The world "is exposed to a series of risks created by choices and lifestyles that can degrade it," the leader of the Roman Catholic Church said in his Sunday sermon given at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.
"Damage to the environment makes the life of the poor on Earth particularly unbearable," the pope said, calling on all Christians to take care of the earth and not deplete its resources, sharing them in solidarity.
The pontiff's call came a few days before Christian associations celebrate in Italy on September 1 a "day for the safeguarding of Creation".
Italian Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, leader of the Greens, seized on Benedict's remarks. "It would be very useful if all the parishes in Italy equipped themselves with solar energy," he said.
He said it was very important that the Roman Catholic church did not confine itself to "the traditional message of respect for the human being" but also sent out "a message of love of nature and respect for the environment."