Publication of the Encyclical Laudato sì

Source: FSSPX News


 
1. The document

The Encyclical Laudato sì (“Praised be you”, taken from the Canticle of Creation by Saint Francis of Assisi) was published on June 18, 2015. It is dedicated to “the protection of our common home”. It is divided into 6 chapters, the logical interconnections among which are explained by Pope Francis in no. 15 in these terms:

“I will begin by briefly reviewing several aspects of the present ecological crisis, with the aim of drawing on the results of the best scientific research available today, letting them touch us deeply and provide a concrete foundation for the ethical and spiritual itinerary that follows.

“I will then consider some principles drawn from the Judaeo-Christian tradition which can render our commitment to the environment more coherent.

“I will then attempt to get to the roots of the present situation, so as to consider not only its symptoms but also its deepest causes.

“This will help to provide an approach to ecology which respects our unique place as human beings in this world and our relationship to our surroundings.

“In light of this reflection, I will advance some broader proposals for dialogue and action which would involve each of us as individuals, and also affect international policy.

“Finally, convinced as I am that change is impossible without motivation and a process of education, I will offer some inspired guidelines for human development to be found in the treasure of Christian spiritual experience.”

In the June 18 issue of Le Figaro, Jean-Marie Guénois offers a summary of this long, 191-page Encyclical:

“Pope Francis is publishing an Encyclical on ecology entitled Laudato sì, acknowledging global warming. He calls the world to a radical ‘ecological conversion’, based not only on a ‘balance’ between lasting development and economic development but aimed at a break with the past in society whereby life from now on will be based on ‘sobriety’. The economies of the Northern Hemisphere would therefore take it upon themselves to ‘decrease’ so as to make possible a ‘sustainable’ future in solidarity with the countries of the Southern Hemisphere to whom they have an ‘ecological debt’. Given the failure of successive climate summits, Francis also advocates the establishment of an international institution capable of ‘sanctioning’ countries that pollute, as the case may be. This is the first time that a pope has addressed this subject so radically.”

Then the French Vaticanist highlights 10 key excerpts from the document:

1) “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” (n. 14) [Translator’s note: The unofficial French translation of the Encyclical says “a global conversion”.]

2) “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.... 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.” (n. 23)

3) “A true ‘ecological debt’ exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time.” (n. 51)

4) “It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment makes it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance.” (n. 54)

5) “Everything is related.... [E]very ecological approach needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged.... Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion.... [E]nvironmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked.” (nn. 92, 93, 120, 56)

6) “The twenty-first century, while maintaining systems of governance inherited from the past, is witnessing a weakening of the power of nation states, chiefly because the economic and financial sectors, being transnational, tends to prevail over the political. Given this situation, it is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions.” (n. 175)

7) “[T]he time has come to accept decreased growth in some parts of the world, in order to provide resources for other places to experience healthy growth.” (n. 193)

8) “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....” (n. 161)

9) “It is a return to simplicity.... Such sobriety, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating. It is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full.... Happiness means knowing how to limit some needs which only diminish us, and being open to the many different possibilities which life can offer.... “It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good.” (nn. 222, 223, 229)

10) “It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress.” (n. 194)

 

2. Positive reactions

The Encyclical was received very favorably by progressive churchmen like Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), who on June 18 declared that this papal document was “a strong signal at the right time”. The German prelate observed that for the first time a Pope “has voluntarily decided to impact world politics”, and that it is no accident that the Pope published his Encyclical just before the decisive summits on Development Goals in New York in September and on Climate Change in Paris in December, and that he invites humanity to respond.

Cardinal Marx said that he had great hopes for the impact that the Encyclical will have, and also for concrete political actions, like those of the European Union. No other institution has the possibility to express its point of view in a text that will be studied by thousands of people around the world, he emphasized. In his opinion, the Pope is conveying “a new idea of progress”, of holistic, ecologically compatible development “which really should excite us”. The prelate noted his intention to contribute to the diffusion and the implementation of the Encyclical’s message. The COMECE has already planned for the coming weeks and months several concrete actions, such as meetings and debates between specialists in ecology.

