SEPTEMBER 4, 2015
Quo Vadis, Papa Francisco?
12 – CRITICISM OF POPE FRANCIS’ ENCYCLICAL LAUDATO SI’
See LAUDATO SI’
–ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME POPE FRANCIS 24 MAY 2015
The Encyclical was released on June 18, 2015.
The collated information below is arranged in chronological order –Michael
Laudato si’ (Medieval Central Italian for “Praise Be to You”) is the second encyclical of Pope Francis. The encyclical has the subtitle On care for our common home. In it, the pope critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls all people of the world to take “swift and unified global action” thus described by Jim Yardley, writing for The New York Times.
The encyclical, dated 24 May 2015, was officially published at noon on 18 June 2015, accompanied by a news conference. The Vatican released the document in Italian, German, English, Spanish, French, Polish, Portuguese and Arabic.
The encyclical is the second published by Francis, after Lumen fidei (“Light of Faith”), which was released in 2013. Since Lumen fidei was largely the work of Francis’s predecessor Benedict XVI, Laudato si’ is generally viewed as the first encyclical that is entirely Francis’s work.
The title of the social encyclical is an Umbrian phrase from Saint Francis of Assisi’s 13th-century Canticle of the Sun (also called the Canticle of the Creatures), a poem and prayer in which God is praised for the creation of the different creatures and aspects of the Earth…
R.R. Reno, editor of ″First Things″ critiques the encyclical, writing Laudato si’ makes “many fierce denunciations of the current global order”. This global order “destroys the environment, oppresses the multitudes, and makes us blind to the beauty of creation”. The critiques of the scientific and technocratic present contained in the encyclical make this “perhaps the most anti-modern encyclical since the Syllabus of Errors, Pius IX’s haughty 1864 dismissal of the conceits of the modern era”. He adds that the encyclical’s tone lacks elements commonly found in the works of John Paul II and Benedict XVI that, in the tradition of Gaudium et Spes, would have affirmed the modern world while correcting its errors.
Speculation about an “environmental encyclical” to be issued by Pope Francis first began in November 2013. On 24 January 2014, the Vatican confirmed that drafting had begun. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Holy See Press Office director, said that the document was in its very early stages, that no publication date had been set, and that the encyclical would be about ecology (and specifically the “ecology of man”).
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and his team wrote the first draft of the encyclical. The draft was later reviewed by several theologians as well and sent (about three weeks before the encyclical’s release) to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the second section of the Secretariat of State, and the theologian of the Papal Household. Edits were made based on their responses.
In drafting the encyclical, the Vatican consulted with leading scientific experts for months.
One of the experts consulted was Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the founder and head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change.
On 28 April 2015, in advance of the encyclical’s release, the Vatican hosted a one-day conference on climate change, featuring Turkson, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (who delivered the keynote address), Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa and American economist Jeffrey Sachs.
The title and subtitle of the encyclical were first reported on in a Twitter message by Spanish-language journalist Mercedes De La Torre on 30 May 2015. The Vatican confirmed that the title would be Laudato si’ on 10 June. While some initial reports said the encyclical would be called Laudato Sii, this was incorrect; the pope chose to use the original Umbrian form and spelling of the poem, with a single i.
On 4 June, the Vatican press office announced that the encyclical—which was “already attracting global attention for its expected discourses on Catholic theology on ecology, current environmental destruction, and climate change”—would be released on 18 June.
Four days before the encyclical’s release, the Italian magazine L’Espresso posted a leaked draft (http://time.com/3921416/pope-francis-encyclical-leaked/) of the document online. The leaked document “almost exactly matched” the final document. The leak angered Vatican officials who called it a “heinous act”
and revoked the press credentials of the longtime L’Espresso Vatican correspondent Sandro Magister. The New York Times and the Italian newspaper La Stampa both noted suggestions that the leak came from conservatives inside the Vatican who wished to embarrass the pope and hinder the rollout of the encyclical…
The encyclical’s release was timed to influence three summits being held at the United Nations on financial aid, sustainable development and climate change later in 2015.
After the encyclical was released, the Vatican’s website was briefly inaccessible as many people tried to read it. It has been described as “one of the shrewdest documents issued by the Vatican during the past century” and “has revealed Francis as a wily and sophisticated politician of the first order.” It contains, according to Paul Vallely, “a raft of defenses against critics who dismiss it as the work of some kind of left-wing maverick.”
For Pope’s Environment Encyclical, an unusual line-up of presenters for official Vatican press conference, including climate change radical.
June 10, 2015
The Vatican has just revealed in today’s Bollettino the line-up of speakers for the official presentation of the “Environment Encyclical”, Laudato Si, on June 18 at the New Synod Hall.
– Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace;
– His Eminence Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church;
– Prof. John Schellnhuber, Founding Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Metropolitan John, 84 years old, is the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s leading figure in ecumenical discussions and has long been close to the Catholic ecumenical establishment. However this is the first time that an Orthodox metropolitan would be officially co-presenting a papal Encyclical. There are reports that the Encyclical will draw upon the teaching of Patriarch Bartholomew (whose interest in environmental issues is well known) and that there was even a proposal — which proved to be “not possible” — that the Encyclical be jointly promulgated by both the Pope and the Patriarch.
Perhaps of far greater interest to most of our readership would be the presence of Prof. Schellnhuber on the panel. The father of the “two-degree target” to stave off global warming, he is the founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany (which is funded by the German government), Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He was one of the experts (alongside Jeffrey Sachs) tapped by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to write their joint statement on climate change published in April of this year, titled “Climate change and the common good: a statement of the problem and the demand for transformative solutions”. A description of the final document’s call for a “zero-carbon world” can be found here; the final published version seems to have been removed from the official website Pontifical Academy of Sciences, but to our knowledge has never been retracted.
In the words of the New York Times, Schellnhuber is “known for his aggressive stance on climate policy” and famously declared in 2009 that the “carrying capacity” of the Earth is less than one billion people:
A scientist known for his aggressive stance on climate policy made an apocalyptic prediction on Thursday.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said that if the buildup of greenhouse gases and its consequences pushed global temperatures 9 degrees Fahrenheit higher than today — well below the upper temperature range that scientists project could occur from global warming — Earth’s population would be devastated. (…)
“In a very cynical way, it’s a triumph for science because at last we have stabilized something –- namely the estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet, namely below 1 billion people,” said Dr. Schellnhuber, who has advised German Chancellor Angela Merkel on climate policy and is a visiting professor at Oxford.
At that temperature, there would be “no fluctuations anymore, we can be fairly sure,” said Dr. Schellnhuber, exercising his characteristically dark sense of humor at the morning plenary session on the closing day of an international climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Four degrees of warming would be hotter than any time in the last 30 million years, and it could happen as soon as 2060 to 2070.
“Political reality must be grounded in physical reality or it’s completely useless,” John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told the conference.
Schellnhuber recently briefed U.S. officials from the Barack Obama administration, but he says they chided him that his findings were “not grounded in political reality” and that “the [U.S.] Senate will never agree to this”.
He had told them that the U.S. must reduce its emissions from its current 20 tonnes of carbon per person average to zero tonnes per person by 2020 to have an even chance of stabilising the climate around two degrees C.
China’s emissions must peak by 2020 and then go to zero by 2035 based on the current science, he added.
“Policymakers who agreed to a two-degree C goal at the G20 summit easily fool themselves about what emission cuts are needed,” Schellnhuber said.
(See also: Roll back time to safeguard climate, expert warns.)
Last but not the least he is an advocate of a very real form of “World Government”, also in the name of defeating the climate crisis. His ideas are laid out in “Expanding the Democracy Universe“, where among other things he discusses his dream of an Earth Constitution, a Global Council elected by the people of the whole world, and a Planetary Court with jurisdiction over the whole world and with the power to penalize violations of the “Earth Constitution”.
While we expect (or rather, hope) that Mr. Schellnhuber will not be using the June 18 press conference to lay out his personal opinions, it is perplexing that the Vatican selected him to be the sole layman and environment expert to help present the Pope’s encyclical. The world is not lacking in scientists and experts who embrace global warming orthodoxy without advocating the kind of extremes represented by this man — it would not have been too difficult for the Vatican to find an alternative. His very presence on the panel does not do anything to assuage fears that regardless of Laudato Si’s actual teaching, it will be used by powerful lobbies to advance their own agendas that are ultimately unfriendly to the Church and the sanctity of human life.
Pope Francis’ Encyclical Leaked, Now Fallout Begins
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 16, 2015
Vatican yanks credentials of reporter linked with encyclical leak as controversy plays out.
Vatican City -There’s something of a whodunit going on in the Vatican to discover who leaked Pope Francis’ environment encyclical to an Italian newsweekly, deflating the release of the most anticipated and feared papal document in recent times. L’Espresso magazine published the full 191 pages of “Laudato Si” (Be Praised) on its website Monday, three days before the official launch. The Vatican said it was just a draft, but most media ran with it, given that it covered many of the same points Francis and his advisers have been making in the run-up to the release.
On Tuesday, the Vatican indefinitely suspended the press credentials of L’Espresso’s veteran Vatican correspondent, Sandro Magister, saying the publication had been “incorrect.” A letter from the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, to Magister advising him of the sanction was posted on the bulletin board of the Vatican press office.
Magister told The Associated Press that his editor, not he, obtained the document and decided to publish it.
“I just wrote the introduction,” Magister said in a text message, adding that he had promised the Vatican to keep quiet about the scoop.
In the draft of the encyclical, Francis says global warming is “mostly” due to human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. He calls for a radical change in behavior to save the planet for future generations and prevent the poor from suffering the worst effects of industry-induced environmental degradation.
Several Vatican commentators hypothesized that the leak was aimed at taking the punch out of Thursday’s official launch of the encyclical, in which the Vatican has lined up a Catholic cardinal, an Orthodox theologian, an atheist scientist and an economist to discuss the contents.
They noted that conservatives — particularly in the U.S. — attacked the encyclical even before it was released, chiding the pope for talking science in a church document and insisting that global warming isn’t a scientific reality. It would be in their interest, the argument goes, to fudge the pope’s message via a scoop by L’Espresso, since
Magister has championed views of the conservative Catholic camp hostile to Francis.
Italian daily La Stampa suggested that the leak might have come from conservatives inside Vatican, noting that Francis’ reform plans for the Vatican bureaucracy have been resisted by the more conservative old guard who would have an interest in sabotaging Francis’ labor of love.
A leak, however, was to be expected, given that drafts of the document have been circulating for months and that the text had been translated into multiple languages before its official release.
Not to mention that the Vatican has had a long and storied history of leaked documents: The last big scandal in 2012 resulted in the pope’s butler being put on trial for stealing his private papers and passing them off to an Italian journalist. He was convicted but was eventually pardoned by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.
In the aftermath of the “VatiLeaks” scandal, the Vatican City State updated its criminal code to include severe penalties for anyone who leaks a Vatican document or publishes news from it: Up to two years in prison and a 5,000 euro ($5,600) fine.
Vatican commentator John Allen, writing for the Boston Globe’s Crux site, said the leak highlighted the clash of cultures at play at the Vatican over different understandings of embargoes: The Vatican regularly provides accredited journalists with embargoed documents to give them time to read them and prepare articles, with the understanding that they will only publish at a fixed time.
While the Vatican cried foul that the encyclical embargo had been violated, L’Espresso obtained the article independently of the Vatican press office, and thereby wasn’t beholden to the noon Thursday embargo that had been set.
“As a final observation, the frenzy probably will boost interest in Thursday’s official presentation, if for no other reason than to see whether there are actually any substantial changes between the leak and the real deal,” he said.
Draft of Environmental Encyclical Leaked: 12 Things to Know and Share
By Jimmy Akin, June 16, 2015
With just days to go before the release of Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, a draft copy has suddenly appeared on the Internet.
Here are 12 things to know and share . . .
1) What are the basic facts about this encyclical?
An encyclical is a teaching document issued by the pope. Encyclicals are among the more solemn and thus more authoritative papal documents.
It is Pope Francis’s second encyclical. His first was Lumen Fidei, which was largely drafted by his predecessor, Benedict XVI. Laudato Si is thus the first encyclical prepared entirely at Pope Francis’s initiative.
It is devoted to ecology and related themes, and it is scheduled to be released on Thursday, June 18th.
2) Who leaked it?
Veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister leaked it on the web page of his newspaper, L’Espresso.
For reasons explained below, we will not be quoting from the document, though since it is already all over the Internet and has now become part of this story, we will link Magister’s original story, which includes a pdf of the document in Italian.
Magister’s original story is here
(http://espresso.repubblica.it/attualita/2015/06/15/news/papa-bergoglio-e-la-lezione-di-francesco-d-assisi-in-anteprima-l-enciclica-sull-ambiente-laudato-si-mi-signore-1.216897?ref=HEF_RULLO, June 15, 2015, in Italian –Michael)
3) What was the Vatican’s reaction?
An Italian text of a draft of the Pope’s Encyclical “Laudato Si'” has been published. Please note that it is not the final text, and that the rules of the Embargo remain in place. We ask journalists to respect professional standards, which call for waiting for the official publication of the final text.
4) What is “the Embargo”?
This refers to a journalistic practice in which advance copies of texts are made available to journalists and others to enable them to prepare commentary in advance of the public release of a document.
The practice of letting them see advance copies of texts allows them to read them, digest them, and provide more accurate reporting and commentary than if they got the text at the time of its official release and had to read and report in haste.
Or that’s the theory.
Prior to the official release, such advance copies are said to be “embargoed,” meaning that reporters, etc., are not to publish things based on them until the time the document is officially released, at which point the embargo is lifted.
Movie reviews work the same way: Critics are frequently invited to advance screenings or sent “screener copies” so that they can have their movie reviews prepared by the day the movie is released, as a service to the public. They are not usually supposed to publish their reviews before the day of release, though.
5) Is breaking an embargo considered bad?
You bet. It’s a breach of trust with the people who gave you the embargoed text.
I’ve had embargoed texts of various documents any number of times (even years before the final text was released), and I’ve never broken an embargo.
I was shocked to learn that a respected Vaticanista (i.e., journalist covering the Vatican) like Sandro Magister had leaked this one.
Even if he thought he was leaking a pre-final version of the text (which is not clear from his original story), it’s an astonishing breech of journalistic ethics, and his name will likely be mud at the Vatican for some time.
6) How did Magister get the text?
This is unknown at present. In his article, he refers to the text having a “troubled” history and alludes to the first copies that the Vatican publishing house made having been pulped (destroyed) because of various places where they needed to be corrected.
It is possible that someone rescued one of the copies meant to be pulped and gave it to Magister. If so, he may have gotten it from a lower level person, such as a worker tasked with arranging for the copies to be pulped.
On the other hand, they could have come from someone higher placed.
If Magister’s text came from the batch that was pulped then that could explain why the Vatican Press Office said that it wasn’t the final version.
On the other hand, Magister may have been given a copy from a different batch, after some corrections were made. In any event, the Holy See Press Office says it isn’t the final copy.
7) How different will the final version be?
There is no way to know until Thursday.
Assuming that Magister is correct that a batch was pulped, this may have been due to nothing more than typos that needed to be corrected.
It is not at all uncommon for publishers to pulp runs of a publication that have typos which are caught at the last minute, assuming that the typos are significant enough. In my own experience with publishers, I’ve seen it done.
On the other hand, there may be more than typo fixes. This could happen, for example, if Pope Francis asked for certain editorial changes to be made and then, in the editorial process, these fell through the cracks and their absence was caught only at the last minute.
8) Why was the text leaked?
Without knowing who leaked it, there is no way to tell.
If it was a janitor who plucked a copy from a batch that were on their way to be shredded, it may simply have been that he knew Magister would be interested in a scoop and he wanted to be part of an exciting story (or possibly even be paid for his efforts).
Such an employee may not have read the text and there may be no larger agenda on his part.
On the other hand, if a person of higher stature leaked it—someone who had been entrusted with working on the text and read the content of the document—then there might be a deliberate intention to undermine the encyclical and its message.
9) How could the leak undermine the encyclical?
Part of the point of having an official release, with a press conference and everything, is to create on opportunity to get the document off on the best footing.
The media hops on it all at once, creating something of a saturation effect in different news channels, and the Holy See has the chance—via the press conference and associated materials given out to the press—to frame the story its way.
For a text to appear early can let some of the air out of the official release, and it can allow the text to be framed in ways contrary to the spin that the Holy See wants put on it.
In this case, because we have a pre-final draft, it will also cause attention to zero-in on the changes that were made between this draft and the final one, which may cause people to speculate about why those changes were made and what significance they might have (if they’re just typos or edits that were accidentally omitted and later caught: not much).
This event raises the question of whether there are additional leakers—or new leakers—who are in some way seeking to undermine Pope Francis.
10) Does the encyclical say anything supporting the idea of manmade global warming?
Yeah, but we knew it would, anyway. Previous statements coming out of the Holy See had made that clear. We didn’t need the leak to tell us that.
I won’t quote from the leaked version, but since it is out there and people are commenting on it, I can report that this isn’t a huge theme in the document.
A machine translation of the Italian original clocks in at around 42,000 English words. Of those, the word “warming” occurs four times, and the phrase “climate change” occurs 14 times.
So it’s not a huge theme. The vast bulk of the document is devoted to other things.
11) Does the encyclical oblige Catholics to believe in manmade global warming?
I’ll have more to say about this once the final, official, English version is out, but the short answer is no.
The idea that the planet is getting warmer and the idea that we are responsible for that are both empirical propositions that belong to the domain of science.
As a result, they are matters of science and not of faith.
There is even a place in the draft (no. 188), where Pope Francis makes the point that the Church does not pretend to settle scientific questions.
