Cardinal Says Pope Should Talk Climate Change with Bush
VATICAN CITY -- A senior adviser to Pope Benedict said on Thursday he believes the Pontiff should raise the dangers of climate change and global warming with U.S. President George W. Bush when the two meet in June.
Cardinal Renato Martino told reporters on the sidelines of a Vatican-sponsored scientific conference on climate change that religious leaders around the world should remind members of their flocks that wilfully damaging the environment is sinful.
Bush is due to meet Benedict at the Vatican in June while the U.S. president is in Europe for a Group of Eight (G8) summit when Germany, the current G8 president, wants to forge an international agreement on combating climate change.
"It's not for me to say what the Pope and President Bush should discuss but certainly they will discuss current issues and therefore I imagine and I hope they will (discuss climate change)," Martino said.
"It certainly merits it," said Martino, who, as head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is the Pope's point man for social issues such as the environment.
The Bush administration, which did not sign up to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate change, has long been reluctant to curb the greenhouse gases blamed for swelling sea levels and causing droughts as well as floods.
Bush pulled out of the treaty, which Washington had signed under the previous, Democratic, administration, saying it would damage the economy and was unfair as it did not require rapidly developing nations like China and India to stem emissions.
In a message to conference participants, including British Environment Secretary David Miliband, the Pope said he hoped studies could lead to "lifestyles and production and consumer methods that aim to respect creation and (aim for) sustainable progress".
In recent years, the world's major religions have gone green in the race to save the planet.
Asked if wilful damage of the environment is a sin, Martino said: "Yes, because not using the environment correctly is an offence not only against yourself but against all others who make use of the environment."
He said all religious groups should be involved in environmental causes and raise awareness about global warming.
"We have to start at the level of elementary schools, to make sure children are taught to respect nature and be aware of the problems of the world. We can't wait until they are older. This has to be done naturally in religion classes, in religious groups everywhere," Martino said.