More surprising was the invitation issued by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, asking all political leaders to reflect on the themes of the Encyclical by Pope Francis. “I welcome His Holiness Pope Francis’ 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,” the American President declared, as quoted on June 18 by the British newspaper Catholic Herald. He hoped that, within the context of preparations for the climate summit in Paris this December, all world leaders and “all God’s children” might reflect on the Pope’s call to “care for our common house”.

On June 19 Yves Daoudal reported on his blog other statements of support from political figures such as the President of the French Republic, François Hollande: “At a time when France is preparing to host climate negotiations, I am anxious to salute this appeal to worldwide public opinion as well as to world leaders. I express the hope that the individual voice of Pope Francis may be heard on all continents, and not only by believers.” Also cited was the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella: “The new Encyclical Laudato sì by Pope Francis is a document with high moral significance and extraordinary cultural and social interest.” And the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Anan: “I congratulate the Pope on his great moral and ethical leadership. Once again we need such inspired leadership. Will we find it at the climate summit in Paris?”

Nicolas Hulot, the militant ecologist and media expert, declared: “This Encyclical certified the nobility of ecology,” and he, together with Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, co-wrote the preface to one of the editions of the French version of Laudato sì (Éditions de l’Emmanuel).

 

3. Critiques

There is no lack of critiques of the Encyclical, but they are not reported on by the mainstream media, who lavish their attention on statements that praise it unconditionally. Having benefited from an earlier version of the Encyclical published on June 15 by L’Espresso, Gianluca Veneziani, writing in Intraprendent on the 16th, stressed that “Bergoglio loudly calls for ‘an ecological conversion’ of all people of good will (cf. Chapter III), instead of preaching a ‘moral and religious conversion’. The believer truly feels bewildered.” Pietro Laporta remarked on June 17 on his blog: “Bergoglio, who has not said a word about the referendum in Ireland (about the legalization of homosexual unions), is nevertheless getting media coverage because of an Encyclical that is extremely bizarre.” Antonio Socci wrote on June 18 on his: “With this Encyclical, Pope Bergoglio runs the risk of giving a terrible signal of submitting to Obama’s agenda, the agenda of the prevailing thought which has a clear neo-pagan, anti-human and anti-Christian connotation.”

But above all, the June 18 statement by Voice of the Family, an international coalition of pro-life and pro-family organizations, denounces the non-Catholic elements inspiring the Encyclical Laudato sì:

The encyclical, published this morning, contains the welcome assertions that “concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion” (No. 120) and “that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development” (No. 50). However the omission of any reference to Church teaching on the use of contraception leaves Catholics ill-prepared to resist the international population control agenda.

“God commanded man to ‘increase and multiply, and fill the earth’ (Gen 1:28)” said Voice of the Family manager Maria Madise “but the environmental movement commonly regards population growth as a threat”. Madise continued: “Developing nations are being flooded with contraceptives and subjected to pressure to legalise abortion. Given that contraception and environmentalism so often go hand-in-hand it is deeply troubling that Church teaching on the primacy of procreation is not reaffirmed.”

Patrick Buckley, UN lobbyist for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), noted that “The encyclical calls for increased international environmental action in paragraphs 173-175, while neglecting to prepare Catholics for what such action will undoubtedly involve: renewed attempts to further impose contraception and abortion on the developing world.”

Professor Hans Schellnhuber was among those chosen by the Holy See to present the encyclical to the press this morning. Schellnhuber has previously stated that the “carrying capacity of the planet” is “below 1 billion people”. The global population would have to be reduced by more than 80% to meet this target.

John-Henry Westen, co-founder of Voice of the Family and editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews commented “Professor Schellnhuber is an advocate of the establishment of a supreme global government that would have the power to take action to resolve the perceived environmental crisis, which in his view requires population reduction. In this context the references in the encyclical to the need for a ‘world political authority’, which should have the power to ‘sanction’, is deeply troubling.”

Yesterday it was revealed that Professor Schellnhuber has been appointed a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) by Pope Francis.

In November 2015 the PAS will be holding workshops to discuss how to use “children as agents of change”. The programme involves strategising on how to deploy children to advance the environmental agenda worldwide. Such efforts seem to be endorsed by the encyclical in paragraphs 209-215. Some of those involved in the workshops, such as Jeffrey Sachs, are among the most vehement promoters of contraception and even abortion as necessary elements of population control.

