Cardinal Lauds Papal Peace Day Message

Underlines Relation of Humanity With the Environment

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WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The president of the U.S. bishops' conference is lauding Benedict XVI's message for the 43rd World Day of Peace, to be celebrated on New Year's Day.

Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, welcomed the Pope's message, and urged U.S. Catholics to work and pray for peace, a press release from the conference reported Tuesday.

The worldwide Church will celebrate the peace day on Jan. 1, focusing on the theme, "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation."

The cardinal acknowledged that the Pontiff's message "seamlessly weaves together concerns for peace, poverty and care for creation."

The Holy Father "calls on us to act to protect both human and environmental ecology for the two are inseparably linked," the prelate affirmed.

Cardinal George expressed the union of the bishops with Benedict XVI in the effort "to address the moral and human dimension of the closely connected issues of poverty, peace, environmental protection and climate change."

"We are working to protect God's creation and human life and dignity, to link human ecology and natural ecology because they are inseparable," he said.

Human development

The cardinal highlighted the Pope's message about the link between integral human development and man's relationship with the natural environment.

The Pontiff wrote, "The environment must be seen as God's gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations."

The prelate also highlighted some "poignant questions" raised by the Holy Father: "Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? 

"Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of 'environmental refugees,' people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it -- and often their possessions as well -- in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement?

"Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources?"

In response to the Pope's call, the bishops' conference is offering resources for parishes, schools and ministries, to help Catholics reflect and act on the message for this peace day.

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On the Net:

Bishops' conference resources: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/worlddayofpeacewebsite.shtml

On ZENIT's Web page:

Benedict XVI's 2010 World Day of Peace message: http://zenit.org/article-27852?l=english