My comments first: The rather lenghty article below is from the Italian blog "Chiesa" written by Sandro Magister. It's Italian, so you know it has to be good! I know that many people on the far right laugh at those who want to "save the planet." And yes, there is a bit of arrogance on the part of the left thinking that we have the power to change climate and stop the pilgrimage towards the Lord's Second Coming. However, as a child of the 60's I do appreciate the fact that all people should conserve human life and the earth. I can remember when Pittsburgh, PA was the armpit of American with some of the highest pollution levels anywhere. The smog was so thick and nasty, one could not see or breathe. Because of the work of people in that community, this is no longer the case. I can remember that Native American crying in that commercial about not polluting our land and streams with all our garbage and junk. That's a good and godly lessen to learn.
We need to be more conservative about how we consume the world's goods and the effect that our pollution has on our environment. But most of all we must conserve human life from the moment of conception, provide stable home lives for children, work for peace, justice and a good quality of life for the majority of the world. These are Catholic virtues. How these are worked out in the social and political life of the world must be left to others, but the Church must offer guidance and critique to keep things on the proper track.
HOME PAGE . Chiesa news . Chiesa press . Chiesa web
"Cultivate Creation": Benedict's Green Revolution
The ecology of man comes before the ecology of nature, says the pope. Vatican experts pan the Copenhagen conference on the climate. It is a "false departure." Worse, it denies the value of human life
by Sandro Magister
ROME, December 17, 2009 – The prestigious American geopolitics magazine "Foreign Policy" has ranked Benedict XVI 17th among the "top 100 global thinkers" of the year: those who with their "big ideas shaped our world in 2009."
Among the achievements of Pope Benedict recognized by "Foreign Policy" is that he "has positioned the church prominently and unexpectedly as an advocate for the environment and warned against the perils of climate change."
But what is the "green revolution" that Benedict XVI is proposing?
The answer has come in the message that will accompany the upcoming World Day of Peace, the one that the Church of Rome celebrates every January 1.
The message for the New Year of 2010 was signed by the pope on December 8, and made public three days ago, precisely when representatives from all nations had gathered in Copenhagen for a combative and unproductive world conference on the climate.
The message can be read in its entirety in seven languages, on the Vatican website. And its title is an agenda in itself:
> "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation"
Further below, three of the salient passages are reproduced, taken from the sixth, twelfth, and thirteenth paragraphs of the document.
At the center of the message is a biblical image: that of the garden of creation, entrusted by God to man and woman for them to protect and cultivate.
Nature therefore has no primacy over man, nor is man a tiny part of nature. Nor, in his turn, can man usurp the right to despoil nature instead of taking care of it.
The correct relationship between the human being and the earth is the one marvelously depicted in the masterpiece by Piero della Francesca from 1472, a detail of which is reproduced above. The landscape in the background is cultivated, orderly and luminous, just as the woman in the foreground, the wife of the landowner, Federico da Montefeltro, is nobly "illuminated" with pearls.
One of the essential concepts of the message of Pope Benedict is precisely this. The ecology of nature and the ecology of man share the same destiny. Care for creation must be one and the same with care for the "inviolability of human life in every one of its phases and every one of its conditions."
It all goes together: care for nature, respect for the dignity of man, and peace among peoples. Wherever hatred and violence break out, nature weeps as well. A devastated landscape and an uninhabitable city are the product of a humanity that has made a desert of its own soul.
Here, then, are the three key paragraphs from the message for the Day of Peace 2010: "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation."
THE COMMAND TO CULTIVATE AND PROTECT THE EARTH
 What we call “nature” in a cosmic sense has its origin in “a plan of love and truth.” The world “is not the product of any necessity whatsoever, nor of blind fate or chance. The world proceeds from the free will of God; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, in his intelligence, and in his goodness” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 295).
