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COPENHAGEN-POPE Dec-7-2009 (380 words) xxxi

On eve of climate summit, pope calls for responsible lifestyles

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- On the eve of the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, Pope Benedict XVI said protection of the environment requires more sober lifestyles and a rediscovery of the "moral dimension" of development.

The pope, speaking at his noon blessing at the Vatican Dec. 6, said he hoped the Dec. 7-18 conference in the Danish capital would identify policies that "respect creation and promote a cooperative development founded on the dignity of the human person and oriented toward the common good."

"The protection of creation demands the adoption of lifestyles that are sober and responsible, especially toward the poor and future generations," the pope said.

"In this perspective, to guarantee the full success of the conference, I invite all people of good will to respect the laws made by God regarding nature and to rediscover the moral dimension of human life," he said.

The Vatican's five-person delegation to the conference was headed by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations.

The German pope has spoken increasingly about the moral and spiritual dimensions of ecology, and he has taken steps to reduce the Vatican's carbon footprint, including the installation of solar panels atop the Paul VI audience hall and participation in a reforestation project in Hungary.

The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said the pope's repeated references to more simple lifestyles underscored that ecological solutions must involve everyone.

"The Copenhagen conference on climate will be considered a success or a failure depending on the commitments assumed by governments, especially those of the biggest and most powerful countries," Father Lombardi said in a commentary on Vatican Radio Dec. 5.

But Father Lombardi added that implementing new policies "will depend on the aggregate behavior of all of us inhabitants of the earth." People today have grown too used to shifting ecological responsibility on others, and need to see themselves as protagonists in the defense of the environment, he said.

He said the wide range of ecological problems today, including drought, air pollution, water contamination, soil erosion, rainfall modification and even hurricanes, were caused in part by human behavior and decisions.

The negative effects involve the entire planet, but above all the poor, who are the first to suffer and die because of environmental damage, he said.


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