Pope aims to call attention to climate change

Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday he wants to wake up consciences on climate change during his trip to Australia.

Benedict also told reporters that he would work for “healing and reconciliation with the victims” of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy there “just as I did in the United States” earlier this year.

There is a need to “wake up consciences,” Benedict said. “We have to give impulse to rediscovering our responsibility and to finding an ethical way to change our way of life.”

Benedict said that politicians and experts must be “capable of responding to the great ecological challenge and to be up to the task of this challenge.”

“We have our responsibilities toward Creation,” Benedict said, stressing, however, that he had no intention of weighing in on technical or political questions swirling around climate change.

Benedict said he would address the problem of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

He reiterated his view that sexual abuse is “incompatible with the behavior” required of priests. At the start of his U.S. pilgrimage, Benedict had said he was “deeply ashamed” of the abuse scandal and pledged to work to make sure pedophiles do not become priests.

The 10-day Australia pilgrimage, the longest in his three-year-old papacy, will test the 81-year-old pontiff's stamina. Tens of thousands of young pilgrims are awaiting him in Sydney.

World Youth Day will culminate July 20 with an open-air Mass expected to draw some 250,000 before Benedict heads back to Rome.