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July 18, 2008

Can a "Green Pope" Make a Difference?

Posted: 10:17 AM ET

Pope Benedict XVI admires the sky aboard a harbor cruise with youths, in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, July 17, 2008. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Benedict XVI continues to speak out against global warming.

200,000 pilgrims from 168 countries are in Sydney for the Church's World Youth Day.

The following is an excerpt from the the 81-year-old pontiff's speech yesterday:

"Perhaps reluctantly we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our Earth: erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption."

He went on to say that care for the environment is of "vital importance for humanity".

Is this unprecedented? Have other popes addressed global warming?

The Roman Catholic Church has over a billion followers worldwide. Will this sort of public awareness campaign make a difference?

- Alex Walker, CNN Science & Technology

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Filed under: climate change • environment • Religion

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steve pagnozzi   July 18th, 2008 10:46 am ET

I personally don't think it will be much although any awareness from a public figure whether religious or political will have some sort of positive because there are people out there who will blindly follow whether right or wrong, followed by reasonable and the rational who might think twice and say to themselves" hey, enough is enough and perhaps we can scale down the drilling and deforestation and replace with more eco friendly products out there. What we need to do in the long run is carefully monitor how much oil is being produced and set a goal to replace each and every barrel with wind, solar, hydrogen perhaps geothermal solution. We should start out with a small town or village and make an example of how this town or village can get by on total fossil free useage. Start with that and expand to larger areas.

Jim   July 18th, 2008 10:48 am ET

I welcome the belated acceptance by many religious leaders that environmental destruction is a moral issue. This may also have politcal consequence, as there is now a growing schism between those of faith, and a certain political party that uses religion only as a tool of division and political advantage.

Denise   July 18th, 2008 10:56 am ET

Patriarch Bartholomew I, head of the Orthodox Chruch. He is known as the Green Patriarch.

Zak   July 18th, 2008 11:36 am ET

The problem is that such pronouncements are too general and most people would ignore it. We know about deforestation and other abuses of natural resources. Pope could be more specific and for example, he could ask all his priests and bishops ..... their staff drive smaller cars. He could asked the faithful to do the same.... imagine the imediate impact of one bilion people! He could ask priests, bishops, etc. not to buy expensive furniture made of wood imported from the Amazon .... imagine the impact on the world. He could ask the faithful to be people of peace...imagine the impact of one bilion of peace makers! Apparently nobody listens because there is so much conflict among the 'good' people.
Instructions must be specific and then they must be followed .... otherwise, it is just another speech.

John   July 18th, 2008 11:59 am ET

Is it just me, or did he never mention global warming in that quote.

Environmental concern does not equal global warming. Period.

Kevin Chisholm   July 18th, 2008 12:05 pm ET

Its about time a pontif weigh in on such a major moral issue. Glad to see such leadership! More is needed. Leaders need to lead and not follow (polls).

Rick   July 18th, 2008 12:25 pm ET


This is the third comment he has made on this topic in just under three years. Look, it's very political-he described the situation without mentioning the common term everyone else uses on a daily basis, but he was referring to global warming in his other speech last year.

As a side note, these snipets of policy direction are headed somewhere. I think it's only a matter time before he comes and reverses official church policy on population growth. I expect something to the effect of 'our numbers are now too great, and we are placing a strain on the earth'. Expect this within 5 years or less.

JM   July 18th, 2008 12:40 pm ET

Glad to see the pontiff on board for a better environment. However, you guys might end up with some funny looks at your headline, should it be translated directly into Spanish.

In that language, your phrase might become a huge joke. To some Spanish speakers, "El Papa Verde," ("the green pope") means money, in the sense that money, for some, rules the world in a godlike fashion.

Just thought you'd like to know!


Lawrence Leichtman   July 18th, 2008 1:00 pm ET

Problem is that the Pope represents a church whose basic tenet contributes to global warming through overpopulation by allowing no restriction on conception. The global warming or environmental warnings pale in comparison to that policy.

6ftrabbit   July 18th, 2008 1:20 pm ET

Since the Pope is supposedly on first name terms with that magical guy in the sky, maybe he should just get him to take care of it. I mean, after all the old boy has really done a bang up job so far, right? /sarc off .

Nate   July 18th, 2008 1:26 pm ET

So does this mean the church will stop trimming their buildings in gold and precious gems? I hope so as that would certainly save the world a good deal of minerals...

Phil   July 18th, 2008 1:37 pm ET

Hey CNN and readers, get with the program. The Church has been promoting a responsible use of creation and resources for millenia:

Move beyond stereotypes and actually use the reason God gave us.

Todd   July 18th, 2008 1:41 pm ET

What a joke! I agree with Lawrence that until the Catholic Church alters its stance on contraception, all its words are nothing more than hypocrisy. Human overpopulation on our planet is one of the root causes of nearly all manmade environmental issues, and the Catholic Church is probably the largest organization that in effect encourages overpopulation by its policies and beliefs. I welcome the Church's influence in fighting environmental issues, but only if it is open to discussing its own complicity in creating the problems.

