12/15/2009, 00.00
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The Pope’s advice to Copenhagen

by Bernardo Cervellera
In his message for World Day of Peace, Benedict XVI calls for a conversion because the ecological problem is a moral issue. Man and his responsibility must be at the centre of debate otherwise policies and conferences will fail.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI's Message for World Day of Peace 2010, entitled "If you want cultivate peace, protect creation", was released just days before the conclusion of the Copenhagen conference on climate change. But Pope’s voice stands out from the chorus - sometimes not quite in agreement – of the voices expounding on the environment in recent days.

First, the concern of the pope and the Church has dramatic, but not apocalyptic, as we have used the distressing film or articles over the years. And a quote from Paul VI (1971, see No. 3) shows that the Church is concerned about the environment, even before it became fashionable or an economic interest. Sure, some of Messages’ points may find agreement among participants in Copenhagen. The inter-generational solidarity (No. 8), for example, has been much emphasized at the meeting with UN films and slogans to push for care of the climate for "future generations".

A little less intra-generational solidarity, the one between rich and poor nations (No.8). Indeed in Copenhagen they are at each others throats so that rich nations, which have caused pollution to date, take more responsibility to pay expenses and take care of the poorer countries and those at risk (small countries at the sea level, who will perish because of melting of ice).

But some themes of the message are absolutely unique and if heeded, could make really the UN conference in the Danish capital effective.

Benedict XVI said in fact that environmental care requires a conversion, a change in mentality: a change in lifestyles, making them more sober (No. 9); a change in our development model, all too often designed to "narrow economic interests "without care for creation (No. 7); experiencing solidarity "that is projected in space and time "(No. 8). In a word: the problem of protecting the environment is a moral one. Thus, " humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those     values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all. Our present crises – be they economic, food-related, environmental or social – are ultimately also moral crises, and all of them are interrelated" (no. 5).

The moral issue is not just a matter of doctrine or of techniques: it comes from a deeper and truer conception of man and God.  In the extent that the human person discovers "creation", linked to God, then he also discovers that he must be a "guardian" and not "master" of creation, a careful cultivator and not blind "exploiter" of nature (see No. 6). In Copenhagen the problem is this: on the one hand there is the search and the exaltation of any new technical solution that often hides the economic interests of rich countries towards the poor, the other is the search for a pure ecologically, where technology and man are excluded. In both cases the human person and his responsibility is missing (see No. 13).

Bjorn Lomborg, once a fierce environmentalist and now a rather 'sceptical' fears that the conference in Copenhagen will be a failure: "They will promise once again to cut carbon emissions; good documents will be drawn up and signed, and then they won’t be applied”.

For the pope, a true ecology must review certain sources of energy, concerning itself with water, forestry, waste disposal, farmers (No. 10), but above all it must reaffirm an ‘authentic human ecology '... . [that of] 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".

"Our duties towards the environment flow from our duties towards the person, considered both individually and in relation to others" (No.12)

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