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Save The Planet Before It's Too Late, Pope Urges

Date: 03-Sep-07
Country: ITALY
Author: Philip Pullella

"A decisive 'yes' is needed in decisions to safeguard
creation as well as a strong commitment to reverse tendencies
that risk leading to irreversible situations of degradation,"
the 80-year-old Pope said.

Wearing green vestments, he spoke to a crowd of mostly young
people sprawled over a hillside near the Adriatic city of Loreto
on the day Italy's Catholic Church marks it annual Save Creation
Day.

More than 300,000 people had slept on blankets and in tents
or prayed during the night. Organisers said they were joined by
some 200,000 more who arrived from throughout Italy on Sunday.

"New generations will be entrusted with the future of the
planet, which bears clear signs of a type of development that
has not always protected nature's delicate equilibriums," the
Pope said, speaking from a white stage.

In one of his strongest environmental appeals, Benedict
said: "Courageous choices that can re-create a strong alliance
between man and earth must be made before it is too late."

The Pope closed the rally with a Sunday morning mass.

It was the first environmentally friendly youth rally, a
break from gatherings that have left tonnes of garbage.

Participants had backpacks made of recyclable material,
flashlights operated by a crank instead of batteries, and
colour-coded trash bags so personal garbage could be easily
recycled. Meals were served on biodegradable plates.

Tens of thousands of prayer books for Sunday's mass were
printed on recycled paper and an adequate number of trees will
be planted to compensate for the carbon produced at the event,
many in areas of southern Italy devastated by recent brushfires.

Under Benedict and his predecessor John Paul, the Vatican
has become progressively "green", installing photovoltaic cells
on buildings to produce electricity and hosting a scientific
conference to discuss global warming and climate change.

Benedict voiced concern about a breakdown of the traditional
family and in his Sunday homily told young people to "go against
the current" and challenge "seductive" media messages promoting
materialism, consumerism and fleeting pleasures.

Loreto is famous in the Catholic world for the "holy house
of the Madonna", a small stone structure purported to be where
Mary grew up in the Holy Land and where she was told by an angel
she would give birth to Jesus although a virgin.

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