"The devastation of the environment in the Amazon basin and the threats against the human dignity of peoples living within that region call for greater commitment," Pope Benedict told a stadium fullo of enthusiastic young Brazilians, Catholic News reports.
"Stretching out in front of you, my dear friends, is a life that all of us hope will be long; yet it is only one life, it is unique; do not let it pass in vain; do not squander it," the pope said.
"Live it with enthusiasm and with joy, but most of all with a sense of responsibility," he said.
About 40,000 young people crowded into the Paulo Machado de Carvalho soccer stadium for the papal encounter, and others spilled out into the Pacaembu neighborhood of Sao Paulo. Many arrived hours before the event.
The papal program included a song calling for protection of the environment and an end to burning and killing in the Amazon region. As the music rang out, video projections of threatened Amazon species were shown on a giant screen.
Young men and women from various areas of the country performed rhythmic dances that reflected their local cultures.
When people see the beauty of creation, the pope said in his address, "it is impossible not to believe in God." He said Brazilians' desire to protect the country's natural environment, especially the vast forests of the Amazon region, reflects this awareness of the creator.
"The devastation of the environment in the Amazon basin and the threats against the human dignity of peoples living within that region call for greater commitment," he said.
God's commandments are important, the pope said, and it is even more important to witness them in daily life.
Ecological conversion call
Meanwhile, in New York, the Holy See nuncio to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, told the international body that "the world needs an ecological conversion".
"The environmental consequences of our economic activity are now among the world's highest priorities," Archbishop Migliore told delegates.
The world's 'economy continues to rest basically upon its relation to nature", and in particular to its impact on the earth's soil, water and climate, the archbishop said.
"It is becoming rapidly ever clearer that if these, the world's life support systems, are spoiled or destroyed irreparably, there will be no viable economy for any of us," the apostolic nuncio said.
He criticised the tendency of national policy makers to view ecological issues as "external or marginal" to economic considerations.
"Environmental concerns have to be understood," the archbishop said, "as the basis upon which all economic - and even human - activity rests."
"The environmental question is not only an important ethical and scientific problem," he said, but one that impacts political, economic, security strategy, developmental and humanitarian issues at regional, national and international levels.
He added that the Holy See favours efforts at making the Kyoto Protocol fully strategies that meet "short and long-term energy needs, protect human health and the environment, and establish precise commitments that will effectively confront the problem of climate change."
The Kyoto Protocol, ratified by more than 160 countries not including the United States and Australia, commits nations to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Rancher on trial for Amazon martyr murder
In another story, the International Herald Tribune reports that a rancher goes to trial today for the killing of an American-born nun, Sr Dorothy Stang, a rare instance in which Brazil's courts take on a member of the elite in the violent Amazon region.
Vitalmiro Bastos Moura is one of two ranchers accused of ordering the 2005 killing of 73-year-old Sr Stang, a naturalised Brazilian originally from Dayton, Ohio. She was slain by six bullets at close range on a muddy patch of road deep in Para state in a dispute over land.
Three men - the gunman, his accomplice and an intermediary - have been convicted in Stang's death, but Moura is the first alleged "mandante" (mastermind) to stand trial.
Vatican calls world to ecological conversion aimed at sustainability (Catholic Online, 13/5/07)
Vatican's Address to U.N. on Climate Change (Catholic Online, 12/5/07)
Pope tells enthusiastic Brazilian youths to live fully, responsibly (Catholic Online, 12/5/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archbishop Celestino Migliore (Holy See Mission)
Dorothy Stang (Wikipedia)
Five face trial in Brazil for nun's murder (CathNews, 31/7/05)
American nun assassinated in Brazil (CathNews, 14/2/05)
14 May 2007