The Green Pope

THIS CATHOLIC’S VIEW By Thomas J. Reese, S.J. Pope Benedict XVI has been called the “green pope” because of his … Continued


By Thomas J. Reese, S.J.

Pope Benedict XVI has been called the “green pope” because of his concern for the environment. Last year, he installed solar panels to generate electricity on roofs in the Vatican, and this year he added them to his home in Germany. Recently, the Vatican installed high-tech solar collectors to help heat and cool its buildings. He has also made the Vatican the first carbon neutral state through forests offsetting the Vatican carbon footprint.

“It’s impressive they’re actually doing what some people only talk about and (they) are doing it in a significant way,” Mark Hopkins, director of the United Nations Foundation’s energy policy program told Catholic News Service.

In his new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, the pope calls us to value nature as God’s creation while rejecting any pagan or pantheistic view. “In nature,” he writes, “the believer recognizes the wonderful result of God’s creative activity, which we may use responsibly to satisfy our legitimate needs, material or otherwise, while respecting the intrinsic balance of creation.”

This gift is not to be exploited for purely selfish ends, rather, “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.” Thus, Benedict combines his concern for the poor with his concern for the environment.

In the encyclical he applies his vision to energy policy. Like the Obama administration, he argues for conservation and the development of alternative sources of energy.

“The technologically advanced societies [that is us] can and must lower their domestic energy consumption,” he argues, “either through an evolution in manufacturing methods or through greater ecological sensitivity among their citizens.” This ecological sensitivity should lead to the adoption of new life-styles “in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments.”

Unlike most American politicians, he is also concerned about “countries [that] lack the economic means either to gain access to existing sources of non-renewable energy or to finance research into new alternatives.” He complains that “some States, power groups and companies hoard non-renewable energy resources” and this “represents a grave obstacle to development in poor countries.”

He calls for “a worldwide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them.”

No American politician could say anything like this, but Benedict can and does because his environmental views are motivated by theology not politics. On September 10, he argued that people must “see in creation something more than a simple source of wealth or exploitation in man’s hands.” The gift of creation must be used “responsibly and respectfully, making it fruitful.” For ultimately, we must see creation as “the expression of a plan of love and truth that speaks to us of the Creator and of his love for humanity, which will find its fulfillment in Christ, at the end of time.”

By Thomas J. Reese | 
September 15, 2009; 4:39 PM ET

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  • ccnl1

    Hmmm, a green pope?? Not really!!! A green pope would end the silly requirement to go to church on Sunday in order to partake in a ceremony that has no historical or theological foundation. A green pope would also close all Catholic houses of worship because they are heated and/or cooled to hold said flawed ceremonies. Catholics who have not yet seen the light should simply watch Sunday Mass on EWTN and eat diet wafers with a glass of wine during these myth-based motions of an out-dated priest.

  • PSolus

    “Pope Benedict XVI has been called the “green pope” because of his concern for the environment. Last year, he installed solar panels…”Are the solar panels meant to harness the energy of the sun as it revolves around the earth?

