April 30th, 2007

St. Paul Debating (12th century)

Theological Notebook: CNS story on Vatican Seminar on Global Warming

This caught my eye as perhaps being an actual discussion instead of the "scientific party-line politics" I usually see in news stories in the United States....

Mirroring wider debate, Vatican seminar on global warming gets heated
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Despite being held in a cool, climate-controlled conference room, some early discussions at a Vatican-sponsored seminar on global warming and climate change got pretty heated.

The rifts and tensions still dividing the global debate on the causes of and remedies for drastic climatic shifts were gently simmering in the small microcosm of the two-day Vatican meeting.

The seminar, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, gathered some 80 experts representing the scientific, political, economic and spiritual sides of the climate-change debate at the Vatican April 26-27 to discuss "Climate Change and Development."

"I have to commend the planners," said Lucia Silecchia, a professor of environmental law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, because "nobody can accuse them of bringing in a group of people who will agree with each other."

Disagreements even spilled out into the corridor during the closed-door seminar's first morning break when a Vatican official had to use his pastoral prowess to calm one participant.

"The scientific community has been so divided and so bitter" over the climate-change debate that experts who disagree with each other don't talk to each other, Silecchia told Catholic News Service.

But by bringing the opposing sides together under the neutral roof of the Vatican, she said, the church is helping give a fresh approach to an issue mired in conflict, confusion and, often, inaction.

The Vatican is reminding people that the environment and development cannot be helped by economics, science or politics alone, "that there are moral, ethical considerations" to take into account, said Silecchia.

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