Note to my Catholic readers: No one,especially a faithful Catholic like myself, wants to be perceived as being disparaging to the Papacy or an individual Pope. I considered the title of my headline carefully and nearly changed it since publication. But I can’t in good conscience. Pope Francis’s proposals are indeed dangerous to mankind since they call for global political power that harms individuals. They are based in faulty and biased analysis of the facts. Finally they violate many crucial elements of the Magisterium, which makes the proposal non Catholic in nature. God Bless all and may God’s grace and mercy, Christ’s redemptive power and the blessings of the holy spirit be constantly felt in your life. Dr. David McKalip, 9/28/15.
“…the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good”. Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 188
“Honesty and truth are needed in scientific and political discussions” Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 183
“2442 It is not the role of the Pastors of the Church to intervene directly in the political structuring and organization of social life. This task is part of the vocation of the lay faithful, acting on their own initiative with their fellow citizens.” 2442 Catechism of the Catholic Church
Pope Francis has made an error – and that’s okay. The Pope has erred on climate change politics by allowing himself to be misled, adopting false assumptions, and proposing dangerous and non-Catholic policy initiatives. And that’s Okay. The Pope is prone to fallibility on political matters since, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out the Holy Father is only infallible on matters pertaining to faith and morality. The Holy Father himself agrees, stating in his own Encyclical on Climate Change, “the church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics” (Laudato Si’, 188). Thus, when the Pope is speaking out on climate change politics, he is speaking as one man with an opinion, not the infallible leader and voice of 1.2 billion Catholics on earth.
Pope Mislead and False Assertions on Climate Change
Unfortunately Pope Francis has adopted the completely false narrative of climate change alarmists that a climate catastrophe looms and it is caused by man’s activities. This has been debunked many times over by credible scientists evaluating the matter objectively, as described at the Heartland Institute. Further, a group of 90 scientists sent a letter to Pope Francis relating to his Laudato Si Climate Change encyclical asking him to entertain scientific and moral arguments against climate change theories. In addition, those advising the Pope’s are discredited extremists as described by the Acton institute (center for study of Religion and Liberty). They include economist Jeffrey Sachs, a prominent supporter of abortion and population control, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber who believes the erath’s population carrying capacity is 1 billion (we are at 7 billion now). More importantly, those who have alternative viewpoints were excluded from advising the Pope, including a French Scientist who wrote a book debunking much of the climate alarmism – Philippe de Larminate.
Pope’s Dangerous Policy Proposals on Climate: Global government, Central planning and Force.
Pope Francis addressed the US Congress on 9/24/15 and stated: “ I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.” He further stated:
“I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.”
The Pope refers heavily to Laudato Si’, his encyclical on climate, economic activity and political proposals. Sadly, those proposals repeatedly call for a global government structure to impose the will of central planners claiming to act to save the planet. In Laudato Si, Pope Francis calls for a “True world political authority” (175). He calls for solutions to have a “global perspective”, and to act with “one world with a common plan” (164). He repeatedly indicates that these global political authorities should be creating enforceable policies on “a sustainable and diversified agriculture, developing renewable and less polluting forms of energy, encouraging a more efficient use of energy, promoting a better management of marine and forest resources, and ensuring universal access to drinking water.” He states that “WE Know” (he doesn’t say who “knows”) that technology based on “highly polluting fossil fuels…needs to be progressively replaced without delay”. He frequently states things like: “restraints occasionally have to be imposed on those possessing greater resources and financial power” (129). He agrees with ecological activists who state “certain limits be imposed on scientific research” (136) and “Global regulatory norms are needed to impose obligations and prevent unacceptable actions”,(173)
The Pontiff makes it entirely clear that he wants a global authority to dictacte actions at the local level.
“Given this situation, it is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions.” (175)
“One authoritative source of oversight and coordination is the law, which lays down rules for admissible conduct in the light of the common good. The limits which a healthy, mature and sovereign society must impose are those related to foresight and security, regulatory norms, timely enforcement, the elimination of corruption, effective responses to undesired side-effects of production processes, and appropriate intervention where potential or uncertain risks are involved.” (177)
“Enforceable international agreements are urgently needed, since local authorities are not always capable of effective intervention.” (173)
Pope Francis even quotes Romano Guardini as follows:
“This task “will make such tremendous demands of man that he could never achieve it by individual initiative or even by the united effort of men bred in an individualistic way. The work of dominating the world calls for a union of skills and a unity of achievement that can only grow from quite a different attitude”. The ecological conversion needed to bring about lasting change is also a community conversion.