JD   July 18th, 2008 3:57 pm ET

"Problem is that the Pope represents a church whose basic tenet contributes to global warming through overpopulation by allowing no restriction on conception."

This isn't the teaching of the church. The Catholic church doesn't advocate 'no restriction on conception,' but rather teaches against means of restriction that it considers immoral, and I find the actual teaching rather than the sound bite to be well though out.

The church very clearly says that parents have the responsability to pray and discern very seriously when they are able to bring a child into the world and reasonably provide for it. To that extent, the parents then have the great responsibility and the right to engage in sexual activity during the times when the couple is most fertile – or not – based on what they want the natural outcome to be.

Contraception essentially says, "I know the natural outcome of this act, and I don't want that right now. All I want right now is the pleasure associated with it. So I'll artifically cut off the natural – scientific – possibility of this act so I can just enjoy the pleasurable part without having to deal with the incredible responsibility and dignity of it." The church rightly calls that not only immoral, but damaging to the human person – and rightly teaches against it.

Here's the actual teaching of the church:

"A particular aspect of this responsibility [of parenthood] concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. .." Cathecism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2368.

lisa   July 18th, 2008 4:35 pm ET

A good portion of today's catholics are from Latin American countries. My own mother watches Univision daily, and I was personally appalled to see news anchors on Univision making fun of his pronouncement that not taking care of the environment was on his new list of sins. I hope that it is the "sin" part that they were laughing about because a network laughing about the state of the environment would be downright irresponsible.

CLIFFORD SCHNEIDER   July 18th, 2008 5:06 pm ET


Jon   July 18th, 2008 5:12 pm ET

He didn't say one single thing about global warming. He talked about good stewardship of the earth and its resources. That is NOT the same thing. Why not try to report something accurately once in a while?

Scott, San Francisco, CA   July 18th, 2008 5:30 pm ET

Green-wash is all it is. Great PR for a church reeling from the largest Pedophilia scandal in history, huge difficulty recruiting new priests (small wonder), numerous diocese in bankruptcy due to sex victim pay-offs, and membership in decline.

If the church really wants to show Green Awareness they must immediately address birth control in developing nations. The church's stand on contraception is the leading cause of unrestrained population growth, malnutrition, and subsequent environmental ruination...from the amazon all the way to Guatamala.

Thomas   July 18th, 2008 6:13 pm ET

Yes. For a real impact on the environment, birth control has to be addressed.

Tony   July 18th, 2008 6:36 pm ET

Any rationalization of the church's stance on contraception just ignores the reality of the people it affects. Overpopulation is a problem and it contributes to global climate change. To say that the church doesn't oppose contraception and in the next breath say "only abstinance is acceptable" is so naive of reality it defies description. Get your head out of the sand and move into the 21st century! Or the 20th! Or the 19th!

Damaris Whitfield   July 18th, 2008 6:57 pm ET

I have been waiting for this for a long time. When Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religions were going to realize that God gave us the earth as a gift, and to squander His gifts is an insult to the Giver. In other words, destroying the earth is going against God.

I am not associated with any of these religions, I'm just saying.

S Callahan   July 18th, 2008 7:18 pm ET

Of course i could get a faith dialogue going on ..but won't..

But I think it's very ignorant of others to condem the church with fly by the tongue comments....since the truth is that the church has always been very proactive for the enviroment...when i say church I'm referring to those of many different leaderships....
As for overpopulation I think, again it's ignorant to believe contraception is the about personal responsiblity .....change in free will thinking...etc...this could be debated forever but it really is not about a world choice but a personal choice and should never be regulated which is evidence of no value in in the living.
Those who are truely in the faith are respectors of life (all forms of life...human..animal..plant ..) and we are not to be wasteful with the gifts we have, nor gluttons of what is available. Recycle, reuse are big themes in church...with the thought of 'waste not'
I think I read that the Pope was awed with the undistrubed creation (asthetics of land and water) on his flight to Australia....aren't we all when in an area that appears undisturbed by man?

Damaris Whitfield   July 18th, 2008 7:23 pm ET

ok ummm, I guess I left out all the other religions didn't I. The reason is that the old testament has that thing about humans being over the animals. But the same rule applies to all religions. Of course, there are some religions that already emphasize harmony with the ecosystem.

Franko   July 18th, 2008 8:51 pm ET

The Pope is a dud. No balls, even if he wears a solar powered propeller cap.

Rome inherited the Greek ways. Julius, Anthony, Cleopatra, dressed in Toga, orgied, partied, threw up, all the grapes, vine, slave boys and girls. Bring back the old traditions !

Not even exorcisms, excommunications, Spanish Inquisitions, crusades.
Only sequestering CO2, by making Babies !