  • liveandlove

    2 of 2HARK! — The World will be divided between the “APOCALYPTIC” Nationals of Holy-Cosmic, but NEBULA-Built & Pre-Blesseth [S.S.] Earth, aka the “Automatic Born Citizenz/Denizenz Of S.S. Earth’s of many” AND between Ye PRE-APOCALYPTIC “Human”-unkinds, unlike Us “HUe{MATE”-kinds (Apocalyptarians)! SoooGoodbye Mr’s Rabbi MOSES! Goodbye Rabbi JESUS! Goodbye Immam MUHAMAD! Goodbye Swami VYASA! Goodbye Prince GAUTAMA! Goodbye Scholar CONFUSION…!WHEREFORE: Sing Unto the ‘LORD’ (not a HE nor a SHE; but an “IT”) a NEW-SONG coming from ALL Ye oldy’s and sing instead: “Hello/Welcome “SHi{LOH” The Photon/light Bringer of the APOCALYPSE starting in sweet sweet U.S. of A!BEHOLD: The MAiNE, U.S.A. Born MAiTREYA, the MAHDi, The MASSiAH, the ANNOiTED one & by manymanymany-Names etc.. [not Mendel Schneerson [pbuh] of the Lubavitch’r movement) is COME to Us already [& not via Joe SMiTH {pbuh} of the LDS either]; thus ,FROM Times Past (as Inheretitance for a NEW AGE) ushering in the Prophetic “HEALING OF NATIONS”, WORLD/GLOBAL-PEACE & HAPPYNESS & more Good TIDiNGS as “PROMISED” US “E-K-L-A-H-T-“ion(s) Nationals, aka “HUe{MATE”(s), not Human(s) anymore, via ALL Ye (not OUR) “iNFIXUS-BOOKS”, aka (un) Holy CHUMASH/Bibles, Quran/Korans, Geeta/Tripitaka’s; PAGANS, Witches/Wiccans [man-made] competing SYSTEMS too!!THEREFORE: Sing “HALLALUYA!” Praise The “HOLY-i” NO-MAN nor WOMB=MAN; Only “IT” (being “iTSELF” in and out of ALL via doing “IT”s own Holy-Stuffs & Amazing-Things; for US; “IT”s animates & the inanimates entity’s!

  • ccnl1

    Hmmm, a green pope?? Not really!!! A green pope would end the silly requirement to go to church on Sunday in order to partake in a ceremony that has no historical or theological foundation.Catholics who have not yet seen the light should simply watch Sunday Mass on EWTN and eat diet wafers with a glass of wine during these myth-based motions of an out-dated priest. Jews, I might add, should go green by closing all their synagogues since the foundations and theology are just as flawed as Catholicism/ Christianity. Ditto for Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism and “Baha’ism”.

  • usapdx

    A green pope without birth control. Does not add up.

  • Athena4

    Why am I picturing B16 with green skin wearing his Prada robes? 😀

  • ccnl1

    Once again for Homeland1 and his/her clones sake:Hmmm, a green pope?? Not really!!! A green pope would end the silly requirement to go to church on Sunday in order to partake in a ceremony that has no historical or theological foundation.A green pope would also close all Catholic houses of worship because they are heated and/or cooled to hold said flawed ceremonies. Catholics who have not yet seen the light should simply watch Sunday Mass on EWTN and eat diet wafers with a glass of wine during these myth-based motions of an out-dated priest. Jews, I might add, should go green by closing all their synagogues since the foundations and theology are just as flawed as Catholicism/ Christianity. Ditto for Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism and “Baha’ism”.

  • adrienne_najjar

    The pope is not only grren, he is irrelevant.Religion is BS. Realize that, and your life becomes instantly better. Religion was invented by ignorant savages to explain the inexplicable. Admit that the inexplicable is as such, and move on, marveling at the wonder of it all without inferring irrational and unsubstantiated drivel like the virgin birth and other nonsense.

  • adrienne_najjar

    homeland1 – you need to get a life.

  • Comunista

    I almost don’t see Benedict’s idea that the developed nations should effectively redistribute ‘energy wealth’ to be a ridiculous, far-fetched idea, at least in once sense… Though I don’t believe in the Socialist concept of redistribution of economic wealth, I do see how the West could support growth in renewable energy infrastructures and methods in the developing world, perhaps by offering incentives, such as giving nations the option to repay debts in the West by instead taking advantage of various renewable technologies provided by the West, and constructing wind farms/hydro power/solar plants. That way it lowers the cost of renewable technology for these poorer countries so they don’t have to resort solely to nonrenewables as their appetite for energy continues to inflate rapidly, and perhaps we could nip their own consumption issues in the bud.

