Cardinal urges Pope to impose canonical obligation to protect environment
ROME, July 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican’s former top legal advisor is calling on Pope Francis to require Catholics under canon law to care for the environment, calling it “one of the most serious duties” for the faithful today.
According to Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, is proposing that a new canon be inserted into the Code of Canon Law. The new canon would be dedicated to the “grave duty” of all the Christian faithful to not only “not harm” but even “improve” the environment.
Coccopalmerio told Vatican Insider: “The Code of Canon Law, at the beginning of the second book, in canons 208-221 under the title ‘Obligations and rights of all [Christ’s] faithful’ presents a list of these obligations and rights, and for this reason draws an authoritative sketch of the believer and his life as a Christian. Unfortunately, nothing is said about one of his most serious duties: to protect and promote the natural environment in which the believer lives.”
“My proposal,” the cardinal said, “would be to ask the Pope, on behalf of the dicastery for legislative texts, to insert into the canons I have just cited a new canon that sounds more or less like this: ‘Every faithful Christian, mindful that creation is our common home, has the grave duty not only not to damage, but also to improve, both through normal behavior, as well as through specific initiatives, the natural environment in which each person is called to live.’”
The cardinal first announced his proposal during a July 12 event in Rome titled “Dialogue on Catholic investments for energy transition.” The closed-door meeting brought together representatives of the Vatican and Catholic organizations to discuss how to invest responsibly towards a transition to renewable energies.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment, Laudato si’, and by his recent address to CEOs of major oil and gas companies, participants in the July 12 event agreed on the importance of the Catholic Divest-Invest Program currently being sponsored by the World Catholic Climate Movement.
According to the organization’s website, the Catholic Divest-Invest Program calls on Catholic institutions to commit publicly to completely divest from all fossil fuels within five years, and to invest in “socially and ethically responsible companies that protect creation and all who share it.”
Also following the Pope’s meeting with “Big Oil” last month, population control advocate Jeffrey Sachs, who has become a key advisor to the Vatican on environmental issues, denounced US President Donald Trump’s energy policies, and he praised Pope Francis for underscoring the “moral dimension” of transitioning to renewable energy, as a “duty that we owe toward millions of our brothers and sisters around the world, poorer countries and generations yet to come.”
Last November, Sachs along with key members of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences and US Democratic politicians such as California governor Jerry Brown, discussed the need to use the Church’s moral authority to move forward the climate change agenda.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the Christian calling to respect and protect the earth, but respected canonists have nonetheless raised concern about the cardinal’s proposal. On Twitter, canonist Edward Peters called it “a trivialization of canon law.”
A trivialization of canon law.— Edward Peters (@canonlaw) July 17, 2018
In a retweet, Belgium canonist Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at Catholic University in Washington D.C., commented, saying: “Five words to summarize what this is about, key-word being ‘trivialization.’ Nothing more needed. Thank you, @canonlaw.” Martens added: “It would have been great had Cardinal Coccopalmerio offered effective instruments to bishops to efficiently govern, and to the Pope to hold bishops accountable.”
Five words to summarize what this is about, key-word being "trivialization." Nothing more needed. Thank you, @canonlaw. It would have been great had Cardinal Coccopalmerio offered effective instruments to bishops to efficiently govern, and to the Pope to hold bishops accountable. https://t.co/zpCFoAXqod— Kurt Martens (@DrKurtMartens) July 17, 2018
Cardinal Coccopalmerio resigned as president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts earlier this year for reasons of age. Before stepping down, he issued a booklet on Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia supporting Communion for Catholics in irregular unions in some cases. At the time, the cardinal insisted his interpretation did not breach either canon law or Church doctrine.
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