S Callahan   July 18th, 2008 9:24 pm ET

lol damaris..i apologize i think your comment posted just before mine so i didn't get a chance to read yours.

i agree..we should be a respector of the gifts the giver gives (for me that is God) ....
When i say all religions I'm speaking of organized religions ie: Presbyterians, Methodist, Baptist's;Coptic, Catholic, etc..– yes the ones you included.

If people really lived by their faith there wouldn't be an issue with over population..(read JD"s comments)....nor hunger (love your neighbor..idea of sharing, etc)....and the enviroment would be pristine 🙂 but we all fall short (i had to say that! 🙂 ....

Franko   July 18th, 2008 9:57 pm ET

Bible; "And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply;
Bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein."

There is still a lot of Earth without multipliers.
Pope is not doing as commanded. Now too old to marry.
At least he could tell priests and nuns to follow the Bible !

S Callahan   July 18th, 2008 11:53 pm ET

lol have surprised me! lol
Remember '......some refuse to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven....' Matthew 19:11 so really the Pope is doing what he is meant to guess God had population control thought about before time 🙂

Franko   July 19th, 2008 1:45 am ET

Mass of atmosphere = 5.3e18 kg
Mass of CO2 = 0.384e-3 X 48/29 X ....= 3.19e15 kg
Mass of Carbon in atmosphere = 12/48 X ... = 0.79e15 kg
Plants die off in low CO2, so only half useable = 0.40e15 kg
A person weighs 100 kg is 18 kg carbon

Converted to people = 2.2e13 people
say each person needs 1,000 times his carbon extra = 2.2e10 people
Only 22 billion more than today ?

God; "And ye, be fruitful and multiply: swarm on the earth, and multiply on it."

We need more Carbon, to swarm Earth and please God !

telos   July 19th, 2008 2:36 am ET

The Pope did not mention Global Warming because deforestation and erosion are real problems that impact people, particularly the poor, and yes, these are real environmental concerns that need to be tended to along with the basic human right to access to water. CO2 is not the issue the mainstream media and those with political agendas make it out to be.

The Catholic Church is always speaking out for the dignity of man and when man abuses the world in wich we live, the Pope speaks up and gently reminds us of our responsibility to live in accord with our nature and our environment. Always has.

You who speak against the church's teaching on contraceptives have the cart before the horse, if you even have a horse at all. Sex is procreative and forms a bond between man and woman. you can't separate the two and so our environment isn't suffering from those who hear and abide by the church's teachings. It is they who oppose it and can't explain why countries and cities that are heavily doused with condoms have higher STD and abortion rates...

The Pope is offering his humble guidance on living in accord with God's intended purpose for man: to love God. if we do that the environment will inevitably be cared for.

matt   July 19th, 2008 3:15 am ET

no, the pope is pretty irrelevant, except to a bunch of people in south america and africa, who aren't the prime causes of global pollution.

Perhaps he can explain why he is still hiding Bernard Law, and why that criminal has not been brought to justice.

6ftrabbit   July 19th, 2008 8:13 am ET

Religion is the most pervasive scam ever perpetrated. Second is Politics. Come to think of it there really isn't any difference. They both are solely concerned with controlling large numbers of people for the benefit of the leaders. Screw 'em.

Greg   July 19th, 2008 10:06 am ET

I find it interesting that so many people jump on the birth control issue. Who is using a majority of the world's resources? The United States, China, Japan, Western Europe..... All of these countries have birth control, abortion on demand etc. In fact, many western countries have a problem with declining population, not rising population.

The problem is not how many babies you have, it is how you live your life. Al Gore does not have eight kids and I bet they used birth control. But, Al Gore is using a lot more resources than a family in Africa. Greed, wanton consumption, bigger is better. The root cause is our "If it feels good – do it" culture of consumption. What do we really need to live a comfortable life? Until we turn the corner of "Its all about me" – we will have our environment problems.

True happiness will only come from serving others – not yourself. More plastic stuff from China will not make us feel happier. Look at your own life.

Elizabeth Siler   July 19th, 2008 11:38 am ET

You ask if a Green Pope can make a difference. My answer – as that of an environmentally activist, "left-wing" Catholic - is “yes.” The Church in the US today seems to be comprised of the following groups: a small "left wing" group, a moderately large, very conservative group, and an even larger group of people who could best be described as apathetic communicants.

Having teachings on environmentalism publicized is very useful to the "left wing" group. It allows us to put forth ideas about social justice/environmental justice and to support our right to do so while at the same time squelching the opposition of the conservatives who see social justice issues as inappropriate topics for Catholic parishes to tackle. It’s always nice to be able to refer back to these teachings when the conservatives tell us to shut up and pray. Prayer is extremely important – in fact it's essential - but so is action. In fact, action is a form of prayer.

That said, I think the Pope needs to take his message further. Overpopulation is a major issue worldwide – and perhaps the single issue driving the other problems. I’ll start by saying this: most of the seriously overpopulated countries are NOT Catholic countries (think: China and India), but like many other Catholics, I do take issue with the Church’s position on so-called “artificial” contraception. It’s definitely an area where we need to work for change in “policy” – though clearly population statistics show we have already changed in “practice.”

