Editorial: Pope Speaks on Church’s “Grave Misgivings” about Modern Environmentalism
Editorial by John-Henry Westen
ROME, December 16, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In comments which received absolutely no mainstream media coverage, Pope Benedict XVI, in his World Day of Peace message issued December 8, explained the skepticism of the leadership of the Church in regard to certain strains of modern environmentalism.
“If the Church’s magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism,” he said, “it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things.”
The Peace message warned, “In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the ‘dignity’ of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings.” “They also,” it said, “open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms.”
Although the media’s telling of the Pope’s message (e.g. Drudge Report – “Pope Goes Green”) made him sound like the latest world leader turned eco-warrior, the message is a far cry from that.
The Pope’s Peace message, and his former writings on the subject of the environment, firmly repudiate the solutions that have led the pro-life movement to disassociate from the environmental movement—namely population control, the above mentioned view that man is not the center of creation, but only a small, even insignificant part, and an agenda for one-world government.
Nearly all the media attention to the World Day of Peace message focused on the Pope’s restatement of certain environmental buzz words, as well as his timely call to take the task of caring for creation seriously. The money paragraph for the mainstream media was this: “Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions?”
However, at the same time the media studiously avoided the Holy Father’s above-mentioned criticisms of “ecocentrism,” as well as his suggestion that the Darwinist mentality leads to disregard for the environment. “Whenever nature, and human beings in particular, are seen merely as products of chance or an evolutionary determinism, our overall sense of responsibility wanes,” said the Pope, adding, “On the other hand, seeing creation as God’s gift to humanity helps us understand our vocation and worth as human beings.”
Yes, the Pope agrees there is an “ecological crisis,” but there is no doubt that he sees this crisis very differently from those who are calling for a global one-child policy.
According to Benedict XVI, “The degradation of nature is closely linked to the cultural models shaping human coexistence: consequently, when ‘human ecology’ is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits.”
In other words, if we are not going to respect human life from conception to natural death and the natural family, we are not going to benefit the environment.
“Young people cannot be asked to respect the environment if they are not helped, within families and society as a whole, to respect themselves,” said Benedict. “The book of nature is one and indivisible; it includes not only the environment but also individual, family and social ethics.”
The Pope stressed that he “readily” encourages “efforts to promote a greater sense of ecological responsibility,” but only those which “would safeguard an authentic ‘human ecology’ and thus forcefully reaffirm the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one is trained in love of neighbour and respect for nature.”
Now there’s an environmental movement we can all sign up to!
To read the full World Day of Peace Message click here.