by Michael dEstries
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Pope Benedict XVI, not content to let the Vatican steal all the green glory, has just finished installing solar panels on his Bavarian home.

The 82-year-old Pontiff is certainly the greenest Pope yet — though his analogy of “saving gays” as akin to “saving the rainforests” is where we draw the line.

For his home near near Regensburg, Germany, over 580 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels were installed on the rooftop. The only condition for the project was that no church funds be used — so naturally, everything was donated. When tweaked and running, the panels are expected to output about 5,800 kilowatt hours of energy a year, which corresponds to saving 11 barrels of petroleum.

The project was commissioned not only for the environmental benefits, but also to produce income (which may amount to $3,500 a year), by providing the German electricity grid with energy. According to a German newspaper, the money will go to an association that offers skills and job training to disadvantaged youths.

In a recent encyclical, the Pope stated, “The technologically advanced societies can and must lower their domestic energy consumption, either through an evolution in manufacturing methods or through greater ecological sensitivity among their citizens. It should be added that at present it is possible to achieve improved energy efficiency while at the same time encouraging research into alternative forms of energy. ”

No word on whether the Pope will actually get to enjoy his solarized residence: his last visit there was in 2006.

via Sierra Club Green Home

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • Alex Newell

    I wonder if this example of green living will encourage Catholics to install solar panels?


    I suspect it will

  • Whoever…

    I’m sorry but I suspect it won’t :(

    You want to know why?

    What’s one of the most important commandments for catholics (and christians in general)?

    “Thou shall not kill.” It doesn’t specifically mention “kill what” does it? Is it humans, animals or both humans and animals?
    I’ve stated this several times before – what kind of perfect god would create such an ambiguous commandment?

    Or is it “Thou shall not kill”, period?
    That would mean that all non-veg*an christians would be a bunch of hypocrites, wouldn’t it?

    So why would this be any different and inspire catholics to install expensive solar panels on their homes?

  • hil

    Whoever…have you ever heard the expression “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water?” It’s an old expression with a pretty cool origin, but it basically is used to mean that you shouldn’t throw out the good with the bad. I feel that by fixating on one of the vauge points of Chritianity (and I admit that as with all faith based belief systems there is plenty of ambiguity in Christianity) and not looking at this positive action as something to be celebrated you are in fact throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I have read many of your comments and while I do not know you the person, I can tell that animal rights and veganism is very important to you. I respect your passion, but I disagree with your methods. I think it should be celebrated that the faith based communites are starting to be more concerned with their natural environment instead of acting as if they have dominion over it. I think that these actions are indicative of a shift in the collective consciousness if you will, or more simply put, it shows that the environemnt is no longer just an issue for card carrying environmentalists. There are many places to intervene in the system to decrease our collective impacts, veganism is not the only way.

  • Anne

    Hil, good for you.

    Coming from a “faith based” background, and as a believer in Christ, I can only add that his followers ( me included) who for many centuries have misapplied certain Biblical statements, have learnt our lesson. Not that it it wasn’t before our very eyes in the life and work of Jesus Christ, but the fact is that human beings always tend to go against things that He stood for. It used to be called “sin”. That word is out of fashion now. But the original meaning should perhaps be studied again if we want to save this planet.

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  • Whoever…


    No, it’s the first time I’ve heard it but I understand what it means.

    I’m not saying that everything is bad and I wasn’t stating that all christians are hypocrites. I was merely questioning their beliefs and that’s why I wrote “,wouldn’t it?” at the end.

    I was just questioning things, that’s all… If there’s one thing I like to do is to make people question everything they’ve been told and taught.
    And btw, this doesn’t mean I consider myself a kind of an ‘illuminated’ person! Far from that :)

    “I think it should be celebrated that the faith based communites are starting to be more concerned with their natural environment instead of acting as if they have dominion over it.”

    I admit this was a good start. However (and this is just me questioning things again), if the catholic church (the only church which has its own country) truly wanted to set an example they would turn the entire Vatican ‘green’. They have the money to do it!
    If they were really willing to do this, they could do it.

    I mean, it’s not enough to come up with a few more deadly sins (I’m assuming you know about this), one of which is the destruction of the environment. They should set the example first and installing a few solar panels in the pope’s Bavarian home isn’t it!

    “I can tell that animal rights and veganism is very important to you. I respect your passion, but I disagree with your methods”

    They are, and I’m sorry that you disagree with my methods (I assume you mean confronting and shocking people), but the fact is that it works most of the times and it makes people question a lot of dogmas.
    I’m not stupid. I wouldn’t use this approach if I thought it was counter-productive.
    It may not be effective all the time and with all the people but I try my best :)

    “veganism is not the only way.”

    I’m perfectly aware of that. I was just pointing out one aspect of the christian doctrine, that’s all.

  • hil

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. It seems that you and I have similar goals but are intervening in the system at a different point, so it’s great to be able to share ideas and viewpoints! I guess for me, being that I grew up in a fairly conservative part of the US and was often the most progressive person in the room I had to learn how to get my point across in a way that wouldn’t stop communication all together. But I guess that doesn’t mean that shocking people isn’t effective and I’m glad you’ve had some success with that. I just know that with the more conservative Americans I have been a lot more effective being nice and “tricking” them into doing what was best for the environment by emphasizing how it improves their own lives.