Living up to the Pope’s words: the Vatican turns to solar power
Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com
November 28, 2008
In his three years since being inaugurated, Pope Benedict XVI has made the environment one of his central issues, proclaiming that "God entrusted man with the responsibility of creation". He has described the need to confront climate change as a “moral obligation” and spoken eloquently on the destruction of arable soil, forests and marine life.
Compelled by the Pope’s rhetoric, the Vatican is now taking action: 2,400 photovoltaic panels have been installed on the roof of the Vatican’s Nervi Hall. The solar panels will produce an estimated 300 kilowatt hours of energy annually, proving enough energy to light, heat, and cool Nervi Hall and adjacent areas.
Church officials have assured the public that the solar panels would not alter the grandeur of the Vatican’s architecture and design. Nervi Hall, also known as Paul VI Audience Hall, is one of the Vatican’s more recent additions. Built in 1971, the hall can hold over 6,000 people and is also home to Pericle Fazzini’s celebrated sculpture “Resurrection”, in which Christ rises from the blast of a nuclear weapon.
The installation of solar panels on Nervi Hall is the first of many. The Vatican plans to employ enough renewable energy to provide 20 percent of its energy requirements by 2020.
When speaking on the environment, Pope Benedict XVI largely places the blame of environmental degradation on materialism. "In a world closed in on its materialism," the Pope has said, "it is easier for the human being to make himself the dictator of all other creatures and of nature." In March of this year the Pope created a list of seven new sins for the contemporary world, which included polluting the environment and excessive wealth.
Currently there are 1.1 billion Catholics in the world who look to the Pope as their spiritual leader, making Catholicism the world’s largest sect of Christianity.