Musings on Pope Benedict XVI’s Papacy: Pope Benedict and the Environment
By Cecilia Calvo
Pope Benedict XVI is sometimes
called the “Green Pope” because of his environmental concerns, which are a
hallmark of his papacy. He is not embracing a new cause, but calling Catholics
to recover and live out the duty to care for creation that is anchored in
Scripture, reflected in the lives of Francis and other saints and articulated
in Catholic teaching.
Many may be surprised to learn of
the pope’s extensive writings on the environment, including an entire World Day
of Peace Message dedicated to this topic, and of his leadership in guiding the
Vatican to reduce its carbon footprint. During his papacy, the Vatican
installed solar panels on its main auditorium and is taking steps to offset its
carbon emissions by participating in a reforestation project. The Pope even has
an electric car designed for use inside the Vatican territory at Castel
Pope Benedict has been most praised
for simply bringing the importance of environmental concerns to the public’s
attention. He has successfully built upon concerns raised by earlier
pontiffs, and has been able to use his high profile to draw the attention of
the international community.
Pope Benedict has shown a wonderful
ability to articulate how interconnected and integral environmental issues are
with other areas. He has woven this concern into many discussions of other
topics such as development, the economy and globalization.The pope is particularly concerned with the
preservation of human dignity in the consideration of environmental questions, paying
close attention to the needs of those who are poor and vulnerable. In his 2009
Encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity
in Truth) Pope Benedict reminds us, “The environment is God's gift to everyone,
and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future
generations and towards humanity as a whole.”
Cecilia Calvo is the Environmental Justice Program
Coordinator at the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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