Finally, I will say that at a micro-level some good things are happening with this Pope. The Vatican is the showpiece of Roman Catholicism, and I read recently that it has installed a solar rooftop garden which will help reduce its reliance on the grid. I've read about some other micro-level examples this Pope has implemented as well. Of course more can be done at the Vatican– but the same could be said for many places. We all need to do more daily – and the bottom line is we shouldn’t be waiting for our leaders to make pronouncements.

Liz Siler

Lance   July 19th, 2008 2:46 pm ET

Global Warming is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. We've seen what happens to other cultures when they abuse their environments. We've seen what happened to Mars as the water there evaporated and left it barren.

If it takes the Pope to frame this global challenge as one of good versus evil, I'm all for it. Frankly, its the smartest, wisest thing I've heard him say.

As much as anything could be a battle of good versus evil, our abuse of our own environment marks that fight. Its a battle against ourselves, against how comfortable or uncomfortable we're willing to be, how much we're willing to sacrifice so that our children will have the same good that we have had from the earth.

The challenge of global warming really is as biblical in nature as anything. It's a challenge to humanity, to see whether we can rise above our petty greeds and banal evils, to find something higher, to in fact reach out to god and say, we're more like you than we are the thoughtless elements and animals below. We have the capability of restraint, of compassion, of love, not only for others, but for ourselves, and for the home that God has given us.

If we cannot love the world, how can it sustain us? Surely that's about as biblical a question as one could ask.

Keep on talking Pope. I'm behind you a thousand percent on this subject.


Jeremy Horne, Ph.D..   July 19th, 2008 3:08 pm ET

So many species have their weaknesses, and homo sapiens sapiens seems to have three. First, most individuals turn to religion (not in the etymological sense of "to cohere or bind", but being subservient to an ideology, a system of ideas not open to question) for answers to problems, as opposed to philosophy, critical thinking, logic, and scientific methods. Naturally, there must be an environment to sustain both these latter processes and their objects (realizing who we are and why we are here), hence the realization of the need to preserve that environment (conservation, addressing global warming, etc.). At this point process is object, and object is process – dialectics. Second, the raw truth is that the majority of the population very well may not be intellectually equipped to address technological complexity – its nature and limits (bell curve – and yes, I understand that multiple intelligences are involved). Third, human alteration of the environment has become become cancerous; the environment is to adapt to the human. True, mere adaption merely keeps the species in a primitive state. Even many animals change their environments, rather than simply adapting. However, the cancerous aspect of is hallmarked by greed, consumerism, and everything else that deflects from inward contemplation and deeper thought. Who are we and why are we here? If the critical masses of humanity were imbued with philosophy, critical thinking, logic, and scientific methods and were the policy makers, I submit that we'd have a better chance at survival. Homework: Start with Politics by Aristotle; Republic by Plato. Follow with works on scientific methods – Skeptical Inquirer and Scientific American, for example.

Alas, a philosophical population in charge with virtue is not the state of affairs and the masses turn to what otherwise would be irrelevant in an intelligent society – Bible thumping, the pope, the Taliban, and ideology, in general. (Remember "The True Believer" by Eric Hoffer?) As to those arguing that "at a macro level, some good things are happening with the Pope", micro-actions/thinking will not cut the mustard. As Al Gore does state, the need for major action is upon us.

Megan McIntosh   July 19th, 2008 3:42 pm ET

As a young devout Roman Catholic I applaud my leader for his teachings. It never ceases to amaze me how people will use almost any statement of the Pope's as a forum to deride and condemn the Church for any number of issues which have nothing to do with what he's saying. Though Catholics are often accused of intolerace, too often the stones are being thrown by people who seem to be unaware of their own bigotry.

Michael Nee   July 19th, 2008 4:32 pm ET

Considering the long-term opposition to rational family planning, the Catholic Church has been the most irresponsible anti-Green religious force in the world. Every governmental effort in Latin America to promote family planning has been opposed by the Catholic Church and this disastrous policy continues today. If the Pope is serious about his concern for the environment, he would reverse the Catholic Church's opposition to birth control and the consequent run-away population increase in a world of finite food and energy resources.

J Robinson   July 19th, 2008 5:12 pm ET

Why do people hate the Pope and the Catholic church? Are you Christian? If so, you should be appreciate it that the Catholic church is responsible for saving your faith. Yes, it's true. If it weren't for the monks of St Benedict, the writings of Christianity, not to mention most other learned works would have been destroyed during the dark ages... just like the library in Alexandria. Monks copied and protected the works of Christianity and the learned writings of ancient times in their fortressed monasteries. So before you go about trashing Catholicism, think about that.