It is surprising and deeply concerning to see a positive and serious reference to a call for “dominating the world” so as to overcome “individualistic” ways of man.
The Pope’s Proposals on Global Government and Climate Change are Non-catholic
The Pope repeatedly and appropriately points to the need for law to respect the “Common Good”. Unfortunately, the media and many big government progressive think that means their definition of the “common good” which comes from more central planning and control by elites. However the Catholic Church is clear that the Common Good must respect individual dignity, subsidiarity and place the rights of individuals above the quest for the Common Good. The Catholic concept of the Common Good has been discussed in detail on the Sunbeam Times. (To read the Cathechism and verify the quotes here, please see the outstanding CCC site at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Picayune, MS)
The Pope ignores an essential condition of society – Subsidiarity – when he repeatedly calls for a massive global government structure able to impose its will on all in the world. The Catechism warns against excessive government intervention:
“1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”
1894 In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.
1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.
2209 The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life.
The Pope frequently and inappropriately attacks capitalism as the source of the perceived global environmental “crisis”. He frequently assumes that any profit earning activity on energy is designed to earn a profit at any expense. This demonstrates an immature understanding of market forces as has been well described by Thomas Woods in his book “The Church and the Market”. More importantly, the Pope, when calling for central planning by global government is overtly calling for a socialist or collectivist approach to society. That is forbidden by the Catholic Church which states in the Catehcism:
“2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with “communism” or “socialism.” She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for “there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.” Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.”
Of course the same paragraph points to inappropriate quests for illegitimate profit in unfettered capitalism. This issue has been discussed extensively in the treatise on Evangelii Gaudium here at the Sunbeam Times. In brief, the attacks of the Pope on Capitalism are misplaced since he more properly should recognize the activity he has labeled as capitalism as crony corporatism. The Pope ignores the basic property rights of individual in society and their ability to engage in economic activity when he calls for dominion over their activities from a global government.
“2431 The responsibility of the state.” Economic activity, especially the activity of a market economy, cannot be conducted in an institutional, juridical, or political vacuum. On the contrary, it presupposes sure guarantees of individual freedom and private property, as well as a stable currency and efficient public services. Hence the principal task of the state is to guarantee this security, so that those who work and produce can enjoy the fruits of their labors and thus feel encouraged to work efficiently and honestly. . . . Another task of the state is that of overseeing and directing the exercise of human rights in the economic sector. However, primary responsibility in this area belongs not to the state but to individuals and to the various groups and associations which make up society.”217 2431 Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Finally, the Pope has expressed a lopsided view of “social justice” when he calls for dominating global government that can impose the will of remote central planners. He also fails to recognize and acknowledge the degree to which large government structures become corrupt and produce actions to serve their own greed and power rather than their intended good actions. (The Catechism also warns about the moral evil that arises from unintended consequences). Here the Pope must remember what the Church says about Social Justice.
1929 Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him:
What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.35
1930 Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy.36 If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church’s role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.
The Pope has erred on climate change and that is okay. However, it is not okay to err in a way that violates the central teachings of the Catholic Church on government, individual freedom, subsidiarity, social justice and the common good as well as unintended consequences. Calling for global government over the lives of individuals is very dangerous to freedom, individual dignity of persons and the subsidiarity needed in society. It will allow central planners to stop economic growth where they choose and pick the winners elsewhere. It will allow politics to dominate, where instead the laws of God should dominate. This is dangerous to mankind. Luckily the Pope, in Laudato Si’ agreed that he and the Church did not have the answer to these questions. Lay Catholics, Americans and society as a whole should reject the Pope’s call for global government and his faulty conclusions that the earth is in danger from man-made climate change. . This faithful Catholic will pray for enlightenment of all on this issue, including Pope Francis.