Religion & Beliefs

The Vatican Goes Green, Calls Pollution a Sin

This week the Vatican announced a list of new sins. Included in the corrupt collection are ominous warnings against polluting the earth and "causing environmental blight." These "ecological" offenses are listed alongside "New Forms of Social Sin," including excessive wealth, … Read More

By / March 13, 2008

This week the Vatican announced a list of new sins. Included in the corrupt collection are ominous warnings against polluting the earth and "causing environmental blight." These "ecological" offenses are listed alongside "New Forms of Social Sin," including excessive wealth, contributing to the growing gulf between the rich and the poor, and stem cell research. At first glance this might look like a lame ploy by the Vatican to appeal to young people who are socially and environmentally conscious, but at least with the green initiatives, they’re backing up the rhetoric with real action.

Pope John Paul and successor Pope Benedict have made great strides in greening the Vatican: Vatican City has already teamed up with a Hungarian carbon offset company to plant the Vatican Climate Forest, which will cover 37 acres (Vatican City is only about .2 square miles, so it doesn’t take much to make it carbon neutral).

The papal audience hall is completely powered by solar panels installed in a rooftop garden. Planktos/KlimaFa–the carbon offset company working with the Vatican–has announced that it’s committed to helping them develop methods to calculate the carbon emissions of individual Catholic churches, and offer eco-restoration options to turn their carbon footprints green.

In his World Peace Day 2007 speech, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence. There is an inseparable link between peace with creation and peace among men.” It’s a fairly humble beginning, but if a billion Catholics follow the Pope’s example on this issue, the world would be in a much better ecological state. Likewise, it would be great to see any of the branches of Judaism pushing a green agenda as enthusiastically as the Vatican has. Thus far, the Reconstructionist movement seems to be doing the most, including building some great green synagogues.

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