Statement at the 7th Meeting of the Economic Forum (OSCE), Prague, Wednesday May 26, 1999
The Holy See



Wednesday - May 26, 1999



Mr Chairman,

The theme chosen for this Economic Forum has two aspects which, as we are all well aware, appear destined to play a vital role for human existence in the next millennium: environment and security.

Both aspects share a common characteristic: they have no borders. Accordingly, they require us all to look beyond existing political, economic and cultural divisions and they oblige all of us to effective and transparent cooperation and to solidarity.

As with similar major problems in today's world, the causes of the environmental crisis and its repercussions for security are to be found above all in mistaken human behaviour: there is a tendency to give precedence to economic profit and the consequent individualistic vision over the shared duty of responsibility for the resources of nature and the common good.

Consequently, the right approach which intends to face up to the problems linked to the ecological crisis in a global way must, above all else, have as its primary objective an educational and formative process capable of bringing about a profound change of mentality in every human being. According to the words of Pope John Paul II, a commitment is required to promote the moral conditions for an authentic 'human ecology' (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus annus, 1 May 1991, n. 38).

In order to foster such an authentic 'human ecology' it is necessary, first of all, to raise the awareness of the forces within society, so as to strengthen a broader sense of moral responsibility within everybody. In the face of the enlargement of the range of the human activity, which goes with every stage of development, to this must be added the responsibility of every individual for the environment and for the future of humanity.

It is with such a long-term perspective that the common good and stability can effectively be guaranteed. The Catholic Church does not cease to encourage civil authorities and all men and women of good will to question their every day attitudes and the decisions they have to make, which surely cannot be based on an insatiable and unrestrained search for material wealth alone, but must be taken so as to provide for the fundamental needs of the present and future generations (cf. Pope John Paul II, Talk to the Pontifical Academy of Science,12March 1999,n.3).

For this reason it will be indispensable that all institutions, religious ones included, commit themsleves to promoting a deeper awareness of the principles of joint responsibility and solidarity, having as their main point of reference, the integral dignity of the human person and the quality of his or her existence, by which is understood not only material well being but also the spiritual dimension of humanity. By so acting today's ecological crisis could also become the opportunity for a renewed appreciation of the true place of humankind in the world and of our responsibilities towards our brothers and sisters and towards history.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

*L'Osservatore Romano 28.5.1999 p.2.

L'Osservatore Romano. Weekly Edition in English n.24 p.4.