VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) — The governments of the world should back “the exploitation of clean-energy sources,” Pope Benedict XVI said June 9.
The Pope made his remarks in an address to a group of ambassadors at the Vatican. His comments came on the same day Switzerland voted to phase out its nuclear- energy program.
“The first half of this year has been marked by many tragedies that have affected nature, technology and people,” the Pope said in reference to the March earthquake in Japan that triggered radioactive leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
At the same time, the Pope cautioned, “Man, to whom God has entrusted the safeguarding of nature, cannot be dominated by technology or become its object.”
The Pope said this awareness should lead all countries to “reflect on the short-term future of the planet” and “their responsibilities with regard to our life and technology.”
“Human ecology,” he stressed, “is an imperative.”
“We must adopt a lifestyle that respects the environment and support research and the exploitation of clean-energy sources, respectful of the heritage of creation and harmless to humans — these must be our political and economic priorities.”
The Pope’s comments carry a particular political significance for many Western countries currently questioning the future of their nuclear industries. The vote in the Swiss parliament follows an identical decision in Germany last month. Pope Benedict’s homeland will now phase out nuclear power by 2022.
The Pope said we all have to undergo a “change of mentality” so as to arrive at “an overall lifestyle that respects the balance between man and nature.”
“All governments must commit to protect nature and help it fulfill its essential role in the survival of humanity,” he said, suggesting that the United Nations seems to be the obvious forum to achieve this.
Pope Benedict also critiqued the way that technology is sometimes used without any ethical consideration.
He warned that when societies believe that technology is the “exclusive agent of progress or happiness,” they may embark on a road that “leads to blindness and misery.”
He told the assembled ambassadors that putting too much trust in “an all-powerful and ultimately uncontrolled technology” deprives man of his humanity. The antidote to this, he said, is for governments to “promote a humanism that respects the spiritual and religious dimension of man.”