Pope urges young people to care for the planet - 3 September 2007

 Pope Benedict appealed to hundreds of thousands of young people to take better care of the planet, during an open-air Mass yesterday in Loreto.

The Italian Church has designated September 1 as 'Save Creation Day.

Pope Benedict said in his homily: "Before it is too late, we need to make courageous choices that will recreate a strong alliance between man and Earth." ... ."We need a decisive 'yes' to care for creation and a strong commitment to reverse those trends that risk making the situation of decay irreversible."

The Holy Father said that water, in particular, was a precious resource that needed to be preserved since "it unfortunately becomes a source of strong tensions and conflicts if it isn't shared in an equitable and peaceful manner."

Pope Benedict recently has expressed his concern about the environmental impact of the forest fires in Italy and Greece. During his summer vacation in the mountains, he spoke frequently about the importance of nature in our relationship with God.

An estimated 500,000 people attended the youth rally organised by the Italian Bishops Conference. All the participants were given biodegradable plates, recycling bags for rubbish and a hand-cranked mobile-phone recharger.Most spent the night camped out on the field near Loreto, which is one of Italy's most important shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary.