By John Jalsevac

VATICAN, January 3, 2008 ( – 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.

Cardinal PellIn 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.” 

To read the full interview with Cardinal Pell see:

See related coverage:

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Care for Creation Yes, But Why is the Vatican Backing Climate Change Theory?

Evangelical Leaders Warn Against Christian Involvement in “Climate Change” Hysteria