Benedict XVI urges people to discover 'religious dimension' of environment

.- Emphasizing the need to protect the environment, Pope Benedict XVI told a delegation of Spanish supporters this morning that the call for people to "discover its more profound spiritual and religious dimension" is also urgent.

The Holy Father made his comments as he addressed a group of sponsors of the Holy See's Pavilion at "Expo Zaragoza 2008," an international exposition focused on the theme, "Water and sustainable development." The event took place last year between June 14 and September 14 in the Spanish city of Zaragoza.

The international expo, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Zaragoza and the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, included a display by the Holy See that focused on the "significance and primordial importance water has for human life."

A guided tour of the expo was divided into three stages: The first presented water as a life-source; the second displayed art associated with water and its role in Salvation History; and the third was dedicated to the many people who have limited access to this vital element and need to solve this problem.

Pope Benedict noted that the Vatican's pavilion was one of the "most visited and appreciated," and that it contained "an important display of the priceless artistic, cultural and religious heritage of the Church."

"By participating in the exposition," the Holy Father explained, "the Holy See wished to demonstrate not only the urgent need constantly to defend the environment and the natural world, but also to discover its more profound spiritual and religious dimension."

Reflecting on man's responsibility for protecting Creation, Pope Benedict said, "The truth is that when God, through creation, gave man the keys to the earth, He wanted him to use this great gift responsibly and respectfully, making it fruitful. ... In this context it is important to reiterate the close relationship between protection of the environment and respect for the ethical requirements of human nature, because 'when human ecology is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits.'"

Pope Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by entrusting the promoters of the Holy See pavilion to Our Lady of the Pillar "at whose feet flow the abundant waters of the River Ebro."

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