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Vatican theologian warns against atheistic environmentalism

Stripping references to God when trying to protect and save nature will only benefit "hidden or manifest powers", according to moral theologian Fr Gino Concetti

Writing in Wednesday's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper, Fr Concetti made his remarks just as a new book was published by the Italian foundation Mountain and Europe, which collects the texts of a meeting organised last year on the occasion of the Jubilee and at a time of "strong arguments against the devastating effects of new industrial techniques" on the environment.

"If people try to exclude any reference to God," wrote Fr Concetti, "the environment will remain an orphan, at the mercy of the profits and interests of hidden or manifest powers." On the other hand, he added, "if one accepts the reference to God, the environment acquires a shield which prevents any desacralisation of it."

Pope John Paul II himself mentioned the topic of environmentalism in his apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, in which he spoke of the "prospect of an ecological disaster."

Also, in a speech to diplomats on 13 January, he warned: "If people upset the balance of creation, forgetting that they are responsible for their brothers and sisters, and do not care for the environment which the Creator has placed in their hands, then a world determined by our designs alone could well become unlivable."