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(LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego called for Catholic universities to “lead on climate change action” as articulated in Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si’ promoting climate alarmism.

In a recent address delivered at the University of San Diego, McElroy claimed, contrary to Church teaching, that “Climate change and the degradation of the earth are the most important global moral challenge,” adding, “For this reason alone, Laudato Si’ should be a focus for every Catholic university.”

According to the notoriously heterodox cardinal, Laudato Si’ both “unmasks” our “estrangement” from the earth and points to the remedy, involving the reversal of “the accelerating destruction of the earth.” McElroy points to Francis’ calls not only for the mitigation of “climate change” but for “the destruction of the rainforests, the despoiling of the soil, the diminishment of water resources,” and “the loss of biodiversity caused by indifference and greed.”

McElroy believes such goals should be promoted by Catholic universities for reasons enumerated in Laudato Si’ — primarily because environmental “harms” in turn “injure” the world’s poor and most vulnerable, as well as future generations, with whom he says we are called to have “solidarity.”

The cardinal’s entire premise — that “climate change and the degradation of the earth are the most important global moral challenge” — is faulty, because the most important moral issues are by default those involving intrinsic grave sin, whereas “degradation” of the “environment” is not an inherent moral evil. Its very definition, moreover, is up for debate.

Judie Brown, co-founder of American Life League, told LifeSiteNews upon Laudato Si’s release that she was “terribly disappointed” with the encyclical, noting that it ignores the fact that “ … souls are going to hell every day because they are violating moral principles and are offending God in many and varied ways that are substantive and are [contrary] to the laws of God, the Ten Commandments.” 

While calling for Catholic universities to promote Francis’ call for ecological renewal, McElroy has completely neglected any calls for them to promote Church teaching on abortion and homosexuality, which are prime examples of such spiritually fatal violations of God’s Commandments.

Meanwhile, the very basis of Francis and McElroy’s calls for “climate action” and “sustainable development” are questionable, despite Francis’ claim that most global warming is caused by greenhouse gases emitted by human activity. This idea is hotly contested by scientists and researchers, over 1,100 of which have signed a World Climate Declaration asserting that “there is no climate emergency.” The researchers point out that earth’s climate has “varied as long as the planet has existed, with natural cold and warm phases.”

Worse, Francis has used the idea that men are causing environmental “devastation” through normal economic activity as a pretext to call for global governance to rein in such activities. For example, in the 2015 encyclical, he declares that to “eradicate poverty” and “safeguard the environment” there must be “development of stronger international institutions with designated authority [and] the power of sanction,” meaning a “true world political authority.

Francis went so far as to call for “obligatory and readily monitored” measures to accelerate the world’s “ecological transition” in an address delivered by Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Cardinal Pietro Parolin at the United Nations COP28 “climate change” conference in December.

McElroy remarks that Laudato Si’ “unites the moral imperative to save our planet with the moral imperative to protect the poor and the marginalized at all times.” However, the unification of the real moral imperative to serve the poor with the fabricated so-called “moral imperative” to save the planet is unprecedented in Church history. It is an artificial unification, and it is being used by Francis to push for global regulations of fossil fuel activity, energy use, and more.

Thus, any efforts by Catholic universities to advocate for a “moral” ecological “imperative” would not only be theologically unfounded; they would easily be co-opted by calls for secular global government, which have no grounds in Catholic teaching.