Pope denounces 'squandering' of resources


AUSTRALIA:POPE BENEDICT XVI made repeated references to the environment while addressing 150,000 young pilgrims at a World Youth Day event in Sydney yesterday.

"God's creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity," he said.

"Perhaps reluctantly, we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth - erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption."

In his first public speech since arriving in Sydney last Sunday, Pope Benedict acknowledged that some of his audience were from island nations whose existence is threatened by global warming, while others are from countries, including Australia, which are suffering a devastating drought. "God's wondrous creation is sometimes experienced as almost hostile to its stewards, even something dangerous," he said.

"I note that Australia is making a serious commitment to address its responsibility to care for the natural environment."

The pope also spoke of his joy at addressing the World Youth Day crowd. "Standing before me I see a vibrant image of the universal church," he said. "The variety of nations and cultures from which you hail shows that indeed Christ's good news is for everyone, it has reached the ends of the earth."

Earlier, the pope said the Australian government's apology to indigenous Australians was a "courageous decision".

"This example of reconciliation offers hope to peoples all over the world who long to see their rights affirmed and their contributions to society acknowledged and promoted," he said.

The pope's praise for the apology to Aborigines raised hopes that he would offer an apology to victims of clerical sex abuse while in Australia.

But the head of the Vatican's press office, Fr Federico Lombardi, said he believed Pope Benedict had not given a commitment to make such an apology.

"If the apology happens, all the better. But I would not anticipate that the holy father would give an apology," said Fr Lombardi.

In addition to the 150,000 who heard the pope's speech yesterday, many more lined the streets and foreshore trying to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he travelled around first on the water, dubbed the "boat-a-cade", and then through the city in the popemobile.

Dublin student Aisling O'Rourke will read at tomorrow's papal Mass at Randwick racecourse in Sydney which is expected to attract up to half a million people. Ms O'Rourke is a second-year law student at UCD and an active member of Catholic Youth Care in Dublin.