  • andyvela2

    I frequently check the Washington Post comments sections to see what my fellow readers have to say. I am constantly dismayed to see the vitriolic hate that is spewed by both sides in this forum. Not only is it usually irrelevant to the topic of conversation, it shows an intolerance that can only be explained by rather large chips on shoulders or extreme insecurity.To get back to the posted topic. I applaud the Pope for his efforts and would like to see other leaders of industrialized countries put in the same commitment, though I imagine it will be much harder to mobilize larger nations. But some European countries have already taken steps in the right direction.

  • agapn9

    Birds of a feather flock together. If you attack the Pope when he’s obviously being reasonable what mercy do you think you’ll get when its your turn to come under scrutiny?Just because one loses their faith in a specific faith it doesn’t mean all religion is bunk. If one woman is unfaithful or tells you she doesn’t love you don’t decide to be celibate – you fall in love with someone else.Read St. Thomas Aquinas he actually makes sense and Aristotle, Plato, and Xenophanes established the One God theory without the help of the Hebrews or Mohammad.As regards the virgin birth while that hasn’t been proven – the number of miracles associated with the Blessed Virgin are so many and some so powerful that only a fool would deny them all!

  • ihatelogins

    The WAPO is so bad at writing blurbs. On the homepage the story asks if this is “Christianity or Socialism”… as if the two are mutually exclusive.

  • ravitchn

    If you ask stupid questions you get stupid answers.

  • maggieerzen

    The Pope would like “a worldwide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them.”

  • blueiguana2001

    Wow, this topic really does bring out all kinds of posters. Maybe I’m wrong, but is there an inverse correlation between the relevance of a post, and the percentage of capitalized letters?

  • infantry11b4faus

    i am Catholic but my world does not rise and fall under the words of papa. that is what italians call him.

  • practica1

    What would Jesus do?Probably not strip mine and empty aquifers in the name of Holy Profit.Maybe that’s why the religious capitalists prefer the old testament patriarchs to Jesus, and Paul-the-Franchise-Specialist to dear dense Peter: it’s so hard to care about what one does to the least of these; so much more fun to worry about whether women cover their heads in church.

  • jm1872a

    It’s interesting to see how when the Pope calls for redistribution it’s “Christianity” but when a politician does the same it’s called “Socialism.” Isn’t it just common sense for the common good??

  • chatard

    “On Faith” continues to be not about faith but about politics, and more specifically about politicizing religion and apologizing for a particular politician – Obama. Why, yes, all you good Catholics must support Obama because he is just like the Pope! uh huh. Well, when Meacham and Quinn and Reese start a campaign for Iran to build a pipeline to Kenya and start pumping oil down there, for free, we might start signing their prayer cards. Until then, this is all just more of the same America-bashing.

  • justillthen

    I applaud the Pope’s taking this stand on the environment and resources, as well the suggestion of redistribution of wealth. Though I am sure that most wealthy nations will seek to maintain their wealth, (though the actions of Wall Street suggest a reversal of that trend!), it is fundamentally right to seek the betterment of the whole organism, and so that includes the poor and disenfranchised. Not a central tenet of Capitalism, that Holy Grail of economic forms, even if it is a central tenet of Catholicism, (note the non-inclusion of Christianity as a whole). Paradox. to INFANTRY11B4FAUS and Maggieerzen, and others, One is that the Catholic church, like many other churches but perhaps on a larger scale, do many works for the poor. Two is that to affect change of economic status of the poor and third world countries it would take a sea change in policy and practice of the wealthy, and first world countries. The economic power of the Catholic Church alone is no match for the task.Third, when a nation or entity or individual decreases their wealth enough, it has the effect of minimizing their influence and self-perpetuating momentum. All the art in the Vatican would not be enough, without the cooperation of other powers. And then that art would be spread to museums or quite likely in private hands and out of the public arenas.

