Pope Benedict XVI and the Environment

Contributed by: John Braverman, SJ, Assistant Professor of Biology, St. Joseph’s University

The resignation of now-emeritus Pope Benedict prompted some reflection on his accomplishments during his papacy from 2005 to 2013. In a recent blog posting, Jesuit José Ignacio Garcia, SJ recalled Benedict’s consistent theme of ecology in his writings and speeches. In this concise posting to the web page and newsletter “EcoJesuit,” Fr. José reported a few of the key phrases used by Benedict. For example, on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2010, Benedict stated, “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.” It’s a broad claim, reminiscent of Pope Paul VI’s “If you want peace, work for justice” from 1972. Benedict is acknowledging the strong interconnection between ecological issues and human society.

Fr. José concludes: “For Pope Benedict XVI, environmental responsibility is not a fashion or a matter of ideological confrontation, but a serious problem of our time that demands the response of the Church to raise awareness and to call for responsibility.”

If you wish to read even more of Benedict’s writings on the environment, two books offer compilations: The Environment (2012) and Ten Commandments for the Environment: Pope Benedict XVI Speaks Out for Creation and Justice (2009).

Because natural science is so important to understanding ecological problems and their solutions, followers of The Institute for Religion and Science at Chestnut Hill College, and anyone interested in connecting science and religion, might be happy to hear of this strong and consistent concern over ecology from the highest levels of the Catholic Church.

Link to Fr. José’s full blog text, as well as the other articles on EcoJesuit. You can sign up to receive regular notices of new postings to see how Jesuits and their colleagues are working on ecological issues around the world. http://ecojesuit.com/if-you-want-peace-protect-creation/4854/