Benedict identifies environment as key challenge

Speaking to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Pope Benedict has identified the environment as well as respect for human dignity and recognition of spiritual values as three major challenges for humanity today.

In a message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Benedict XVI says that "everything that the earth produces and all that man transforms and manufactures, all his knowledge and technology, is meant to serve the material and spiritual development and fulfilment of the human family and all its members", AsiaNews reports.

Pope Benedict made the points in a message, "Charity and Justice in the Relations among Peoples and Nations", he sent to the president of Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Mary Ann Glendon, for its 13th Plenary Session.

"Certainly the building of a just society is the primary responsibility of the political order, both in individual states and in the international community," the pope wrote.

And the Church wants to "help form consciences and stimulate a greater response to the genuine requirements of justice", convinced that "even in the most just society, there will always be a place for charity".

The Church's teaching, which is "addressed not only to believers but to all people of good will ... appeals to right reason and a sound understanding of human nature in proposing principles capable of guiding individuals and communities in the pursuit of a social order marked by justice, freedom, fraternal solidarity and peace."

At the heart of that teaching, the pope says, there "is the principle of the universal destination of all the goods of creation."

"According to this fundamental principle, everything that the earth produces and all that man transforms and manufactures, all his knowledge and technology, is meant to serve the material and spiritual development and fulfilment of the human family and all its members," he said.

Three challenges

Pope Benedict said there are "three specific challenges facing our world, challenges which I believe can only be met through a firm commitment to that greater justice which is inspired by charity."

"The first concerns the environment and sustainable development," he said.

Knowing that the world's resources are limited, what we need is the "capacity to assess and forecast, to monitor the dynamics of environmental change and sustainable growth, and to draw up and apply solutions at an international level," the pope said.

"Particular attention must be paid to the fact that the poorest countries are likely to pay the heaviest price for ecological deterioration," he added.

"In meeting the challenges of environmental protection and sustainable development, we are called to promote and 'safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic "human ecology"'. This in turn calls for a responsible relationship not only with creation but also with our neighbours, near and far, in space and time, and with the Creator."

Benedict XVI says the second challenge "involves our conception of the human person and consequently our relationships with one other. If human beings are not seen as persons, male and female, created in God's image and endowed with an inviolable dignity, it will be very difficult to achieve full justice in the world."

A third challenge, the pontiff says, relates to the values of the spirit.

"Pressed by economic worries, we tend to forget that, unlike material goods, those spiritual goods which are properly human expand and multiply when communicated: unlike divisible goods, spiritual goods such as knowledge and education are indivisible, and the more one shares them, the more they are possessed."

The environment, respect of man’s dignity and recognition of spiritual values are today’s challenges (AsiaNews, 3/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (

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