Jeremy Horne, Ph.D.   July 19th, 2008 8:25 pm ET

In response to J. Robinson's post, I am NOT Xian. As to the Catholic Church, while it has espoused humaneness in Liberation Theology and ostensibly eschewing consumerism, the substantial and larger truth is the opposite. Look at its long, sorry history of crusades, inquisitions, repression, anti-scientific rampages (remember Galileo and now, stem cells?), and, of course, the current naive position taken on birth control speaks the truth. More babies, more potential adherents – the same as with the Muslims, Bible thumpers, Hindus, and other religions and ideologies (remember Hitler breeding programs). Do not forget how the Church protected Nazis during and after WWII (Remember the Odessa project?). While Ratzinger (Benedict) was forced into the Hitler youth and allegedly refused to attend meetings, his reactionary views ( militate against human progress. Ample documentation exists on the Church's support of Nazism, as web search will demonstrate. For the views persons should not be materialistic, I suggest walking into Catholic cathedrals and contemplate how much gold is present, all the time beggars are outside with their hands outstretched. Try checking into the real estate that the Church own – one of, if not THE largest holders of real property on this planet. It is nice that the scholastics copied ancient manuscripts in the Medieval period, but think of the censorship! All of these actions have been taken in the name of fighting "atheism" and promoting Catholic ideology. Remember the war against communism and how that Bible thumping Reagan helped the Taliban and Hussein into power? You people need to read, understand, and remember history! Otherwise, as Santayana said, you'll be condemned to repeat it.

I abhor the Church, but also all these religions and ideologies – Islam, Mormonism, Protestant sects, Hinduism, the Taliban, Al Qada, and any other system of ideas that its adherents will not hold up for questioning. In general it has been religion that has caused more misery than any single idea in history. The Alexandria Library was destroyed, don't forget, because of religious and ideological strife. The really sad part is that it seems that the vast majority of humanity cannot not (perhaps biologically) or will not (perhaps the species is suicidal) realize that philosophy, critical thinking, logic, and scientific methods are what we should be trying to use in attempting to find out who we are and why we are here. In reading a number of these post attempting to defend the Church, I see that this species has a long way to go to save itself.

Michelle   July 19th, 2008 9:07 pm ET

"philosophy, critical thinking, logic, and scientific methods are what we should be trying to use in attempting to find out who we are and why we are here."

I'm not mentioning any names, but someone here simply doesn't seem to be in possession of the fundamentals of a basic liberal arts education.

Perhaps philosophy might help us find out who we are, but out of this list quoted above, not a single one will provide the answer to why we are here.

The best any of us can possibly hope to accomplish with the methods available to us all, whether those methods are perfectly or imperfectly applied, is to better develop and justify our own points of view – and along the way find others that might have complementary ones. One size does not fit all, and echo chambers don't result in personal growth.

The idea that the scientific method is a tool for finding out who we are and why we are here is especially amusing. As a professional scientist, I have to say that strategy is exceptionally ill-advised.

My take is this. What the writer above actually abhors and what he is convinced he abhors seem to be two very different things.

On a personal note, I have yet to change other people's minds by insulting them into it. The range of ridicule, piling-on, snobbery, and general bad manners that seems to be so common when criticizing people of faith whenever they open their mouths is embarrassing to me as an agnostic, and should not be tolerated just on general principals of civil discourse.

Ahhh, this soapbox thing suits me! I should do this more often. Thanks for reading.

Jeremy Horne, Ph.D..   July 19th, 2008 10:05 pm ET

Please, anyone, tell me what is agnostic about the following: "but out of this list quoted above, not a single one will provide the answer to why we are here"? That to me is a statement of certainty, not one expressing an "I do not know view". I said, “philosophy, critical thinking, logic, and scientific methods are what we should be trying to use in attempting to find out who we are and why we are here.” "Trying to use" and "attempting to find out" do not imply any certainty. I am wondering if Francis Crick, Daniel Dennett and so many other exploring who we are and why, although no answers have been universalized, would "...Please, anyone, tell me what is agnostic about the following: "but out of this list quoted above, not a single one will provide the answer to why we are here"? That to me is a statement of certainty, not one expressing an "I do not know view". I said, “philosophy, critical thinking, logic, and scientific methods are what we should be trying to use in attempting to find out who we are and why we are here.” "Trying to use" and "attempting to find out" do not imply any certainty. Quantum mechanics, just by indicating the lack of certainty is a step towards understanding the human condition. I am wondering if Francis Crick, Kurt Gödel, Daniel Dennett and so many other exploring who we are and what we are about would find scientific method so amusing. As a professional philosopher, I suggest that answers are there for the plucking but must be sought, and I do not think that, starting with Aristotle and Plato, philosophers (and, especially the more modern ones in consciousness studies – cf: would deny that they "Trying to use" and "attempting to find out". Being a founder of this conference, I have yet to meet one to deny such.

