My friends at the Catholic Climate Covenant sent word of the statement, calling attention to the pontiff’s mention of “climate changes.” But the Holy Father modified the term with the adjective “sudden,” which may or may not be a diplomatic way of staying out of the climate-change debate. Still, he did make mention to a changing climate.
The more impressive term that the Holy Father used (and reiterated from elsewhere) is the reminder that humanity and individuals must grow with an “integral development.”
Indeed, in his thousand-or-so-word document, the pope gave a nod to the universality of Christian revelation, to the New Evangelization, and spoke specifically about “an interior attitude of responsibility, capable of inspiring a different style of life, with necessary sobriety in conduct and consumption, to thus favor the good of society.”
In other words, the document is a beautiful summary of what Catholic ecology is all about.
Moreover, what Benedict XVI said bolsters a recent statement by Archbishop Timothy Dolan regarding, in part, bringing back the full meaning of the Friday fast, which has been recommended herein, and will continue to be. The return of meatless Friday's would, as the Archbishop writes, be an external marker that relates to (and helps bring about) the very interior attitude that the Holy Father noted in his World Food Day message.
In this regard, Pope Benedict writes in a way that connects what we do with who we are. And that connects how our real choices can benefit others:
Given the magnitude of the tragedy of famine, it is not enough to invite reflection and analyze the problems, nor even the willingness to intervene. Too often these factors are useless because they are reduced to the sphere of emotions, without being capable of moving the conscience and its search for truth and goodness [ . . . ] On the contrary, the purpose of this Day should be a commitment to modify behavior and decisions, which ensure today rather than tomorrow, that every person has access to the necessary food, and that the agricultural sector has a level of investments and resources capable of giving stability to production and hence to the market. It is easy to reduce discussions to the food requirements for an increasing population, knowing well that the causes of hunger have other roots and have caused so many victims among so many Lazaruses who are not allowed to sit at the table of the rich Epulon (cf. Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 47).Well, there you have it. Read the document. Ask yourself, what’s my interior attitude? I know mine is far off the mark. I do not know if I can live a "different style of life, with necessary sobriety in conduct and consumption." And so I pray for the great strength to do so.