Prince Charles discusses climate change with pope at Vatican

By Frances Demilio, Gaea News Network
Monday, April 27, 2009

Prince Charles discusses environment with pope

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI and Prince Charles discussed their mutual concern for the environment as the heir to the British throne brought his campaign to fight climate change to the Vatican on Monday.

Charles, accompanied by his wife, Camilla, looked relaxed but the Duchess of Cornwall appeared less so in a private meeting in the pope’s private library. The couple sat across a wooden table from Benedict for the 15-minute conversation in English.

It was Charles’ first visit with the pontiff since Benedict was elected pope in 2005. The prince and his late wife Diana had met with John Paul II, whom Benedict succeeded.

Charles and Camilla postponed their wedding by a day in 2005 so he could attend John Paul’s funeral in St. Peter’s Square.

“He was a wonderful man,” Charles told the pope as he left the library. “We miss him terribly.”

Both Charles and Benedict have made several appeals in recent years on the need to protect the environment.

“The cordial discussions provided an opportunity for an exchange of views on certain questions of mutual interest, including the human promotion and development of peoples, environment protection and the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue for furthering peace and justice in the world,” Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters after the talks.

“The pope often speaks of responsibility for the environment,” Lombardi told reporters. Last year, the Vatican installed solar panels on the roof of its main audience hall to save energy.

Charles has campaigned from Latin America to Asia as well as Western Europe to encourage efforts to battle climate change.

The Vatican statement on the meeting did not elaborate on “interreligious” dialogue.

But Britain, with its Anglican royals, seems to be entertaining moves to reach out to Roman Catholics. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government recently said British monarchs should be allowed to marry Catholics, endorsing the lifting of a ban on Catholic royals.

Just before meeting with Benedict, Charles, in a speech to a select audience in a hall in the Chamber of Deputies, said that our “grandchildren will never forgive us” if the efforts to save the environment failed.

For the Vatican appointment, Charles wore a double-breasted, dark blue suit with black tie and polka-dot pocket handkerchief. Camilla wore all black except for a pearl necklace: black silk dress, stockings, pumps and lace veil. Benedict wore simple white robes.

Charles gave the pope 12 ceramic dessert plates with hand-painted flowers from his estate at Highgrove, saying he hoped they would be “of use” to Benedict. The couple also gave Benedict a signed photo of themselves.

Benedict gave the standard gift of medals of his pontificate and an etching of St. Peter’s Basilica. Charles thanked him, saying: “I am most touched.”

In his appearance in the Chamber of Deputies, the home of Italy’s lower legislative chamber, Charles appealed to Italy to use its leadership of the Group of Eight nations to fight climate change. Italy will host the annual G-8 summit of leading industrialized nations this July.

Chamber of Deputies President Gianfranco Fini praised Charles for rejecting the use of genetically modified crops.

Charles was scheduled to participate later Monday in an event on “sustainable agriculture and climate change” at the British ambassador’s residence in Rome.

For Tuesday, his last day in Italy, the prince has scheduled an appearance at Confindustria, Italy’s politically influential business lobby, to discuss the role of business in the fight against climate change.

After Rome, Charles and Camilla will head to Venice, where they will visit La Fenice opera house and meet with local business leaders on Tuesday.

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