The first green pope: How Benedict’s eco-theology paved the way for Francis

By Brian Roewe
January 4, 2023

As nearly 200,000 people waited in lines outside St. Peter's Basilica this week to pay their final respects to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, it's likely more than a few spotted the glimmer of sunlight reflecting off the roof of a nearby building.

The source, 2,400 solar panels atop the Paul VI Audience Hall, stands as a lasting symbol at the Vatican of the focus that Benedict, who died Dec. 31 at age 95, placed on environmental issues during his eight-year papacy, which ended in 2013, when he became the first pope to resign in 600 years.

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