Image: Pope Benedict XVI
Kristian Dowling  /  Getty Images
Pope Benedict XVI exits after the Papal Welcome Ceremony at Barangaroo, on Sydney Harbour, Australia, on Thursday.
updated 7/17/2008 11:29:55 AM ET 2008-07-17T15:29:55

Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday the world's natural resources were being squandered by "insatiable" consumption and urged people to care more for the environment.

The pope, in a 10-day visit to Australia, also condemned television and the Internet for exalting violence and sexual exploitation as entertainment.

Benedict made the comments on Thursday in a speech to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Australia for the Roman Catholic church's World Youth Day.

He said nonviolence, sustainable development, justice and care for the environment were of vital importance for humanity.

The speech was Benedict's first major address of the youth festival, which aims to inspire a new generation of Catholics.

Pope lauds apology to Aborigines
Earlier Thursday, the pope praised the Australian government for apologizing to the country's indigenous Aborigines for past injustices, saying it offered hope to all the world's disadvantaged peoples.

The remarks came in a short speech during a ceremony to officially welcome him to Australia led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Benedict said Australia's original inhabitants formed an essential part of the cultural landscape of Australia, then made reference to their plight since the first British convict settlers arrived 220 years ago.

"Thanks to the Australian government's courageous decision to acknowledge the injustices committed against the indigenous peoples in the past, concrete steps are now being taken to achieve reconciliation based on mutual respect," Benedict said.

Video: Pope urges environmental care "Rightly, you are seeking to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians regarding life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity," he said. "This example of reconciliation offers hope to peoples all over the world who long to see their rights affirmed and their contribution to society acknowledged and promoted."

Rudd in February formally apologized to Aborigines as one of his first official acts as prime minister, and has made closing the huge gap between indigenous people and other Australians a priority of his government.

Aborigines are an often marginalized minority of about 450,000 in a population of 21 million. They are the country's poorest group, with the highest rates of unemployment, illiteracy, incarceration and alcohol abuse, and a life expectancy 17 years shorter than other Australians.

Celebrating World Youth festival
Benedict emerged from three days of vacation Thursday to begin his first full day of events to celebrate the church's World Youth Day festival.

Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, on Wednesday would not be pinned down on when the pope would speak about the sexual abuse by clergy — a scandal that has dogged the church in recent years — but suggested it may be Saturday.

The pope's visit has triggered a fresh examination of the issue of the sexual abuse cases in Australia, a sour note to the festival that was made worse Wednesday when one of the key organizers, Bishop Anthony Fisher, said people should focus on the young pilgrims' goodness "rather than dwelling crankily, as a few people are doing, on old wounds."

Victim support groups were angered by Fisher's remark.

"The Catholic Church has a lot to learn about the burden of clergy abuse on the lives of victims," said Michael Salter of the group Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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