Respect for nature starts with respect for man and all his rights, says Pope
In his speech to the diplomatic corps, Benedict XVI recalls the suffering of Christians in Iraq, Pakistan and Egypt and again launches an appeal for a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The hope that Lebanon will continue on the path of harmony and for Iran, that it may find "shared solutions, both nationally and internationally." Relativism, that despises religion, is a "dead end".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Respect for creation is "a moral need, in as much as nature expresses a plan of love and truth which is prior to us and which comes from God" and has man in first place, with all his rights. Benedict XVI returned to speak today dedicated of the true meaning of ecology, the subject of his message for World Day of Peace this year, and also of his long address to representatives of the 178 countries that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The States are joined by representatives of the European Union, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a mission of special character: the Office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Thus it was in the name of man that the Pope touched on issues like the need to take the road for real nuclear disarmament as well as indicating the highs and lows of the current international climate. Highs such as the "rapprochement undertaken between Colombia and Ecuador, after several months of tension," "understanding between Croatia and Slovenia" in regard to their sea and land borders, the agreement between Armenia and Turkey, " for the resumption of diplomatic relations" and Lebanon, "which has emerged from a lengthy political crisis, to continue along the path of concord".

The areas of concern are far greater in number and saw Benedict XVI launch a fresh appeal " for a universal recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist and to enjoy peace and security within internationally recognized borders.  Likewise, the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign and independent homeland, to live in dignity and to enjoy freedom of movement, ought to be recognized.  I would also like to request the support of everyone – continued the Pope - for the protection of the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem, and of its cultural and religious heritage, which is of universal value.  Only thus will this unique city, holy yet deeply afflicted, be a sign and harbinger of that peace which God desires for the whole human family.  Out of love for the dialogue and peace which protect creation, I exhort the government leaders and the citizens of Iraq to overcome their divisions and the temptation to violence and intolerance, in order to build together the future of their country.  The Christian communities also wish to make their own contribution, but if this is to happen, they need to be assured respect, security and freedom.  Pakistan has been also hard hit by violence in recent months and certain episodes were directly aimed at the Christian minority.  I ask that everything be done to avoid the reoccurrence of such acts of aggression, and to ensure that Christians feel fully a part of the life of their country.  In speaking of acts of violence against Christians, I cannot fail to mention also the deplorable attack which the Egyptian Coptic community suffered in recent days, during its celebration of Christmas”.

A thought for Iran, with the hope “that through dialogue and cooperation joint solutions will be found on the national as well as the international level”.

But even before the individual situations, the thoughts of the Pope went to the " current self-centred and materialistic way of thinking which fails to acknowledge the limitations inherent in every creature”, which "also threatens creation". One example of this has become apparent in Europe after the fall of the Wall, where it was notably evident "the great harm which an economic system lacking any reference to the truth about man had done not only to the dignity and freedom of individuals and peoples, but to nature itself, by polluting soil, water and air". " The denial of God distorts the freedom of the human person, yet it also devastates creation".

Nevertheless, " Sadly, in certain countries, mainly in the West, one increasingly encounters in political and cultural circles, as well in the media, scarce respect and at times hostility, if not scorn, directed towards religion and towards Christianity in particular.  It is clear that if relativism is considered an essential element of democracy, one risks viewing secularity solely in the sense of excluding or, more precisely, denying the social importance of religion.  But such an approach creates confrontation and division, disturbs peace, harms human ecology and, by rejecting in principle approaches other than its own, finishes in a dead end.  There is thus an urgent need to delineate a positive and open secularity which, grounded in the just autonomy of the temporal order and the spiritual order, can foster healthy cooperation and a spirit of shared responsibility".  


The Pope concluded by pointing out that "that the struggle for access to natural resources is one of the causes of a number of conflicts, not least in Africa, as well as a continuing threat elsewhere?  For this reason too, I forcefully repeat that to cultivate peace, one must protect creation!  Furthermore, there are still large areas, for example in Afghanistan or in some countries of Latin America, where agriculture is unfortunately still linked to the production of narcotics, and is a not insignificant source of employment and income.  If we want peace, we need to preserve creation by rechanneling these activities; I once more urge the international community not to become resigned to the drug trade and the grave moral and social problems which it creates”.