Benedict XVI has already earned a reputation as the “green pope” because of his repeated calls for stronger environmental protection, as well as gestures such as installing solar panels atop a Vatican audience hall and signing an agreement to make the Vatican Europe’s first carbon-neutral state. Now he’s cemented that profile by issuing his most comprehensive document on environmental ethics to date, in the form of an annual message for the World Day of Peace.
Strikingly, the document appeared as the nations of the world were meeting in Copenhagen to hammer out a deal on climate change – one of a host of environmental threats Benedict identified as an urgent moral priority.
The pope’s language was forceful.
“How can one remain indifferent in the face of problems such as climate change, desertification, the degradation and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase in extreme weather, and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical areas?” he asked.