The Church has the responsibility to urge appropriate responses to what the best science available has to say on matters impacting mankind and the world under man’s care, and Pope Francis thinks that present science is sufficiently in favor of manmade global warming to urge cuts in greenhouse gasses, but if you think that the best science points in a different direction, you are not bound in faith to believe a particular scientific viewpoint.
12) Is the encyclical critical of the secular environmentalism that we hear so much about in the media today?
Yes. Again, not quoting it and keeping things at the level of general themes, the draft document is expressly critical of aspects of environmental ideologies that are incompatible with the Christian Faith.
This includes ideologies that would reject the unique place of mankind in creation.
The draft criticizes anti-human and pro-abortion ideologies, which often go hand-in-hand with secular environmentalism.
Pope Francis’ leaked encyclical: the good and the bad
By Christopher A. Ferrara, June 17, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) Officially speaking, the original Italian version of Laudato Si‘, which had been placed between covers, sent to the Vatican publishing house for printing in different languages, and was rolling off the presses sometime last week does not exist. Nor, any longer, do the press credentials of the renowned Vaticanist Sandro Magister. In a stunning disciplinary action by the Vatican Press Office, they were revoked after he leaked a copy of the ill-fated “draft” to the press (there not yet being any embargo in effect).
Whatever the reason for the unprecedented reported destruction of a papal encyclical in the process of being printed, the document I have read for purposes of summarizing it for LifeSiteNews today is essentially a matter of purely historical interest that may or may not be substantially superseded by the corrected final version. Only a line-by-line comparison will tell. Meanwhile, however, the document before me is as unprecedented in content as the manner in which it was recalled and expunged.
It is impossible to provide an adequate synthetic description of Laudato Si (LS) because it is effectively a composite of multiple documents between the same covers, running to book length. In its six chapters, LS attempts to combine numerous disparate elements under the theme of an “ecological crisis”:
An assessment of alleged environmental problems around the world which descends to an astonishing level of detail regarding technical and scientific matters never before discussed in a papal encyclical, producing a veritable environmentalist essay (Chapter 1).
“Judeo-Christian” Biblical exegesis concerning the unity of creation, stewardship of the Earth and the value and interconnectedness of all created things (Chapter 2).
Condemnations of globalism, technocracy and modern anthropocentrism (Chapter 3).
The presentation of “an integral ecology” embracing all facets of life and society and producing a more just distribution of wealth and resources along with protection of the environment to remedy “planetary inequity” (Chapter 4).
Proposed lines of action for environmental protection and the remediation of “inequality,” including global, national and local regulation by authorities able to impose sanctions for non-compliance (Chapter 5);
An outline of “ecological education and spirituality” aimed at “ecological conversion.” (Chapter 6).
In terms of the details there is good news and—as widely feared—a great deal of bad news.
First the bad news: in LS Francis has committed himself to the “climate change” narrative and its related dubious science. There is simply no question of this. In Chapter 1, and thematically throughout its 184 pages of main text, LS accepts as established fact that human activity is primarily responsible for, among other things:
A rise in atmospheric greenhouse gasses;
The melting of the polar ice caps, glaciers and other masses of ice;
The release of methane gas from decomposing matter uncovered by the melting of ice packs;
A rise in ocean levels;
An increase in ocean acidity;
The decline of the barrier reefs and their life forms;
A threat to the existence of plankton;
Species extinction and the destruction of biodiversity, including not only mammals, but fungi, algae, worms, insects, reptiles, “innumerable varieties of microorganisms” and mangrove trees (Cf. ¶¶ 20-50).
As Francis opines (¶ 24-25): “If the current tendency continues, this century could bear witness to unheard of climate changes and unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with grave consequences for all of us. … Climate changes are a global problem with grave environmental, social, economic, distributive and political consequences, and constitute one of the principal current challenges for humanity.”
In related bad news, Francis endorses the climate-change establishment’s demand for the elimination of the use of fossil fuels (¶¶ 26, 165) and declares the existence of a moral obligation to reduce greenhouse gasses (¶169). He also endorses such secularist-globalist environmental manifestos as the Earth Summit (¶ 167), the Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol regarding the supposed threat to the ozone layer (¶ 168), and the Earth Charter (¶ 207), all of which favor the expansion of governmental power to no good effect on the environment.
Worse, as concerned Catholics feared, LS, citing the failure of world leaders to act decisively on climate change and “global inequality,” explicitly calls for the creation of global authorities with enforcement powers to address these putative crises:
“There are necessary global regulatory frameworks that impose obligations and prevent unacceptable actions, such as the fact that more powerful countries dump industrial waste and extreme pollutants in others” (¶ 173);
To “eradicate poverty” and “safeguard the environment” there must be “development of stronger international institutions with designated authority [and] the power of sanction,” meaning a “true world political authority” (¶ 175, citing and quoting Benedict XVI, Caritatis in Veritate).
There is bad news on the theological front as well. This description of man (¶ 81) is troubling to say the least:
The human being, supposing also evolutionary processes, involves a novelty not fully explainable by the evolution of other open systems. Every one of us has in itself a personal identity able to enter into dialogue with others and with God Himself.
The capacity for reflection, reasoning, creativity, interpretation, artistic elaboration, and other original capacities demonstrate a singularity that transcends the scope of the physical and biological. The qualitative novelty involved in the emergence of a personal being within the material universe presupposes a direct action of God, a peculiar calling to life and to the relation of a Thou to another you.
There is no reference anywhere in the 246 paragraphs of the main text to the rational soul of man, which is what sets him apart from, and places him above, all the lower animals and invests him with dominion over the Earth. (Only footnote 141 mentions the soul in passing.) This view of man as a “qualitative novelty” that has “emerged” from the evolution of “other open systems” lends itself to an ecology that displaces his God-given dominion in favor of a subtle subordination to the created order, with the traditionally understood divinely conferred dominion now to be considered “simplistic” (¶ 69).
More thematically, the posited “ecological crisis”—broadly defined to include not only the environment but also social, political and economic “inequality” and a generalized ethical malaise arising from rampant consumerism and self-centeredness—is nowhere clearly linked to a civilization-wide abandonment of the life of the Christian oriented to eternity and submissive to the Church. LS‘s call for the novelty of “ecological conversion” (¶¶ 216-221) does not propose a civilizational return to the Law of the Gospel as counseled by the Church’s social teaching spanning centuries.
The Church’s role in LS is that of a provider of polite, non-religious suggestions about what men and nations should do, with Francis even posing the question: “Why insert in this document, addressed to all persons of good will, a chapter related to the convictions of faith?” That Francis views “the convictions of faith” as an “insertion” into a papal encyclical is a rather telling indication of the state into which the Church has fallen.
This approach is in stark contrast to the social encyclicals of former Popes, which resoundingly affirmed the indispensable role of the Church and the Gospel in preserving civilization. For example, as Pius XI declared in his landmark encyclicals:
“Wherefore,” to use the words of Our Predecessor [Leo XIII], “if human society is to be healed, only a return to Christian life and institutions will heal it.” For this alone can provide effective remedy for that excessive care for passing things that is the origin of all vices; and this alone can draw away men’s eyes, fascinated by and wholly fixed on the changing things of the world, and raise them toward Heaven. Who would deny that human society is in most urgent need of this cure now? (Quadragesimo anno , n. 129)
Because the Church is by divine institution the sole depository and interpreter of the ideals and teachings of Christ, she alone possesses in any complete and true sense the power effectively to combat that materialistic philosophy which has already done and, still threatens, such tremendous harm to the home and to the state….
The Church is the teacher and an example of world good-will, for she is able to inculcate and develop in mankind the “true spirit of brotherly love”…. Finally, the Church is able to set both public and private life on the road to righteousness by demanding that everything and all men become obedient to God “Who beholdeth the heart,” to His commands, to His laws, to His sanctions. (Ubi Arcano Dei , nn. 41-42).
And yet, that said, the final eight pages of LS present an admirable discourse on the Holy Eucharist as a cause of unity among men, the signs of the Holy Trinity in Creation, and the Reign of Mary as Queen of Heaven. But the impression, sad to say, is that of a Catholic spiritual “supplement” appended to a thematically humanist document eschewing any explicitly Catholic approach to the “ecological crisis.” This is seen even in the closing prayers: a non-denominational prayer for “Our Earth,” followed by a “Christian Prayer with [?] Creation,” which begins: “We praise You, Father, with all of your creatures…”
But now the good news, which is not inconsiderable:
Condemnations of abortion (albeit in an ecological context of disregard for nature in a “throwaway” culture as opposed to the murder of an innocent) (¶¶ 117, 123).
Rejection of gender theory (¶155).
Defense of the family as “the primary cell of society” (¶ 157).
Criticism of ecological movements that are devoted to the preservation of the environment but “do not apply the same principles to human life” (¶136).
No trace of the population control agenda, but on the contrary a rejection of Malthusianism: “demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and solidaristic development” (¶ 50).
Rejection of a radical environmentalism that sees man as “only a threat to compromise the worldwide ecosystem, who should reduce his presence on the planet” (¶ 61).
Recognition of the right to private property in keeping with prior social teaching, which has never accepted the notion of an “absolute” property right (¶ 93).
Nods to distributism, including the desirability of small producers (¶¶ 94, 129).
Perfectly legitimate criticisms of hyper-capitalism and globalization, boundless technocracy, orgiastic consumerism, and the disastrous impact on social life of the digital culture.
There are other serious issues with this massive text, both theological and political (e.g., presentation of “biological evolution” as fact, a nod to the evolutionary eschatology of
Teilhard de Chardin*, vague calls for “new models” of development, production and even culture), but these are for another time and another forum.
All in all, however, it has to be said that the world will ignore the good elements in LS and proclaim a great victory for climate change fanatics—a victory Francis will undoubtedly have given them unless the final official version of LS departs substantially from the mysteriously withdrawn and destroyed “draft.” Let us hope and pray that, tomorrow morning, we will find that it does. *See page 36
Pope’s encyclical: Pro-climate-change, but anti-population control, pro-life, and anti-gender ideology
Rome, June 18, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) Climate change, says Pope Francis, in the new encyclical Laudato Si (Praised be) released today, “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day” (25).
The environmental tome of 180 pages – the longest encyclical in history – is an often-fascinating read, with many touching passages reflecting on a Catholic vision of care and concern for creation. These many passages, however, are being largely lost and subsumed under the most emphatic – even alarmist – passages devoted to detailed descriptions of “climate change” theory (described as fact) and the dire consequences of failing to take drastic measures to fight such change.
And those startling quotes have stolen the media narrative, making this, at least for the media world and thus the general public, the “climate-change encyclical.” Released, as the encyclical was, just prior to the pope’s visit to the United Nations and the US Congress in September, as well as the World Climate Summit in Paris in December, this narrative was at least partially intentional on the part of the Vatican and the pope.
The stress by the Vatican on the climate change portion could not have been more evident this morning, as one of the world’s leading climate change alarmist gurus, Professor John Schellnhuber, took part in the Vatican press conference introducing Laudato Si. The day before the release of the encyclical, the Vatican also announced that Schellnhuber had been appointed by the pope to the Pontifical Academy for the Sciences.
The new encyclical also continues the tradition launched by popes Benedict and John Paul II of tying respecting nature to respecting life in the womb and God-given gender. The pope also clearly decries the idea of reducing population to address environmental concerns.
While there is much to welcome in the encyclical’s 40,000 words, fears that its text, which is peppered with ominous warnings about climate change, will play into the hands of global warming activists whose agendas include population control and one-world government, do not seem unreasonable.
Indeed, the mainstream media is already widely portraying the encyclical as a major coup for mainstream environmentalism, while ignoring the pro-life passages that critique many of the environmentalist movement’s core principles.
Here are some of those pro-life passages, as well as other relevant passages and quotations from the encyclical.
Out of the 245 paragraphs, the pope devotes two to debunking population control as an appropriate means to fighting climate change or general environmental degradation.
In paragraph 50, he derides those who “can only propose a reduction in the birth rate” as the solution. He laments international pressure on developing countries making “economic assistance contingent on certain policies of ‘reproductive health.'” He suggests that “demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development,” and says that to “blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.”
In the same paragraph though he speaks of the need to pay attention to “imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations.”
Again in paragraph 60 the pope says that there are those who hold the extreme view of “men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem,” and consequently believe that “the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited.”
Population control is a major focus for climate change activists, including some of the very experts who the Vatican has relied on in producing the encyclical. For example, Jeffrey Sachs, who recently co-hosted a Vatican conference on climate change, is up front about not only the need for population control but also abortion advocacy to achieve it.
Climate change and its ‘dire consequences’
Even though at one point (188) the pope says he does not mean to “settle scientific questions” but to open debate, the encyclical has many affirmations for climate change, which is hotly contested by many scientists.
The pope speaks of:
“An urgent need” to “drastically reduce” emission of “carbon dioxide” (26);
“a very solid scientific consensus” that “indicates … we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system” resulting from “greenhouse gasses” released “mainly as a result of human activity” (23);
Climate change as “a global problem with grave implications” (25);
and an “urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution” (114).
Beyond a mere acceptance of global warming, the pope seems also to believe the catastrophic predictions that global warming activists have posited.
He warns of “an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us” (24). He notes, “It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars” (57).
In that vein, paragraph 161 stands out:
Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now. We need to reflect on our accountability before those who will have to endure the dire consequences.
Professor Schellnhuber, founder of Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, was an adviser on the draft of the encyclical and one of the four presenters at the press conference releasing the encyclical this morning. Schellnhuber advocates for global government as key to bringing climate change under control, notions reflected in the encyclical.
In several places the encyclical speaks to the need for:
“An agreement on systems of governance for the whole range of so-called ‘global commons'” (174);
“Think[ing] of one world with a common plan” (164);
“A global consensus … for confronting the deeper problems, which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions on the part of individual countries” (164);
“A true world political authority” (175);
“Stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments” (175).
Significantly, the pope says that such an international body should have the power “to impose sanctions” (175) or “impose penalties” (214).
The main paragraph dealing with life issues is 120, where Pope Francis says, “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion.” He also speaks three times about protection of the human embryo.
Pope Francis says it is “troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life” (136). He adds, “There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos.”
Respecting nature means respecting your gender
Pope Francis tied respect for nature to respect for one’s God-given gender, which should spark media interest in light of the international headlines recently garnered by former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner. “Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology,” writes Francis. He spoke of “valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity,” adding, “It is not a healthy attitude which would seek to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.”
This is the fourth time Pope Francis has condemned gender ideology. He does so this time in the language of respecting nature; in January, he did so by blasting the forcing of gender ideology onto students as a form of “ideological colonization” comparable to Hitler Youth indoctrination.
Mixing up the sciences of Heaven and Earth
By Fr. George W. Rutler, June 18, 2015
A museum curator here in New York recently showed me some extraordinary documents and I touched them with awe, albeit with cotton gloves. There was Benjamin Franklin’s annotated copy of the Constitution, and a long letter by Washington refusing to run for a second presidential term, because all he had to commend himself was his character, which was no longer of interest to an ungrateful populace that already had reduced politics to material interests. In pencil on a small piece of paper, Lee proposed a meeting with Grant at Appomattox to present his sword.
More riveting, at least to me as a cleric, was a mint copy of the papal bull Inter Caetera by which Pope Alexander VI in 1493 divided the world between Castile and Portugal with a specified meridian. While it was not without effect, its neglect of specific degrees, and obliviousness to the immensity of the globe, led John II of Portugal to shelve it and, in France, Francis mocked it: “Show me Adam’s will.” The pope was Aragonese and, while suspected of prejudice by the Portuguese, was trying his best to establish some order in a world as novel as outer space. Prescinding from the complexities of his personal household, this was the one notorious miscalculation in a pontificate of remarkably successful undertakings in matters religious and not political.
In his letter to the Duke of Norfolk, John Henry Newman lists other popes who were mistaken in certain policies: St. Victor, Liberius, Gregory XIII, Paul IV, Sixtus V, and St Peter himself when St. Paul “withstood” him.
Pope Urban VIII and his advisers, in the misunderstood (and sometime deliberately misrepresented) Galileo case, inadequately distinguished the duties of prophecy and politics, and of theological and physical science. St. John Paul II said that “this led them unduly to transpose into the realm of the doctrine of the faith, a question which in fact pertained to scientific investigation.” Father Stanley Jaki, a physicist, once cautioned me against using the “Big Bang” as theological evidence for creation. On a loftier level, the physicist Father Georges Lemaître likewise restrained Pope Pius XII from conflating the parallel and complimentary accounts of the universe.
Father Lemaître pioneered the “First Atomic Moment”—contradicting the prevailing thesis of a cosmological constant, or “static infinite” universe. Sir Fred Hoyle mocked it as the “Big Bang” but the term now has lost its condescension. Lemaître told the pope: As far as I can see, such a theory remains entirely outside any metaphysical or religious question… It is consonant with Isaiah speaking of the hidden God, hidden even in the beginning of the universe.” He also advised friends such as Einstein: “The doctrine of the Trinity is much more abstruse than anything in relativity or quantum mechanics; but, being necessary for salvation, the doctrine is stated in the Bible. If the theory of relativity had also been necessary for salvation, it would have been revealed to Saint Paul or to Moses… As a matter of fact neither Saint Paul nor Moses had the slightest idea of relativity.” It was like the counsel of Cardinal Baronius later quoted by Galileo: the Scriptures teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.
Pope Francis’ encyclical on the ecology of the earth is adventurously laden with promise and peril. It can raise consciousness of humans as stewards of creation. However, there is a double danger in using it as an economic text or scientific thesis. One of the pope’s close advisors, the hortatory Cardinal Maradiaga of Honduras said with ill-tempered diction: “The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits.” From the empirical side, to prevent the disdain of more informed scientists generations from now, papal teaching must be safeguarded from attempts to exploit it as an endorsement of one hypothesis over another concerning anthropogenic causes of climate change. It is not incumbent upon a Catholic to believe, like Rex Mottram in Brideshead Revisited, that a pope can perfectly predict the weather. As a layman in these matters, all I know about climate change is that I have to pay for heating a very big church with an unpredictable apparatus. This is God’s house, but he sends me the ConEd utility bills.
