By John Thavis
Universe dated March 30 1997
Concern for green issues does not justify birth control campaigns
targeted at poorer countries, the Pope told ecological experts.
The Pope said respect for life and a greater attitude of sharing
should be hallmarks of the ecological movement worldwide.
He said Church teaching, beginning with the Bible, expresses respect
for both creation and the human being's capacity to use it as a
But today, an imbalance has formed, and use of resources has often
turned into abuse, he added.
"The aspect of conquest and exploitation of resources has become
predominant and invasive, and has reached the point of threatening the
hospitable nature of the environment," said the Pope.
The mentality of the modern capitalist society was in part to blame
for the abuse of natural resources, which is often driven by "the search
for unlimited profits".
He added that the environment has frequently been treated as the
private domain of a few powerful industrial groups, to the detriment of
humanity as a whole. The result is damage to the ecosystem and to the
health of the inhabitants and future generations.
Pope John Paul argued the effort to repress the birth rate,
especially in developing countries, was an extremist position in the
The real answer, he said, was in developing new forms of solidarity
with poorer nations. The international community needs "a solidarity
founded on respect for life and on the promotion of resources sufficient
for the poorest people and for future generations".
He said another extremist position was the attempt to eliminate the
metaphysical distinctions between the human being and animals, by those
who would consider the biosphere as a place of undifferentiated values.
Some would argue that the human being shares an equal dignity with
all living creatures, but this would in effect eliminate man's greater
responsibility in the world, the Pope stated.
He added if the ecological movement includes a strong ethical
dimension, it can be successful in the long run.
The Pope said he was convinced that with modern technologies and
ideas, humanity will be able to eventually clean up pollution, assure
hygienic living conditions and maintain resources for future
Reproduced with thanks.
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