WAR weapons were a principal cause of the world's polluted environment, Pope Paul said in a message read on the opening day of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which began in Stockholm last week.
A poisoned planet could be averted only when man respected the laws of nature and helped his neighbour to total development, the Pope wrote.
Specifying the "principal causes of pollution" the Pope listed "atomic, chemical and bacteriological weapons and countless other instruments of war." Mankind must learn to display a co-responsibility towards those sharing a mutual dependence.
SOLIDARITY At the same time, he added, mankind must offer solidarity to those who shared a common destiny. The environment could not be purified through technical know-how alone, but rather by a trust in the "rhythm and laws of nature."
The Pope went on: "To govern nature means the human race should not destroy it, but perfect it : not transform the world into an uninhabitable chaos but into a beautiful and well-ordered dwelling place."
He linked the theme of
ecology to that of development. and urged the delegates to the conference to seek some balance between the prosperity of the "industrialised centres of the world and their immense peripheries."
The Pope then added : "Misery is the worst of all
pollutions." Dr. Kurt Waldheim, Secretary General of the United Nations, and Mr. Olaf Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden, in separate addresses. described war as the most destructive offender against the environment. Mr. Palme said that pollution problems could be solved only in a world at peace and committed to international co-operation.
The Stockholm conference might turn out to be "one of the important theological meetings of modern times," Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, Secretary General of the World Council of Churches, said at a special ecumenical service in Stockholm's Lutheran cathedral the day before the conference opened.
He said the subjects of discussion at the conference "provoke a real consideration of the most fundamental questions of human existence: what is man's chief aim on earth?"
In a message read to the service, Mr. Maurice Strong. secretary general of the conference. a Canadian. said a new world organisation to stop the earth's self-destruction could be functioning early next year if the conference was a success.
Those attending, he said. sought the guidance and blessing of God. "We are in need of wisdom and power far greater than our own. Let us admit that Doomsday is possible — even probable — if we continue on our present course.
"But I am convinced that it is not inevitable. If the world is to change, this means that Christians must change."
Participants in the conference from developing countries outnumber those from industrialised countries by about two to one.
Discussions have been divided into six subject areas: problems of human settlements, natural resources. pollution, national development, a futuce international environment organisation and public environmental education and information.
Pope Paul's "inspiring
leadership in the cause of world peace" and his "farsighted and courageous leadership of the Church" were praised in a letter from Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia, sent to mark the ninth anniversary on June 21 of the Pope's election.
As examples of his peacemaking efforts Cardinal Krol cited the World Day of Prayer for Peace, "with its ever-increasing impact," the Pope's "personal pleas for peace," and his "unique and impressive journeys to many parts of the world to bring Christ's message of peace and reconciliation to all men."