It is noteworthy that Pope Francis would have included in an encyclical, instead of lesser teaching forms such as an apostolic constitution or motu proprio, subjects that still pertain to unsettled science (and to speak of a “consensus” allows that there is not yet a defined absolute). The Second Vatican Council, as does Pope Francis, makes clear that there is no claim to infallibility in such teaching. The Council (Lumen Gentium, n.25) does say that even the “ordinary Magisterium” is worthy of a “religious submission of intellect and will” but such condign assent is not clearly defined. It does not help when a prominent university professor of solid Catholic commitments says that in the encyclical “we are about to hear the voice of Peter.” That voice may be better heard when, following the advice of the encyclical (n.55) people turn down their air conditioners. One awaits the official Latin text to learn its neologism for “condizione d’aria.” While the Holy Father has spoken eloquently about the present genocide of Christians in the Middle East, those who calculate priorities would have hoped for an encyclical about this fierce persecution, surpassing that of the emperor Decius. Pictures of martyrs being beheaded, gingerly filed away by the media, give the impression that their last concern on earth was not climate fluctuations.
Saint Peter, from his fishing days, had enough hydrometeorology to know that he could not walk on water. Then the eternal Logos told him to do it, and he did, until he mixed up the sciences of heaven and earth and began to sink. As vicars of that Logos, popes speak infallibly only on faith and morals. They also have the prophetic duty to correct anyone who, for the propagation of their particular interests, imputes virtual infallibility to papal commentary on physical science while ignoring genuinely infallible teaching on contraception, abortion and marriage and the mysteries of the Lord of the Universe. At this moment, we have the paradoxical situation in which an animated, and even frenzied, secular chorus hails papal teaching as infallible, almost as if it could divide the world, provided it does NOT involve faith or morals.
6 out of 516 comments:
1. Bravo, Father, bravo. –Austin Ruse (President of C-FAM, Centre for Family and Human Rights)
The encyclical is filled with 2nd grade logic – (paraphrase) “I observe chaos, humans inhabit the world, therefore the cause is climate change.”
I nearly wept in complete sadness, amazement, and frustration when I read the pope’s apparent condemnation of … air conditioning … of all things, he could condemn, he condemns … air conditioning.
The official English draft implies that the solution to the “filth” of the earth is preventing humans from inhabiting the earth. It is almost as if he simply took Humanae Vitae and replaced contraception with humans and sexual chaos with global warming.
Lastly, it is implied that St. Francis’ theology was correct. Isn’t that a major stretch? St. Thomas Aquinas was wrong on some major doctrinal matters (Immaculate Conception). Couldn’t St. Francis have been heretical by even suggesting that non-human beings are even close to equal to human beings?
Laudato Si’ seems to be based on and filled with so many heresies it would take thousands of pages to explain all of them.
3. After blurting out his infamous “who am I to judge” Francis now goes out of his way to judge anyone using air conditioning. Why should we take him seriously about anything? He is too much and I think he has just gone off the deep end. We have had bad popes in the past and survived, I only hope we can again. It makes it more and more credible that Benedict XVI was ousted in a coup d’état by the Masonic cardinals.
4. Is the encyclical merely doublespeak, or what Cardinal Kasper called Vatican II language, where ambiguity is used and both sides are pleased? Yes, the encyclical talks about abortion, but that is only used to appease those and get the communist agenda through the door.
5. This encyclical is an epic wasted opportunity. As typical of Francis, it’s just a stream of his conscience. Without reflecting in depth on the points raised, Francis merely parroted the same old clichés uncritically, taking them at face value, whether it’s a cliché dear to the left or to the right. From the selection by Sandro Magister, this encyclical seems to be more like a collection of loose blog posts than a magisterial document, as if Francis were just making an argument of authority, lending authority to his favorite opinions, putting an imprimatur on old battle cries, because he’s the pope.
6. Becoming a Catholic with a good pope is easy. Becoming a Catholic with this train wreck is either courageous or stupid. I am being courageous against the universalist blockheads in Vatican City. Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail over His church — he never promised wolves and idiots wouldn’t find their way to the top. In fact, Paul prophesies as much.
Do Catholics have to do what the pope’s encyclical says?
By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, June 18, 2015
Pope Francis released his much-anticipated teaching document on the environment Thursday, declaring an urgent need for the political and spiritual conversion of global leaders and individuals to dedicate themselves to curbing climate change and ending policies and personal habits that destroy creation.
The document, or encyclical, titled “Laudato Si” (Praise Be), captured world attention well before its release.
Here are some questions and answers on the significance of the document:
Q: Are Catholics obliged to follow what the document says?
A: The duty to accept what the pope teaches in Laudato Si’ was much debated months before it was made public, especially among political conservatives and libertarians in the Church who reject mainstream climate science or Francis’ views on the economy.
Richard Gaillardetz, a Boston College theologian, said Catholics are bound to follow the basic Church dogma and social teaching in the document, including those regarding creation and care for the poor. The pope’s call for action based on those teachings also carries “substantial doctrinal authority,” Gaillardetz said. Catholics could disagree with a specific policy proposal if they believed an alternative would more effectively fulfill church teaching, but “they could not dismiss the moral imperative” to act on climate change, Gaillardetz said
Q: Is the document just for Catholics?
A: Encyclicals are usually addressed to Catholic clergy and lay people, but the documents can have a wider influence. Francis clearly framed Laudato Si’ to have a very broad reach. He quotes Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, who is known as the “green patriarch” for urging believers to make conservation an integral part of their faith. At the end of the encyclical, Francis includes two new prayers for creation: one for Christians and another for non-Christians.
Q: What happens to the document after it’s released?
A: In most cases, encyclicals have a short public shelf-life, becoming topics of internal Church debates and theological dissertations far from notice by the wider world.
This encyclical could be different. The pope has said he hopes the document will influence the United Nations’ end-of-year climate talks in Paris, and he’s expected to raise the issue when he addresses the UN General Assembly in September.
Bishops, priests and Catholic environmentalists around the world are planning sermons and public events to draw attention to the document, hoping to shape public policy and persuade people to change their behavior.
Good News. Pope Now Respected as Science Expert
By Matthew Archbold, June 18, 2015
For decades, the Church has been viewed by the media and the left as anti-science. Any proclamation issuing from the papacy was often derided as the words of an anti-science zealot who probably would’ve killed Galileo if given half a chance.
The pope’s encyclical on the environment is being hailed by environmentalists, the media, and the left in general. (Wait, am I being redundant?)
So now maybe they’ll listen to the pope talk about the sacredness of life and the importance of traditional marriage. Nah, just kidding.
Both praise, skepticism greet Pope Francis’ eco-encyclical
By Inés San Martín and Michael O’Loughlin, June 22, 2015
Rome -As the world begins to digest Pope Francis’ complex 183-page treatise on the environment, framing efforts to fight global warming and climate change as a moral imperative, one thing seems clear – whatever people may think of Laudato Si’, nobody seems able to refrain from commenting on it.
“It’s a call to action,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said. “I hope that it will also have the effect of transcending the ideological food fight that seems to be going on in Washington and other places.”
Speaking to Crux on the phone from Mexico City, where he is meeting with bishops there to discuss how they might collaborate more closely, Wenski highlighted the pope’s demand that people displaced by climate disasters be given refugee status. “Look at a country like Haiti right now, where poverty has been made worse not only because of bad politics and bad economics, but also because of environmental degradation, creating deserts, displacing farmers, forcing them into cities,” Wenski said. “Mega-agriculture has undermined small farmers,” he said. Wenski also voiced a special concern for his own state of Florida, saying it’s particularly vulnerable to climate change. He cited more severe hurricanes, the salinization of drinking water sources, and flooding as among the more visible consequences.
It’s because of this, he said, that he’s asked the priests of his diocese to preach about the encyclical.
Austen Ivereigh, author of Francis’ biography “The Great Reformer,” believes Laudato Si’ has the potential to realign politics and reshape the church.
“It’s the most significant social Catholic teaching since Rerum Novarum sparked it off in 1891,” he said, adding that Francis’ encyclical charts an authentic “third way” between “individualist capitalism” and “the anti-human utopianism of the green movement.”
“Francis has made it not just safe to be Catholic and green,” Ivereigh said, “he’s made it obligatory.”
Kishore Jayabalan, a former Vatican official on social issues who today directs the Acton Institute‘s Rome office, told Crux he’s glad Pope Francis has called for debate among the different approaches to sustainable development.
“It’s very important that Francis realizes that human beings are the solution, not the problem, contrary to what so many population control advocates have claimed on behalf of the earth,” he said.
Yet Jayabalan, a self-described “climate-change skeptic” also found the pontiff’s criticism of the market economy and “compulsive consumerism” excessive. “If people don’t like the austerity economics of today’s Europe,” he said, “wait until some of the policies advocated in the encyclical are implemented.”
On the other hand, Joyce E. Coffee, managing director of the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Index, praised Francis for highlighting the disproportionate effect climate change will have on the global south.
“He invites us to see this problem from the perspective of the world’s poor,” Coffee told Crux. “When you act on climate change, you are acting to help humanity. Climate action is action that helps the poor have better lives and livelihoods.”
Christiana Z. Peppard, assistant professor of theology, science, and ethics at Fordham University, applauded Francis’ emphasis on protecting indigenous populations, saying it’s “remarkable and noteworthy.”
“The most unrelenting part of Francis’ encyclical is his indictment of misguided faith in progress – technological and economic – without ecological and human values to guide those paradigms,” she told Crux.
She said that Laudato Si’ “beautifully and convincingly marries concern for natural and human environments like the family and work.”
The CEO and president of Catholic Relief Services and the former dean of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, Carolyn Woo, challenged people not inclined to listen to the pope to wake up.
“I would ask all those who are in a defense mode, and who don’t believe climate change is affecting the world, to leave their current positions and go to where the suffering is,” she said.
Woo, who was asked by the Vatican to help debut the encyclical this morning in Rome, said she hopes people find the time to read Laudato Si’ because “it’s both poetic and spiritual, and also practical.”
Argentinian Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, shrugged off the criticism the document is receiving from some sectors of society, “particularly those funded by the oil industry.”
He said that even though Catholic skeptics on climate change are within their rights not to believe in it, that doesn’t mean can ignore the fact that Laudato Si’ is now part of the Church’s official teaching.
“One can’t choose to only accept the documents we like,” he said.
Sánchez Sorondo encouraged those who are well informed to speak up, but said that he’s tired of listening to people “who deny climate change giving no solid arguments whatsoever.”
Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, praised Pope Francis “for taking such a strong stand on the need for urgent global action.”
“His moral voice is part of a growing chorus of people from all faiths and all sectors of society (who) are speaking out for climate action,” he said. “I urge all the governments to place the global common good above national interests and to adopt an ambitious, universal climate agreement in Paris this year.”
The executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Sister Joan Marie Steadman, praised the document for its call to change lifestyles in order to protect the environment.
“When we choose lives of simplicity, hope, and love we honor God’s presence in our world; we grow closer to God and we build the community for generations to come,” she said in a statement.
Speaking at a press conference in Washington Thursday, Cardinal Donald Wuerl said the encyclical will take a while to digest. “This is the high point for the letter, it’s meant for generations yet to come,” he said. “The encyclical is a way of reading the signs of the times. It’s an invitation to everyone to join him in this conversation: how do we ensure that the good earth remains the good earth for generations to come?”
He rejected claims that the pope is getting too political by wading into the climate change debate.
“There are no directives being given” to politicians, economists, or scientists, he said. “It’s an invitation,” he said.
6 Things Jimmy Akin Won’t Tell you about the Pope’s New Encyclical
By Hilary White, June 22, 2015
Since my buddy Chris Ferrara has, perhaps before anyone else in the English speaking world, done a thorough examination of the pope’s environment encyclical, “Laudato Si,” I will confine myself here to some observations of a different sort and to proposing a few questions for consideration – to talking around it, so to speak.
A great many people, long before the document was issued yesterday, have been asking whether it should have been written at all. Is this appropriate for a pope? Why was it necessary? Why, of all the possible topics, did Pope Francis choose this one? Has he stepped outside the proper bounds of papal authority? Aren’t there more pressing matters for the head of the Catholic Church to think about? (Does anyone know how many Chaldean Catholics are still alive in Mosul, Iraq, for instance?)
Let me just start by claiming credit for being an environmentalist, in that the mass degradation of the natural world by industrial agriculture, manufacturing and yes, fossil fuels – by human short sightedness and obsession with material consumption – is of grave concern to me. I am, in short, a not-very closeted, Left-Coast hippie tree-hugger, and always have been, and so as a Catholic, I am looking actively for guidance in framing these topics. I have felt for a long time that the Church’s competent (that is, believing) theologians should address them.
The other day our friend Jimmy Akin offered his list of “12 things to know and share” about the leaking of the encyclical. I thought this was a useful format, so now that we can all read the thing for ourselves, I’m offering a different kind of list: larger issues to think about to give the document some context.
1. Does the encyclical, in its topic or its handling, undercut papal authority?
How much authority does the papal office give Francis to make definitive statements about climate change, or about science in general? None. Nada. Not a lick. On the subject of global warming, climate change and the environment Pope Francis is as authoritative as the guy sitting next to you on the bus. He’s as authoritative as I am.
Papal infallibility does not extend either to scientific, economic or political matters. Nor does the ordinary authority of the papal office – aside from formal infallibility – bestow any particular insight into these matters. This is why, of course, popes have advisors and even ghost writers for non-infallible documents. But having made some very disputable statements as though they are indisputable facts, Pope Francis has with this document perhaps created bigger problems for himself, his successors and for the Church by undercutting the genuine authority that actually is proper to the office.
It is normal for popes to write encyclicals on topics for which they have personally little or no background. This is why they have advisors and drafting committees whose job it is (or perhaps was) to frame the papal responses with infinite care to ensure that he remains within strictly defined boundaries. But for all the papal documents on topics that are not specifically theological, has there ever been a time in modern Catholic history when a pope has made definitive claims on highly disputed scientific topics without the least nod to the legitimacy, or even existence of a debate?
What can we say about a pope who would declare, on a massively un-settled, vexed and hugely controversial scientific and political subject, “Global warming is real and humans caused it, and we know this because the mainstream science says so.” (With the implied coda, “So shut up, everybody who disagrees.”)
“Scientific consensus exists indicating firmly that we are in the presence of a worrisome warming of the climate system.”
“In recent decades… the heating was accompanied by the constant rise in the sea level…”
“…And [it] is also hard not to relate it to the increase in extreme weather events, regardless of the fact that we cannot attribute a cause scientifically determined to each particular phenomenon.”
“[N]umerous scientific studies indicate that most of the global warming of recent decades is due to the large concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other) issued mainly because of human activity.”
All of these claims, presented by the pope under his authority as absolutely indisputable fact, have been disputed and sometimes even outright debunked, all by people well within the realm of perfectly reputable science.
In fact, so problematic has the claim become that “warmist” activists have had to change their scare-term to the more neutral “climate change” to avoid having people point and laugh at them at scientist parties. Someone might have informed the pope of this change before allowing him to embarrass himself.
But more pertinently, how can anyone ever trust Pope Francis’ pronouncements on any other topic again? How can such declarations be anything other than catastrophic for his personal credibility? Because the unwritten implication behind these extraordinary assertions is that he himself thinks he does have some kind of special insight.
So outrageous is the presumption that a pope could make definitive statements in highly politically charged scientific disputes, that some bolder among our Catholic writer colleagues were openly mocking it within hours of the encyclical’s release. Matt Archbold, brother of Remnant columnist Pat, posted the headline yesterday, “Good News. Pope Now Respected as Science Expert.”
Protestants have always accused Catholics of believing everything the pope says on every subject whatever. They have accused us, in fact if not word, of “papal positivism,” the very theological vice that has suddenly become fashionable within the Church. And with this foray into areas where he has no more competence than anyone else, Pope Francis himself appears to be first among this trend.
And this is not the first time. When he was asked why he thought there had been mutterings against his lack of clarity and sound leadership, Francis told Antonio Spadaro, “Look, I wrote an encyclical – true enough, it was by four hands – and an apostolic exhortation. I’m constantly making statements, giving homilies. That’s magisterium. That’s what I think, not what the media say that I think.”
The Catholic neo-conservative world tied itself into knots trying to demonstrate that the pope’s many interviews, homilies and off-the-cuff ramblings, and the frequently incomprehensible statements in them, meant nothing. That he wasn’t interested in changing Church doctrine or doing anything really crazy, because as everyone knows, interviews and off-the-cuff comments can’t be taken as part of the formal papal magisterium. Shortly after this, they fell silent as the Vatican issued a book compiling all the papal interviews, primarily those most controversial ones with the Marxist atheist Eugenio Scalfari, and calling it formally part of the Francis magisterium.
The conclusion seems inescapable that this is a pope who does not know the meaning of the term “papal magisterium,” or the purpose of his own office. Or perhaps who simply doesn’t care. Remember, this is also the pope who has repeatedly railed against “doctors of the law” and the Church’s previous interest in “small-minded rules.”
2. Who were these advisors?
Many of the people who have criticised Pope Francis for coming down on this side of the “global warming” debate have pointed out that he is now keeping some very unpleasant company indeed. And appears to be doing so without the least embarrassment.
