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Vatican Visitors Agree With Pope's Message on Cimate Change
Gustavo Solis
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Visitors to St. Peter's Basilica in mid-December agreed with Pope Benedict XVI's message calling for people to adopt simpler lifestyles to reduce climate change.

"The protection of creation demands the adoption of lifestyles that are sober and responsible, especially toward the poor and future generations," the pope said Dec. 6, the day before the U.N. climate summit opened in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A few days after the pope spoke, Dominic Battiste, a Swiss tourist visiting St. Peter's Square, said he agreed that people living more simply would help.

"Little individual efforts taken in small steps can lead to big change," said Battiste, who added that he thought "religious leaders have influence over a large group of people. They should use that influence to remind people about the importance of respecting the planet."

While waiting in line to enter St. Peter's Basilica, Najat Madri, an American tourist from New York, agreed with the pope's message, but cautioned against allowing religion to have too much political influence on global issues.

"I believe in the separation between church and state," said the 31-year-old. "As a Muslim I am skeptical about religion assuming a theocratic role and impacting people on too many levels. Religion should focus on spiritual issues," Madri said.

Although people's views differed regarding exactly what role the church should take, they agreed on the importance of taking action and getting serious about climate change.

"If you believe that the Earth is God's creation, then it is your responsibility to take care of his creation," said Battiste.

Meghan Kibbe, an American student from Indiana, said she hoped world leaders would produce concrete plans to help the environment. She said it is difficult to deal with the issue because the consequences of human actions are only starting to become clear.

"I think Copenhagen proves that people are starting to give climate change the attention it deserves," said Kibbe. "Maybe in the past people were not fully aware of the problems and had a hard time focusing on an issue that impacts the future."

In his message for the Jan. 1 celebration World Peace Day 2010, Pope Benedict reiterated his call for lifestyles that respect God's creation.

"It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view," the pope wrote in the message released Dec. 15 at the Vatican.

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