POPE BENEDICT XVI has called on young people to take steps to save the planet “before it is too late”. Speaking last weekend at the end of an Italian youth gathering at the Marian shrine of Loreto near the Adriatic Sea, the Pope told the young people that one of the “most urgent” responsibilities of their generation was to protect the environment and help reverse ecological destruction.
“Before it is too late, courageous choices must be adopted that are capable of recreating a strong alliance between humans and the Earth,” the Pope said on Sunday to a vast outdoor crowd. The remarks were only an aside in a much broader message to the young people, but they constituted some of the Pope’s strongest comments to date on ecological questions. “There needs to be a decisive ”˜yes’ in defence of creation and a strong commitment to reverse those trends that risk creating situations of irreparable degradation,” he said.
The two-day “Agora” was the first major event of a three-year initiative by the Italian episcopal conference (CEI) aimed at reaching out to young Catholics. The Pope’s environmental comments were made in support of another CEI initiative – the second annual “National Day for the Safeguarding of Creation”, which is commemorated each year on 1 September.
Pope Benedict noted that this year’s theme focused on water, which he called a most precious resource. He warned that it would become a “motive for harsh tensions and bitter conflicts” if not shared in a fair and peaceful manner – a reality that is already occurring in many parts of the world.