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.

Expo Zaragoza 2008

21 May 08 | Posted in Vatican

The Holy See will participate in an international expo on “Water and Sustainable Development.” Expo Zaragoza 2008 will be held June 14-September 14, 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain. The Vatican pavillion will offer reflections on the divine and human dimensions of water.logo_expo.gif

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, emphasized that “clean water and safe sanitation are acknowledged as essential elements in the lives of every human being.”

Christians and Buddhists Together

2 May 08 | Posted in Stewardship, Vatican

Christians and Buddhists share a common concern for the environment and can do more to protect the planet that is home for us all, says the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, president of the council, and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary, affirmed this in a greeting sent to Buddhists for their festival of Vesakh.buddha1.jpg

Noting that the U.N. general assembly declared 2008 as the International Year of Planet Earth, Cardinal Tauran and Archbishop Celata affirmed that “Christians and Buddhists respect the same creation and have a common concern to promote care for the environment which we all share.”

“Christianity and Buddhism have always upheld a great respect for nature and taught we should be grateful stewards of the earth,” the note continued. “Indeed it is only through a profound reflection on the relationship between the divine Creator, creation and creatures that attempts to address environmental concerns will not be marred by individual greed or hampered by the interests of particular groups.”

The pontifical council message asked if more could be done on a practical level, and proposed: “Recycling, energy conservation, the prevention of indiscriminate destruction of plant and animal life, and the protection of waterways all speak of careful stewardship and indeed foster goodwill and promote cordial relations among peoples.”

“In this way,” the note concluded, “Christians and Buddhists together can be harbingers of hope for a clean, safe and harmonious world.”

Food or Fuel? The Biofuels Debate

29 April 08 | Posted in Food, Vatican

The Holy See is asking for measures to keep the production of biofuels from bringing about increased food prices to the point of threatening starvation in many countries.

Monsignor Renato Volante, the permanent observer of the Holy See at the Rome-based U.N. Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), participated in the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held in Brasilla, Brazil, April 14-18, 2008.

Monsignor Volante proposed that the production of biofuels should not bring about a decrease in the production of agricultural products destined for the food market. He called on the states to consider options, keeping in mind the “essential objective” of protecting and ensuring the right to food.

Biofuels are energy sources produced from a variety of different plants or plant products. Many developed countries have begun subsidizing the production of biofuels, which has resulted in decreased production of typical plant foods.biofuels.jpg

U. N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged a coordinated effort to face the steeply rising price of food, which he said has developed into a “real global crisis.” He said some 100 million of the world’s poor now need aid to be able to buy food. Riots have broken out in some countries, such as Haiti, over the increased prices.

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

“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.