“Pope Benedict XVI reinforced the Vatican’s growing concern with protecting the environment in the traditional midnight Christmas Mass on Tuesday, bemoaning an ‘ill-treated world’ in a homily given to thousands of pilgrims here in the seat of the world’s billion Roman Catholics, reports The Times’s Ian Fisher from Rome.

The gang at Truthdig was impressed, adding that “He’s not just all talk: it turns out the Vatican bought carbon credits this holiday season to offset emissions. It’s just a little present to the world from the biggest little city in Italy.”

Frank Pasquale at Concurring Opinions feels the address built on the recent encyclical on hope that stated, “It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater.”

“These may seem rather dark ideas for an encyclical on hope,” notes Pasquale. “But an idea of redemption is a common thread throughout the document; ‘It is not science that redeems man: man is redeemed by love.’ Here is to hoping that ‘progress in man’s ethical formation’ can begin approaching our technical prowess in 2008.”