The Not-So-Green Pope

“The Green Pope.” Ever since Joseph Ratzinger’s election as pope in 2005, this has been a popular description of Benedict XVI. It’s partly fueled by events such as the Vatican City State adopting solar power paneling, and, more significantly, Benedict’s discussion of environmental questions in several papal documents. The label will proliferate following the recent announcement that the pope’s 2010 World Day of Peace message will focus on the connection between peace and respect for God’s creation. The problem, however, is that the present hype about “the greenest pope in history”-to cite another headline-is misleading. A somewhat different picture emerges from careful analysis of Benedict’s formal pronouncements on environmental matters.