What’s the Green Pope Been Up To?

  • Published on April 12th, 2009

In honor of Easter, it’s time to check out what everybody’s favorite green Pope has been up to since my last post on the installation of solar panels in The Vatican City. It seems there hasn’t been anything big happening, but the comments about the environment in Pope Benedict XVI’s speeches and smaller environmental projects suggests that the environment is still part of the Pope’s spiritual mission.

The Environment in Speeches

About a week and a half ago, in an address to a diplomat from the Dominican Republic a day after the anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death, the Pope highlighted the environment as “fundamental” to a society’s well-being in an address that seemed more political than spiritual:

“Everything that tends towards strengthening the institutions is fundamental to the well-being of society, a wellbeing which rests upon such pillars as cultivating honesty and transparency, juridical independence, care and respect for the environment and the reinforcement of social services, healthcare and education for the entire population. These steps must be accompanied by a strong determination to definitively eradicate corruption, which brings such suffering especially for the poorest and most defenseless members of society.”

Environmentally-Conscious Project

In another month or so, the Pope will visit Galilee to mark the opening of the “Jesus Trail,” a path inspired by historical pilgrimmage trails that the devote traversed by foot. The path, which is 65 km, is expected to attract everyone from priests to tourists and help build up towns along the way. The reason I’m mentioning it here is because the path itself was laid out by the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel. The marking coordinator, Gili Grinbaum, said that the path was designed to lessen the impact from hikers on the environment.

That’s It?

When I began this blog post I thought I’d find a lot more about what the Pope is doing, considering Earth Day is just around the corner. But I’ve come up woefully short. Has anyone else heard what the leader of the Catholic Church is up to aside from holding Easter Mass and dealing with the impact of his controversial comments about condoms in Africa?

To me it seems like there should be a lot more done, regardless. As I wrote in a story about the environment and religion a year and a half ago, many of the world religions, holy books and philosophies of faith contain an inherent care for the earth. In the views of the Catholic religion especially, there is a sort of moral obligation to protect the environment that’s been there since Creation, whether you believe in that or not.

Photo Credit: sam_herd at Flickr under a Creative Commons License

About the Author

My name is Amanda, and I'm a recent grad from Michigan State University. At MSU I was involved in the environmental journalism program and have written for the school's environmental journal and E, The Environmental Magazine. I'm delving into freelancing now, and will spend the summer in NYC as an intern at NYC Parks and Recreation.


  • I'm been working with the Jesus Trail for about a year now and your article does not accurately reflect the Jesus Trail project.

    The Pope is not visiting the Galilee in any connection to the trail. Also, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel did not lay out the trail, they were involved only in painting and maintaining the paint blazes, as they do for all official hiking trails in Israel. While marking the trail will hopefully lessen the impact of hikers on the environment, the trail was designed with the goals of building bridges between people, serving as an economic stimulus to disadvantaged areas, and connecting people to the natural world.

    The trail was an independent project by two friends, an Israeli tourism specialist and an American outdoor specialist. All of this and information about hiking the route are available at http://www.jesustrail.com.

  • I respectfully submit that the most important environmental move the Pope could make would be to encourage birth control and population reduction. We simply are too many people in too small a space.

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