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Jan 1, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI's Human Ecology - "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation"

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Photo: BBC
On January 1, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a message for the World Day of Peace that focused on mankind's need to protect the environment.

The Independent Catholic News, reported excerpts of the speech highlighting the Pope's position that humanity has created "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."

The Pope pointed out that there are certain basic human rights that can be jeopardized by environmental degradation including the right to life, food, health, and development. Environmental concerns that threaten humanity are 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. These problems create suffering for "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."

The Pope called for a greater "inter-generational solidarity" to protect basic human rights to water and food. He noted that industrialized countries must learn to curb their consumerism for the greater good of humanity. For the benefit of people now and in future generations, human activitiy must not "compromise the fruitfulness of the earth." Industrialized nations must join with developing countries to help protect the environment.

In his view, "this would be accomplished more easily if self-interest played a lesser role in the granting of aid and the sharing of knowledge and cleaner technologies." One of the keys to this is finding energy resources that are sustainable and satisfy the energy needs of the present and future generations.

Science and technology have a role to play in achieving sustainable development. According to the Pope, there is a "need to encourage research into, and utilisation of, forms of energy with lower impact on the environment and a worldwide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them". In his opinion, "human intelligence [must] be directed to technological and scientific research and its practical applications."

The Pope believes that under the principle of subsidiarity, everyone should be committed at his or her proper level to working to overcome consumerism and the waste of energy sources. This will lead to ecological responsibility that is "ever more deeply anchored in respect for "human ecology". In his Encyclical Caritas in Veritate he defined human ecology as promoting a sense of greater ecological responsibility within the context of "reaffirming the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one is trained in love of neighbour and respect for nature."

The Pope concludes, "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation. The quest for peace by people of good will surely would become easier if all acknowledge the indivisible relationship between God, human beings and the whole of creation."

For more see:

"Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the Celebration of World Peace Day speech, Vatican, Italy, 1 January 2010.

"Pope Benedict: 'If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation'." Independent Catholic News, 16 Dec. 2009.

For this photo and BBC coverage of the Pope see:

Crawley, William.  "Will Pope Benedict Come to Armagh?' BBC, 23 September 2009.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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