Benedict calls for more effort to "safeguard God's creation"

Pope Benedict XVI has called for an alliance between human beings and the environment in order to safeguard God's creation.

Recalling the September 16 20th anniversay of the adoption of the Montreal Protocol concerning substances that damage the ozone layer and cause grave harm to human beings and to the ecosystem, the Holy Father said: "Over the last two decades," he added, "thanks to exemplary collaboration in the international community between politics, science and the economy, important results have been achieved with positive repercussions on present and future generations.

"It is my hope," he concluded, "that cooperation may be intensified in order to promote the common good, development and the protection of creation, reinforcing the alliance between man and the environment, which must be a mirror of God's creative love, whence we come and towards which we are proceeding."

Benedict was speaking to the faithful gathered for his weekly Sunday blessing in the courtyard of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south of Rome.

The comments came amid a spate of pro-enironement comments and actions from the Vatican. Benedict recently presided over a pro-environment youth rally in the central Italian shrine town of Loreto while the Vatican has installed photovoltaic cells on the roof of its main auditorium to convert sunlight into electricity and has joined a reforestation project aimed at offsetting its CO2 emissions.

The Montreal Protocol was adopted in 1987 following the 1985 discovery of the growing hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic. Thinning in the ozone laye —largely due to the CFC chemical compounds leaked from refrigerators, air conditioners and other devices — exposes Earth to harmful solar rays.

The protocol calls for the reduction of the production and consumption of CFCs. It also calls on signatories to bar the export or import of CFC producing items to countries that have not signed or ratified the deal.

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