Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday he wants to wake up consciences on climate change during his 10-day pilgrimage in Australia. During this trip, according to a statement given to reporters on the Papal plane, the Pope’s trip would also be to work for “healing and reconciliation with the victims” of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy there “just as I did in the United States” earlier this year.
Less than an hour after the pope’s flight took off from Rome, Benedict walked back to the section where journalists sat. He called on five journalists to ask questions that had been submitted to the Vatican earlier in the week, including one about climate change following discussions on the environment during this month’s G-8 summit in Japan.
There is a need to “wake up consciences,” the Pope responded. “We have to give impulse to rediscovering our responsibility and to finding an ethical way to change our way of life.” Benedict said that politicians and experts must be “capable of responding to the great ecological challenge and to be up to the task of this challenge.” “We have our responsibilities toward Creation,” the Pope said, stressing, however, that he had no intention of weighing in on technical or political questions swirling around climate change.
Benedict said he would address the problem of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.
He reiterated his view that sexual abuse is “incompatible with the behavior” required of priests. At the start of his U.S. pilgrimage, Benedict had said he was “deeply ashamed” of the abuse scandal and pledged to work to make sure pedophiles do not become priests.
Benedict acknowledged that the Church in the West was “in crisis” but insisted it was not in decline. “I am an optimist” about its future, he said.