Adding his voice to the U.N. Summit on climate change, Pope Benedict XVI sent a video message to the meeting in New York on Tuesday. The Holy Father reminded the participants that "the natural environment is given by God to everyone, and so our use of it entails a personal responsibility towards humanity as a whole."
In his video message, which was made public today, Pope Benedict began by saying that his reflection was based on the "relationship between the Creator and ourselves as guardians of His creation."
"The Earth is indeed a precious gift of the Creator Who, in designing its intrinsic order, has given us guidelines that assist us as stewards of His creation," the Pontiff continued.
This is framework within which the Church sees "that matters concerning the environment and its protection are intimately linked with integral human development," he explained, pointing to his statement in his recent encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," where he said that these issues demonstrate the "'pressing moral need for renewed solidarity' not only between countries but also between individuals."
Because the natural environment is "given by God to everyone," the Holy Father underscored that "our use of it entails a personal responsibility towards humanity as a whole, particularly towards the poor and towards future generations."
The Pope then urged world leaders to speak with a united voice on the issue: "How important it is then, that the international community and individual governments send the right signals to their citizens and succeed in countering harmful ways of treating the environment! The economic and social costs of using up shared resources must be recognized with transparency and borne by those who incur them, and not by other peoples or future generations. The protection of the environment, and the safeguarding of resources and of the climate, oblige all leaders to act jointly, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the world."
Returning to the theme of his encyclical, Benedict XVI urged the leaders to jointly "build an integral human development beneficial for all peoples, present and future, a development inspired by the values of charity in truth. For this to happen it is essential that the current model of global development be transformed through a greater, and shared, acceptance of responsibility for creation: this is demanded not only by environmental factors, but also by the scandal of hunger and human misery."
The Holy Father concluded by inviting participants in the U.N. summit "to enter into their discussions constructively and with generous courage. Indeed, we are all called to exercise responsible stewardship of creation, to use resources in such a way that every individual and community can live with dignity, and to develop 'that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God.'"