The pope, speaking at his summer villa outside Rome Aug. 27, expressed support for the Italian church's first day dedicated to the protection of creation, which was to be celebrated Sept. 1.
The pope said the created world was a great gift of God but is presently "exposed to serious risks by life choices and lifestyles that can degrade it.""In particular, environmental degradation makes poor people's existence intolerable," he said.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says the world's poor, who often live in polluted slums, are connected to the environmental crisis. In cases of poverty and hunger, it is "virtually impossible" to avoid environmental exploitation, said the 2004 social doctrine.
Pope Benedict said, "In dialogue with Christians of various churches, we need to commit ourselves to caring for the created world, without squandering its resources, and sharing them in a cooperative way."The Italian initiative aimed to promote the church's teaching on care for the environment. In churches throughout the country, the faithful were being asked to pray and to meditate on ecological damage.
In July, the pope sent a message to Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, praising his efforts in reminding Christians of their duty to protect the environment. In that message, the pope warned that the ecological balance of the Amazon region was under threat.