Last week Pope Benedict XVI offered more evidence of his greenish sensibilities, calling for more research and development of clean energy options for the future. During introductory remarks made at a June 9 presentation of credentials from new ambassadors to the Vatican, Pope Benedict commented on the "innumerable tragedies that have affected nature, technology, and the peoples" this year in an apparent reference to events like the Japan earthquake/tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis as well as the violent storms across the United States that previously drew his attention. He said, "The states should reflect together on the short term future of the planet, on our responsibilities regarding our life and technology."
"Human ecology," Benedict said, "is an imperative. Adopting a lifestyle that respects our environment and supports the research and use of clean energies that preserve the patrimony of creation and that are safe for human beings should be given political and economic priority".
He added that "a change in mentality" is necessary in order to "quickly arrive at a global lifestyle that respects the covenant between humanity and nature, without which the human family risks disappearing. ... Every government must commit themselves to protecting nature and assisting it to carry out its essential role in the survival of humanity. The United Nations seem to be the natural framework for this type of reflection, which should not be obscured by blindly partisan political or economic interests in order to give preference to solidarity over particular interests."
While suggesting that humankind's creative faculties could be a way out of the problems posed by fossil fuel consumption, Benedict took the opportunity to reminds us that man does not live by his advanced technology alone. "It is also helpful to ask ourselves," he said, "about the appropriate role of technology" because "believing it is the exclusive agent of progress or happiness carries a reification of humanity that leads to blindness and misery.... Technology that dominates human beings deprives them of their humanity. The pride that it generates has created an impossible economism in our societies as well as a hedonism that subjectively and selfishly regulates behavior. The debilitation of the primacy of the human person provokes a loss of the meaning of life."