Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the head of the Vatican delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, addressed the High-Level Segment of the conference on Thursday. His message underscored the inefficacy of the current economic and development models, promoted the efforts of the Church and others to raise awareness to safeguard an "authentic human ecology" and pledged continued Vatican support for all initiatives that protect creation.
Migliore began his address by asking aloud what the reasons might be for the delay in adopting "common binding measures and adequate budgets for an effective mitigation and adaptation to ongoing climate change."
He attributed the lethargy to a mixture of the complexity of the issue, conflicting national interests, difficulty in quantifying individual responsibility and overbearing energy policy. All of these considerations, he continued, converge on the central element of "the necessity of a new and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its purposes, and a profound and far-reaching revision of the model for development, to correct the malfunctions and distortions."
Earth's ecological health and man's moral and cultural well-being require it, he said.
"With realism, trust and hope we must assume the new responsibilities which call us to the scene of a world in need of a deep cultural renewal and a rediscovery of fundamental values on which to build a better future," said Migliore, calling for action to curb "deeply interlinked" moral crises evident in humanity today.
If the structures in place cannot provide us with an informed direction to discover and respond with in a timely manner to the "tangible reality of climate change," he stated, "reason and the innate sense of shared responsibility of the people once again must prevail."
The nuncio then pointed out that "an impressive series of initiatives" has already been started by individuals, groups, local authorities "to give form to the two cornerstones of the response to climate change: adaptation and mitigation."
However, technical solutions aren't enough, Migliore underscored. The response to climate change must include more projects that inform, educate, and develop a sense of responsibility in all people towards "environmentally sound patterns of development and stewardship of creation."
Migliore called the evidence of the success of such initiatives in the world a "widespread ecological conversion."
Through awareness, he said, a solidarity will arise that will ensure our future.
He then highlighted the Holy See's "significant efforts to take a lead in environmental protection," giving the examples of the Vatican City's greater reliance on renewable energy sources and advocacy and education programs that promote environmental responsibility by all types of Church institutions.
"We must safeguard creation - soil, water and air - as a gift entrusted to everyone, but we must also and above all prevent mankind from destroying itself," stated Migliore in defense of efforts to change currently unsustainable production and consumption models.
"The degradation of nature is directly connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when the human ecology is respected within society, the environmental ecology will benefit. The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself."
Echoing the sentiments of the Holy Father in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate and his recent message for the World Day of Peace, Migliore said, "Environment and climate change entail a shared responsibility toward all humanity, especially the poor and future generations.
"There is an inseparable link between the protection of creation, education and an ethical approach to the economy and development. The Holy See hopes that the process in question can ever more appreciate this link and, with this outlook, continues to give its full cooperation."