As to "What the writer above actually abhors and what he is convinced he abhors seem to be two very different things.", I find amusing, inasmuch as one's being convinced is the part of that person's actuality, however an outside observer may observe it. If the "agnostic" above thinks my critique is biting, I suggest Bertrand Russell or Robert Ingersoll. I am an agnostic not willing to defend faith as an epistemology, and I suggest that agnostics, in general, ready themselves with an epistemology other than faith, Paul Feyerabend notwithstanding. With faith having so many outrages such inquisitions, Nazism, Taliban, and the like, is it to anyone's surprise that it should be met with "ridicule, piling-on, snobbery, and general bad manners"? It is too bad that those outrages could not have been defeated with just these. But perhaps it was not these that I was exhibiting but the rumble tumble of a spirited but sound argument. For those entering the arena of lively debate, stand the heat or get out of the kitchen.

Greg   July 19th, 2008 10:20 pm ET

Wow. The question was "Will the Pope make a difference" And out came the agendas:
– Birth Control
– Population Growth
– Past History of the Catholic Church.
– An so on

I see many have such a strong reaction to the messanger that they do not want to hear the message. A rather sane message.

If the Pope, or any other leader for that matter, can push us forward on this topic – then they made a difference.

If YOU really care about out planet, then put aside your difference and pull for the common good.

Jeremy Horne, Ph.D.   July 19th, 2008 10:33 pm ET

... and I DO want thank the moderator of this site for his indulgence. A very profound issue has been raised about faith, epistemology, and the environment, and think we need to see more exchanges like this in public. Such would do wonders for enhancing the quality of political debate. We need to go beyond fashion, entertainment, and style as a way of conveying and defending political preference. CNN has its (and there should be a permanent link to this excellent site on the CNN home page), but I suggest one for philosophy/critical thinking, as well. As a last note, I'd change the link "Tech" to "SciTech", as science and technology are quite different, albeit one looks to the other for identity (theory-praxis).

Jeremy Horne, Ph.D.   July 19th, 2008 10:44 pm ET

pardon – his OR her indulgence. Sorry.

Anon   July 20th, 2008 12:09 am ET

For many people, faith (in some belief/religion) is a much more powerful motivator for change than logic and reason, especially if it involves self-sacrifice to benefit others. Does the moral imperative to protect life mean preventing potential lives using contraception is outweighed by protecting all existing life? Fortunately, the Pope wisely understands the best place for the church to start saving life on the planet is reducing excessive consumption via conservation and individual believers freely choosing to reduce personal consumption as a moral act of faith and respect for creation and the lives of others. Will religious leaders be looking to science for insight to the question of whether consumption and conservation measures alone will suffice to protect life on Earth?

Franko   July 20th, 2008 2:03 am ET

Time to update Christianity, maybe merge with the Greens.
Combine the Sin Toolbox, for medern days.

The Pope needs to learn magic, and start performing tricks.
Else, how will he become a Saint ?

carmen   July 20th, 2008 2:54 am ET

i am Spanish speaking and have never heard such idiocy as to someone "verde " meaning someone rich. As to comments concerning the Church's riches, the Church has always been composed of men and its history cannot be separated from European history. Its riches have to be understood as cultural and artistic legacies of mankind. Even where the church to give all its posessions to the poor tomorrow inequality would subsist in the world. That means that the problem lies elsewhere. Ditto for the overpopulation dilemma. As to the pope"s statements, instead of complaining we should be greatful that in this age there is still moral guidance somewhere.

HollyS   July 20th, 2008 6:56 am ET

No, it won't make a difference, because the real problem is the "insatiable" population—for which the Catholic Church holds more responsibility than any other institution. A pope who acknowledged the necessity for personal responsibility in human reproduction and the morality of limiting population would make a difference, but the world isn't ever going to see that.

Flustered by ignorance   July 20th, 2008 10:53 am ET

For those of you, including the author of this article, who seem to believe that this is the first statement by a Pope that supports the need for environmental awareness and a call to change our wasteful and harmful ways, please read this article published by CNN in 1998. Yes, these are the words of a Pope, Pope John Paul II. Admittedly these words are not specific or urgent as we all wish.

Quote of interest found later in article, cut short by author:

"The pope said the spirit of Christmas should prompt people to take measures " 'to restrain the bloodied hand of those responsible for genocide and crimes of war, to give environmental issues ... the indispensable attention they deserve for the protection of creation and of human dignity.' "

JB Jones   July 20th, 2008 1:24 pm ET

I think it's great that The Pope is concerned about our environment. For the longest time, many of the religious leaders have shunned the idea – probably because it required too much trust in scientific matters – but also (as many Evangelicals have said) it was a distraction from more important crusades created by the devil.

If The Pope can sway the millions of Catholics around the world to start putting the Earth first, perhaps we can make a dent in the damage we have done.

Eventually, the other leaders will come around.

JT   July 20th, 2008 4:50 pm ET

It's a start in the right direction. The more voices concerned about the environment the better but individuals have to take action.

