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 CNS Story:

POPE-ENVIRONMENT Jul-20-2006 (330 words) xxxi

Pope says ecological protection of Amazon region urgently needed

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Amazon region is under threat, and protection of the ecological balance of this "magnificent work" of God is urgently needed, Pope Benedict XVI said in a message to experts meeting in Brazil to help safeguard the Amazon River.

The pope's message, released July 20 by the Vatican, was addressed to Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who developed an organization called Religion, Science and Environment. Since its founding in 1995, the nonprofit organization has convened six meetings bringing together scientists, environmentalists, policymakers and religious leaders to look at ways to protect the world's major bodies of water and foster environmental ethics.

The papal message was sent on the occasion of the sixth symposium, held July 13-20 in Brazil's Amazon region on a flotilla of boats winding along the Amazon river system.

Pope Benedict said the beauty and grandeur of the Amazon basin's rivers and forests "speak of God and his magnificent work for the benefit of humanity" and represent "an open book whose pages reveal the mystery of life."

He recalled the common declaration on respecting human life and safeguarding all creation that was signed by the patriarch and Pope John Paul II in 2002.

Pope Benedict underlined the duty and importance of the two churches in working together to promote a catechism on creation. He said by showing the religious meaning of protecting the environment, it could have "an important impact on the perceived value of life itself and on the adequate solution of inescapable social problems."

The pope praised and offered his support for the patriarch's efforts in reminding Christians of their duty to protect the environment. He also underlined how important it was that the symposium included leaders of other monotheistic religions.

The pope said the meetings' goals of safeguarding humanity's survival can and should draw people to join the cause.

END


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