• The Green Pope isn't who you think it is.

    From Allen Prunty@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Nov 28 03:20:50 2016
    There once was a Pope called The Green Pope.

    He earned the title from both the religious and the secular alike,
    because he wrote frequently about the environment and asked all
    Catholics to be better stewards of Gods creation.

    Under this popes pontificate, the Vatican became the worlds first
    sovereign state to become carbon-neutral, meaning that all of the small countrys greenhouse gas emissions are offset by renewable energies and
    carbon credits, thanks to extra trees and solar panels. He also made use
    of a more energy efficient, partially electric popemobile.

    No, The Green Pope is not Pope Francis.

    Its his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, which may come as a surprise to
    those who believe Benedicts legacy was his staunch conservatism.

    During the World Day of Peace celebration in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI
    chose the theme If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation.

    We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment,
    he said.

    Drawing on the wisdom from his own predecessors, including Pope John
    Paul II, Pope Leo XIII and Pope Paul VI, Benedict in his message
    implored his flock to view climate change and care for creation as an
    extension of the Churchs care for humanity. He also addressed the
    phenomenon of environmental refugees several years before Francis noted
    the environments contribution to the current refugee crisis.

    Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such
    realities as 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? Can we
    disregard the growing phenomenon of environmental refugees, people who
    are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it
    and often their possessions as well in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the
    face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural
    resources? Benedict asked in his message.

    All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human
    rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development, he

    This was not the only time Pope Benedict addressed the environment and
    climate change. In Sydney in 2008, he told the young people of World
    Youth Day in his opening remarks that care for creation and care for
    humanity are interconnected.

    The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and
    peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for
    humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound
    reflection on the innate dignity of every human life from conception to
    natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable,
    he said.

    He even managed to work the topic into his 2007 apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, on the topic of Eucharist as the source and
    summit of the life and mission of the Church.

    In the letter, in a section entitled The sanctification of the world and
    the protection of creation, Pope Benedict XVI noted that even the
    liturgy reminds the faithful of the importance of Gods creation when the
    priest raises to God a prayer of blessing and petition over the bread
    and wine, fruit of the earth, fruit of the vine and work of human hands,
    he wrote.

    With these words, the rite not only includes in our offering to God all
    human efforts and activity, but also leads us to see the world as God's creation, which brings forth everything we need for our sustenance. The
    world is not something indifferent, raw material to be utilized simply
    as we see fit. Rather, it is part of God's good plan, in which all of us
    are called to be sons and daughters in the one Son of God, Jesus Christ,
    he added.

    His writings on the topic were so prolific and profound that he is
    quoted numerous times in Pope Francis environmental encyclical, Laudato

    Like Benedict and his other papal predecessors, Pope Francis noted that
    an ecology of the environment was directly related to a proper human

    There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a
    renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being
    among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then our
    overall sense of responsibility wanes, Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si, quoting Benedict XVI.

    Care for creation, or for our common home, as Francis often calls it,
    will most likely continue to be one of the primary concerns of his
    pontificate. Besides his encyclical, Pope Francis frequently speaks
    about climate change and the environment in various audiences, including
    when he became the first pope to address the United States Congress last

    But the important intellectual and practical groundwork laid by his predecessors, and particularly by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, cannot be overlooked.

    This article was originally published Oct. 11, 2016.

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