>Pope to make climate action a moral obligation
>By James Macintyre
>Published: 22 September 2007
>The Pope is expected to use his first address to the United Nations to
>deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt
>protection of the environment as a "moral" cause for the Catholic
>Church and its billion-strong following.
>The New York speech is likely to contain an appeal for sustainable
>development, and it will follow an unprecedented Encyclical (a message
>to the wider church) on the subject, senior diplomatic sources have
>told The Independent.
>It will act as the centrepiece of a US visit scheduled for next April
> the first by Benedict XVI, and the first Papal visit since 1999
>and round off an environmental blitz at the Vatican, in which the Pope
>has personally led moves to emphasise green issues based on the belief
>that climate change is affecting the poorest people on the planet, and
>the principle that believers have a duty to "protect creation".
>Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, head of the Catholic Church in the
>UK, said last night: "This is a crucial issue both today and for all
>future generations. We are the stewards of creation and we need to
>take that responsibility seriously and co-operate to care for the
>A Papal tour of America will be particularly potent during election
>year in the US, where Catholics number around 73 million, and is being
>discussed in Rome after Pope Benedict accepted an invitation from the
>UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. For the Pope to take his
>climate-change message to the high-profile UN platform will be
>considered hugely influential to the fifth of the world's population
>who are Catholics, and will act as a rallying call for action in
>Africa and Asia, which have seen a rise in Catholics in recent years.
>News of the speech comes as Vatican City has become the first fully
>carbon-neutral state in the world, after announcing it is offsetting
>its carbon footprint by planting a forest in Hungary and installing
>solar panels on the roof of St Peter's Basilica in Rome.
>It also follows a series of interventions by the Pope on the
>environment. On 2 September he told a 300,000 youth audience: "Before
>it is too late, it is necessary to make courageous decisions that
>reflect knowing how to re-create a strong alliance between man and the
>earth." On 7 September, he said there was a "pressing need for science
>and religion to work together to safeguard the gifts of nature and to
>promote responsible stewardship".
>UK diplomats have held a number of behind-the-scenes meetings with
>Vatican officials on the environment. A Whitehall source said last
>night: "Benedict is the spiritual head of 19 per cent of the world's
>population and a highly respected figure. If the Pope's words are
>taken on board by his community that is one big constituency for
>change and could well turn the tide on climate change and