Who are these people? Well, one of the people at the press conference launching the encyclical officially – who was presumably also advising the pope – was Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. This is a highly respected member of the warmist community and is perhaps the best possible representative of their entire programme for humanity. And his influence is enormous. He advises the Chancellor of Germany, Europe’s lead economic nation and serves as chairman of the German Advisory Council on Global Change. At the transnational level, he is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of the United Nations.
Professor Schellnhuber is a major voice calling for massive reduction in… wait for it… human population. In 2009, he articulated the commonly held opinion of the scientific left that the only solution for planet earth will be the elimination of all but one billion of the human population. The New York Times reported on his speech at an international climate meeting in Copenhagen, where he said it is a “triumph for science” that they have “stabilized” the estimate: “namely the estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet, namely below 1 billion people.” At that time, Herr Schellnhuber declined to specify a methodology for achieving this.
At the Vatican’s press conference, though, he focused on other priorities, protesting only that “the science of Laudato Si is watertight.” He added a warning that if “humanity” didn’t reduce carbon emissions, “we, our neighbors, and children will be exposed to intolerable risks.”
Pretty softy-toffee stuff for a guy who openly proposes eliminating over 5 billion people. Perhaps with a mind to where he was sitting, he added that he wanted to expel the “myth” that climate change has to be fought by reducing the number of poor.
“Contrary to what some have claimed, it is not the mass of poor people that destroys the planet, but the consumption of the rich,” he said. Which I’m sure represents a massive conversion in this, one of the world’s leading advocates of population control. Must’ve been the New Evangelization. (Rorate Caeli has more from the press conference here.)
3. Who is this document really meant for?
Is this encyclical really meant for Catholics at all? A colleague of mine wrote, “LS is a meandering mishmash of muddled thought…” Is this surprising? Was anyone expecting anything else from the meanderingest, mish-mashiest leader of the Church we’ve ever had? I know that there is an ongoing contest at Vatican Radio to “translate” the pope’s homilies and Angelus addresses into language – complete sentences – that can actually be understood. There is a reason that VR usually only publishes summaries and not complete transcripts.
Certainly the atheist, anti-human, Marxist ideologues who are being recruited to promote and advise on it have no interest in informing or advising believers on the specific will of God about the proper stewardship and management of the earth’s resources. From their point of view, it could have said anything at all, as long as it was vague, disorganized, ambiguous and mish-mashy. Pope Francis personal writing, speaking (and presumably thinking) style is ideal for those who want to use the papal office to further their own causes. Only this time, of course, the pope himself has invited them to collaborate personally.
It certainly seems that the encyclical was intended by its real authors, the warmists and population-controllers, leftists and Marxists in and out of the Church, as little more than a prop to hold up in front of cameras during interviews and say, “See? The pope agrees with us. And the Catholic Church has to obey because it’s the pope and as everyone knows, all Catholics have to believe unquestioningly everything the pope says, right?”
Which is already happening. In his commentary,
Chris Ferrara predicted that “the world will ignore the good elements in LS and proclaim a great victory for climate change fanatics—a victory Francis will undoubtedly have given them…”
And indeed, with the ink barely dry, that machinery is already well in motion.
Crux, the Catholic magazine of the bitterly anti-Catholic leftist paper the Boston Globe, quoted Argentinean Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, who, they said, “shrugged off the criticism the document is receiving from some sectors of society.”
Crux continues: “Though Catholic skeptics on climate change are within their rights not to believe in it, that doesn’t mean [they] can ignore the fact that Laudato Si’ is now part of the Church’s official teaching.”
“One can’t choose to only accept the documents we like,” they quoted the archbishop saying.
From the redoubtable Fr. Thomas Rosica, the English language spokesman for the Holy See press office and vigorous defender of all Canadian things Catholic and lefty, we have, “No Catholic is free to dissent from the teaching of Laudato Si.” Well, we’ve been told, eh?
The irony of watching the Catholic extreme left demanding that conservatives obey the pope and accusing them of being “cafeteria Catholics” has been one of the more entertaining aspects of the entire Francis parade for the last two years. All we needed, really, was an encyclical, and now we get to watch them insisting that this type of papal document “IS SO magisterial and infallible, dammit! And is to be obeyed WITHOUT QUESTION!”
4. Has the pope undercut the Church’s work for the poor in the developing world?
But much less entertainingly, there are concerns that Pope Francis in this document has clearly and repeatedly taken the position of some of the Church’s most bitter and venomous enemies, and, moreover, the enemies of the very poor he claims to want to defend. This is, after all, the camp at the UN and elsewhere of those who would resolve the problem of poverty, particularly developing world poverty, by simply eliminating the poor.
In other words, it could easily be argued that Pope Francis has undercut decades of work defending the poor and helpless of his own delegation at the UN. This is the group of people who have sometimes been the sole voice opposing the population control agenda that has been forcing abortion, sterilization and enforced contraception on the developing world.
And before anyone starts howling, let me say that a single, rather ambiguous, token four-line paragraph – in a nearly 200 page document – stating that “concern for the protection of nature” is “incompatible with the justification of abortion,” reads like the barest possible token nod. And it is not going to have the protective power of an umbrella in a hurricane. Particularly since it is immediately followed with the notion that some people’s existence really can be “troublesome or inconvenient,” and whose existence “is uncomfortable and creates difficulties.”
“If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.” … Right. That’ll show ’em!
5. Let’s talk about the White Coat fallacy
We keep hearing, from the encyclical itself and from its defenders on the left that “global warming” and climate change catastrophizing is “mainstream science”. Let’s examine what that means, if anything.
How does real science actually work? We all learned it in high school: a scientist observes natural phenomena, then comes up with experiments to test his observations and writes down the results. He develops a hypothesis to explain the observed phenomena and then tests it some more. As the results of his tests bring him more information, he may or may not adjust his hypothesis. Then he publishes the results of his investigation, and other scientists reproduce the tests to see if they get the same result. This process continues more or less indefinitely and information on the observed phenomena is added a piece at a time in an infuriatingly slow process that is of no interest to journalists and politicians whatsoever.
Sometimes the scientific world succumbs to the temptation to say, “This thing we’ve observed, we’ve got it licked. We know all about it. The science is settled.” Sometimes this is a pretty safe bet. The planet, for example, does seem to be going around the sun, and not the other way round. But in general, with questions that anyone is still paying the slightest attention to, the notion of “settled science” is an oxymoron. The only way one could have “mainstream” science is if science itself had become heavily politicized. Which it has.
Let’s examine a completely different topic. When does pregnancy occur? From the 1880s, medical science knew that a unique human being comes into existence from the moment the gametes are fused. Later they found out more about genes and this idea was confirmed again. And again. Every textbook ever published on the subject of human embryology confirms the same findings: a unique, genetically distinct member of a given species comes into existence at fertilization.
How is pregnancy now defined by governments around the world, informed by their scientific advisors? It is usually defined as beginning when the zygote implants in the endometrium. This is the “mainstream” scientific opinion among doctors and bioethics committees the world over. It is the “settled science” on human reproduction. Only, of course, it came about because the medical world wanted to get wedded to chemical contraception, and in 1965, had to get it past the Catholic doctors in all the professional medical bodies.
Later, in the early 2000s when governments around the world again wanted to pass legislation having to do with human reproduction, this time created artificially in petri dishes, they asked the same group of people if it was OK. In every case, the science advisors shouted in chorus, “Sure!” No parliamentary or congressional committee in any jurisdiction anywhere ever invited anyone who specialized in embryology to give evidence at the public hearing stage. They didn’t need to. Everyone knows, the “science is settled.”
An entire science-writer career could be made out of the incredible political shenanigans being perpetrated to bolster materialist Darwinism. Heaven help any scientist who dares to breathe the slightest doubt about the orthodoxy of random mutation and selection.
Briefly, what we’ve got here is a papal example of the old White Coat fallacy: a simplistic appeal to “science” or “scientists say” that would receive a failing grade from any reputable journalism school.
6. A brief note about the footnotes
Every encyclical ever written relies heavily on lots of different sources, and these are normally listed at the bottom as footnotes, and this one is no different. There is only one problem, however. Nowhere in the midst of all these rather extraordinary scientific claims is there a single footnote saying where, exactly, the pope got his “solid” and “settled” “mainstream science”.
We have the usual roster of encyclicals, statements from bishops’ conferences, Vatican II documents, apostolic exhortations, even one or two saints. But where are the scientific references? Where are the citations to articles in peer review journals? To papers from scientific conferences? Where, in other words, did the pope’s scientific assertions come from?
In fact, out of a final total of 172 footnotes, the only “scientist” quoted is the discredited heretic, eugenicist, Nazi-supporter and archaeological hoaxer Pierre Teilhard de Chardin*. *See page 36
How is this document going to be received by the world?
We are seeing that already, and Catholics concerned about the unspoken messages being sent by this encyclical are being told quite firmly by Francis’ main supporters to “Shut up and obey.”
How should believing Catholics deal with it? I would recommend the advice given by St. Paul. If you feel inclined, read it, figure out as best you can which parts are good and theologically sound, give them your assent, and then stop worrying about it.
And pray for the pope and the Church, and pray that saner heads will soon prevail. The Synod is coming; let us not be distracted.
4 out of 74 readers’ comments:
1. The following are lies. It’s easy to verify this fact. Pope Francis has written an encyclical based on lies. The use of computer models to circumvent real climate data that contradicts AGW has been intrinsic to the UN’s AGW scam since the Rio conference.
“Global warming is real and humans caused it, and we know this because the mainstream science says so.”
“Scientific consensus exists indicating firmly that we are in the presence of a worrisome warming of the climate system.”
“In recent decades… the heating was accompanied by the constant rise in the sea level…”
“…And [it] is also hard not to relate it to the increase in extreme weather events, regardless of the fact that we cannot attribute a cause scientifically determined to each particular phenomenon.”
“[N]umerous scientific studies indicate that most of the global warming of recent decades is due to the large concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other) issued mainly because of human activity.”
2. So Father Rosica has said that, “No Catholic is free to dissent from the teaching of Laudato Si.”
Could someone please ask him whether this also applies to Humanae Vitae; somehow I suspect he’ll be less committed to encyclicals that actually teach moral laws.
3. The document is opposed to the Deposit of Faith and must be rejected.
4. Thanks for another sober article on the progressing decline and fall of Rome, Act II. What action can we take? Hope that ‘Laudato Si has a peaceful death and, as you say, “pray for the pope and the Church, and pray that saner heads will soon prevail. The Synod is coming; let us not be distracted.”
Astonishing New York Times video: population/ climate panics exposed
By Steve Jalsevac, June 23, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) Before I get started, let me say that you MUST WATCH the video further down in this article. I will explain the usefulness of the video as an eye-opener to the Global Warming/Climate Change controversy.
In 1968 I was a university student and, unfortunately, believed most of what my professors told me. In that year Dr. Paul Ehrlich came out with his book “The Population Bomb” warning about almost imminent apocalyptic catastrophe for mankind if we did not drastically reduce the birth rates of every nation.
There was a worldwide, coordinated campaign throughout all media and academia to promote Ehrlich’s the-sky-is-falling theory. Most influential scientific publications and numerous leaders supported Ehrlich’s ridiculous analysis and conclusions. I fell for it as did almost all of my fellow students.
I even became a card-carrying, dues-paying member of Ehrlich’s Zero Population Growth organization. How embarrassing.
Several years later I, and many others, woke up and realized Ehrlich’s research deductions were outright fraud. It was a lesson I would never forget.
One part of the lesson was how incredibly easy it is for the media, government, and academia to stampede the public into accepting false scientific theories using fear and other propaganda techniques. I understood then how easy it was for elites and super egotists like Adolph Hitler to convince people to accept their mad and dangerous ideas.
“The Population Bomb” scare was indeed mad and indeed dangerous, having resulted in a worldwide perversion and prostitution of science, hundreds of millions of lost or damaged lives, and a mangling of cultures and family life. It was pure evil.
The other lesson was that going against the popular tide of these anti-human waves takes courage and a strong confidence in the human spirit. Faith in God also helps a great deal, which explains why secularists tend to get so deadly pessimistic and cynical when faced with apparent, humanly impossible challenges.
When Ehrlich’s ideas came out I had stopped living my faith and lived a very self-centered, secular life. I, and millions of the sixties generation like me were therefore morally and spiritually blinded and easily conned by over-population propaganda.
Courage is needed because the propagandists make sure that anyone who still sees and thinks clearly and opposes their self-serving fictions must be ridiculed, threatened, harassed and driven out of positions of influence.
The New York Times video is powerfully instructive
Now, The New York Times has recently published an incredible short video exposing the Population Bomb fizzle. For many years they had strongly supported the Ehrlich campaign. It is astonishing that the Times would now admit how wrong it and everyone else was about Ehrlich’s reckless predictions.
The video is still lacking total honesty as explained in an article by Robert Tracinski, but it is nevertheless historic that it admits as much as it does. Tracinski notes that in the video the Times “captured in one line the sudden realization that Ehrlich is a charlatan who has been conning the highest levels of the culture for years. ”
I want to encourage an eye-opening exercise to anyone reading this article. This is very important at this crucial time in history.
Watch the video and keep imagining it is about, “Climate Change”, instead of overpopulation, as the video goes along. You should quickly catch on that what is happening today is the very same manipulative, anti-human, pessimistic scenario as happened with “The Population Bomb”.
I believe this exercise with the movie can open many minds about the Climate Change movement’s dangerous implications for the future freedoms and welfare of especially the vulnerable people in the developing nations. They have long been the primary targets for massive, immoral de-population measures (See NSSM 200 and The Inherent Racism of Population Control).
The Climate Change movement is still, in reality, the very same agenda of finding yet another way to convince the public and all governments that we must go along with whatever we are told is needed to cull the world of billions of supposedly excess humans – especially in Africa, the Philippines, Latin America and Asia.
Times video has “one big omission”
Tracinski reports that the Times video has “one big omission,” and that is the triumph of Ehrlich’s intellectual challenger, the late, world renowned economist, Julian Simon. He isn’t mentioned at all and that cannot be an accident.
Simon, writes Tracinski, argued that, ‘”humanity’s condition will improve in just about every material way.” In 1997, a year before he died, Dr. Simon told Wired magazine that “whatever the rate of population growth is, historically it has been that the food supply increases at least as fast, if not faster.”‘
He continues, “Simon explained that the reason the overpopulation catastrophe never materialized was because human beings create more resources than they use up. The ‘ultimate resource,’ Simon argued, is human thought and ingenuity which is constantly discovering untapped resources and inventing new ways to use them.”
Are drastic measures really needed?
Apply that last paragraph to today’s Climate Change alarmism. Once again, we are supposedly doomed, even according to Pope Francis, or at least his advisors, if we do not undertake drastic measures to limit our material consumption, use of fossil fuels (despite growing leaps in efficiency), use of air conditioning, etc. and move away from the economic system of free enterprise and market economies that has taken billions out of extreme poverty and eliminated many diseases.
And lastly, we are told we need to give up much of our freedoms and national sovereignty to some new form of centralized world governance, at a time when there is clearly a dangerous deficit of ethics in how the various international bodies are conducting themselves. That is the most dangerous proposal, especially given the recent history of anti-life, anti-family international organizations such as the United Nations and its subsidiary organizations such as UNICEF.
Today we are not being adequately warned about the looming demographic winter in numerous nations in the not-too-distant future that will result in dire calamities never before experienced in history. The NY Times video does however mention the issue.
We must ask WHY?
Recalling my early years of foolishly accepting the extreme overpopulation scare I now ask, WHY? Why should we be making all these drastic changes at a time when there is a much smaller percentage of the world’s population that is poor, when environmental protection measures are the best in history in developed nations, when many developing nations are racing out of their poverty and backwardness and are concerned about and trying to overcome the excess pollution of their new industrial economies?
Why are the massive improvements in environmental and social responsibility policies by large energy resource, mining and other corporations around the world being ignored and actions being called for as though these positive changes have not taken place?
Why should we be drastically cutting back on energy use when the Arctic and Antarctic still have high and even record levels of ice, the polar bear population is at a record high, the earth has not warmed in over 18 years, no one really knows whether the climate will remain stable or when it will change, nor in what direction it might change and very costly alternative energy programs have been bankrupting nations that have implemented them.
How can humans think they have a substantial influence on the climate when one or two large volcanic eruptions, major changes in solar energy output, and periodic flips in the earth’s magnetic field – all totally out of our control – utterly dwarf anything that we humans can cause?
There is insufficient evidence to justify alarmist warnings
Having closely followed and written about the population, global warming, climate change, and extreme environmentalism issues for many years now, I can see nothing that would justify the warnings of the alarmists.
Many would have to deny their reason and harm their personal dignity to accept all the scare mongering that is being thrown around at this time. None of it is supported by hard, consistent facts. And if there is any doubt, we are obliged to err on the side of life and on the side of freedom.
All that is happening right now is theory. There have been many publicly revealed frauds and terribly flawed studies associated with climate alarmism. Every dire prediction over the past 50 years has proven to be completely wrong. Numerous people, such as Al Gore, are making a financial windfall on the scares.
Who doesn’t support eliminating pollution and helping to eliminate poverty? Who doesn’t love the environment and enjoy clean air, beautiful parklands and seeing the thriving of all of nature? Isn’t it a natural self-interest for any person, community or nation, other than perhaps totalitarian regimes, to desire those things?
Read the evidence
To read much more that has been published by LifeSite over the years on these issues, enter the following phrases into the LifeSite search – “global warming”, “climate change”, “environmental extremism”, “radical environmentalism”, “environmentalism”, “sustainable development”, “population control”, “de-population”, “NSSM 200”, “The Inherent Racism of Population Control.”
These phrases bring up a wealth of information from numerous sources credibly contradicting the current manufactured panic.