Greg   July 20th, 2008 5:09 pm ET

I find it interesting that a person can say "No, it won’t make a difference, because the real problem is the “insatiable” population" when the people with the fewest children in the world are consuming the most stuff and producing the most polution.

Here are the top 5 green house gas producing counties:
1 USA – Around 25% Catholic and almost every one uses birth control
2 China – Almost no Catholics and the limit every family to one birth
3 Russia – Very few Catholics and lots of birth control. In fact, Russia is trying to get people to have move babies because they have a declining population.
4 India – Again, very few Catholics,
5 Japan – Again very few Catholics and they are also trying to get people to have more babies because they are facing a population decline problem

This is a consumer run wild problem, not a birth control problem. Sorry the facts don't hold up.

Most people don’t know that the population of the world will never double again. Rather, according to the best estimates that we now have, it will peak in 2040 or so at around 8 billion, and then begin to decline. In other words, we are not facing a cataclysmic population explosion, but rather a population implosion, as entire peoples age and die. This thinning of the ranks is already well underway in dying Europe. This is why The New York Times has called overpopulation “one of the myths of the Twentieth Century.”

mike   July 20th, 2008 8:55 pm ET

The Vatican is only good in talking but you cannot see them spending the trillions of money of the Catholic Church in order to improve the lives of at least the countries whose majority citizens are members of the church.

The Vatican is just waiting for the apocalypse to come, and they have no intention to improve the quality of lives in the world. This World Youth is just a pretention and a sign or product of their hypocricy.

Franko   July 21st, 2008 12:11 am ET

The Pope is faking it. He is CEO of a religion. A diplomat of truth.
Expand the numbers, and, in the long term, the cash.
Declining numbers, and St. Peter will have him re-incarnated with 10 wives.

Forced abortions, and sterilizations, as in China, is the Green agenda !

Pat F   July 21st, 2008 8:39 am ET

Have any of you "Ph.D"s (in what – social work?) noticed that the overpopulation you're crying about is highest in NON-CHRISTIAN countries? China, India, Indonesia – NOT CHRISTIAN COUNTRIES! Clear enough? And unlimited sex has done wonders for (again) NON – CHRISTIAN Africa. Can you say AIDS epidemic?

Archie Bunker has nothing on this Catholic – bashing crowd. Don't exploit and hide behind the abuse scandal – you hated Catholics before that, and you'll hate them after that. Because hatred is what you are about.

Al Gerheim   July 21st, 2008 8:50 am ET

The Old Testament is very clear about mankind's mastery of the earth. It is there for us to exploit. The only, even marginal, reference to conservation is the mandate, during the wanderings in Egypt, not to store more of the manna from heaven than required for a day.

It is refreshing to see a religious leader take a no-nonsense stand on conservation!

Franko   July 21st, 2008 1:15 pm ET

Go Pope ! Order all Nuns and Priests to do God's work.
Silly celibacy, and heathens, not Christians, will inherit the Earth.

"Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental".—Dave Forman, Founder of Earth First-Greenie Death Cult

Defender of the faithful, don't be Al Gore Silly !
Order this Crusade today !

Nick   July 21st, 2008 1:16 pm ET

I wonder what the carbon footprint of the Vatican is? Like calls to end poverty from a man and institution that possess incredible wealth, hypocracy.

The Cantalope Kid   July 21st, 2008 2:38 pm ET

Catholic leadership is sadly failing the faithful, but that leadership is somewhat more responsible than the Limosine-televangelists who ride herd on the dingbat wing of the Protestant Church.

The Pope may state that we should take care of the planet, but the entire membership of the church feels free to ignore him. How about excommunicating the CEO's of the worst polluters? How about refusing communion to the political leaders that don't get the message? How about having the parish priests talk to the families of politicians who vote against green reform, asking them to put pressure on the politician – in the interest of his soul?

The current Catholic leadership is presiding over a Christianity that is sliding quickly into irrelevancy. I can see the day of the drive-up church, where confession is heard over a speaker, your Visa card is swiped at window #1, and communion is dispensed from window #2 in a styrofoam container.

chrisjohn06   July 21st, 2008 9:53 pm ET

Cantalope things like excommunication are actually pretty tough to enact. And they are generally done on a local level, rarely by a Pope. If Christianity is sliding into irrlevancy the Bishops are only partially responsable the "faithful" need to learn why the Church or any othe rorganization teaches what it does. Maybe their are good reasons maybe not but to be so dismissive means not only being dismissive of things like birth control but also of not living beyond our means ignoing the fact that the Church is just about the only religion with an actual codified social justice teachings, and ignoring the Popes cries for environmental stewardship.

Jim1138   July 21st, 2008 10:29 pm ET

The Catholic Church has a long way to go before the have any credibility. I suspect that money and power is the primary factor behind Ratzinger's speach.

jmj   July 22nd, 2008 1:15 am ET

Suppose we trim the world's population down to 1 million, do you honestly think that the world will turn into a paradise? I think not because half of those people will like to rule the world, while the rest would like to own what others have. In other words, population is not the root cause of the degradation of the Earth but GREED.

