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Copenhagen failure down to 'self-centred' thinking - Pope

January 14, 2010:

Pope Benedict has denounced the failure of world leaders to agree on a new climate change treaty at Copenhagen, saying the same "self-centred and materialistic" way of thinking behind the worldwide financial meltdown was also endangering creation.

Speaking to nearly 100 ambassadors in his annual meeting with the diplomatic corps, Pope Benedict said "human selfishness continues in many ways to harm creation". What was needed, he added, was "a great programme of education aimed at promoting an effective change of thinking and at creating new lifestyles".

His latest statement comes after his most powerful ecological message to date, released for World Peace Day on January 1, in which the Pope said: “We cannot remain indifferent to what is happening around us, for the deterioration of any one part of the planet affects us all.”

In his address to the Diplomatic Corp on January 11, Pope Benedict emphasised once again his earlier message that the issue was a moral one. He cited the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago and the collapse of hardline East European regimes as an example of the damage to the environment caused by "self-centred and materialistic" thinking.

"Was it not easy to assess the great harm which an economic system lacking any reference to the truth about man had done not only to the dignity and freedom of individuals and peoples, but to nature itself, by polluting soil, water and air?" he asked.

"The denial of God distorts the freedom of the human person, yet it also devastates creation. It follows that the protection of creation is not principally a response to an aesthetic need, but much more to a moral need, inasmuch as nature expresses a plan of love and truth which is prior to us and which comes from God."

The Holy Father did not name countries responsible for the failed negotiations at Copenhagen, but he listed as victims the island nations at risk of rising seas and Africa, where the battle for natural resources, increased desertification and over-exploitation of land had resulted in wars.

"I trust that in the course of this year ... it will be possible to reach an agreement for effectively dealing with this question," he said.

To read his full address, click here. Read what the Pope said in his ecological statement for World Day of Peace here.

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