John Smeaton, co-founder of Voice of the Family and Chief Executive of SPUC, stated “The international environmental movement often seeks to convince children that the world is overpopulated and that this must be resolved by controlling reproduction through contraception and access to abortion. There is now grave danger that our children will be exposed to this agenda under the guise of education on environmental concerns. The proposed plans of the PAS, and the lack of clear teaching on these dangers in the encyclical, put us on our guard. Catholic parents must resist all attacks on our children, even when they emanate from within the Vatican.”

This is indeed the problem mentioned by several critics, and Riccardo Cascioli wondered in La nuova bussola on June 16: “To what extent do pressures from ecologists matter?” He answered by citing facts and, in conclusion, with a question that shows the perplexity into which this Encyclical throws its readers: “The pressures have been so strong during these past months that the most ecological circles of the Vatican have proposed to public opinion guidelines that are at the very least debatable. Thus, although in the Encyclical the Pope clear [but briefly – Editor’s note] condemns those who think that environmental problems can be solved by eliminating the poor through contraception and the promotion of abortion, who should turn up as a speaker at all the major conferences at the Vatican but a figure like Jeffrey Sachs, a fanatical theoretician of birth control. And as if that were not enough: at the press conference for the presentation of the Encyclical on Thursday the 18th, one of the speakers is expected to be Hans Schellnhuber, the founder and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. As a councilor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, Schellnhuber just recently declared, concerning global warming, that it is ‘a triumph for science, because it has at least been able to define something important, namely that the planet’s equilibrium requires a population of less than a billion persons.’ How that can be reconciled with what is said in the Encyclical remains to be seen.”

On April 28, 2015, the Vatican hosted a symposium on the moral dimension of climate change and sustainable development, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. This conference was attended by scientists and representatives of the various world religions, notably by the Secretary General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, the Italian head of state, Sergio Mattarella, and the president of the Focolari Movement, Maria Voce. Also present was Jeffrey Sachs, who is considered as one of the authors of the Encyclical that has just appeared.

Back on February 24, 2015, in an article in Il Foglio, Mattia Ferraresi noted several interesting features of the thought of that American economist: “Sachs, born in a Jewish family in Detroit, does not describe himself as religious, but maintains that ‘the Church’s social doctrine offers a decisive path for a global ethic of sustainable development.’ He welcomed very favorably the critiques of trickle-down economics set forth by the Pope in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium. In the American Jesuit magazine America, he praised Francis’ ‘message of hope and social justice’: ‘We are facing a moral crisis more than a financial or economic one. And therefore we must be grateful to Francis. He reminded us with love that our highest aspirations are within our reach.’...

“He was less than forty years old when the Boston Globe called him ‘the greatest economic engineer since Keynes’ and the New York Times called him ‘probably the most important economist in the world’. Today he is studying the ‘biggest and most complex challenge that humanity has ever faced’, sustainable development, to which he has devoted a lot of energy and one book (which appeared in April 2015): The Age of Sustainable Development, with a preface by the Secretary General of the U.N., Ban Ki-Moon....

“On Vatican Radio he declared that climate changes are connected with the crises that afflict many regions of the world, and he spoke about the need to ‘reorient the economy so as not to cause more damage to the planet’. In order to eliminate poverty between here and 2030, a goal that the economist set in 2005, with a few adjustments along the way, ‘we must build a socially inclusive society, invest in the equality of the sexes, access to education and health services, make a transition toward economies with low CO2 emissions, and achieve sustainable agriculture.’

“Sachs is looking for a solid ethical framework on which to build his plan of action to bring humanity out of the tunnel of self-inflicted suffering in which it has been swallowed up, and for several years now he has been convinced that the Church’s social doctrine is what he needs. It is not impossible to imagine a resemblance between Sachs’s sustainable development and the concept of human ecology, the cornerstone of the next papal encyclical [the article was written in February], according to what the Holy See has suggested.”

It would be judicious to pore over the work of Jeffrey Sachs, The Age of Sustainable Development to see the precise points at which “sustainable development” and the “integral ecology” of Laudato sì converge and diverge.

(Sources: vatican.va/Figaro/Apic/imedia/ Y.Daoudal/J.Smits/benoitetmoi – DICI no. 317 dated June 26, 2015)

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