People today have a duty to leave the earth in a state in which future generations "can live in dignity and safeguard it further," said Pope Benedict XVI.
Expressing his support for the Sept. 1 Day for Safeguarding Creation, the pope told people gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo Aug. 29, "There can be no peace in the world without respecting the environment."
The Day for Safeguarding Creation is celebrated by the Catholic Church in Italy and the Greek Orthodox Church, which also makes the occasion "important on an ecumenical level," the pope said.
In a message marking the day, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said all men and women must take part in "this titanic and just fight" to address the environmental crisis and prevent its impact on the earth from worsening.
The Orthodox patriarch's written message was published in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, Aug. 28.
The patriarch called on people to adjust their lifestyles and behavior so as to minimize their personal and communal impact on the earth's resources.
The current economic crisis might provide an opportunity for communities to reassess the way they pursue development and inspire new economic and social models in which top priority is given to the environment and not "unbridled financial gain," he wrote.
Citizens and politicians must cooperate so that the current economic and ecological crises can be reversed in a way that promotes "sustainable and long-lasting environmental development," wrote the patriarch.