To get you started, however, here just a few of the items that will come up when you do that search:
Sustainable development conference speaker called for 90% reduction in world population
LSN NewsBytes – Climate Change/Global Warming Nov 20, 2009 – (includes Lord Christopher Monckton Video)
Bishop who helped in first draft of Laudato Si’: Pope didn’t intend to pronounce on the science
By John-Henry Westen, June 24, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) –One of the first drafters of the pope’s new encyclical on the environment has stressed that Francis did not intend to pronounce on the scientific questions related to climate change.
In an interview with Inside the Vatican’s Giuseppe Rusconi, to be released in English tomorrow, Bishop Mario Toso said, “I must insist; it is not the intention of Pope Francis” to pronounce on scientific debates, “but to reflect on the anthropological and ethical issues that arise from them.”
Whatever the pope’s intentions, however, his emphatic tone in raising these moral issues does convey that he holds a rather clear stance on the matter.
He says, for example, that:
there’s “an urgent need” to “drastically reduce” emission of “carbon dioxide” (26);
a very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system” resulting from “greenhouse gasses” released “mainly as a result of human activity (23);
In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events (23)
Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. (23);
Warming has effects on the carbon cycle. It creates a vicious circle which aggravates the situation even more, affecting the availability of essential resources like drinking water, energy and agricultural production in warmer regions, and leading to the extinction of part of the planet’s biodiversity.(24);
We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay. (165);
Climate change is “a global problem with grave implications” (25).
See more in #24-26, #52, #169-170, #172, #175, #181 #188.
Despite Bishop Toso’s assertions and even similar reflections in the encyclical itself where the pope says he does not mean to “settle scientific questions” but to open debate (188), world leaders have nonetheless taken Laudato Si’ as the pope’s push for action on global warming as a moral imperative.
U.S. President Obama, for instance, said, “I welcome His Holiness Pope Francis’s encyclical, and deeply admire the Pope’s decision to make the case — clearly, powerfully, and with the full moral authority of his position –- for action on global climate change.
His sentiments were echoed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who said: “Pope Francis and I agree that climate change is a moral issue that requires collective urgent action. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics.”
Bishop Toso was until January the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and in that capacity was involved with the first draft of Laudato Si’, written in 2014. Currently he is bishop of the Diocese of Faenza-Modigliana in Italy.
The Tragedy of Laudato Si’
By William F. Byrne, June 24, 2015
The case of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical Laudato Si’ can be seen as tragic. This is not because it is the terrible document that some say it is; it is because so much of it is so good, and because it had the potential to be a truly great encyclical. Like a tragic hero, who is so admirable and so promising but who, through a combination of circumstances and his own flaws, comes to a bad end, Laudato Si’ is unlikely to be the positive force it should have been. Instead, it represents a missed opportunity to be a game-changing reflection and guide for Catholics and for the world, because particular elements have obscured and muffled its often-eloquent expression of Catholic social thought…
John Paul II made clear in his encyclicals that he was not taking sides in old conflicts between the advocates of socialism and the unqualified supporters of all aspects of existing market-based societies, but was offering a different perspective that transcended these tired and narrow-minded debates. In contrast, for all the good it contains, Francis has done little to prevent his encyclical from being popularly interpreted—and dismissed—as just one more voice from the same old left. Consequently, the promise of stimulating fresh, deeper thought, informed by a Catholic perspective, is likely to remain unfulfilled. This is the tragedy, and missed opportunity, of Laudato Si’. It is far more likely to add heat to entrenched conflicts among established political forces than it is to add light to matters with which we all should be vitally concerned.
Laudato Si’: Well Intentioned, Economically Flawed
By Samuel Gregg, June 24, 2015
In the lead-up to the release of Pope Francis’ new encyclical Laudato Si’, most commentary focused on its likely-implications for the world’s climate change debate. An effort to influence that discussion—much of which has, like Al Gore, long since faded from public prominence and become confined to international organizations, NGOs, government bureaucrats, and professional lobbyists—is clearly part of the encyclical’s immediate intent. Moreover, despite the text’s occasional wandering into very technical subjects, such as the impact of air-conditioning (55), this long (and, at times, awkwardly written) document’s deeper significance will surely be how it shapes Catholic theological reflection upon man’s relationship with the natural world.
But while most of the text’s reflections upon public policy issues focus on the environment, a subterranean theme that becomes decidedly visible from time-to-time is the encyclical’s deeply negative view of free markets. This would confirm that this pontificate’s reaction to respectful questions asked about the adequacy of the economic analysis contained in Francis’s 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium has been to simply recycle (no pun intended) some of that document’s demonstrably flawed arguments concerning the market economy’s nature and effects.
To be sure, there is much about today’s global economy that merits criticism. The encyclical rightly underscores the problem of bailing out banks at everyone else’s expense (189). Does anyone doubt that, if the world faces another series of major bank failures, governments will behave in exactly the same way, thereby reinforcing the moral hazard problem that’s at the root of so much of the financial sector’s on-going dysfunctionality? The encyclical also suggests, correctly, that despite the events of 2008, there has been a major failure to reform the world’s financial systems (189). Likewise the pope’s tough words for those who regard population growth as somehow damaging the environment and impeding economic development are spot-on (50).
Nonetheless, many conceptual problems and questionable empirical claims characterize the encyclical’s vision of contemporary economic life. In terms of environmental degradation, Laudato Si’ appears oblivious to the fact that the twentieth century’s worst economically driven pollution occurred as a result of centrally-planned state-industrialization schemes in former Communist nations. Anyone who’s visited Eastern Europe or the former USSR and witnessed the often-devastated landscape will quickly attest to the validity of that insight.
Then there is the encyclical’s use of “global north and south” language to describe some of the global economy’s dynamics (51). This terminology has been used occasionally by popes in the recent past. But it also reflects the conceptual apparatus of what was called dependency theory: the notion that resources—especially natural resources—flow from a “periphery” of poor countries to a “core” of rich states, thereby benefiting the wealthy at the poor’s expense. This meant, according to dependency theory economists, that peripheral nations should restrict trade with developed countries and limit foreign investment. The point was to reduce their reliance on exports of raw minerals and agricultural products, consequently promoting the emergence of domestic industrial sectors.
This understanding of the global economy, much of which was formulated by Latin American economists in the 1950s, has long been discredited. Not even many center-left economists are willing to defend it. There are, for instance, countries in the “south”—such as Chile and Australia—that are formally classified as developed economies. Furthermore, they have become wealthy partly because of (a) mineral and agricultural exports and (b) conscious choices to integrate themselves into the global economy rather than remain cowering behind protectionist barriers while trying to prop up uncompetitive industries through subsidies.
And where, one might ask, do “northern” hemisphere economies such as Russia’s crony-corporatist arrangements or the Middle East’s petroleum economies fit into this “north-south” global economic schema? The answer is that they don’t. In short, if the “north-south” paradigm is how the Holy See understands the global geopolitical scene, it’s effectively clinging to a perspective of the world economy whose profound limitations were already apparent by the early 1970s.
Another problem with Laudato Si’—again, previously manifested in Evangelii Gaudium—is an oversimplification of the views of those who believe that free markets are the optimal economic way forward for individual nations and the world. Here’s one example from the encyclical:
Some circles maintain that current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth (109).
Growth is of course indispensable for saving people from poverty. There is no long-term remedy to persistent poverty without growth, and market economies have an unmatched ability to produce such growth. But whoever “some circles” might be, I don’t know of any market advocates who believe that growth alone is the answer to hunger and poverty. Many other things need to be in place, most notably the right moral, cultural, and institutional settings. These range from something as fundamental as rule of law (largely absent from most Latin American countries and about which Laudato Si’—like Evangelii Gaudium—says nothing) to vibrant civil societies. Most free market advocates have been making these points for decades.
Laudato Si’ then claims that
They are less concerned with certain economic theories which today scarcely anybody dares defend, than with their actual operation in the functioning of the economy. They may not affirm such theories with words, but nonetheless support them with their deeds by showing no interest in more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations. Their behavior shows that for them maximizing profits is enough. Yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion (109).
Leaving aside the first sentence’s sheer vagueness (who are “they” and what “certain economic theories” have been found wanting?), it’s hard not to view some of this language as bordering on populism.
The not-so-veiled claim that people who favor free markets are being disingenuous is a serious allegation, one that isn’t sustained by the briefest of glances at the writings and actions of many free market thinkers ranging from Wilhelm Röpke to Adam Smith himself.
It is untrue, for instance, that being in favor of free markets means that you’re necessarily unconcerned for the environment and obsessed with profit. Many free market supporters have devoted their lives to devising ways to align economic incentives in the direction of environmental conservation. Nor is it just to say that free marketers are uninterested in future generations. It has been, for the most part, people who favor free markets who have been arguing that the current recourse to debt by Western governments in order to avoid making hard but necessary fiscal reforms is laying up enormous trouble for future generations. Those of a more-interventionist or Keynesian disposition are generally silent on this subject or don’t think it is a real problem.
Lastly, you could probably count on one hand the number of promoters of free markets who believe that economic freedom alone will assure all-round human flourishing. Take, for instance, Adam Smith. Not everything in Smith’s thought is reconcilable with the Catholic vision of man. But Smith’s vision of commerce and market exchange is rooted in a wider civilizational vision that (a) stresses the need for a strong civil society; (b) acknowledges that there are some things that only governments can do and that there will be times when government economic intervention is needed; and (c) underscores the importance of commercial, classical and, yes, Judeo-Christian virtues prevailing in a society if a free economy is going to flourish and benefit the majority rather than just privileged elites who enjoy close ties to the political class.
What’s sadly ironic about all this is that the very same encyclical which makes such sweeping assertions about the free market and its advocates is also marked by several welcome calls for reasoned and broad debate (16, 61, 135, 138 & 165) about how we address environmental and economic problems. Laudato Si’ also emphasizes that the Church doesn’t have a monopoly of wisdom on the prudential dimension of environmental and economic questions. Yet the encyclical’s use of phrases such as “deified market” (56) and “magical conception of the market” (190); its unsupported association of moral relativism with Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” (123); its relentless linkage of the market with materialism and consumerism (neither of which have had any difficulty flourishing in non-market economies); its failure to critique the left-populist regimes that have brought economic destruction and increased poverty to countries such as Argentina and Venezuela; and its attribution of suspicious motives to those who favor markets, runs contrary to this appeal for open and respectful debate.
It’s true that some Catholic clergy and activists apparently think that dialogue with the world means listening more-or-less exclusively to what the (increasingly atheistic and anti-Catholic) political left thinks about any given issue. This, however, isn’t an excuse for stigmatizing the position of those who make the simple and hard-to-deny point that the greatest and fastest reducer of poverty in history at the global, national, and local level has been the market economy and the habits, culture and institutions on which entrepreneurship, free exchange, and the growth of surplus capital depends.
None of this is to deny that some economic conservatives’ criticisms of Pope Francis since 2013 have verged on the absurd. The briefest of glances at the Pope’s writings underscores that Jorge Bergoglio is no liberation theologian. It is equally nonsensical to describe this pope as a Marxist. Indeed, Pope Francis’s pointed defense of innocent life from conception onwards, his forthright condemnations of euthanasia, and his increasingly ferocious criticisms of the fantasy-world otherwise known as “gender theory” contradicts the most basic of contemporary left-wing orthodoxies.
For all that, however, and despite the undoubted authenticity of Pope Francis’ love and concern for the poor, it’s lamentable that this pontificate seems so unwilling to engage in a serious discussion about the market economy’s moral and economic merits vis-à-vis the alternatives. Society’s well-being and the common good can’t be reduced to economic efficiency or growth. Nor will free markets save our souls. But given the right ethical, social, and institutional environment, economic freedom and a vibrant commercial sector can go a long way to delivering us from the disease, poverty, and economic stagnation that marked most of pre-Wealth of Nations Europe and which still plagues much of the developing world.
It’s a lesson, it seems, that much of the Catholic world still needs to hear.
The weakness of Laudato Si’
By R.R. Reno, Editor, First Things, July 1, 2015
Laudato Si addresses global warming and other environmental issues, as well as global development and economic justice. The conjunction of concerns is fitting. The end of the Cold War has allowed global capitalism to develop as the world’s dominant system. Capitalism has many virtues, but there are “externalities,” as economists call them—social and environmental harms and costs that may end up being very significant. Global capitalism also resists political control, posing a challenge to existing governmental and regulatory institutions. Most important of all, perhaps, this global system requires and encourages a technocratic elite that now dominates political and cultural debates. As a result, it’s increasingly hard to imagine an alternative.
Pope Francis discusses these issues and more. He makes a much-needed effort to grasp and respond to today’s global realities. But, taken as whole, Laudato Si falters. Francis advances strong, often comprehensive criticisms of the secular technological project that drives modern capitalism. Yet many aspects of the alternative he proposes draw upon the achievements and methods of that very project.
Chapter 1, “What Is Happening to Our Common Home,” outlines Francis’s take on environmental issues. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” If it were just a matter of landfills, industrial waste, and the failure to recycle, we’d be okay. The past fifty years have shown that industrial and post-industrial societies can reduce pollution. The issue is much larger, however. Francis addresses the mother of all problems—and the central ecological issue today—which is global climate change.
The position put forward is the worst-case consensus. It holds that the fossil fuel–dependent economies of the developed and developing world have set in motion a process of global warming that will accelerate. “If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.” Those consequences are not spelled out, but the tone of Laudato Si is dire. The rhetoric of crisis runs throughout the document. “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth.”
The encyclical then turns to a diagnosis of the theological and social-cultural roots of the ecological crisis, spelling out its social dimensions. Chapter 2, “The Gospel of Creation,” calls for us to acknowledge creation as a gift from God, our Father. This orientation encourages us to adopt a disposition of gratitude. If we forget that God is the all-powerful Creator, we can end up “usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot.” God-forgetfulness tempts us to trust in our own creative powers, leading to “the modern myth of unlimited material progress.”
This failure to acknowledge God also leads to violence and oppression. The same mentality that sees nature as mere raw material to be used can also treat “other living beings as mere objects subjected to arbitrary human domination.” This includes other human beings. Francis warns that many are now suffering unprecedented injustices. God-forgetfulness is at the root of our global problems today: social, economic, and ecological.
This line of criticism follows a long tradition. Nineteenth-century Catholicism warned that a denial of the divine authority of the Church leads to social disorder and other ills. Twentieth-century Catholicism shifted to a claim that a God-denying culture lacks a basis for genuine humanism. Francis suggests something similar. Without an acknowledgement of God, there can be no deep, lasting solution to the ecological crisis and the pressing need for global justice.
Chapter 3, “The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis,” analyzes what Francis takes to be the perverse spiritual logic of a scientific-technological culture. When we speak of technology, we typically are referring to the useful machines at our disposal. Francis acknowledges that many have improved the quality of human life. Some are quite beautiful. He mentions airplanes and skyscrapers. But technology is also a mentality or paradigm, and here Francis sees problems.
The technological mentality seeks “control.” It wishes to dominate nature. Science is implicated, for it “in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation.” In today’s world, science and technology have become the ideologies of godless modernity. A “Promethean vision of mastery” and “excessive anthropocentrism” lead to the same ecological and social disasters as God-forgetfulness.
At this point, Francis develops his fullest account of the crisis he believes we face. We may hold that global capitalism promotes economic development and that, in the long run, this best serves the common good. Francis thinks otherwise. As he says at one point, “The post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history.” We must reverse course immediately: “Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster.” Global capitalism is a Shiva-like force in human history—the Great Destroyer driving global warming.
Francis sees the “global system” as more than economic. A “technocratic paradigm” dominates. The system discourages us from discussing “the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth” and instead fixes on how to maximize wealth. Francis is keen to point out that this suppression of larger ethical and spiritual questions allows the rich and powerful to disguise their unjust advantages and ratchet up still further their global oppression of the poor.
Given this dark picture of the global system, it’s not surprising that Francis calls for “a new synthesis,” “radical change,” and “a bold cultural revolution.” “Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age,” he writes, but we need to step back from “our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.” Instead of improving life, the last two generations of global development—perhaps the entire modern technological-economic project—have led to a crisis. We cannot remain blind to “the spiral of self-destruction which currently engulfs us.”
There’s something to be said for his particular suggestions in Chapters 4 (“Integral Ecology”) and 5 (“Lines of Approach and Action”). Calls for action to address climate change are needed, as is a spiritual alternative to consumerism. But my concern is with the cogency of the encyclical as a whole. A great deal of what is commended as an alternative to the global system sounds to me like just another version of it.
Environmental debates, especially debates about global warming, are contentious. That’s because they involve difficult trade-offs. We need scientifically informed conjectures about climate change—and experts to estimate the costs of avoiding or remediating the worst outcomes. Then we need to balance these factors with judgments about how best to reduce global poverty, and how to do so in a way that promotes human dignity. It’s a never-ending, always-contested balancing act.
Francis seems to endorse this approach without qualification. Quoting from another Vatican document, he writes, “In the face of possible risks to the environment which may affect the common good now and in the future, decisions must be made ‘based on a comparison of risks and benefits foreseen for the various possible alternatives.'” Yet, given the strident criticism of modernity’s signature achievements of scientific and technological mastery, it’s more than a little odd that Francis turns in this direction. Risk–benefit analysis is one of the main planks in the technocratic platform.
At one point, Francis calls for “one plan for the whole world.” We need “a politics which is farsighted and capable of a new, integral and interdisciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis.” Such a dream (which is to me a nightmare) requires armies of technocrats with reams of data-laden reports. It presumes a global bureaucracy of unprecedented size and power. It’s a vision of human self-mastery on a global scale—technocracy on steroids.
