Pope urges action in face of climate 'crisis'
As talks continue in Copenhagen to address climate change, Pope Benedict XVI urged action "in the face of signs of a growing crisis which it would be irresponsible not to take seriously."
The title of his message for the World Day of Peace – “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation” – echoes the peace day message of his predecessor, Pope Paul VI: “If you want justice, work for peace.”
“Can we remain indifferent,” Benedict asks, “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?”
The World Day of Peace is observed Jan. 1, but the Vatican released the message on Tuesday.
In it, Benedict refrains from “entering into the merit of specific technical solutions,” but says “the Church is nonetheless concerned, as an ‘expert in humanity,’ to call attention to the relationship between the Creator, human beings and the created order.”
“Respect for creation is of immense consequence," he writes, "not least because ‘creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works,’ and its preservation has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind. Man’s inhumanity to man has given rise to numerous threats to peace and to authentic and integral human development – wars, international and regional conflicts, acts of terrorism, and violations of human rights. Yet no less troubling are the threats arising from the neglect – if not downright misuse – of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us. For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen ‘that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.’ ”