Pope Benedict Issues New Encyclical Calling for Sustainable Business, Development Models

pope benedict XVIPope Benedict XVI added to his growing reputation as the “green Pope” on Tuesday with the release of a new encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth). A call for sustainable development in the broadest sense, the Pope’s letter addressed the human and environmental costs of “business as usual,” and established “doing well by doing good” as the business philosophy most consistent with Church doctrine and Biblical teaching.


Chapter Four of Caritas in Veritate addresses environmental issues directly; among the arguments the Pope makes for “creation care”:

  • “The environment is God’s gift to everyone…”: Benedict argues for a sustainable approach to the use of natural resources, claiming that human use of nature carries “a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.”
  • “Nature expresses a design of love and truth”: In this section, the Pope carefully lays out a scriptural argument for creation care… but also make clear that he’s in no way presenting a case for “neo-paganism or a new pantheism…”

Read more about Pope Benedict’s Caritas in Veritate at the Sundance Channel’s SUNfiltered blog.

  1. Ryan

    Jeff, Interesting. It’s good to hear some green promotion coming from the biggest religious corporation. I think it’s important to frame the issues from within various worldviews. The Similar messages of sustainability could sound completely different to various audiences coming from lefty environmentalists, mainstream politicians, or religious leaders. I even saw that the Vatican installed solar panels!

  2. Sophia Katt

    It’s nice to see the Vatican attempting to enter the 21st Century. Will this push in environmental and social awareness extend to a) acknowledging that birth control and human population containment are crucial steps to living sustainably and b) that equality in our general business behavior will start being mirrored by the Vatican? Women who are barred from being priests would like to know about that…

  3. Crosius

    Too little, too late. The church has already made a name for itself as a grossly out-of-touch authority on any subject, environment included. This is the same organization that blocks contraception in Africa.

    One speech with a few good points doesn’t begin to compensate for the multitude of wretched and villainous acts the Catholic Church has committed or condoned, even in the last 50 years.

    If the Pope _did_ any of the things he tells everyone else to do (ie. most of us don’t live in a castle, or wear shoes worth more than a sedan), I might start to believe it’s not just marketing.

  4. russ

    A few notes:
    Ryan – the solar panels were donated at a very high claimed cost

    Sophia – the pope has agreed with anything but natural (restraint) birth control?

    Amber – the Catholic church is nothing more than a very large and very rich religious corporation – with a bunch of old guys running around in dresses running it.

    Crosius – agreed 100%

  5. Apologist

    Pope is right,
    He can make an impact in the hearts of millions.

    The demographic transition in US & EU is chaotic,
    with a lot of grey heads on the shoulder of a few infants.

    First U will find children as a burdon, then children will see U as a burdon.

    Every industrial society is bound to DECLINE like the(2550-1900BC) HARAPPANS(people without worship place).

    Inverted population pyramid will cost US&EU if no Asians are there.

    Lets at least have the wisdom of forefathers(for those who HAVE)

  6. Gumdropsmom

    I think its great that you commented on the Holy Father’s stance on this issue. Unfortunately, the above commentators should really educate themselves on the Catholic Church rather than stereotype it into what the they think the Catholic Church is and stands for. Rather than judge someone or something we should always educate ourselves rather than open our mouths and sound dumb and prejudice.

    “Many people hate what they think the Catholic Church is, but very few people actually hate the Catholic Church.”

    – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

    God Bless,
    A “green” and practicing Roman Catholic

  7. George. B. K'mba.

    In fact the Holy Father is objective,
    I am surprised to hear some one saying that the Vatican is attempting to enter the 21st century, because of women priesthood. Vatican-the Catholic Church at large is far, as regards the issue which some are just starting to think about. P’se only try to read and find out the stand of the Catholic Church on that issue from reliable sources.
    My Psychology gets disturbed when one fails to understand pope’s view, and forcefully connects it with women priesthood. Who tells you that equality in priesthood is main for our general business behaviour. For, this is exactly being in the footsteps of Martin Luther who who failed to pick up the objective goal of the Church. “Weak minds surely make the body parts especially the legs to suffer”
    P’se I request everybody reacting to the message of the Holy Father to mark-“Sustainable development in the broadest sense”. It is NOT “on the narrower sense” thus the individual sense perception.

  8. lotus

    These popes are all stupid old men who care nothing for the environment.
    If regular means of birth control cannot be used, the world human population will increase exponenientially. This will sooner or later result in doom for the environmen

    1. Beth

      Re: Population control, women’s self-determination, and all the hysteria about it: Sex outside of commitment isn’t good for women any more than for men, and when we call for contraception that’s what we’re trying to make a place for in our society. The Church is against sex outside of marriage. Why is that such a bad thing? In my experience, sex in marriage is better for everybody than sex outside it. Going from there, things fall into place. Once you’re in a committed relationship, Natural Family Planning is an option that promotes intimacy. NFP works great for our family. We’re married 14 good years. Three loved and well-educated kids. Three MA degrees and a PhD between us, and now two decent jobs. Not rich (education debt is murder for everybody) but doing OK as very-middle-class Americans. All’s well if you’re willing to exercise as much self-control over sex as you are over, say, food or how much electricity you use. Also, NFP protects responsible relationships and makes men think about women’s bodies realistically and respectfully. I like it that my fertility is a matter of direct concern for my husband, not something that I’m supposed to deal with alone (or to pretend doesn’t exist). After all, fertility only matters when men are around as well as women. We should all be responsible about it–not try to eliminate it or ignore it. Get with the program!

      The Holy Father is just doing what the Catholic Church does–being unpopular because he’s philosophically consistent, cannily aware of human psychology, and ethically committed to the core, with high expectations and high hopes for what human beings can accomplish when they are honest with themselves and when they are really loving. Of course the RCC would be promoting sustainability. As an institution, it promotes doing the right thing, regardless of how it clashes with people’s petty expectations (and in spite of the problems that individuals within it may cause).

      Anyway, Benedict’s message will reach millions of people’s hearts, so it’s great news for the planet!

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