  • maclaura1

    The Pope should guide humanity on the path that every religious entity should, to follow a plant based diet.From St. Francis to St. Basil, Plato to Plutarch, Pythagoras to Tolstoy, Henry Beston to Issac Beshevis Singer, and countless other people in history ( read quotations ), the warning was decried regarding the consequences of treating animals as commodities.It’s disturbing that in the endless discussions on climate change, the worst foe, animal agribusiness, is off limits. It’s as troubling as the absence of disease prevention, juxtaposed with our agriculture sector, from the health care debate.The church is silent, as always, to tell the “flock” how to stay out of the slaughterhouse….Worthy is the Lamb….What, before people eat him?

  • justillthen

    Hello Chatard, I hardly agree. I do agree that debate goes often into politics, but that is only obvious. Most thinking people would care about the politics of their country. What Christian or Jew or Muslim, or even Buddhist, did not care of the theological bent of his or her country?As to On Faith being about ” politicizing religion and apologizing for a particular politician – Obama”, I think you are just reading it, and into it, from your own particular bias.”Until then, this is all just more of the same America-bashing.”At the risk of politicizing religion, one needs do no more than has been done by Obamas predecessor to find true America-bashing.Now if Obama, or anyone else, can heal the ills we have caused, and bring about better balance and peace in the world, I am all for it. Obama, from my view, is doing a fine job, in the face of slanderous lies and entrenched resistance from many of the same forces that supported our headlong procession into war and religious confrontation worldwide.What does America bashing mean, anyway? We have been the most powerful country on the planet, and have trounced around projecting influence for our own betterment for well over 100 years. We have done our share of bashing, and indeed continue to this day bashing around the planet. Do you think yourself entitled, and the future America entitled, to continued abundance beyond the fortunes of the rest of the world? Because we are Mericans? Something has been running foul in the chicken coop, and those of conscious think something should be done to right the wrong.

  • chkpointe

    Socialism and christianity are one and the same if you go back to the pure teachings of Christ. It is only the followers who can’t conceive of giving up the good life who misconstrue socialism to meet their own prejudices. Even the pope doesn’t give up enough, lush living quarters,travel, food etc that the poor catholics are subsidizing. Christ did not tell his followers to bail out he lazy, etc. He expected everyone to contribute as much as possible. Perhaps those socialist countries who subsidize wages but insist everyone will work have the best concept of socialism.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hmmmm….Nothing here about Jesus, the illiterate Jewish peasant. Nothing here on the blood/wine, flesh/bread equation, never made by any Jew in the history of mankind, but which derives from the mystery religions of the region. Hmmmm….Nothing here about the Sanhedrin to-do that likewise never happened. Nothing here about “Let he who is without sin….” added in the twelfth century. (A minor, but interesting detail.)Hmmmm…..Nothing here about Akiva, et al, who were the focus of attention in the first century. Nothing here about the great to-do in downtown Jerusalem that never happened, since very few people knew Yehoshuah existed.

  • peterroach

    Gee Benedict XVI, how nice. Now, how about those child molesters,etc? Is our Globe “warm” enough for that?

  • beargulch

    chatard writes: ‘”On Faith” continues to be not about faith but about politics’Wake up. “Faith”, or religion IS politics and always has been. Maybe not to a “person of faith”, but the organization is all about politics. The Pope is as political as you can get.I’m glad the Pope loves the earth. Now, can he start really loving gays and lesbians? Because what he’s doing now is not even close to love.

  • excalibur2

    Keeping in mind that the RC church is the principal cause of over population on this planet because of its senseless, draconian dark ages laws re its total ban on contraceptives and other birth control methods. This of course is the leading cause of the massive aids pandemic and also deaths through malnutrition, disease and the starvation of hundreds of millions in the dust bowl overpopulated and polluted countries on this planet. This is where frightened indigenous people or peasants are told they will go to hell if they disobey the church, so these poor frightened souls end up with families of up to 20 children that they can neither feed nor support.Concern for the environment and he sticks some solar panels on the roof. Give me a break – you catholics really do live in fantasy world!

