope they will be more open to the claims of natural law in other areas of life, like sexuality and gender.

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