Pope Benedict XVI used his traditional New Year address on Friday to call on people to respect each other without discrimination and change their lifestyles to save the planet.
The Pope ushered in 2010 with a message of peace
Pope Benedict XVI on Friday appealed to people to take action to safeguard the climate, saying environmental responsiblity was essential for global peace.
"An objective shared by all, an indispensable condition for peace, is that of overseeing the earth's natural resources with justice and wisdom," the Pope said.
The Pope wants people to remember that they are the planet's caretakers
A month after world leaders gathered in Copenhagen to try to secure a global deal to tackle climate change, the German-born Pontiff said individual and community level action was just as important to address the problem.
"I would like to underline the importance of the choices of individuals, families and local administrations in preserving the environment," he told thousands of worshippers at St. Peter's Square in Rome, adding that "ecological responsibility" should become part of the education syllabus.
The Catholic Church has become increasingly outspoken on environmental issues under Benedict and his predecessor John Paul II. Last month Benedict called on rich nations to acknowledge their historical responsibility for climate change.
Celebration of diversity
World peace has long been one of the central messages of the Church and the Pope returned to this theme again as he heralded in 2010, calling on humans to show more tolerance for each other as societies become more diverse.
"Respect others, regardless of their skin colour, nationality, language, religion…it is important to be taught to respect others, even when they are different to us", Benedict said.
The pontiff also said it was becoming increasingly common for schools to have children of different backgrounds, and that it was important children learn at an early age to accept those different from themselves.
"Their faces represent the prophecy of humanity that we are invited to develop: a family of families and peoples."
In his first Angelus blessing of the year, the Pope decried war, saying too often conflict and violence ruined the lives of the young, leaving children's faces "sunken by hunger and illness, disfigured by pain and hopelessness."
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar