“On both the form and the substance, Francis represents continuity with papal teaching, not a break.” -Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry-
The papal encyclical Laudato Si’ (Blessed are you.) states the obvious. Every point mentioned in Pope Francis’ letter I’ve read or heard before from environmentalists, social activists and scientists including your beloved writer in articles past. Howeve,r having the Pope take an in depth stance is something else since the Holy Father’s words carry immense weight. Previous pontiffs have written about the perils of pillaging our planet, Pope Francis does things in a theatrical manner that makes him unique.
Laudato Si’ is a high point in Christian writing. It took me hours to read Pope Francis’ second encyclical. The document is an eyeful. The Pope’s letter talks about every aspect of human behavior and existence from global climate change, wage slavery, care for the ecology, sex abuse of minors, human trafficking, the sale of human organs, against sadistic abuse of animals in medical experiments, clean water for all, poverty, unhealthy urban environments to basic Christian teaching.
According to Associated Press writer Rachel Zoll the Pope’s encyclical can be narrowed down to five primary points. Papal documents are occasionally researched and written by others with the reigning pontiffs views in mind. The Holy Father doesn’t have time to go to libraries or scan the internet. The Pope doesn’t hold a doctorate in any science discipline though he once worked as a chemist. Others more knowledgeable on certain subjects than Francis do the leg work assumedly environmentalists and criminalists plus others as in the case of Laudato Si.’ He states that global warming is real (He should come to Chicago where for two straight years our summers have been cold, gloomy and rainy affairs.). Coastal cities will face record flooding as ocean levels rise. Some plants and animals will face extinction from human misuse/mismanagement of vital life sustaining natural resources an example being contaminated drinking water as aquifers dry up and oceans acidify.
Pope Francis delved into a subject area I’m quite familiar with theoretically and experientially; POVERTY. Francis said poverty is the root cause of evil. I’ve always maintained that ‘full folks don’t fight’ people with sufficient food in their bellies in the grand majority of cases aren’t war mongers. When was the last time the major players (Germany, Japan, Russia, the United States, France and the United Kingdom) went at it save for small proxy wars? Third world nations slaughter each other in turf wars over ‘scraps of bread.’ The numerous brush fire wars are all being waged between impoverished nations struggling over the globe’s dwindling reserves. Wealthy countries supply munitions so poor nations can murder themselves but rarely in sufficient amounts to make any real difference; they keep ‘em fighting to divert their attentions from the real culprits- rich nations exploiting poor countries for their natural/human resources.
The pontiff never said that economic growth alone will alleviate poverty though having more than enough to eat does much to assuage hunger. Point—during the relatively prosperous period of the late 1960’s through early 1980’s when pseudo-pacifism ruled the day. During the Bush II decades, the conservatives with their military mentality did much to destroy the once thriving middle classes by promoting legislation that favors the upper classes while getting the poor to rally around the flag in bloody wars. The liberals on the other hand worked similar depravities on the soul via abortion, destruction of the Family and fostering other soul killing actions.
Closely tied to the above scenario is Pope Francis’ belief that every activity that affects nature must “take into account the fundamental rights of the poor and underprivileged…unethical consumerism has fuelled a level of consumption that allows environmental degradation to continue…” that people should “use public transportation or car-pooling, plant trees and turn off unnecessary lights;” tell that to a certain person close to my heart who assume I’m privy to a money tree and energy is free and plentiful.
As a former Greenpeace volunteer until my legs got the worse of me, I wholeheartedly endorse papal teaching but just you try telling that to people camping out in inclement weather waiting for stores to open whenever there’s a sale on. It’s been my experience that 99.9% of Americans blatantly ignore environmental teachings. Some will curse you out if you suggest they make even the smallest lifestyle change.
Pope Francis calls on individuals to form social networks and urge political leaders for change; FORGET IT! Most Americans rarely vote, few write letters to legislators, constantly complain, rarely read anything save for movie magazines and the sports pages, are techno junkies and work at low paying brain numbing jobs. Folks don’t care what the Pope or anybody else says unless it infringes upon their material comforts. Aforementioned in previous articles; apathy will be the death of us all.
The Holy Father is big on promoting government policy changes; me too. In a few months Pope Francis will address Congress and the United Nations on the subject of proposed regulatory action to stave off global warming, climate change, and ways and means to end poverty. Going to the top has better chances for initiating change than working at lower levels of government. There are two problems with this; governments are owned and operated by big business interests. The business of government is business. Francis’ call for change in global ethics which make people and nature priorities one and two is the right course of action. Getting greedy CEO’S to shut down oil wells and invest in green energy is another matter. The Matt Damon movie ‘Syriana’ is case in point.
The message of Pope Francis isn’t a Catholic’s only issue; saving planet Earth is everybody’s problem. Considered the Vicar of Christ by many he cites core Catholic teaching on environmental stewardship in his letter. He ends by asking God to bring “healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it…touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.” The Lord like a SWAT team when confronting dangerous criminals politely asks crooks to lay down their weapons. If they disregard the order, then the shooting starts. Let’s listen to our God through His teacher Francis before the Lord unleashes Nature’s punishment upon humankind.
If the warnings presented in the Holy Father’s letter are ignored I predict global revolution as a prelude to Nature’s revenge. It all comes down to the usual two choices, life or death. A reluctant Prophet Jonah preached to Nineveh and the people repented. Modern day prophet Francis is preaching to the global community. In the words of Jesus ‘time will tell where wisdom lie.’
To be continued.