  • ccnl1

    Hmmm, where did all of this messy stuff start?? One of the starting points: Abraham founder/father of three major religions was either the embellishment of the lives of three different men or aCurrent crisis:Realization that the Jews are not god’s chosen people.

  • ccnl1

    It is obvious that intercourse and other sexual activities are out of control with over one million abortions and 19 million cases of STDs per year in the USA alone. “Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain STDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psychological consequences of STDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs associated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars.”How in the world do we get this situation under control? A pill to temporarily eliminate the sex drive would be a good start. And teenagers and young adults must be constantly reminded of the dangers of sexual activity and that oral sex, birth control pills, condoms (see the recent Pew studies) and chastity belts are no protection against STDs.Might a list of those having an STD posted on the Internet help? Sounds good to me!!!! Said names would remain until the STD has been eliminated with verification by a doctor. Lists of sexual predators are on-line. Is there a difference between these individuals and those having a STD having sexual relations while infected???

  • DoTheRightThing

    When the Pope calls for re-distribution, he is not advocating a political solution, but a moral solution. The WaPo and most postmodern-liberal-progressive-socialist writings leave the impression he speaks politically. That’s the usual: misleading communications from them and their speech organs in the SnoozeMedia.

  • justillthen

    CCNL, I rarely post to you for plenty of good reason. But I’ve just gotta say that your ideas are sick:”How in the world do we get this situation under control? A pill to temporarily eliminate the sex drive would be a good start.””Might a list of those having an STD posted on the Internet help? Sounds good to me!!!!”That’s right, CCNL. Let’s post the names of teenagers that have contracted and STD for everyone to see and know. Shame the b*ggers. Privacy of underage kids be damned. Of anyone that has a STD be damned. Let us make it worse for them, how about it, till those kids just stop that unnatural act.

  • justillthen

    Hello maclaura1, I liked your post quite a bit, and agree. You make good arguments, or at least raise the visibility of the topic up. The world would be a much more balanced place, and morally congruent, if humans released their addiction to meateating and adopted a vegetarian diet. People are extremely attached to eating meat, but it is a destructive habit in a myriad of ways. It is my hope that we slowly convert to a more appropriate vegetarian diet as we go toward a greener society and world.

  • ccnl1

    Hmmm, who says a pill developed to control the sex drive would have signficant side effects?? Going in the opposite direction apparently is working quite well for the makers of ED drugs which apparently have very few side effects.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hmmmm…nothing here about the money still in Vatican Bank, courtesy of murdering Croat priests who tortured to death Jews, Serbians, and Roma (Catholics, btw.)Hmmmm….Nothing here about the decades long wait for the release from the Vatican of its Hitler days. (Of course, Hitler was a Catholic to the day of his death, was never ex-communicated.)

  • ccnl1

    The Vatican Bank problems are many and complex. Read about them at

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Adolf Hitler: “I have always been a Catholic.”

  • coloradodog

    Don’t tell the Irish Catholic bigots at Fox News the Pope is a tree-hugging socialist.They may have an anuerism or kidney failure.

  • ccnl1

    Once again from from the following reference: “The allegation is sometimes made that Hitler was a Catholic – a Christian until the day he died. This claim is based upon the fact that Hitler was born and raised in a Catholic family. However, as an adult, Hitler specifically rejected the Catholic Church, as well as Christianity in general. He described himself as “a complete pagan”. The book Hitler’s Secret Conversations: 1941-1944, published by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc. (1953), contains definitive proof of Hitler’s real views. The book was published in Britain under the title, Hitler’s Table Talk: 1941-1944, which title was used for the Oxford University Press paperback edition in the United States.Some excerpts:All of these are quotes from Adolf Hitler: “National Socialism and religion cannot exist together…. The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity…. Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things. (p 6 & 7) “10th October, 1941, midday: “Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. (p 43)”

