Peace Linked to Protection of Environment

So Says Secretary of Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 22, 2002 ( There can be no peace without protection of the environment, since the protection of creation is indispensable for integral development, a Vatican representative says.

In preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Bishop Gianpaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has worked in recent months to sensitize Catholic communities and national delegations toward the Church’s position on environmental issues.

The U.N. summit, planned for Aug. 26-Sept. 4 in Johannesburg, South Africa, aims to analyze the progress in this area since the 1992 Rio de Janeiro conference on sustainable development.

«On one hand, the Vatican emphasizes the relation between protection of the environment and peace,» Bishop Crepaldi explained. «There can be no peace if a solution is not proffered for the environmental issue.»

«On the other hand, the Vatican emphasized the relation between the environment and development, especially with reference to the issue of poverty,» he said. «Poverty in the world today is the real problem, reflecting tragic features.»

«The world today has a total of 1.3 billion people who live in abject poverty,» the bishop said. «The adjective ‘abject’ has a very specific meaning: It refers to people who have a life expectancy of less than 40 years, no services, and no schooling whatsoever. To these 1.3 billion people, must be added 3 billion poor.»

Therefore, he said, «in addressing environmental issues, the Vatican attempts to safeguard two areas: international peace and justice on one hand, and the promotion of less developed peoples on the other.»

«How? This requires rethinking the model of development followed by the rich Western countries which, increasingly, is an obviously unacceptable model,» the Vatican representative added.

With reference to the Johannesburg summit, Bishop Crepaldi explained that «as all preparatory stages, this one is also full of difficulties internal and external to the preparatory process.»

«These are difficulties stemming from the different positions of states, and the well-known fragility of the United Nations system,» he said. «On the issue of the environment, there is extraordinary consensus when it comes to diagnosis, but also great dissension on what should be done, on common options, and on the sacrifices they imply.»

The Vatican hopes to see from this summit «a renewed will of the international community to find ways for a common commitment on environmental issues, so important for the future of humanity,» the bishop added.

«It is hoped that the commitments assumed will be followed by deeds. Unfortunately, if one compares the decisions of many conferences organized by the United Nations with the facts, one sees that the commitments assumed are almost never implemented,» he lamented.

However, «above all it is hoped that a revision will be suggested of the present development models, as John Paul II requested in the Message for the World Day of Peace for the year 2002. At present, these models are regarded as unacceptable by all,» he stressed.

He added: «On this concrete point, the social doctrine of the Church, beginning with Paul VI’s ‘Populorum Progressio,’ has articulated its own view of development — briefly described as ‘integral’ and ‘shared’ — which can offer a decisive and determinant contribution.»

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