Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
December 28, 2009
Pope Benedict leads the battle charge to save Planet Earth
Pope Benedict's message for World Day of Peace 2010 is the strongest, most comprehensive statement yet by a pontiff on environmental issues. Benedict has already been dubbed "the green pope" - not only for his words but also actions such as committing the Vatican to become the world's first carbon-neutral state. This latest message will cement that image.
The pope states basic principles:
Pope Benedict, however, goes further than principles and calls for specific actions:
Pope Benedict, of course, does not mention the Alberta tarsands. That is something for the local bishop to do. In fact, the local bishop did that when Bishop Luc Bouchard issued a lengthy pastoral letter saying that future tarsands development threatens the integrity of God's creation.
"The present pace and scale of development in the Athabasca oilsands cannot be morally justified," he wrote.
Bouchard's pastoral letter is a textbook example of how a bishop should apply general principles enunciated by the pope to a specific local situation. The principles are not empty words; they have to be applied in the real world.
It is sadly ironic that Pope Benedict's message was released in the midst of the failed Copenhagen conference on climate change. "Failed" may be too strong a word. The conference did provide hopeful signs in the seemingly universal agreement that climate change is real and in the fact that talks will continue in order to reach an agreement to reverse the process of climate change.
But it was indifferent to environmental issues against which the pope warned most strongly. While world leaders did discuss the issue for nearly two weeks, their commitment to encouraging the sober lifestyles and sustainable models of economic development that the pope had urged left much to be desired.
One is compelled to ask: Have world leaders overcome indifference or is their concern only a smokescreen?
One can give no clear answer to this question. Yet the answer is crucial for the future of humanity. A responsible approach to the natural environment is an essential aspect of a culture of life. Pope Benedict is the leading voice for such a culture among world leaders. Many others must now begin to show the same level of commitment.
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