Friday, August 15, 2008

Pope Benedict’s Environmentalism

At World Youth Day this year, the pope spoke to the environmental consciousness of youth and reminded them of the priorities, the true priorities, and though his words were often spun to indicate an environmentalism congruent with that of deep ecology, it is anything but.

This column examines his speech and here is an excerpt.

“The pope urged his listeners to apply the same discipline and sacrificial spirit that drives them to recycle cans and conserve fuel to their spending practices, sexual choices and prayer habits. They should worry not only about disappearing rainforests but also about the spread of "a spiritual desert" of "interior emptiness" and "despair" in wealthy nations. And they should follow their respect for the limits of nature to its logical conclusion by recognizing objective moral limits on their own behavior as well.

“Far from parroting predictable environmentalist mantras, Benedict's remarks pointed his listeners to a more satisfying, person-centered model of environmental stewardship. That model emphasizes precisely the unique human capacity for moral reflection and openness to the transcendent that many eco-warriors dismiss in their eagerness to prove that plants and animals matter as much as we do. Although reporters covering World Youth Day may have missed the profundity of Benedict's point, the enthusiastic response of his audiences suggests that the young heard him loud and clear.”