Moreover, in this section Francis adopts signature phrases from today’s technocracy—not just interdisciplinary approaches and calls for “honest and open debate,” but also inclusion, transparency, raising awareness, diversity, and dialogue. There’s even a section promoting “best practices”! These are buzzwords used by McKinsey consultants. And they’re not innocent. All are formal, procedural gestures. They are designed to avoid substantive moral and metaphysical questions. They represent late modernity’s desire to shape the common good without any reference to the nature of the human person, his proper ends, or natural law. It’s embarrassing that this encyclical makes such heavy use of these familiar, technocratic conceits. So much for the bold cultural revolution.
The final chapter, “Ecological Education and Spirituality,” also works against earlier analysis in the encyclical. Chapter 2 makes a strong claim that the failure to acknowledge God is the root cause of the ecological crisis and our captivity to the technocratic mentality. But Francis here allows that those who do not believe in God can rise above their selfish, consumerist lifestyles to commit themselves to ecology and global justice.
In this spirit, he endorses the Earth Charter, a secular initiative. Its goal: “a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.” Apparently, God-forgetfulness need not lead to anthropocentrism, or at least not to a pernicious, destructive anthropocentrism.
Francis ends with meditations on the Church’s spiritual tradition and dogmas. The Eucharist “motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor.” The doctrine of the Trinity encourages a spirituality of “global solidarity.” There’s little suggestion that Christian revelation, or even belief in God, judges and corrects the ecological movement and its consensus views about global warming. At most, it seems, our faith enriches the Earth Charter.
This may be uncharitable to Francis and may wrongly discount his light touch as an evangelist. One can read the final sections as a gentle enticement designed to draw the ecologically committed unbeliever into the Church. This more generous reading reduces but does not eliminate the tension one feels between the substance and tone of the concluding material and the sharp, even strident, language of the earlier chapters. After having drawn a direct line from God-forgetfulness to the destructive modern technocratic spirit of mastery and domination, warm and uncritical endorsement of the Earth Charter seems odd.
There are many noble and fitting exhortations in this encyclical. Most of us need to hear pointed words condemning our captivity to consumerism, neglect of the poor, and sinful tendency to make idols out of ideologies. The modern encyclical tradition, however, is a teaching tradition, not a homiletic one, and Laudato Si provides too little teaching.
This is a serious defect. The modern encyclical tradition began with Leo XIII in the late nineteenth century. It has consistently combined vigorous theological criticisms of modernity with affirmation and encouragement of those aspects of secular modernity that promote human dignity. It could do so without contradiction because this tradition of papal teaching developed guiding principles for social engagement, often derived from natural law reasoning that applied to believers and unbelievers.
Laudato Si seeks to continue in that tradition, offering both theological critique and endorsement of a coalition of the well-intentioned. But it falls into contradiction because there are no clearly articulated principles guiding analysis of the ecological and social crises precipitated by global capitalism.
Consider, for example, the call for “one plan for the whole world.” If global warming precipitates an unprecedented global crisis, as Francis seems to think, then global action of unprecedented scale and scope may be necessary. Such an endeavor begs for analysis in terms of the classical notions of solidarity and subsidiarity. I can’t see how either can be sustained in “one plan for the whole world.” Perhaps I am wrong. I would like to be instructed—but no instruction is forthcoming.
The same goes for the discussion of the common or universal destination of goods. This key principle of Catholic social doctrine teaches that our productive activity is, finally, ordained by God to serve the common good. This places an important limit on the right of private property. Given the strong language of crisis used by Francis, one would expect reflection on the degree to which governing authorities can justly override individual property rights to address the crisis and on how to prevent those rights from being extinguished in the process. This is what Leo XIII did in Rerum Novarum. Yet again, no reasoning from principles of social doctrine is forthcoming.
This absence leads to the evangelical deficit a reader feels at the end of Laudato Si. Analysis based on principles of Catholic social doctrine is the opposite of technocratic. (James Kalb makes this point well in “Technocracy Now,” in this issue.) It involves reasoning about the nature and ends of things—anathema to our dominant technocratic mentality, and thus genuinely revolutionary in the present global system. Without this kind of teaching, a vacuum develops. It gets filled with the technocratic process-language (“open and honest debate”) and the standard talking points of ecological progressives (Earth Charter). The conceits of the world dominate, not the wisdom of the Church.
Let me be clear. I’m not criticizing Laudato Si for its substantive claims. I’m not competent to contest claims about global warming, nor am I an expert in the economics of development. In any event, I agree with Pope Francis’s main point. Although I would put the substantive issues differently, I share his view that the triumph of global capitalism poses significant and fundamental challenges that we must address—and that are going to be difficult to address because of the technocratic domination of our moral imaginations and the very terms of public debate.
All the more reason why we need teaching, not just exhortation and denunciation. It won’t do to blame our difficulties on “those who consume and destroy,” or to insinuate, as Francis so often does, that the rich and powerful stand in the way of ecological ideals and a just social order. This is cheap populism that falsifies reality. The global ecological movement is a rich-country phenomenon funded and led by the One Percent. And it’s beside the point. If global warming presents such an immediate and dire threat, then we need clearly enunciated principles to guide our participation in debates about what’s to be done, not rhetoric. The same is true of the pressing need to encourage economic development that promotes human dignity.
Laudato Si may well have important and influential strengths as a spiritual meditation on the perversions of our age and as a global wake-up call. Smart theologians need to apply themselves to redeem the hints and suggestions of a cogent argument. I hope that happens. But as it stands, the encyclical is a weak teaching document.
This weakness reflects a reality about today’s Catholic Church. After Vatican II, the intellectual life of the Church was profoundly affected by the Great Disruption. The old scholastic systems were superseded by a wide variety of experimental theologies. I don’t gainsay the need for and value of some of those experiments. But we can’t deny the debilitating consequences. The theological formation of church leaders became eclectic at best, incoherent at worst. This has especially been true in the area of social justice. In that domain, which came to the fore after the council, the urgent need to advocate has often overwhelmed the need for patient, disciplined reflection. We see exactly this dynamic in Laudato Si.
So if we, as Catholics, are to be honest with ourselves, we must allow that we face a difficult season, at least as far as theological cogency is concerned. The men trained in the coherent old theological systems of the pre–Vatican II era have passed from the scene. The Church is now led by men who came of age during the Great Disruption. This will have an effect on Church teaching, I’m afraid, and it won’t be in the direction of consistency and clarity.
Following St Francis, the Pope teaches concern for nature; but Laudato Si’ will bring no justice for the poor
By William Oddie, July 2, 2015
The encyclical’s callow environmentalism will make feeding the starving more difficult, not less
(Catholic Herald) I recently begged the Holy Father, in this magazine’s print edition, to be very careful in anything he might say about global warming in his then forthcoming (but, alas, now published) encyclical on the environment, not least because there has actually been no global warming to speak of for more than 18 years now and because the supposed “consensus” on the subject was being increasingly questioned.
Mainly, however, it was because the subject has been so heavily politicised.
As I wrote in the article, it has become a matter of public controversy, involving massive public funding and the striking of political postures. As Richard S Lindzen, emeritus professor of atmospheric sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, illuminatingly comments: “The public square brings its own dynamic into the process of science: most notably, it involves the coupling of science to specific policy issues…. This immediately involves a distortion of science at a very basic level: namely, science becomes a source of authority rather than a mode of inquiry.”
“Scientific” claims then become simply political assertions. We have been listening to political environmentalists like Al Gore for years now, partly discounting what he says ever since his alarmist film An Inconvenient Truth was shown to be so full of wild claims, such as that Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming (there is no evidence at all for this), and that polar bears as a species were under threat from drowning because of melting polar icecaps (on the contrary, the polar bear population has been growing so much it has to be regularly culled): and, anyway, polar ice, if we include the Antarctic, is growing rather than shrinking.
We need, to say the least, to treat the “science” of global warming with extreme care. Any such hesitations, however, form no part of the Pope’s thinking: his encyclical is in places like Al Gore on steroids.
Laudato Si’ appears closely to reflect the influence of the environmentalist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a pillar of the UN’s tendentiously political Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), who has been described in the New York Times as “a scientist known for his aggressive stance on climate policy” and who the Pope recently appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, despite his other beliefs (he is hardly a Catholic thinker).
As the Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin comments: “Critics have warned that by falling in with proponents of climate change science, the Pope risks getting too close to other key supporters of the theory who support population control and abortion.”
Schellnhuber, perhaps not surprisingly given his current prominence as a papal adviser, claims not to be in favour of population control, but that is of course ridiculous, and even in the recent interview with Pentin in which he is taken to be repudiating the idea of limiting the world’s population, he can’t hide his real underlying assumptions.
Here he is: “If you want to reduce human population, there are wonderful means: Improve the education of girls and young women. Then the demographic transition will be a little bit faster… So I subscribe to a good education, and that’s the only way of population strategy I would support.”
In other words, teach the girls about artificial birth control. “If you want to reduce human population”, he says. Well, there’s no if about it: the fact is that he clearly does want to reduce the human population. That’s population control. It is nonsense for him to deny he’s not in favour of it. Does he think we are all fools?
Parts of the encyclical are crude in the extreme. “A number of scientific studies indicate,” says Pope Francis, though without specifying which, “that most [that’s right, he says ‘most’] global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly [I repeat “mainly”] as a result of human activity.”
Actually, only about five per cent of present atmospheric carbon dioxide is derived from the use of fossil fuels; that is, just 19 parts of CO2 per million parts of atmosphere. Most CO2 is a natural part of the atmosphere. It is not pollution: indeed, human life is largely dependent on it since without CO2 there could be no growth of any kind of vegetable matter: no CO2, no trees. No trees, no oxygen. And yet Francis writes that “Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain”: It’s a dubious theory put forward by some: but it is far from having been proved.
The danger of getting too closely involved in the politics of climate change is that they destructively divert our attention, (and that “our” includes the Pope himself), from a political imperative one would have thought much closer to the heart of what Francis, and with him the Church, really cares about. He has always claimed, with evident sincerity, to be on the side of the poor. And yet he attacks fossil fuels, their chief energy source, which he does admit are “at the heart of the worldwide energy system”.
So how are the poor to cease to be poor? Only as a result of their economic development. As Charles Moore asked on Saturday: “Why is the developed world rich? The answer lies in the name: it developed more than other places. Development happens by uniting the resources of the earth with the capacities of the human brain and the institutions of human society. The resulting innovations are driven by energy, the cheaper the better. Hence the overwhelming historic (and present) importance of fossil fuels.”
Developing nations, he unanswerably argues, “see this clearly. Countries like China and India have at last become industrially successful and internationally competitive. If their energy becomes more expensive, their development will stall. They scorn what they see as the hypocrisy of the West which, having done so well out of fossil fuels, now wants a binding global agreement to prevent them doing the same. They will accept green energy only if the price is right. At present, it isn’t. So they won’t agree to ‘save the planet’ just because rich Westerners tell them they should. Even loyal, Catholic Poland will not stop its heavy use and sale of coal.”
The fact is that if we really care about feeding the poor, environmentalist fads like the global warming obsession destructively divert our attention from what should be our real priorities. This is true of other environmentalist nonsense, like the campaign against GM foods (by which millions of the poor have been saved from starvation), a campaign by which the Pope has also clearly been strongly influenced in Laudato Si’ (§§ 133-4): he has, it seems become a fully-fledged green.
He concedes, in the classic formula that no “conclusive” proof exists that GM foods are harmful; but this implies that, proof or no proof, they are risky. The fact is that there is general agreement that food derived from GM crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional food. The anti-GM greens argue vociferously that GM foods are objectionable on grounds including safety, environmental impact and the fact that some GM seeds that are food sources are subject to intellectual property rights owned by corporations: and the encyclical supports these generally anti-capitalist arguments at some length.
Whether Pope Francis is getting all this from the atheist Schellnhuber, I don’t know: but it’s certainly entirely consistent with the professor’s general ideological stance. So when the Holy Father tells me, as he does in his encyclical, that Laudato Si’ is now to be regarded as part of the social teaching of the Church, along with Rerum Novarum and Centesimus Annus, I must and I believe we all must, respectfully decline to accept what he says. Social teaching of a sort it may be: but given its content and it’s openly acknowledged intellectual sources we have to say that consistently “Catholic” it is not.
This article was first published on England’s Catholic Herald website and is re-published with permission of the author.
Growing alarm over Francis encyclical Laudato Si’
July 2, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) There is growing alarm over the impact in the secular world of the Papal Encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, despite the good intent and otherwise many praiseworthy statements in the encyclical, which LifeSite has highlighted.
Anti-Christian secular leaders and institutions are seeing the encyclical, and the upcoming visit of Francis to the United Nations, the US Congress and the Obama White House to promote the encyclical, as the most dramatic coup for their efforts that they could ever have imagined. They realize that, regardless of the original intentions of the encyclical, there are enough wide openings that have been inserted into it about
world government and more by their friends advising the pope, that they can exploit to huge benefit for their schemes.
The extent of the laudatory comments from President Obama,
UN leaders, all the liberal mainstream media, almost all leading Catholic dissidents and other of the most prominent world de-population, anti-Christian, socialist and even Marxist leaders, is chilling for those who understand the implications of this extraordinary support for the encyclical.
The alarm is especially felt among pro-life, pro-family leaders who have been successfully working since 1994 at the UN, in response to a special appeal from Pope John Paul II. The pope, who was then deeply concerned, appealed to the world’s pro-life organizations to thwart efforts at the United Nations to advance a host of agendas against life and the family.
Those who have heavily labored since 1994 in this international arena, constantly supported and encouraged by the Holy See delegation to the UN, are dismayed to be witnessing the Holy See now working very closely with some of the very same people they have been heroically fighting all those years. These actions are undermining the extraordinary successes of the last 21 years and ignoring the years of insider knowledge and experience gained about the machinations of the UN and its NGO and other allies to derail Christian civilization.
To help LifeSite readers better understand the gravity of current developments, I include an excerpt below from a detailed paper LifeSite presented to an annual meeting of 55 Mexican Pro-life leaders in Mexico City in September 2011.
The presentation, Understanding the Crucial International Dimensions of the War Against Life and Family
was intended to instruct these leaders that their local struggles were in fact driven by an internationally coordinated agenda.
I would urge you to read the full paper. It was greatly appreciated by the Mexican leaders. After the conference, a Spanish translated version of the document, along with two other critical Spanish translated documents that we gave all delegates, were passed on by some conference participants to prominent persons in Mexico. This included, I was told, even the then president of Mexico.
This information will provide a helpful context from which to evaluate current developments related to Laudato Si’. Also see my blog post of a few days ago, Astonishing New York Times video: population/ climate panics exposed
PRO-LIFE LOBBYING AT THE UNITED NATIONS BEGINS IN 1994
In 1994, two years prior to the Vatican’s decision on UNICEF (which Pope Francis has reversed), Pope John Paul II became very worried about the involvement of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) at the UN. In many cases these organizations were working for goals at the UN that did not match the goals of their governments. Many were aggressively secular, feminist, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual and socially leftist. The Holy Father sent an unprecedented letter to the bishops’ conferences of the world asking them to encourage pro-life and pro-family groups to become involved at the UN to balance the alarming actions of the NGOs.
Campaign Life Coalition was one of the first of a small handful of organizations to send its first ever delegates directly to United Nations conferences. Nothing like this had ever been done before.
At the first meeting in New York a small coalition, working with the Holy See delegation to the United Nations, was formed. Those in attendance were former Canadian diplomat Gilles Grondin and Louis Dirocco, both representing Campaign Life Coalition, Dan Zeidler Representative in the USA for the Venezuela-based Latin American Alliance for the Family (ALAFA), Christine Vollmer of Venezuela, Jean Head of Manhattan Right to Life, Lawyer Richard Wilkins representing US Mormons, a priest from Australia, Peter Smith from the Society for the Protection of Unborn children from the UK and a few others.
From there, they went on to attend and greatly influence major United Nations conferences in Cairo, Copenhagen, Beijing, Istanbul and Rome. All of these conferences had agendas to implement UN resolutions to advance population control and radical feminist ideology.
We recruited many other pro-life, pro-family delegates to attend the conferences. They became part of a very well-coordinated, spiritually unified and emboldened team to undo the plans of the vastly better funded anti- family NGOs, UN agencies and government delegations. The knowledge we gained and the influence of our delegates on the conferences was astounding.
Time after time we derailed the plans of the other side and shocked them with how effective we were by simply presenting the truth to UN delegates who had never before been exposed to such honest revelations about UN manipulations that were a danger to their cultures.
Some of the more amazing results were achieved when we began to send groups of University age youth to these conferences. This happened in response to Planned Parenthood’s tactic of sending youth delegates to lobby for reproductive health and sexual freedom rights. Of course, these PP youth did not at all represent the views of most of the world’s young people.
The pro-life coalition first sent 17 youth to the August 1998 UN conference in Lisbon, Portugal, five of whom were from Campaign Life Coalition. This small group totally overwhelmed everything that the Planned Parenthood youth attempted to accomplish. The youth from the developing nations saw our youth and saw that they shared what we were looking for – genuine help for women and children – not condoms, abortion and sex education.
The World Summit on Social Development, held in Copenhagen in March 1995 was supposed to offer solutions to poverty, unemployment and social disintegration. Instead, it was hijacked by the population controllers who used every UN forum to perpetuate their over-population myth.
In a CLC training session for youth delegates in 2000, Gilles Grondin explained that many of the de-population efforts spelled out in NSSM 200 parallel the objectives of the international Planned Parenthood Federation and the United Nations fund for Population activities (UNFPA). So here we went round back again to NSSM 200.
Gilles also discussed “diplomatic insinuation”, a practice by which wealthy Western nations withhold foreign aid dollars unless Third World countries agree to adopt population control measures, including abortion, contraception and sterilization.
