The media of the secular world, often amusingly referred to as part of the world, the flesh, and the devil, has determined that when Pope Benedict talks about the environment he is really expressing the views of deep ecology, which places animals and the rest of nature—minus human beings of course—as being above humans.
However, when the pope is speaking of the environment he speaks from an ancient Catholic tradition which revolves around the human responsibility to care for all of nature, within which the human being, created in the image of God, is indisputably at the center.
This recent article from the Pacific Research Institute also remarks on this.
"Listening to the news over the past year, one would think the Vatican was reinventing Catholicism in an effort to go green. First there was the story that the Vatican was sponsoring a forest to offset the carbon emissions of Vatican City. Then we found out that the Vatican had come up with seven new deadly sins, among them polluting the environment. The UK’s Telegraph even ran the headline “Recycle or go to Hell, warns Vatican.” And in July, the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Pope Benedict XVI, like many world leaders, has spoken passionately about the urgent need to protect the planet from climate catastrophe.”
"Is the Vatican jumping on the environmental crisis bandwagon? Not quite. For those who have not been paying attention, the Catholic Church has a longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship. Recent media coverage, however, has morphed that stance into something like the fanaticism that accompanies fundamentalist pantheism. As with most misrepresentations, there are elements of truth.
"The Vatican does indeed have a carbon-offset partnership. In 2007, a Hungarian start-up company offered to donate a 37-acre tract where forests will be restored, theoretically sequestering approximately the same amount of carbon that Vatican City generates annually through routine operations. The cardinals agreed to accept the donation but did not exactly proclaim the virtues of the dubious concept of carbon offsets as a global warming mitigation strategy. Rather, the Vatican focused on the direct benefits of the restored forests. In a statement to the UN General Assembly in February, Vatican representative Msgr. Celestino Migliore said of the Holy See, “With its involvement in a reforestation project in Hungary, it will provide environmental benefits to the host country, assist in the recovery of an environmentally degraded tract of land, and provide local jobs.”
"What about the story that crimes against the environment are a modern deadly sin? Far from being a pronouncement on the evils of environmental degradation, the comments were actually taken from an interview in the Vatican newspaper with Bishop Gianfranco Girotti on the value of the sacrament of Confession. Bishop Girotti spoke of the relevance of Confession at a time when the world is increasingly complex and interconnected. He explained that today the concept of sin takes on unique social, in addition to personal, dimensions."