The Book of Genesis, in its very first pages, points to the wise design of the cosmos: it comes forth from God’s mind and finds its culmination in man and woman, made in the image and likeness of the Creator to “fill the earth” and to “have dominion over” it as “stewards” of God himself (cf. Gen 1:28). The harmony between the Creator, mankind and the created world, as described by Sacred Scripture, was disrupted by the sin of Adam and Eve, by man and woman, who wanted to take the place of God and refused to acknowledge that they were his creatures. As a result, the work of “exercising dominion” over the earth, “tilling it and keeping it”, was also disrupted, and conflict arose within and between mankind and the rest of creation (cf. Gen 3:17-19). Human beings let themselves be mastered by selfishness; they misunderstood the meaning of God’s command and exploited creation out of a desire to exercise absolute domination over it.
But the true meaning of God’s original command, as the Book of Genesis clearly shows, was not a simple conferral of authority, but rather a summons to responsibility. The wisdom of the ancients had recognized that nature is not at our disposal as “a heap of scattered refuse” (Heraclitus, 535-475 B.C.).Biblical Revelation made us see that nature is a gift of the Creator, who gave it an inbuilt order and enabled man to draw from it the principles needed to “till it and keep it” (cf. Gen. 2:15).
Everything that exists belongs to God, who has entrusted it to man, albeit not for his arbitrary use. Once man, instead of acting as God’s co-worker, sets himself up in place of God, he ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, “which is more tyrannized than governed by him”. Man thus has a duty to exercise responsible stewardship over creation, to care for it and to cultivate it (Caritas in Veritate, 50).
ECOLOGY OF NATURE, BUT OF MAN FIRST
 The Church has a responsibility towards creation, and she considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public life, in order to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone, and above all to save mankind from the danger of self-destruction.
The degradation of nature is closely linked to the cultural models shaping human coexistence: consequently, “when ‘human ecology’ is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits” (Caritas in Veritate, 51).
Young people cannot be asked to respect the environment if they are not helped, within families and society as a whole, to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible; it includes not only the environment but also individual, family and social ethics (Caritas in Veritate, 15.51). Our duties towards the environment flow from our duties towards the person, considered both individually and in relation to others.
Hence I readily encourage efforts to promote a greater sense of ecological responsibility which, as I indicated in my encyclical "Caritas in Veritate", would safeguard an authentic “human ecology” and thus forcefully reaffirm 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 (Caritas in Veritate, 28.51.61).
There is a need to safeguard the human patrimony of society. This patrimony of values originates in and is part of the natural moral law, which is the foundation of respect for the human person and creation.
WHAT SEPARATES MAN FROM THE OTHER LIVING BEINGS
 Nor must we forget the very significant fact that many people experience peace and tranquillity, renewal and reinvigoration, when they come into close contact with the beauty and harmony of nature. There exists a certain reciprocity: as we care for creation, we realize that God, through creation, cares for us.
On the other hand, a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person. If the Church’s magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things.
In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the “dignity” of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms.
The Church, for her part, is concerned that the question be approached in a balanced way, with respect for the “grammar” which the Creator has inscribed in his handiwork by giving man the role of a steward and administrator with responsibility over creation, a role which man must certainly not abuse, but also one which he may not abdicate. In the same way, the opposite position, which would absolutize technology and human power, results in a grave assault not only on nature, but also on human dignity itself (Caritas in Veritate, 70).
FIRST NOTE. FROM MOSCOW WITH LOVE
The message "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation" repeatedly cites the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," the most recent product of the magisterium of the Church of Rome in matters of social doctrine.
An interesting parallel is the document with similar content published by the patriarchate of Moscow in 2000, with the title "The foundations of the social doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church," the development of which was outlined by www.chiesa in a recent article.
The harmony between this document and the message of Benedict XVI for the World Day of Peace 2010 is very strong. For example, where it says:
"Ecological problems have a substantially anthropological character, being generated by man and not by nature. The anthropogenic basis of ecological problems demonstrates that we tend to change the world around us in keeping with our interior world, and precisely for this reason the transformation of nature must begin with the transformation of the soul. According to the thought of Maximus the Confessor, man will be able to transform the whole earth only when he has brought paradise within himself."
