This week the Catholic church dived head first into one of the thorniest issues facing modern society. It came in the form of an Encyclical authored by Pope Francis that detailed the Church’s position on Climate Change. The official document, titled “On Care For Our Common Home,” is a surprisingly in-depth analysis of the environmental crisis that includes science-based observations on ecosystems, biodiversity, marine health, waste management, renewable energy, recycling, deforestation, GMO’s, and the social and political obstacles to reform.
The response by most of the conservatives who would generally be seen as allies of religious institutions like the Catholic church was an immediate knee-jerk opposition that went to extreme lengths to dispute the Pope’s spiritual guidance. It was more than a difference of opinion, it was vitriolic denouncement and defamation. They characterized the once-infallible Holy See as an anti-capitalist subversive and a Marxist. Additionally, they discounted his credentials to address the subject of Climate Change because he was not a scientist.
First of all, not being a scientist has never stopped politicians from bloviating on Climate Change. Secondly, the Pope’s position on the matter is in sync with 97% of the scientists who have studied it. And the icing on the cake is that Pope Francis actually did study chemistry and worked as a chemist before joining the seminary. What’s more, the charges of Marxist leanings pale after reading the whole Encyclical in which the Pope quotes three previous popes who share his views, including the right’s favorite pontiff, John Paul II. In fact. contrary to the assertion that care for the environment is outside of the Pope’s jurisdiction, the document is full of scriptural arguments demanding that good Christians be stewards of God’s creation, not destroyers.
Leading the crusade against Pope Francis is Fox News, of course. The anchors and contributors on the network condemned him to varying degrees. Perhaps the most offensive was Greg Gutfeld who called the Pope “the most dangerous person on the planet,” and said that “All he needs is dreadlocks and a dog with a bandana and he could be on Occupy Wall Street.” But what makes these venomous onslaughts all the more peculiar is that Fox News is virtually a Catholic Enclave on the Air, as News Corpse has noted previously.
Fox News is the closest thing in media to a Vatican PR office, with a roster that is heavily weighted with Roman-Catholics. They include: Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, Bill Hemmer, Brian Kilmeade, Andrew Napolitano, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Kucinich, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Father Morris. Rupert Murdoch, was himself inducted into the “Knights of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great” by Pope John Paul II. And if that isn’t enough, the current Senior Communications Adviser in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, Greg Burke, was previously the Fox News correspondent covering the Vatican, a position he held for ten years.
By steadfastly refusing to adhere to Catholic church doctrine, the Fox News Catholics have made themselves apostates who would rather sin against their Lord than acknowledge the common sense and scientific reasoning that the Pope has validated from a religious perspective. They would rather side with the moneylenders and pharisees (banks, corporations, oil and mining companies, politicians, etc.), than their own faith leaders. And this isn’t the first time, either. A couple of years ago the Pope published an Encyclical expressing the church’s disapproval of income inequality. He specifically called out trickle-down economics as having “never been confirmed by the facts.”
It is in this environment that that the Fox News Catholics are entirely willing to ignore the clear case for loving and protecting the Earth for themselves, their heirs, and their God, as laid out by Pope Francis. Here are some key excerpts that they might want to ponder:
5) Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies.
20) Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths.
21) The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.
23) A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.
26) Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms.
47) Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature.
47) When media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches.
54) It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment makes it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.
59) Such evasiveness serves as a license to carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption. This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing will happen.
68) The Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism.
114) Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.
169) Those who will have to suffer the consequences of what we are trying to hide will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility.
175) The same mindset which stands in the way of making radical decisions to reverse the trend of global warming also stands in the way of achieving the goal of eliminating poverty.
190) We need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that the problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals. Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations? Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention.
Given the clarity with which the Pope expresses himself, it is rather startling that so many of his disciples in the media are so eager to abandon him. Although he, himself, may not be surprised as he addresses what he calls “mental pollution” (see #47 above) in this encyclical along with environmental pollution. That mental variation may have been best demonstrated last year when Republicans in the U.S. Congress declined to vote for a resolution honoring Pope Francis because he was “sounding like [President] Obama.” That’s how friggin crazy they are.
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