By Hilary White, Rome correspondent

ROME, January 11, 2010 ( – The protection of the environment must be connected to the protection of human life, particularly the unborn, said Pope Benedict XVI today. In his annual address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, Pope Benedict XVI attempted to disassociate concerns for the environment from the anti-human population control ideologies that often characterise the environmentalist movement.

Referring to his Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace in which he urged “all persons of good will … to protect creation,” Pope Benedict said, “It is proper, however, that this concern and commitment for the environment should be situated within the larger framework of the great challenges now facing mankind.”

“If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn?”

The pope referred to the claims made by many in the international population control movement that human population will outstrip food supplies. Recalling an address following the recent Summit on Food Security of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the pope said that “the world has enough food for all its inhabitants provided that selfishness does not lead some to hoard the goods which are intended for all.”

During that summit in October last year, FAO chief Dr. Jacques Diouf said that “food security” is possible in Africa right now without the reduction of population. What is needed, he said, is the political will to achieve it. The reform of political systems, said Diouf, was the solution. “Transparency … the application of law by an independent justice” and peace will create an environment where food production and distribution can be increased.

Pope Benedict reiterated Dr. Diouf’s point, saying, “I would like to stress again that the protection of creation calls for an appropriate management of the natural resources of different countries and, in the first place, of those which are economically disadvantaged.”

He urged world leaders to look at the root causes of environmental destruction, saying that it and the global economic crisis are related to what he called a “current self-centred and materialistic way of thinking.”

The causes of the worlds crises are “of the moral order,” the pope said, and urged the creation of a “great program of education” that would promote a change of thinking and “new lifestyles.”

He decried the secularist mentality that wants in many places to exclude religious ideas from this effort to reshape the world, saying that the role of the “community of believers” must be recognised.

“Sadly, in certain countries, mainly in the West, one increasingly encounters in political and cultural circles, as well in the media, scarce respect and at times hostility, if not scorn, directed towards religion and towards Christianity in particular.”

“It is clear that if relativism is considered an essential element of democracy, one risks viewing secularity solely in the sense of excluding or, more precisely, denying the social importance of religion.”

The bias against religious ideas, he said, “creates confrontation and division, disturbs peace, harms human ecology” and “finishes in a dead end.”

The pope also said he “deplores” terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear armaments, the use of agriculture for the narcotics trade, and the “apparent powerlessness” of nations to stop these as well as the “indifference, amounting practically to resignation, of public opinion worldwide.”