00 8/18/2009 12:16 AM

Earlier today, in the preceding page, I posted a beautiful reflection about Benedict XVI by First Things blogger Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress).

I must admit I was not really paying attention - beyond ntoing the authors unusual first name and German family name - when John Allen referred to this book in a recent article because I thought it was a general book on environmentalism.

It turns out it was inspired by Benedict XVI and is all about his messages on 'safeguarding Creation'
, and is therefore a precedent-setting book. This is a write-up from the author's local newspaper.

Author sheds light
on Pope’s greenness

To the surprise of many, the Pontiff
is a strong environmentalist

By Emily Smith

Monday, Aug 17, 2009

EUGENE, OREGON - Even some of the most devout Catholics are astonished to learn that Pope Benedict XVI powers his home in Germany by solar panels.

Although snippets of environmentalism have snuck into many of the pontiff’s speeches and writings, Catholic author Woodeene Koenig-Bricker, 57, of Eugene, was as surprised as anyone to learn of the Pope’s fierce environmental advocacy, which she sheds light on in her new book, Ten Commandments for the Environment.

The notion of a green papacy is unfamiliar to most, she said.

“People expect the Pope to talk about God, sex and marriage,” she said. “So the environment comes as a surprise to people.”

The Pope’s latest encyclical, a letter to bishops, touches on his own 10 commandments for the environment, but is hardly succinct, the author said. So, her book serves to enlighten on the Pope’s message and his own history with environmentally sound practices.

For instance, the Vatican set out to become the first carbon-neutral nation-state in the world just more than two years ago. In taking strides toward that goal, it has been outfitted with solar panels and has begun a reforestation project in Hungary.

And, of course, there’s Pope Benedict’s own home in Germany, which, like the Vatican, is heated by solar panels.

For a world leader — and a religious figurehead at that — to lead by example, not just pontificating, sets a new precedent for leadership, she said.

“Yes, he’s a theologian, but he’s also practical,” she said.

The environment was not a burning passion of Koenig-Bricker’s when she and her editor first discussed the Pope’s work as a book idea. But, she said, researching and writing about the green papacy led her to take the Pope’s message to heart.

“It forced me to change my life,” she said.

The Pope’s activism departs from the realm of politics and religion, Koenig-Bricker said, and enters that of morality.

“Care for the environment is truly a moral issue,” she said. “It’s not a religious issue, it’s not a dogmatic issue, but it is a moral issue.”

Although the Pope has given numerous talks on the environment, there has been little publicity of it. As she delved into the Pope’s writings, she was struck by his insistence that nations rich and poor alike have a responsibility to preserve the planet, each other, and all living species.

“I was taken aback a little by the intensity of his message and the extent of it,” she said.

Since humans alone are capable of destroying the environment, she said, the Pope urges that people take on the mission of saving it.

“The Pope makes a point of saying we have a responsibility to all the species on the planet,” she said. “We don’t have the right to force other species into extinction just because we can.”

Koenig-Bricker found the Pope’s message on potable clean water especially moving.

In a place with abundant clean water, she said, it’s easy to forget that people worldwide fight to survive without access to the same.

“Clean drinking water isn’t a privilege, it’s a right,” she said.

Since her research for the book, the writer has become vigilant about her own water waste.

From shutting off the water while she brushes her teeth to installing a sprinkler system to help eliminate excess water runoff in her yard, Koenig-Bricker said conservation has become a priority.

An exhaustive exercise in research, she said writing the 152-page paperback, with its 11 pages of footnotes, felt like preparing a dissertation. But it had its rewards.

“On a real personal level, it was an exciting intellectual stretch,” she said.

Koenig-Birkcer Has written several books and many articles on a variety of subjects. She edited Catholic Parent magazine for 15 years and now edits books. She was born to an Irish Catholic mother, raised Catholic and has written extensively on spirituality.

NB: I wish Koenig-Bricker had consulted a Benaddict on the cover picture she used for her book. There are variants of that picture that don't show Papino's 'pancino' so obviously!

In case you have not seen it before, check out this videoclip - it has some brief 'sequences' not usually seen:

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/18/2009 12:32 AM]