  • ccnl1

    Read more at”Resignation and deathHudal’s activities caused a press scandal in 1947, after he was accused of leading a Nazi smuggling ring by the Passauer Neue Presse, a Catholic newspaper, but, as in 1923, playing the Austrian versus the Vatican and German cards, he only resigned as rector of Santa Maria dell’Anima in 1952, under joint pressure from the German and Austrian bishops and the Holy See. In January 1952, the Bishop of Salzburg told Hudal that the Holy See wanted to dismiss him. In June Hudal announced to the cardinal protector of Santa Maria dell’Anima that he had decided to leave the College, though disapproving of the Church allegedly being governed by the Allies.[68] He resided afterwards in Grottaferrata, near the city of Rome, where in 1962 he wrote his embittered memoirs called Römische Tagebücher. Lebensbeichte eines alten Bischofs (Diaries of Rome. The Confession of Life of an Old Bishop), published posthumously in 1976.Until his death in 1963, he never gave up in trying to obtain an amnesty for Nazis.[69] Despite his protests against anti-Semitism in the 1930s, in his memoirs, with full knowledge of the Holocaust as of 1962, the “Brown Bishop” [70] said of his actions in favour of war criminals and genocide perpetrators and participants: “I thank God that He opened my eyes and allowed me to visit and comfort many victims in their prisons and concentration camps and [to help] them escape with false identity papers” — where these so-called “victims” were in fact Axis prisoners of war and their “concentration camps” Allied detention camps.[71]Alois Hudal was not a poor person. After he was banned from Rome by the Vatican of Pope Pius, he withdrew to his sumptuous residence in Grottaferrata near Rome, embittered towards Pope Pius XII. However, not only the Vatican, but also the Austrian public were upset with Hudal especially at his last trip to Austria in 1961.[72] He died in 1963. His diaries were published in Austria thirteen years after his death and describe perceived Vatican injustices he experienced under Pope Pius XI and Pius XII after the publication of his book. He maintains the opinion that a Faustian bargain between socialism, nationalism and Christianity is the way of the future.[73]”

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Once again on Hitler, the Catholic:Born and bred a Catholic, he [Hitler] grew up in a religion and in a culture that was anti-semitic, and in persecuting Jews, he repeatedly proclaimed he was doing the “Lord’s work.”You will find it in Mein Kampf: “Therefore, I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord’s Work.”Hitler said it again at a Nazi Christmas celebration in 1926: “Christ was the greatest early fighter in the battle against the world enemy, the Jews … The work that Christ started but could not finish, I — Adolf Hitler — will conclude.”In a Reichstag speech in 1938, Hitler again echoed the religious origins of his crusade. “I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”Hitler regarded himself as a Catholic until he died. “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so,” he told Gerhard Engel, one of his generals, in 1941.There was really no reason for Hitler to doubt his good standing as a Catholic. The Catholic press in Germany was eager to curry his favor, and the princes of the Catholic Church never asked for his excommunication. Religions encourage their followers to hold authority in unquestioning respect; this is what makes devout religionists such wonderful dupes for dictators.When Hitler narrowly escaped assassination in Munich in November, 1939, he gave the credit to providence. “Now I am completely content,” he exclaimed. “The fact that I left the Burgerbraukeller earlier than usual is a corroboration of Providence’s intention to let me reach my goal.” Catholic newspapers throughout the Reich echoed this, declaring that it was a miraculous working of providence that had protected their Fuhrer. One cardinal, Michael Faulhaber, sent a telegram instructing that a Te Deum be sung in the cathedral of Munich, “to thank Divine Providence in the name of the archdiocese for the Fuhrer’s fortunate escape.” The Pope also sent his special personal congratulations!Later the Pope was to publicly describe Hitler’s opposition to Russia as a “highminded gallantry in defense of the foundations of Christian culture.” Several German bishops openly supported Hitler’s invasion of Russia, calling it a “European crusade.” One bishop exhorted all Catholics to fight for “a victory that will allow Europe to breathe freely again and will promise all nations a new future.”