Franko   July 22nd, 2008 5:49 am ET

To get it right, we need new religious fertility rituals, for modern times
Bongo drums, dancing in the moonlight, but no electric guitars.

In the Bible, disobey, and get turned into salt.
Recently, "Lightning lashes iPod-packing teenager "

God is watching, and punishing, before Hell, if extra inattentive.

dan   July 23rd, 2008 2:36 pm ET

Human population control is the only way to save the human race.

Franko   July 23rd, 2008 8:05 pm ET

Turn the control all the way up. Let the souls waiting, to be born.
Evolving, re-incarnating, higher and higher.
All the mosquitoes, mice, and cockroach souls, earned the steps to be human.

Seriously, kill all humans, Slugs were meant to feast on people !
"Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs." Earth First!

B.Bernsten   July 25th, 2008 11:29 pm ET

America needs to stay FOCUSED, AWARE and EDUCATED.

History reminds us that every time oil prices peak and the North American market/consumers start to discuss alternative energy sources, the oil exporting countries start to trim down their prices. History also tells us that the oil exporting nations have been very successful in the past and in fact, we have lost our enthusiasm and dropped many of our alternative energy initiatives after oil prices are reduced.

WE need to stay focused this time.

1) Al Gore and his energy initiative is on course.
2) T. Boone Pickens and his wind power initiative is on course.
3) The BG Automotive Group mass production electric vehicle program is on
course along with renewable solar energy charging option.
4) Richard Branson from the UK is on course.
5) The Gas Reduction Act of 2008 might not be the most environmentally sound
solution, but yet it shows that Congress has finally realized that we have an
energy crisis (again), and a real threat to our national security.

The continued dependence on foreign oil is a threat to our long term democratic values. We must become an energy independent nation, and with this, some sacrifices will have to be made by the American consumer.

Be aware!!
We are exporting approximately USD $700 Billion dollars per year of U.S. currency. The majority of this money is being transferred to the Trillion dollar “sovereign wealth funds”. This is USD $700 Billion not being spent on America’s educational system, health care and security.

The “sovereign wealth funds” are directly buying major interests (large blocks of stock) in U.S. companies, including most of the major banks. Also, billions of dollars of “sovereign wealth fund” money is being invested in our hedge funds, private equity firms, and the investment banking industry. A few of these firms are directly and indirectly investing large sums of money into our “gas combustion” automobile industry. Do we want our auto industry in the direct or indirect control of the firms that are supplying us oil? This is an interesting topic for an investigative reporter.

There are automotive consulting companies in Michigan (heart of our auto industry), lobbying States and our Federal Government, NOT to subsidize the Electric Vehicle industry. The latter seems to be contradictory to what the American public would like to see from our automobile industry. After the billions (excess of $20 billion) the automotive companies have lost in the past 6 months producing gas combustion vehicles, you would think they too would change course. Changing course is not adding 2-4 miles per gallon w/Hybrids. Drastic measures in our auto industry must take place and NOW!

Do not let the temporary reduction in oil prices push us off course….AGAIN.

Read, Read, Read- Stay on top of the issues. Let’s not be fooled again.


Franko   August 2nd, 2008 4:37 pm ET

"Drastic measures in our auto industry must take place and NOW!"
Zubrin Methanol plan for next car models, almost immediate $50 pain killer.
Present car parts corroded by pure Methanol. But, a little extra, to save USA.
If Methanol capable, bottom is set by Methanol price. Simple, beautiful silver bullet !

Other solutions have longet time to effect.
Kick out the Ice Bear, drill offshore California. Democratize Soudy Arabia.

Marcene Frasch   May 3rd, 2013 12:19 am ET

Environmentally friendly (also eco-friendly, nature friendly, and green) are ambiguous terms used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies claimed to inflict reduced, minimal, or no harm at all, upon ecosystems or the environment."*

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KEN GAVIN   October 11th, 2016 7:21 pm ET

earths global destruction. what truly amazes me is the ones manly the rich that truly act like its not happening.. global warming is not only happening but its getting very doubtful that we can reverse it before we have gotten to the point of no return !! I am sure it means different things to different ones like we can grow more food in the time we have before we all need to build our own little island to survive and the mountains are over populated to keep alive and then we can grow because we cant get fresh water everything will be sea salty and acting like its not our problem means the end of humanity and life as we have ever known. will salt water kill al the trees etc ? that cant be good !! what about the people living in low lying areas of the world etc . well all the money you have will be no good everything will be in money no good is scary.. I don't think any ones going to benefit from this event no matter what agenda you have. the auto makers have waited to long in this country by now we should have more alternatives than the world needs and on our way to a rebound but per the usual money must shift to do this prospective view... we all need to agree that this is happening for the sake of humanity's future with out all the red tape and litigation NOW

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