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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Sunday, September 02, 2007

    What Pope Benedict said about Creation at Loreto

    The ever-industrious Teresa Bendetta of the Papa Ratzinger Forum has uploaded the English translation of Pope Benedict's homily, delivered September 2nd in Loreto to a gathering of 300,000 youth. The press has already decided that his entire homily was primarily about saving the planet "before it's too late" (to quote from the Reuters headline). I'm going to reproduce the relevant passage where the Pope does speak about safeguarding Creation.

    This quotation consists of 162 words out of a 2,569 word address:

    One of the fields in which it is urgent to work is most definitely that of safeguarding creation. The new generations are responsible for the future of the planet, which shows evident signs of a development that has not always known to preserve the delicate balances of nature. Before it is too late, we must make courageous choices with a view to a strong alliance between man and the earth.

    We need a decisive Yes to safeguarding creation and a strong commitment to reverse those tendencies which risk bringing us to a situation of irreversible (environmental) degradation. That is why I appreciate the initiative of the Italian Church to promote greater sensitivity to the problems of protecting the environment by designating a national day for this purpose on September the first.

    This year, attention is directed towards water, a most precious asset which, unless it is shared in a just and peaceful way, will become a cause for tensions and bitter conflicts.

    ... and that's it: an entirely reasonable admonition for youth to protect Creation. Notice that the scope of the stewardship, as I read it, focuses on problems of micro environments, i.e, scarcity of water in certain regions, and a plural reference to the "balances of nature."

    Reuters has a real howler with its claim: "Intentionally wearing green vestments, [Pope Benedict] spoke to a vast crowd of mostly young people..." Yes, Pope Benedict intentionally wore green. But green is the proper liturgical color for ordinary time. It's no more a witness of support for environmentalism than wearing red would be a witness of support for communism!

    The article also says, "Last month Benedict said the human race must listen to "the voice of the Earth" or risk destroying its very existence." As LSN pointed out, the media is twisting the Pope's words here. First of all, it adds the conclusion "or risk destroying its very existence." He does not say that next. What he actually said next (in its full context) was this:

    "... obedience to the voice of the earth is more important for our future happiness than the voices of the moment, the desires of the moment ... our own planet speaks with us and we should be listening if we want to survive and decipher this message about the earth... and if we should be obedient to the voice of the earth, much more we must be obedient to the voice of human life." (and he goes on to say:) " ... we not only take care of the earth, but we must respect the other, other human beings ... only in absolute respect of other (humans) ...can we make progress."

    See the important clarification? Concerns for the environment are a subcategory of our more fundamental concerns for man. Where man's interest and nature's interest conflict - man comes first. This is the essential qualifier that the media consistently ignores; and it is also what differentiates qualitatively Christian environmentalism and secular environmentalism.

    Every environmental issue that involves risk to human life deserves attention. Most of these issues involve microclimate issues of scarcity, and require individual, practical applied judgement. I'm all for prudence and stewardship in these situations, as the Pope exhorts. I don't see anything about global warming even implied in the Pope's speeches, nor a categorical condemnation of industrialization (which, in general, helps raise standards of living) in his talk.

    Just my first reaction. Please, comment away.

    Update: More liturgical ignorance (and just blain hokeyness) from the UK Independant:

    Wearing green vestments, the Roman Catholic liturgical colour of hope, Pope Benedict XVI yesterday urged half a million youngsters to save the planet while there was still time.
    Yes, green is the liturgical color for hope (as well as life), but - again- it represents our Christian hope in Christ, not in saving the environment. Distinctions, people - they save.

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