Vatican Newspaper Slams the Copenhagen Summit over Population Control, "Nihilism"

COPENHAGEN, December 18, 2009 ( - In a front-page commentary in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano yesterday, the President of the Vatican Bank took the Copenhagen summit to task over its "nihilism," and consequent emphasis on population control and de-industrialization.

"Nihilistic thought, with its rejection of any objective truth and values causes serious damage when applied to economics," wrote Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.  He recalled as an example the "disastrous consequences" of Malthus' argument that population growth causes poverty, as well as the theory that the economy is morally autonomous, which he said has led to an "overly consumerist and materialistic" mentality.

However, he said that, when applied to environmental issues, nihilism produces "even more serious damage." In this case it leads to the attempt "to solve climate problems - where much confusion reigns - through lowering the birth rate and de-industrialization, rather than through the promotion of values that lead the individual to his original dignity."

Tedeschi criticized the Copenhagen climate conference for applying such nihilistic thinking to the environment, an approach that he says causes "more conflicts than solutions."  

In the midst of the conflict that is enmeshing the Copenhagen summit - "between rich and poor countries, between scientists and politicians, between different power groups" - it is "not only becoming increasingly difficult to imagine a solution, but it seems difficult to even understand the real problem," said Tedeschi.

This lack of a "strategic vision of the problem" has come about "precisely because of widespread nihilism that leads to the notion that there is no value in human life compared to the supposed centrality of nature" - a concept called 'ecocentrism' which was denounced by the Pope in his World Day of Peace message.

"The environmentalists do well," he concludes, "to urge greater attention to nature."  "But they would do better" to read the Pope's latest encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate' so "they would understand why - but above all for whom - the environment must be respected."