So the Pope walks into this solar panel store. He walks up to the lady at the counter and tells her he wants to replace some worn-out auditorium roofing panels with photovoltaic ones. She asks why he wants to replace a roof at the Vatican and he says: "Because it's Holy, See?"

But seriously, folks. Pope Benedict XVI is going green with plans to outfit the roofs of several of the Vatican's more modern buildings with solar panels. The auditorium in question will require more than 1,000 panels to cover its giant roof. This is a relatively small gesture that, nevertheless, has the potential to inspire a lot of the faithful to reconsider their energy consumption patterns. Perhaps Suntech Power (NYSE:STP) will have to launch a marketing initiative to target the billion-plus Catholics of the world. That's a pretty broad consumer base.

The Pope isn't the only one keeping the faith on environmental stewardship this week. At GM's (NYSE:GM) annual meeting yesterday, a group of Dominican nuns floated an environmental shareholder proposal. Their objective to target certain emissions and fuel efficiency levels is not particularly at odds with other stakeholders, but shareholders chose not to hold management to a particular timetable. It seems like no one in a position of authority wants to be held to a timetable these days.

While we may all quibble with one another over small details such as the origin of life, I'm happy to see a consensus building around the idea that we need to be responsible stewards of our natural environment, regardless of its origin. Skeptics point to the dire tradeoffs between conservation and growth, but last time I checked, solar power was a high-growth industry. Sure, it's starting from a small base and will remain a minor player for the next several decades, but companies like BP (NYSE:BP) and MEMC Electronic Materials (NYSE:WFR) are smartly positioned here for above-average growth over that period.

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Fool contributor Toby Shute should perhaps get out in the sun a little more often, armed with the proper sunscreen, of course. He doesn't own shares in any company mentioned. Suntech Power is a Rule Breakers pick. There is no timetable for the withdrawal of The Motley Fool's disclosure policy.