Pope Francis to Plunge
Church into Climate Change Maelstrom (Epoca, Brazil)
has spoken about controversial topics like the acceptance of gays by the
Catholic Church and the actions of pedophile priests. He has denied the
existence of Hell fire, Adam and Eve, has said that Catholics need not 'procreate
like rabbits' and that when provoked, anyone has a right to fight back - forget
all that talk of turning the other cheek. … Now Pope Francis is preparing to stick
his sanctified nose into yet another hornet's nest: global warming. … With his
charisma and strong vision of how to utilize the media, the pope will bring to
the fore discussion on the responsibility of human beings for environmental degradation."
Pope Francis embraces
the theory that climate change is a result of human activity and infuriates
skeptics of global warming.
Pope Francis has spoken about controversial topics like the
acceptance of gays by the Catholic Church and the actions of pedophile priests.
He has denied the existence of Hell fire, has said [the story of] Adam and Eve is
a fable, that Catholics need not "procreate like rabbits" and has
said that when provoked, anyone has a right to fight back - forget all that talk
of turning the other cheek. He has said that social justice "is not a
Communist invention." In a Rio shantytown, at the height of the 2013 demonstrations,
he lit a fire under young people: he asked them to be revolutionaries and rebel.
Last week he called those that say women working outside the home are to blame
for the family crisis "machista [macho]" -
and said the fact that women earn less than men is "scandalous." Now
Pope Francis is preparing to stick his sanctified nose into yet another hornet's
nest: global warming.
[Editor's Note: In late 2013, an erroneous
news item circulated that attributed quotes about 'Hell fire" and "Adam
and Eve" to Pope Francis at the end of the "Third Vatican Council."
The trouble is – there was no Third Vatican Council. The fictitious "news
items" attributed the following statement to the pope at the close of this
never-held Third Vatican Council:
humility, soul searching, and prayerful contemplation we have gained a new
understanding of certain dogmas. The church no longer believes in a literal
hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love
of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity. God seeks not
to condemn but only to embrace. Like the fable of Adam and Eve, we see hell as
a literary device. Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated
soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God."]
Francis is preparing an encyclical on the environment, the
first to focus on the relationship of human beings with the highest divine
creation - planet Earth. An encyclical is a kind of letter circulated to
bishops and cardinals containing guidance on certain issues. To the consternation
of those who contest the responsibility of humans for climate change, the
document will state that the action of man in this area is a fact proven by
science and that minimizing this impact is a moral imperative. According to
Francis, global warming affects everyone, particularly the poorest - since
floods and tsunamis, for example, can become social disasters, hence the moral
and religious motivation to address the issue. Tackling the issue of climate
change is thus a matter of social justice.
As a born communications strategist, the pope carefully chose
the moment to disclose the preparation of this document, which should be made
public in June. In September, the United Nations in New York will hold a
meeting to discuss sustainable development goals. Francis, who will be visiting
the United States during this period, was invited by the U.N. Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon to participate in the meeting. Three
months later, in December, Paris will host the 21st
Global Climate Change Conference (COP 21), where it is hoped that countries
will commit to greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and rules for
minimizing global warming. Ban Ki-moon is counting on
papal pressure to get negotiations off the ground.
A draft of the encyclical was discussed at a Vatican
meeting organized by the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science.
Political leaders, clergy, entrepreneurs and scientists participated. In the final
declaration of the meeting it was affirmed that COP 21 may be the last remaining
opportunity to achieve agreements to keep global warming within safe limits for
humanity. "Climate-change mitigation will require a rapid world
transformation to a world powered by renewable and other low-carbon energy and
the sustainable management of ecosystems," states the text.
The possibility of papal interference in the field of
science has provoked a reaction from those who advocate the thesis that man is
not responsible for global warming. At the top of its Web
page, the non-profit Heartland Institute funded by the oil sector's American
billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch which carries the headline: Tell Pope Francis: Global Warming Is Not a
Crisis! While leaders were meeting at the Vatican, Heartland organized a seminar
in Rome on the topic.
"The Holy Father is being misled by 'experts' at the
United Nations who have proven unworthy of his trust ... he would do his flock
and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United
Nations' unscientific agenda on the climate," said Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute.
Early reaction to the papal encyclical is coming not only from
businessmen like the Kochs. Robert Peter George of
the Church's conservative wing wrote
in the newspaper First Things
that Catholics should keep in mind that popes are not authorities on scientific
issues. He didn't need to name Pope Urban VIII who condemned Galileo for
defending the theories of Copernicus, according to which Earth was not the
center of the Universe but rather orbited around the Sun. The message was
clear. The author of books like What
Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense, George
said Francis has the right and responsibility to teach and unite Catholics on
moral issues, including when it comes to their obligations to the environment.
But George asserts that the pope has no special knowledge of to what extent the
climate change of recent decades is caused by man. "And God is not going
to tell him," George wrote.
Francis isn't the first pope to concern himself with
environmental issues. His predecessor, Benedict XVI, also used to write on the
subject. In 2008 at a meeting with priests in Italy, Benedict said that "God
entrusted to man the responsibility of creation" and that facing the
problem of climate change is a moral obligation of Catholics. Again in 2008, he
added environmental pollution to the list of capital sins for which followers
of the religion should seek forgiveness. Benedict, however, was considered excessively
intellectual and had little charisma, so his warnings went unheeded.
Posted By Worldmeets.US
Francis' encyclical, the draft of which has the working title
Climate Change and the Common Good,
will not be restricted to academic discussion. With his charisma and strong
vision of how to utilize the media, the pope will bring to the fore discussion on
the responsibility of human beings for environmental degradation. In dealing
with a topic not exclusively religious, Francis' encyclical may have a political
impact as strong as the Rerumnovarum (of
New Things) on the Rights and Duties of Capital
and Labor written by Leo XIII in 1891. In it, the pope supported the right
to form trade unions and discussed the relationships between government,
business, workers and the Church.
"Benedict was an ivory-tower academic. He wrote books
and hoped they would persuade by reason. But Pope Francis knows how to sell his
ideas. He is engaged in the marketplace," said
Catholic thinker Charles Reid Jr. The ring of controversy is set. For some
ecologists, the Church's refusal to accept birth control methods contributes to
environmental deterioration, since the demographic explosion puts pressure on
the planet's resources. That's nothing that would deprive sleep for a man who
has already said that Catholics needn't reproduce like rabbits; a pope who,
upon bidding farewell to the Ecuador President Rafael Correa, took the
opportunity to tell one of his jokes about the egos of Argentines [Pope Francis
"They were surprised when I decided to name myself
Francis. They hoped it would be Jesus II," says former Cardinal Jorge
Mario Bergoglio. Francis knows that those without a
good sense of humor don't deserve to be taken seriously - so with conviction
and a smile, he puts thorny and contemporary discussions on the Catholic agenda.