Deputy Principal - Mission & Faith

Laudato Si – Part 2

Pope Francis’ encyclical has drawn significant response both positive and negative.  Consider these:

“…the arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.” (James Inhofe – US Republican Senator and Head of the US Congressional Committee on the Environment and Public Works which is most associated with climate policy oversight)

“The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think that we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality…The Pope is not credible on climate change.” (Rick Santorium - US Republican Presidential Candidate)

Pope Francis does not know whether, or to what extent, the climate changes in various directions of the past several decades are anthropogenic – and God is not going to tell him… (George Weigel, biographer of Pope John Paul II)

…The Popes language is “almost hysterical.  Profound intellectual ignorance is dressed up as honouring God…Page after page reveals Francis and his advisers as environmental populists and economic ideologues of a quasi-Marxist bent…Francis is blind to the liberating power of markets and technology.” (Paul Kelly editorial in the Australian 24 June 2015)

On a far more positive note are these responses:

…the Pope’s encyclical is not “a call to arms; it’s a call to sanity…How can we protect our people if we accept the status quo that is slowly killing our earth?  (Bill De Blasio – Mayor of New York)

This is a document aligned with the scientific consensus on climate that excoriates the modern scientific mindset as, in effect, a 500-year mistake. It's a document calling for global action, even a "new world political authority", that's  drenched in frank contempt for the existing global leadership class. It's a document that urges a rapid move away from fossil fuels while explicitly criticising the leading avenue for doing so – a cap-and-trade regime – as too "quick and easy", too compromised by greed and self-interest, to "allow for the radical change which present circumstances require". (Ross Douthat, columnist with The New York times 22 June 2015)

I used to think that top global environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy, and to deal with these we need a spiritual and cultural transformation…In walks Pope Francis onto the climate change stage. (Mary Colwell, Huffington Post 18 June 2015)

Responses from Australia include:

"The Pope ... it's one of the great positions of moral leadership…[It's] a position of global moral leadership in the world and drawing attention to these environmental issues – climate change reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of them." (Malcom Turnbull, Communications Minister, ABC Radio Friday 12 June 2015)

The issue of climate change is being deliberately obfuscated to kill of public interest. (Martin Flanagan, columnist, The Age Saturday June 20, 2015)

Pope's view cold comfort for Canberra (Lisa Cox, National Political Reporter, 19 June 2015)

As Jay Michaelson from Boston University Law School says:

it is nothing less than a seismic shift in mainstream Christian thought about the human-nature relationship - the equation of the relationship between humans and the earth with the relationships between humans and one another and between humans and God…This is a radical theological claim, that human life is centrally defined by the human-earth relationship…How you relate to the earth is as important as how you relate to God. (19 June 2015)

So, what did the Pope say?  In the next edition of the Newsletter I will outline some of key things Francis has said about our present environmental issues.

Dr Michael Grace

Deputy Principal - Mission & Faith