The Habitat II conference in Istanbul in 1996 was supposed to be about housing. Instead, even here, delegates were forced to hear talks about reproductive and sexual health, various forms of the family and gender inequality.
MANY ISSUES CONNECTED TO RACIST POPULATION CONTROL AGENDA
As we saw at Beijing +5 and Istanbul and other UN conferences, the population controllers were not just about abortion, but also homosexual rights, contraception, sex education to pervert young minds, pornography, legalized prostitution and now also euthanasia.
You see, our opponents have shown us again and again that all of these issues are connected to their overall de-population, racist eugenics agenda.
And to do this they also have to suppress freedom of religion and conscience, corrupt religious institutions and destroy Christian civilization.
See article by William Oddie of the Catholic Herald: Following St Francis, the Pope teaches concern for nature; but Laudato Si’ will bring no justice for the poor.
For a criticism of the encyclical from a poverty, economic and environmental perspective from the Acton Institute see Laudato Si’: Well Intentioned, Economically Flawed
Laudato Si’ ignores real gains for the environment and the poor
By Steven Mosher, July 8, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) As the father of nine children, I am necessarily no fan of “out-of-control consumerism.” On the home front, our “consumerism,” such that it is, is rationed to meet our needs, not our wants.
Nor could we be accused of being members of a “throwaway culture”, since we throw very little away. In fact, our unofficial family motto is “Use it up, wear it out; make do or do without.” Our children have to “make do” with hand-me-downs until they are “worn out.” Only then are they “thrown out.”
Add to this the fact that we live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where we are daily reminded of the beauty of the earth and our need to be good stewards of the land. I think Pope Francis would approve.
But having carefully read through Laudato Si, I am amazed at how pessimistic it is about the current state of the world and mankind, leaving out much of the great progress we have made in both care for the environment and the poor. Many of its strong claims about the dire state of the world don’t take into account positive change reported even in UN documents, which themselves tend to magnify environmental and other global problems as a fundraising ploy.
Before getting down to cases, let me first make clear that I am not taking issue with the document’s frequent lapses into hyperbole. I forgive Pope Francis his repeated references to the “environmental crisis” and his reference to “the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air, and in all forms of life” (para. 2). I am a writer myself, and understand that occasional exaggeration for effect is part of the writer’s craft.
Nor am I addressing the much ballyhooed support the encyclical gives to global warming, climate change, or whatever we are calling it these days. An extended discussion of the rate, direction, and cause of projected future changes in the earth’s climate would only reveal that there are profound differences of opinion on each of these points.
Finally, I am not criticizing the Holy Father himself. The Pope is not trained in the natural sciences and so necessarily relied on environmental “experts” selected by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to advise him on these matters.
The responsibility for these embarrassing lapses lies with them, not with him.
Here are some of the crucial points missing in Chapter One, which is entitled “What is Happening to Our Common Home.”
The Issue of Water (paras 27-31)
“One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor … the quality of available water is constantly diminishing …” (para 29-30)
According to the Millennium Development Goals 2014 Report, over the past twenty years “Access to an improved drinking water source became a reality for 2.3 billion people.” As the MDG Report explains:
“The target of halving the proportion of people without access to an improved drinking water source was achieved in 2010, five years ahead of schedule. In 2012, 89 per cent of the world’s population had access to an improved source, up from 76 per cent in 1990. Over 2.3 billion people gained access to an improved source of drinking water between 1990 and 2012” (page 4).
Loss of Biodiversity (paras 32-42)
“Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity” (para. 33).
The MDG 2014 Report does not support this claim, saying only that “The Red List Index shows that, overall, species are declining in population and distribution and, hence, moving faster towards extinction” (page 33).
Many species have seen their natural habitats reduced, of course, and their numbers threatened. This is precisely why the Convention on Biological Diversity set a goal of setting aside 17 per cent of global terrestrial areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020 as nature preserves. Since such preserves now include some “14.6 percent of the earth’s land surface area and 9.7 per cent of its coastal marine areas” (p. 33), anyone can see that we are close to achieving our internationally agreed upon goal of protecting biodiversity and reducing anthropogenic species extinction in this way. There is no need for panic.
Decline in the Quality of Human Life and the Breakdown of Society (para 43-47)
“…we cannot fail to consider the effects on people’s lives of environmental deterioration … the growth of the past two centuries has not always led to … an improvement in the quality of life.” (para. 43)
In 1815 there were approximately 1 billion people alive on the planet. The average lifespan was 30 years, and the per capita income was a mere $100. The life of man in nature, as Thomas Hobbes famously remarked, was nasty, brutish and short.
Today there are 7.2 billion people living on Planet Earth, the average lifespan is 71, and the GDP per capita, using purchasing power parity, is over $12,000. In other words, as our numbers have grown so has our well-being and prosperity. Lifespans have more than doubled and per capita incomes have risen over a hundred times!
How can this dramatic–and historically unprecedented–improvement in the quality of life be so cavalierly dismissed?
Global Inequality (para. 48-52)
“[The poor, the excluded, the most vulnerable] are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people.” (para. 49)
In fact, the worldwide reduction of poverty is a great success story. “The world has reduced extreme poverty by half. In 1990, almost half of the population in developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day. This rate dropped to 22 per cent by 2010, reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 700 million” (MDG 2014 Report, p. 4).
“This means that the world reached the MDG target—of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty—five years ahead of the 2015 deadline. Meantime, the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty fell from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 1.2 billion in 2010” (p. 9).
One can always redefine poverty upward, as we have done repeatedly in the United States since the War on Poverty began. It is no secret that this has been done for political reasons by a certain political party to ensure that they “will always have the poor with them”… in the voting booth.
I could go on, but there is no need to pile up cases. Suffice to note that a dismal tone of environmental “apocalypse now” pervades the entire document, as when it breathlessly proclaims that: “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or distain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth … our contemporary lifestyle [is] unsustainable …” (para. 161).
This reads for all the world like the discredited Club of Rome report published in 1972. Later revealed to be a hoax, this report predicted that the world would run out of various “nonrenewable resources” in the 1980s and 1990s, and that environmental, economic and societal collapse would follow. It didn’t happen then, and there is no evidence that it will happen now.
It is perhaps no coincidence that Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who had a part in drafting the encyclical, is a member of the Club of Rome. Herr Doctor Professor Schellnhuber was apparently selected for this role by Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, who has since appointed him to the Academy.
This brings me back to the question of responsibility. Who but the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences should have ensured that this encyclical was free of errors of scientific fact? Who but the head of the PAS should have selected experts who were committed to both scientific reason and the Catholic faith? In selecting Schellnhuber, he might as well have turned the manuscript over to a fundraising copywriter for the Environmental Defense Fund.
Archbishop Sanchez Sorondo has squandered the moral authority of the Papacy.
He should resign.
An edited version of this article appeared in the Sunday New York Post on July 5, 2015.
Steven W. Mosher is an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues, as well as an acclaimed author, speaker. He has worked tirelessly since 1979 to fight coercive population control programs and has helped hundreds of thousands of women and families worldwide over the years.
In 1979, Steven was the first American social scientist to visit mainland China. He was invited there by the Chinese government, where he had access to government documents and actually witnessed women being forced to have abortions under the new “one-child policy.” Mr. Mosher was a pro-choice atheist at the time, but witnessing these traumatic abortions led him to reconsider his convictions and to eventually become a practicing, pro-life Roman Catholic.
Steven has appeared numerous times before Congress as an expert in world population, China, and human rights abuses. He has also made TV appearances on Good Morning America, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, 20/20, FOX and CNN news, as well as being a regular guest on talk radio shows across the nation.
He is also the author of the best-selling A Mother’s Ordeal: One Woman’s Fight Against China’s One-Child Policy. Other books include Hegemon: China’s Plan to Dominate Asia and the World, China Attacks, China Misperceived: American Illusions and Chinese Reality, Journey to the Forbidden China, and Broken Earth: The Rural Chinese.
Articles by Steve have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, The New Republic, The Washington Post, National Review, Reason, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Freedom Review, Linacre Quarterly, Catholic World Report, Human Life Review, First Things, and numerous other publications.
The Pope’s climate letter urges ‘Dialogue with Everyone,’ so why did Vatican single out and harass us?
July 15, 2015
The Pope Francis encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si’, is being heavily promoted in advance of the December, 2015 UN sponsored conference on climate change in Paris. It is believed that the moral authority of the papacy and the Catholic Church will motivate world delegates to finally agree to implement the plans of action proposed to counter this alleged man-made threat to the earth and its inhabitants of all kinds.
The many past environmental and climate mega-conferences have all failed to achieve agreement among states to implement the radical, extremely costly and revolutionary political and social proposals of the alarmist leaderships. In fact, public acceptance of climate alarmism has declined.
Developments related to the encyclical will accelerate when Pope Francis visits the U.S. this September and advocates for his encyclical at the United Nations, then to an unprecedented address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress and once again to a very willing President Obama at the White House. The build-up will continue up to the December UN meeting.
A serious problem is that the papal encyclical has a total climate alarmist bias. The many scientists who have expressed serious criticisms of alarmist claims have been completely shut out of advising Pope Francis.
In the following article, Tom Harris relates the frustration and humiliation that his group of scientists and other experts experienced after traveling to Rome to attempt to provide at least some balance, which Pope Francis had publicly indicated that he wanted, to the currently only one-sided, very pessimist position of the Vatican on climate change.
By Tom Harris
An encyclical letter is considered to be the most significant form of papal teaching for the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. Tragically, the June 18 encyclical letter on the environment from Pope Francis is riddled with contradictions and mistakes.
In the letter, “On Care for a Common Home,” Francis emphasized the importance of considering “a variety of opinions” about the problems we face:
Given the complexity of the ecological crisis and its multiple causes, we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality. … No branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out … this Encyclical welcomes dialogue with everyone.
But not only has the Vatican failed to meet this standard, the members of the Heartland Institute delegation that traveled to Rome to urge the Vatican to reconsider its position on climate change and sustainable development in fact received the polar opposite of the encyclical letter’s recommended treatment.
Says international child’s rights attorney Elizabeth Yore, a participant in the April 28 Heartland outreach:
Our opinions were not only ignored, but we were scoffed at and demeaned by high-level Vatican officials who called us deniers, Tea Partiers, and funded by oil interests.
Three members of the Heartland team were approved to take part in the news conference associated with the Vatican’s April 28 climate meetings. One, Marc Morano of the Climate Depot news service, described the experience:
The Vatican failed to treat Delingpole, Monckton, and myself with the same decorum as the other journalists. We were singled out and harassed at the April 28th climate summit in Rome.
Concerning the pontiff’s assertion in his encyclical that he wants to “encourage an honest and open debate,” Yore responded:
Based on our personal experience in Rome, there is no interest in hearing the other side of the science debate by the Vatican.
In his encyclical, Francis acknowledged the Vatican’s lack of expertise about climate change, writing:
On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views.
The Vatican’s contradictions extend beyond its behavior: they even appear within the encyclical letter itself. The Pope stresses open dialogue, as in the quote above, but then the pope references “obstructionist attitudes” ranging “from denial of the problem to indifference,” supporting Yore’s contention that he in fact has no patience for divergent views on the topic.
Francis also contradicted himself by including numerous definitive opinions about climate change in his letter. After describing the science in a manner as overconfident as Al Gore’s – he even mistakenly calls carbon dioxide “pollution” — the pope concluded:
We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels — especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas — needs to be progressively replaced without delay.
Had Francis followed his own advice to listen to other points of view on global warming, he would have learned of the strong evidence that much of the climate change material in his encyclical is misguided.
For example, emeritus professor of meteorology Dr. Richard Keen of the University of Colorado-Boulder has since said:
Sections 23 and 24 of the Encyclical refer to numerous hypothetical disastrous consequences of climate change, or “warming.” But none of these projected catastrophic consequences are anywhere to be found on the real Earth.
Keen, an expert reviewer for the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, explained that there has been no global warming over the past 18 years. He continued:
Over the past two centuries humans have, through productive and beneficial endeavors, added one molecule of CO2 to each ten thousand molecules of air. Attempts at curtailing those human endeavors to remove that molecule would be flawed policies that will fail to solve a non-existent problem.
In his encyclical, Francis taught that “human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement.” He writes about “the moral imperative of assessing the impact of our every action and personal decision on the world around us.” The pope cited Saint Francis of Assisi, whose name he took as his “guide and inspiration” when he became the leader of the Catholic Church: “I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable.”
Yet by promoting the idea that CO2 emissions must be reduced to prevent dangerous climate change, His Holiness unwittingly supports outcomes that hurt the world’s most vulnerable people.
For example: as a result of the expanded use of biofuels in an attempt to reduce emissions, 6.5% of the world’s grain now goes to fuel instead of food. This is causing food price increases that are a disaster for the world’s poor.
Brave Cardinal Pell challenges Pope Francis’s dogma on climate change
By Daniel Thompson, July 18, 2015
‘The Church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters.’
In that one sentence, Cardinal George Pell* puts his finger on what is wrong with Laudato Si‘, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment. In that document, Francis waded into an argument about climate change and took sides. Moreover, he gave the impression that he was speaking for all Catholics when he did so; and, if by any chance he wasn’t, errant faithful should fall into line.
In an interview in Thursday’s Financial Times, the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy stepped out of line. It was a brave thing to do: Pell’s wholesale reform of the Vatican’s finances is making him plenty of enemies as it is, and now he’s even more vulnerable to attack.
Why take the risk? Because, I suspect, Cardinal Pell considers Laudato Si’ to be the most ill-judged encyclical of modern times. As the New York Times columnist Ross Douthat put it, it is ‘catastrophist’ not just in its climate science but also in its attitude towards modern technology in general:
Its catastrophism also leaves this pope more open to empirical criticism. For instance, he doesn’t grapple sufficiently with evidence that the global poor have become steadily less poor under precisely the world system he decries – a reality that has complicated implications for environmentalism.
But let’s stick with climate change. We’ve moved on, thankfully, from the days when climate scepticism was represented by statistically illiterate Right-wing culture warriors opposed by scientific zealots who were happy to hide inconvenient data to make their case. But the science isn’t ‘settled’; it’s just that the debate has become more sophisticated.
Recently I was talking to a libertarian journalist trained in statistics, a rare beast indeed. I asked him about global warming, expecting a denunciation of Lefty alarmism. Instead, he replied: ‘I just don’t go there – I don’t know enough’, and poured scorn on amateur commentators of every persuasion.
With Laudato Si‘, Pope Francis joined the ranks of those amateurs. In addition to embracing the scientific consensus on climate change – and it is a consensus, albeit challenged by credible experts – he proposed a ‘new world political authority’. Douthat described this bit of the encyclical as ‘drenched in frank contempt for the existing global leadership class’. True, though I suspect this contempt is ultimately directed at the United States: Argentina has always been the most anti-American country in South America.
One dreads to think how this ‘new world political authority’ would behave, endowed with unlimited powers by corrupt governments and sanctified by papal authority. I can’t imagine it giving a moment’s consideration to arguments such as the following, from Jim Manzi in National Review:
Fair-minded cost/benefit analyses show that various global carbon-rationing proposals that would reduce economic growth rates in return for lower emissions – whether mechanically structured as a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade system or direct regulation – have real-world costs in excess of expected benefits.
You may or may not agree with Manzi. Pope Francis seems scarcely aware that this critique exists. Cardinal Pell, however, certainly is.
But he, too, holds amateur views on climate science. Does that undermine them? Yes – but no more than those of any other well-informed non-expert taking sides. Here’s an extract from a speech he gave in 2011:
Whatever our political masters might decide at this high tide of Western indebtedness, they are increasingly unlikely, because of popular pressure, to impose new financial burdens on their populations in the hope of curbing the rise of global temperatures, except perhaps in Australia, which has 2 per cent of the world’s industrial capacity and only 1.2 per cent of its CO2 emissions, while continuing to sell coal and iron worth billions of dollars to Asia.
Extreme weather events are to be expected. This is why I support the views of Bjorn Lomborg and Bob Carter that money should be used to raise living standards and reduce vulnerability to catastrophes.
The cost of attempts to make global warming go away will be very heavy. They may be levied initially on ‘the big polluters’ but they will eventually trickle down to the end-users. Efforts to offset the effects on the vulnerable are well intentioned but history tells us they can only be partially successful.
Again, you may not agree. But Pell is not the pope and he has not attempted to incorporate a temporary scientific consensus and a grandiose political project into the teaching of the Church. Indeed, if he were pope, I’m certain he wouldn’t use the chair of Peter as a platform for his own secular manifesto.
This is what Laudato Si’ does. The encyclical is not primarily a secular document: Pell himself says that it ‘beautifully’ sets out the Christian obligation to protect the environment. But, in fantasizing about supra-national climate police, it betrays apparent ignorance of a subject on which the Australian cardinal possess more expertise than his boss – the proper relationship between the eternally valid magisterium of the Church and the always tentative conclusions of scientists.
That is why Cardinal Pell spoke out. And why he was right to do so.
*Catholic Cardinal and Bishop Condemn Climate Change Extremism, Radical Environmentalism
By John Jalsevac, January 3, 2008
VATICAN, (LifeSiteNews.com) -Two high-ranking Catholic clergymen ushered in the New Year by separately denouncing the currently most fashionable doomsday theory, the theory of man-driven global-warming and radical environmentalism, as both unscientific and disturbingly quasi-religious.
Cardinal George Pell, the notoriously outspoken Australian clergy-man, and Bishop Crepaldi, the Vatican secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, published their comments in The Catholic World Report (CWR), and Fides news agency, respectively.
In a lengthy interview with CWR, Pell, while admitting that there is clear evidence that man-made pollutants can have negative effects on the environment, cautioned against the dogmatic and extreme position on climate change that has become mainstream in the last several years. Instead, said Pell, the climate change phenomenon should be approached with the rational skepticism that is part and parcel of the scientific method.
