ROME, June 18, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — Climate change, says Pope Francis, in the new encyclical Laudato Si (Praised be) released today, “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day” (25).
The environmental tome of 180 pages – the longest encyclical in history – is an often-fascinating read, with many touching passages reflecting on a Catholic vision of care and concern for creation. These many passages, however, are being largely lost and subsumed under the most emphatic – even alarmist – passages devoted to detailed descriptions of “climate change” theory (described as fact) and the dire consequences of failing to take drastic measures to fight such change.
And those startling quotes have stolen the media narrative, making this, at least for the media world and thus the general public, the “climate-change encyclical.” Released, as the encyclical was, just prior to the pope’s visit to the United Nations and the US Congress in September, as well as the World Climate Summit in Paris in December, this narrative was at least partially intentional on the part of the Vatican and the pope.
The stress by the Vatican on the climate change portion could not have been more evident this morning, as one of the world’s leading climate change alarmist gurus, Professor John Schellnhuber, took part in the Vatican press conference introducing Laudato Si. The day before the release of the encyclical, the Vatican also announced that Schellnhuber had been appointed by the pope to the Pontifical Academy for the Sciences.
The new encyclical also continues the tradition launched by popes Benedict and John Paul II of tying respecting nature to respecting life in the womb and God-given gender. The pope also clearly decries the idea of reducing population to address environmental concerns.
While there is much to welcome in the encyclical’s 40,000 words, fears that its text, which is peppered with ominous warnings about climate change, will play into the hands of global warming activists whose agendas include population control and one-world government, do not seem unreasonable. Indeed, the mainstream media is already widely portraying the encyclical as a major coup for mainstream environmentalism, while ignoring the pro-life passages that critique many of the environmentalist movement's core principles.
Here are some of those pro-life passages, as well as other relevant passages and quotations from the encyclical.
Out of the 245 paragraphs, the pope devotes two to debunking population control as an appropriate means to fighting climate change or general environmental degradation.
In paragraph 50, he derides those who “can only propose a reduction in the birth rate” as the solution. He laments international pressure on developing countries making “economic assistance contingent on certain policies of ‘reproductive health.’” He suggests that “demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development,” and says that to “blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.”
In the same paragraph though he speaks of the need to pay attention to “imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations.”
Again in paragraph 60 the pope says that there are those who hold the extreme view of “men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem,” and consequently believe that “the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited.”
Population control is a major focus for climate change activists, including some of the very experts who the Vatican has relied on in producing the encyclical. For example, Jeffrey Sachs, who recently co-hosted a Vatican conference on climate change, is up front about not only the need for population control but also abortion advocacy to achieve it.
Climate change and its ‘dire consequences’
Even though at one point (188) the pope says he does not mean to “settle scientific questions” but to open debate, the encyclical has many affirmations for climate change, which is hotly contested by many scientists.
The pope speaks of:
- “an urgent need” to “drastically reduce” emission of “carbon dioxide” (26);
- “a very solid scientific consensus” that “indicates … we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system” resulting from “greenhouse gasses” released “mainly as a result of human activity” (23);
- climate change as “a global problem with grave implications” (25);
- and an “urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution” (114).
Beyond a mere acceptance of global warming, the pope seems also to believe the catastrophic predictions that global warming activists have posited. He warns of “an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us” (24). He notes, “It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars” (57).
In that vein, paragraph 161 stands out:
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, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now. We need to reflect on our accountability before those who will have to endure the dire consequences.
Professor Schellnhuber, founder of Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, was an adviser on the draft of the encyclical and one of the four presenters at the press conference releasing the encyclical this morning. Schellnhuber advocates for global government as key to bringing climate change under control, notions reflected in the encyclical.
In several places the encyclical speaks to the need for:
- “an agreement on systems of governance for the whole range of so-called ‘global commons’” (174);
- “think[ing] of one world with a common plan” (164);
- “a global consensus … for confronting the deeper problems, which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions on the part of individual countries” (164);
- “a true world political authority” (175);
- “stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments” (175).
Significantly, the pope says that such an international body should have the power “to impose sanctions” (175) or “impose penalties” (214).
The main paragraph dealing with life issues is 120, where Pope Francis says, “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion.” He also speaks three times about protection of the human embryo.
Pope Francis says it is “troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life” (136). He adds, “There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos.”
Respecting nature means respecting your gender
Pope Francis tied respect for nature to respect for one’s God-given gender, which should spark media interest in light of the international headlines recently garnered by former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner. “Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology,” writes Francis. He spoke of “valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity,” adding, “It is not a healthy attitude which would seek to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.”
This is the fourth time Pope Francis has condemned gender ideology. He does so this time in the language of respecting nature; in January, he did so by blasting the forcing of gender ideology onto students as a form of “ideological colonization” comparable to Hitler Youth indoctrination.