THE PAPAL VISIT
By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff | April 15, 2008
WASHINGTON - As he begins his historic visit to the White House and the United Nations this week, Pope Benedict XVI is widely expected to call
attention to two areas in which he has been at odds with the Bush administration: The need for urgent action on global warming and the
humanitarian cost of unjust wars, according to Catholic leaders and people familiar with Benedict's papacy.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's permanent observer to theUnited Nations, said in response to a Globe inquiry that in his UN speech
on Friday, Benedict "won't necessarily touch upon specific crises in the world: unfortunately, they are too many to be dealt with in a few minutes.
However he will insist on the moral imperative that all, without exception, have a grave responsibility to protect the environment."
He did not say whether Iraq would be mentioned.
Despite their disagreements, President Bush has gone out of his way to welcome Benedict, with plans to greet him in person when he arrives at
Andrews Air Force Base this afternoon, and then to have a private discussion in the Oval Office for 45 minutes tomorrow morning. It will be
only the second visit by a pope to the White House, after Pope John Paul II met with President Carter in 1979.
Church officials and others familiar with Benedict's papacy say they
expect the pope to address the subject of humanitarian suffering in Iraq
again with Bush during his US visit. They also said that Benedict's recent
statements on global warming and the environment lead them to believe that
he will highlight the issue during his US visit.
"He looks at the environment as a moral issue, where we look at it as a
partisan political issue," said Ray Flynn, former Boston mayor and former
US ambassador to the Vatican, who knew Benedict before he became Pope and
met with him recently in Rome. "He believes the environment was given to
us by God and it belongs to everybody, that people in political office
have a responsibly as caretakers in that office, they cannot vote it
Global warming is another area where US foreign policy and the Vatican
have diverged. Throughout most of his administration, Bush has resisted UN
efforts to mandate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, although he has
recently softened his stance.
Since Benedict became pope in 2005, the Vatican has hosted a scientific
conference on climate change, agreed to participate in a program that will
plant a forest to offset its own carbon footprint, and fitted buildings in
Vatican City with solar panels. Last month, the Vatican issued a statement
including pollution among the list of modern sins.
Walter Grazer, the former director of the Environmental Justice Program at
the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, who now works with an interfaith
environmental advocacy effort, said he was surprised by how much attention
Benedict has given the issue.