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Moral duty to combat climate change, Vatican envoy tells UN September 25, 2007

Climate change is "a serious concern and an inescapable responsibility," a Vatican envoy told the UN General Assembly.

Speaking at a session on climate problems, Msgr. Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's under-secretary for Relations with States, left no doubt about the Holy See's commitment to environmental protection, emphasizing "the underlying moral imperative that everyone, without exception, has a grave responsibility to protect the environment."

While demanding effective action to avert ecological disaster, Msgr. Parolin called for a balanced and careful approach. He said that scientific evidence shows "a link between human activity and climate change." However, he said, the strength of that evidence "should neither be exaggerated nor minimized in the name of politics, ideologies, or self-interest."

Similarly, the Vatican representative cautioned against extreme reactions to the problem of climate change. On one hand he condemned the "fundamentally reckless approach" taken by those who would exploit the world's resources without regard to the environmental consequences.

On the other hand, Msgr. Parolin rebuked other activists "who hold up the earth as the only good, and would characterize humanity as an irredeemable threat to the earth." That extreme approach, he noted, "would place human beings and their needs at the service of an inhuman ecology."

The Vatican representative called for coordinated efforts by the world's nations to resolve the problem of climate change, observing that "we need to overcome self-interest through collective action."