“It is no disrespect to science or scientists to take these latest claims with a grain of salt. Commitment to the scientific method actually requires it,” said the Cardinal, pointing out that it was only a few decades ago when numerous scientists were predicting a potentially devastating phenomenon of global cooling. “I am certainly skeptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes. Scientific debate is not decided by any changing consensus, even if it is endorsed by political parties and public opinion. Climate change both up and down has been occurring, probably since earth first had a climate.”
“Significant evidence suggests that average temperatures rose by 0.6 degrees centigrade during the last century,” he continued, “and there is no doubt that large-scale industrial activities can have an adverse impact in particular locations, as in the larger Chinese cities. But when averaged out across the globe, it is difficult to see this being the main culprit for any overall global warming, let alone bringing us to the verge of catastrophe. Again, we are dealing with a very imprecise science here, whatever the computer models might suggest. There are so many other variables.”
“Man-made carbon emissions-however large or undesirable-need to be set in context next to the immense power of the sun, the influence of the oceans, clouds and other forces of nature that have been impacting the earth for millions of years.”
Pell strongly criticized public figures in Australia for having embraced the climate change fad with a herd-like mentality that belies Australia’s reputation for rugged independence and clear-headedness. “Despite the fact that Australians like to see themselves as a ruggedly independent, rational, and democratic people, in some respects a herd-like mentality still prevails. Right now, the mass media, politicians, many church figures, and the public generally seem to have embraced even the wilder claims about man-made climate change as if they constituted a new religion.” He continued, “These days, for any public figure to question the basis of what amounts to a green fundamentalist faith is tantamount to heresy.”
Pell traced the cause of the enthusiasm with which the West has embraced the newest doomsday theory to what he called the West’s “pagan emptiness.” “Some of the more hysterical and extreme claims about global warming appear symptomatic of a pagan emptiness, of a Western fear when confronted by the immense and basically uncontrollable forces of nature,” he said, continuing, “Years ago I was struck by the fears that middle-class kids without religion had about nuclear war. It was almost an obsession with a few of them. It’s almost as though people without religion, who don’t belong to any of the great religious traditions, have got to be frightened of something. Perhaps they’re looking for a cause that is almost a substitute for religion.”
While Pell advocated a healthy concern for the environment, he concluded saying, “Jesus calls us to address the challenges in our own hearts, families, and communities before we moralize about distant worlds, where we are usually powerless.”
Bishop Crepaldi’s remarks followed the same lines, cautioning men and women to distinguish between valid scientific theories and ideologically driven agendas that are veiled by a deceptive layer of science, reported Catholic World News. “It is always necessary to distinguish between scientific work and ideological use of scientific work,” said Crepaldi. Crepaldi further clarified his remarks, warning against ideologies that “subordinate the human person to a presumed centrality of nature.”
For the record, the otherwise conservative blogger, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf favors Laudate Si’:
One of Fr Z’s reactions to the Encyclical Laudato Si’, June 17, 2015
Good News about the New Encyclical Laudato Si’, June 18, 2015
Laudato Si’ – Magisterium or Magistweeterum, June 20, 2015
The Encyclical Laudato Si’ and “Integral Ecology”, June 23, 2015
One White House reaction to Laudato Si’, June 24, 2015
In sharp contrast to other Catholic sites, he finds the Encyclical to have pro-life content. So also:
The Pope’s Forgotten Message in “Laudato Si”
By Stefano Gennarini, J.D., June 24, 2015
Here are the widely ignored, but strongly worded Pro-Life sections of Pope Francis’ new encyclical on the environment.
The Pope chides those who offer easy justifications for abortion and calls for Christians to put forth arguments against these ideologies.
120. Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away”.
The Pope condemns even subtle forms of population control under the guise of development assistance.
50. Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health”. Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”.
To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”. Still, attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations, as a result of the interplay between problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life.
Some of the most powerful theological messages in the encyclical include concerns for the human embryo, and condemning experimentation on embryos.
117. Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature”.
And the Pope criticizes environmentalists that want limits on science when it comes to the environment and animals, but balk at doing the same with human life.
136. On the other hand, it is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life. There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos. We forget that the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development. In the same way, when technology disregards the great ethical principles, it ends up considering any practice whatsoever as licit. As we have seen in this chapter, a technology severed from ethics will not easily be able to limit its own power.
But these were early voices, apparently a tad too early. In-depth studies of the Encyclical by several other conservative Catholic apostolates revealed its flaws and potential dangers.
“Leftists” like Fr. Thomas Rosica of Salt and Light, and also America magazine, dissident groups like the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), New Age organisations like Earth Charter International, New Agers like Fritjof Capra (http://www.fritjofcapra.net/laudato-si-the-ecological-ethics-and-systemic-thought-of-pope-francis/), and dissident priests like Leonardo Boff (see http://www.earthcharterinaction.org) have welcomed the encyclical.
When one is lauded by one’s leading moral and theological opponents, something is seriously amiss.
I have seen no criticism of Laudato Si’ in the Indian Catholic media. Instead, lavish praise has been heaped upon it, its pro-Obama, pro-UN stance and anti-poor, anti-life threats notwithstanding –Michael
How Laudato Si is being put into practice in India
By Antonio Anup Gonsalves, July 25, 2015
Miao, India, (CNA/EWTN News) -The diocese of Miao, India sits in rich, mountainous forest terrain on the edge of the Himalayas. Most of its residents are tribal artisans whose livelihood is solely dependent on the local natural resources and the forest’s produce.
So the release of the Pope’s recent encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, hit particularly close to home for the diocese, which falls in India’s furthest northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.
In recent years, the diocese has already been promoting eco-initiatives focused on raising awareness and protecting forests. One part of the effort encourages gifting plant saplings instead of flower bouquets during celebrations. Other efforts emphasize preserving cultural heritage and customs, or fighting the exploitation of the forest that sometimes comes with development.
Now, the people of Miao are looking at other ways to put the Pope’s words into practice.
A total of five study days in July were selected to examine the concrete application of the Pope’s encyclical in the specific circumstance of the diocese, Fr. Felix Anthony, the Miao diocese’s head of communications, told CNA July 22.
To begin, a workshop was held at the diocesan center in Miao, attracting some two dozen priests and religious.
Addressing participants at the initial workshop, Bishop George Pallipparambil emphasized, “The world is our Common Home and we must all work for its care and protection.”
The Miao bishop warned against a general insensitiveness to environmental issues throughout the region.
“God has created the world and gave it to us to till it and keep it, and not to use it for selfish motives, driven by profit and greed,” he said.
Care for the environment “does not just mean planting trees… caring for our common home means protection of the Earth and all it contains, especially the needy and the poor,” Bishop Pallipparambil continued.
He challenged the participants to be open to the teachings of Pope Francis in order to help the faithful in the parishes understand the teachings of the Church.
Other seminars were planned for various parts of the diocese, including Kumari, Tezu, Roing, and the remote township Khonsa in the Tirap District of east Arunachal Pradesh.
Fr. Anthony said that the sessions have opened up thought-provoking insights on environmental issues and discussions on concrete solutions.
“I feel very happy that I was able to attend the one of the study days of Laudato Si, as this has helped me to understand our Holy Father’s concern for our common home,” said participant Fr. Shoby of the Changlang Parish of the diocese. “I’ll go back to the mission with determination to protect our common home, and I will also help people understand the importance of its care.”
The Diocese of Miao was established in 2005, and Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Pallipparambil, a Salesian, as its first bishop. It is estimated that the total diocesan population is roughly 500,000, with Christians – most of them Catholic – comprising some 19 percent of the population.
The diocese is home to 83,500 Catholics across an area of nearly 17,000 square miles.
The largest religious group is Hindus, with large minorities of Buddhists and traditional religions, as well as small numbers of Muslims, Sikhs, and Jains. Some regional parts are still rooted under animistic religious rituals and practices.
QUO VADIS PAPA FRANCISCO 01-WASHING THE FEET OF WOMEN ON MAUNDY THURSDAY
QUO VADIS PAPA FRANCISCO 04-COMPROMISED BY NEW AGE ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE?
QUO VADIS PAPA FRANCISCO 05-BAPTISM OF ALIENS
QUO VADIS PAPA FRANCISCO 06-ENDORSEMENT OF A NEW AGE HEALER FROM INDIA?
QUO VADIS PAPA FRANCISCO 08-CONSULTOR TO THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE PRACTISES NEW AGE ADVOCATES THE HERESY OF WOMEN PRIESTS
QUO VADIS PAPA FRANCISCO 09-THE POPE UNDERGOES NEW AGE TREATMENTS
QUO VADIS PAPA FRANCISCO 10-NEW AGE CONSULTOR TO THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE NOW DENIGRATES THE EUCHARIST
QUO VADIS PAPA FRANCISCO 11-PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE JOINS IN RELIGIOUS RITUAL OF NEW AGE CULT
IS POPE FRANCIS UNDERGOING TREATMENT WITH NEW AGE ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES?
CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS INTERPRETS POPE FRANCIS PERSONAL REMARK ON HOMOSEXUALS AS CHURCH TEACHING
THE FRANCIS EFFECT & WHO AM I TO JUDGE-THE SPIRIT OF VATICAN COUNCIL II?
On pages 7 and 16, we have noted that Pope Francis cites, although only in the Notes (53), a priest named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, to support his Encyclical’s point no. 83.
De Chardin is listed in the 2003 Vatican document on the New Age as world’s New Ager numero uno!
Hilary White describes him as a “discredited heretic, eugenicist, Nazi-supporter and archaeological hoaxer“, page 16.
Laudato Si’, May 24, 2015
III. THE MYSTERY OF THE UNIVERSE
#83. The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things. Here we can add yet another argument for rejecting every tyrannical and irresponsible domination of human beings over other creatures. The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator.
Notes  Against this horizon we can set the contribution of Fr Teilhard de Chardin; cf. PAUL VI, Address in a Chemical and Pharmaceutical Plant (24 February 1966): Insegnamenti 4 (1966), 992-993; JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the Reverend George Coyne (1 June 1988): Insegnamenti 11/2 (1988), 1715; BENEDICT XVI, Homily for the Celebration of Vespers in Aosta (24 July 2009):Insegnamenti 5/2 (2009), 60.
The Encyclical’s appeal to de Chardin was referred to in a recent article by the Vaticanista Edward Pentin:
The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?
By Edward Pentin, September 2, 2015
13. We wonder how certain bishops could recommend allowing the divorced and remarried to participate in Holy Communion but it isn’t surprising if you understand what occurred within the Church at the Second Vatican Council.
It is a fact that the heretical theology and philosophies of those such as Mario Martini, Bruno Forte, Karl Rahner, Hans Kung, Henri de Lubac, Jacques Maritain, and particularly, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (who had no less than 14 known interdicts, prohibitions and outright condemnations against him from competent Church authorities including Pope Pius XII) were not only influential in the Council [Vatican II], but some were actually adopted-religious liberty, ecumenism, the mission of the Church, and collegiality for example.
In fact, we learned that the “modern” theologians, philosopher’s, psychologists and psychiatrists had much more to teach us about our religion than St. Thomas Aquinas, previous popes, previous Ecumenical Councils, Saints, and Doctors and Fathers of the Church. The Church, in order to reach out to the modern world, relied on these moderns for direction and assistance in the new “pastoral” and “ecumenical” objectives in which Vatican II operated.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a believer in evolution and denied the Dogma of Original Sin. He believed in an evolutionary Christ, a “cosmic” Christ, and in an evolution of man’s conscience where, truth at one time in history was true then but could not be true in another time. All people and all of creation are “moving forward” and once everyone realizes they have God within him, the ‘omega point” is reached. The fullness of truth.
This is how the contradictions seen in the documents of Vatican II are validated. For example, the Catholic Church understood that She alone was the one, true Church instituted by Christ but as man’s conscience evolved, he came to understand that all religions have some truths and so, all faiths are actually part of the redemptive value of Christ’s suffering and death and thus, all are actually the Church of Christ.
Pope Francis, in his encyclical “Laudato Si” even referenced Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
and incorporated his heretical dogma of evolution in this paragraph: 83.
“The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things. Here we can add yet another argument for rejecting every tyrannical and irresponsible domination of human beings over other creatures. The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are MOVING FORWARD WITH US AND THROUGH US TOWARDS A COMMON POINT OF ARRIVAL, WHICH IS GOD…”
This statement is a perfect example of how Modernists are able to deceive. They combine both the truth and a Modernist dogma in the same sentence. This method is evident in all of their writings.
The “cosmic Christ” of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is what the German bishops are pursuing. Modern man does not accept the “past” moral teaching that one should be left out of the partaking of Communion because modern man’s morality has “evolved”. And so, the teaching of the Church must adopt the evolved, and more enlightened of course, understanding of man.
From a liberal perspective, the National Catholic Reporter wants the ban on contraception lifted:
Laudato Si’ should have lifted the ban on contraception
By Jamie Manson, June 24, 2015
It’s been nearly a week since the much-anticipated release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. Since then, the document’s many beautiful and challenging elements have been justifiably lauded in both the religious and secular media.
His call to replace fossil fuels is bold, his understanding of overconsumption and scarcity is prophetic, his compassion for the earth and all of its creatures is stunning. I could go on, but so many other commentators and theologians have done the work of parsing and praising the document so well that I will focus on an issue that remains woefully underdeveloped in the encyclical: overpopulation.
I say “woefully” because few people who are as concerned about ecological destruction as Francis is would deny that overpopulation is one of greatest threats to the earth’s survival.
In 2012, the United Nations issued a special report on the looming crisis. By 2040, the global population is expected to swell from 7 billion to 9 billion. The U.N. estimates that by 2030, the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water.
If the global community fails to stabilize population growth, the report said, we risk condemning 3 billion people to extreme deprivation.
But the pope, who has made caring for the poor the central theme of his papacy, doesn’t seem ready to use the term “overpopulation.”
In section 50 of his new encyclical, he instead refers to the crisis as an “unequal distribution of the population.” Though Francis acknowledges that “an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment,” he insists that rising population “is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.”
Francis recognizes that “imbalances in population density” can lead to “problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life.”
Nevertheless, he argues that the world doesn’t need a lower birth rate — it just needs to distribute its food better.
“To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some,” he writes, “is one way of refusing to face the issues.”
Yet it could be argued just as forcefully that the hierarchy is refusing to face an issue, too. Namely, that populations are swelling in the poorest areas of the world — places where women have the least access to contraception.
According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, more than 220 million women in developing countries “lack access to contraceptives and voluntary family planning information and services. … In 2012, an estimated 80 million women in developing countries had an unintended pregnancy; of those women, at least one in four resorted to an unsafe abortion.”
In some of these countries, the lack of access to birth control can be traced directly to the Roman Catholic Church. In the Philippines, for example, where the population is expected to swell from 100 million to 200 million by 2080, the hierarchy spent 15 years fighting the Reproductive Health Bill, which promised to give poor women access to family planning methods like intrauterine devices and the birth control pill. Sections of the bill finally passed into law last year. (Watch this recent report on “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” to see the plight of poor Filipino mothers and the impact of the new law.)
Rather than acknowledging the ways in which access to contraception has alleviated both poverty and ecological stress in countries like Thailand, Francis instead criticizes wealthier countries that “make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of ‘reproductive health’.” (Note the dubious quotation marks he places around the phrase.)
Throughout the encyclical, the pope calls on those with financial and political influence to take responsibility for protecting the environment. “What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?” Francis asks.
It is a question that also needs to be asked of the church’s hierarchy, whose financial and political power rivals most global institutions: How has the Vatican’s rigid refusal to change its teaching on contraception kept it from taking urgent action to spare both the poor and our beleaguered planet?
Francis wants the whole human community to be accountable for the state of our environment. But that call must include the Vatican, too. How has the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on contraception deepened environmental degradation? How has the church’s paternalistic need for power over the sexualities of its flock exacerbated the conditions of the poor?
Pope Francis wouldn’t be breaking radically new ground by changing the church’s teaching on birth control. The foundation for such a change was already put in place 50 years ago by the birth control commission.
Back in 1965, the commission, which was appointed by John XXIII and expanded by Paul VI, voted overwhelmingly to rescind the ban on artificial contraception. But Paul VI refused to accept the commission’s findings, despite the fact that 30 of its 35 lay members, 15 of its 19 theologians, and nine of its 12 bishops voted in favor of changing the teaching. The pope instead sided with those who dissented from the commission’s findings.
According to a report written by those dissenters (known as the “minority report”), “The Church cannot change her answer because this answer is true. … It is true because the Catholic Church, instituted by Christ … could not have so wrongly erred during all those centuries of its history.”
For the sake of the earth and of the poor, it is time for the church to admit that the ban on artificial contraception is doing far more harm than good.
Western Catholics refused to receive the church’s teaching on contraception decades ago, and increasingly, women and men in developing countries are also rejecting the teaching. In the Philippines, a country known for its deep Catholic faith, 84 percent believe that the government should provide free access to contraceptives.
Women and families want access to contraception because they believe their children’s quality of life is far more important than their number of children. They are exercising their individual consciences and in doing so are lifting themselves out of poverty while also being accountable to the needs of our ecosystem.
Francis is right: A redistribution of food and a radical change in consumerist mentality are essential to feeding the soaring populations of developing countries. But these are long-range goals. Increasing access to family planning education and contraceptives can happen relatively quickly and will have a high impact on those who suffer the worst deprivation in our world.
“Periods of deep crisis,” Francis writes in the encyclical, “require bold decisions.”
If the Vatican truly listens to the cries of the poor and the cries of the earth, it will realize that it is time for the Vatican to make the bold decision of lifting the ban on artificial contraception.