December 5, 2011


Zulu women participate in a carnival procession in the streets of Durban, South Africa, Nov. 25, during a climate change awareness event.

Pope Benedict urged international leaders to reach a credible agreement on climate change, keeping in mind the needs of the poor and of future generations.

The pope made the remarks at his noon blessing at the Vatican Nov. 27, the day before officials from 194 countries were to begin meeting in Durban, South Africa, to discuss the next steps in reducing greenhouse gases.

"I hope that all members of the international community can agree on a responsible, credible and supportive response to this worrisome and complex phenomenon, keeping in mind the needs of the poorest populations and of future generations," the pope said.

The meeting, which runs until Dec. 9, is the latest in a series to consider follow-up action to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which obligated industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a specific amount.

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis, led a 20-person Caritas delegation to the Durban talks to press for an agreement on behalf of poor countries that have been severely impacted by climate change.

"Our climate is changing. Caritas organizations are responding to increasing unpredictability and extreme weather conditions experienced around the world," Rodriguez said in a statement.

"The whole world is vulnerable to climate change, but poor countries are affected more," he said.

The pope said the Church's teaching on the environment follows from the principle that men and women are collaborators with God and his creation. The lessons of responsible stewardship over natural resources are increasingly important.