Pope says global leaders must take care of environment, remember poor

August 26, 2009
By Bryon Cones
Catholic News Service

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI urged world leaders to address global environmental issues "with generous courage" and reminded them that the world's resources are to be shared by all, including poorer countries.

The pope, speaking Aug. 26 at the summer papal residence outside Rome, addressed his remarks to representatives of governments and international agencies who will attend a high-level United Nations summit on climate change in September.

The pope, addressing some 3,000 people at his weekly audience in the courtyard of his villa, said the recent forest fires near Athens and water shortages elsewhere were signs that "creation is under threat." He said it was everyone's responsibility to protect the environment because "the earth is indeed a precious gift of the Creator."

Government leaders have an obligation to work together for the "protection of the environment, and the safeguarding of resources and of the climate," in respect of the law and in solidarity with weaker nations, he said.

Natural resources must be shared, he said, and the social and economic costs of consuming them "must be recognized with transparency and borne by those who incur them, and not by other peoples or future generations."

Referring to his recent encyclical, "Charity in Truth," Pope Benedict emphasized the link among solidarity with poorer countries, care for the environment and development.

"The natural environment is given by God to everyone, and so our use of it entails a personal responsibility toward humanity as a whole, particularly toward the poor and toward future generations," he said.

"It is essential that the current model of global development be transformed through a greater and shared acceptance of the responsibility for creation," made necessary not only because of environmental issues "but also by the scandal of hunger and human misery," he said.

Pope Benedict offered his support to the participants of the Sept. 22 summit in New York and encouraged them to "enter their discussions constructively and with generous courage."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called the meeting in New York in preparation for the U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December. In that meeting, nations will be called on to forge a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emission, which expires in 2012.

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Editor's Note: The text of the pope's audience remarks in English will be posted online at:

The text of the pope's audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at: