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  • Writer's pictureJohn Humphreys

Benedict, Francis: in complete agreement

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

With the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, much has been made of how different his priorities were from those of his successor, Pope Francis. Yet we are reminded by the Catholic Climate Covenant in a recent post that Benedict was nicknamed the 'Green Pope' - this, thanks to his voluminous writings on the vital importance of protecting the environment, but also his actions: solar panels in the Vatican, for one.

Here are just a few of the things he said on the topic:

•‘Can we remain indifferent 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?’ (reference: here)

•‘The Earth is indeed a precious gift of the Creator who, in designing its intrinsic order, has given us bearings that guide us as stewards of his creation …’

•‘ … the natural environment is given by God to everyone. And our use of it entails a personal responsibility toward humanity as a whole, and in particular toward the poor and towards future generations …’ (reference: page 114, “The Environment” by Pope Benedict XVI, Our Sunday Visitor 2012)

•‘Experience has taught us that disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence and vice versa …’

•‘ … the destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the Earth’s resources cause grievances, conflicts and wars, precisely because they are the consequences of an inhumane concept of development.’ (reference: pages 28-29, “The Environment” by Pope Benedict XVI, Our Sunday Visitor 2012; emphasis, the author's)

•‘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. . .

•‘Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other.’ (reference: Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth [Caritas in Veritate], nos. 48, 51)

'•‘The mastery of man over life on earth, God’s creation, has become despotic and senseless. We must safeguard life on earth, God’s creation…’ (reference: here)

This just gives you a taste of how urgent AND important creation care was, and is, for these two holy men, and, it is to be hoped, for their flock.

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