SECOND NOTE. THE "FALSE DEPARTURE" OF COPENHAGEN
In paragraph 4, the message "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation" lists among the warning signs "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."
But the document does not get into specifics. It does not formulate scientific diagnoses or propose solutions.
But this is what was done in a commentary that appeared on the front page of the December 7-8, 2009 issue of "L'Osservatore Romano," written by Professor Franco Prodi, a member of the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the Italian National Research Council, as well as being the brother of Romano Prodi, the former Italian prime minister and president of the European Commission.
Professor Prodi shows that he does not at all share the environmentalist mantra according to which the increased emission of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere, on the part of man, is the cause of the warming of the planet and the rising of sea levels.
In Prodi's view, this is not a certainty, but only a probability. And in any case, it would mean a rise of the average air temperature of the entire planet "that since the beginning of the nineteenth century has been only seven tenths of a degree per century."
Much more influential over the climate, according to Prodi, are other phenomena, which to a great extent remain to be studied, such as the flow of heat inside the planet, the release of carbon dioxide by volcanoes, and above all the role of aerosols, airborne particles produced by man, which today equal "20 percent of the amount produced by nature" and modify clouds and rainfall.
But Prodi warns that it will take at least "thirty or forty years" of study before arriving at "complete climate models leading to the explanation of the system and to the certain prediction of its evolution."
And meanwhile? Meanwhile, what has been staged in Copenhagen is a "false departure," entirely based on the "measuring of emissions in the context of a strictly market economy." According to Professor Prodi, it would be much better for countries more simply to attend to the degradation of nature that is plain for all to see: polluted air, rivers and groundwater mistreated, animal and vegetable species threatened.
The complete text of the article by Franco Prodi, in the December 7-8, 2009 issue of "L'Osservatore Romano":
> La Conferenza dell'ONU sull'ambiente. Aggiustamento mercantile o accordo mondiale?
THIRD NOTE. THE POPE'S BANKER COMES OUT SWINGING
On December 17, "L'Osservatore Romano" returned to the Copenhagen Conference with a second front-page commentary, this time entrusted to Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the economist and banker who for a few months has also been the president of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione, the Vatican bank.
Gotti Tedeschi is even more radically critical than Professor Prodi about the approach of the conference. And he also makes use of the message of Benedict XVI, "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation," published two days earlier.
Here's what he writes:
"Nihilistic thought, with its rejection of all objective value and truth, causes extremely serious damage if it is applied to the economy. [...] But nihilistic thought may be causing even more serious damage on the environmental question. [...] It presumes to resolve climatic problems – where great confusion reigns – through population control and de-industrialization, instead of through the promotion of values that can lead the individual back to his original dignity. The climate conference in Copenhagen is confirming this direction, producing more conflict than solutions. [...]
"In reality, what is lacking is a strategic vision of the problem, precisely because of the widespread nihilism that goes so far as to theorize the absence value in human life compared with the presumed centrality of nature – the ecocentrism denounced by Benedict XVI – which is only damaged by man. [...]
"On the issue of the environment, therefore, vague agreements on harmful emissions are being sought, while ignoring shared ethical premises and scientific considerations. Nihilistic thought risks, that is, turning the process of globalization – which in reality is positive for poor countries – into a disorder due to the economic man, who is also the cause of environmental problems and therefore a candidate for self-elimination. [...] The environmentalists do well to urge greater attention to nature. But they would do better to read 'Caritas in Veritate' as well. They would understand why – but above all for whose sake – the environment must be respected."
The complete text of the article by Ettore Gotti Tedeschi in the December 17, 2009 issue of "L'Osservatore Romano":
> Incertezze del vertice di Copenaghen. Per chi salvare l'ambiente
English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.