Pope Speaks Up for the Environment

Sends Message to Seminar on Climate Change

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI joined his voice to those encouraging the protection of creation and respect for the environment.



The Pope's appeal came in a telegram signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, and sent to participants in a seminar sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The conference, being held today and Friday, is examining "Climate Change and Development."

The Holy Father invited everyone to adopt "a way of living, models of production and consumption marked by respect for creation and the need for sustainable development of peoples, keeping in mind the universal distribution of goods, as is so often mentioned in the Church's social doctrine."

The Pontiff's message expressed "sincere appreciation" for this meeting, which will study the "problems relating to the environment, ethics, economics and the political and social life with repercussions for the weakest members of society."

Disinterested research

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, inaugurated the seminar. Some 80 scholars and experts from 20 countries are participating.

Cardinal Martino expressed his wish for "a fruitful exchange of experiences, in a climate of serenity and composure, and an in-depth dialogue and disinterested research."

The 74-year-old cardinal spoke about the necessary balance between environmental education and the development of needy populations. He said the Church's social doctrine and the "very pertinent and instructive" lesson of the first few chapters of the Bible can aid in finding that balance.

According to the cardinal, humanity's dominion over creation, willed by God, must not be despotic or irresponsible. The person must "cultivate and guard" the goods of creation.

"Cultivate to develop man, all of man, all men: This is the challenge that we are faced with as we reflect upon climatic changes," Cardinal Martino said.

He added that "The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church," published by the same dicastery, underlines that environmental education is everyone's responsibility, inasmuch as the environment is a collective good made for everyone.