Who could have predicted, six months ago, what the encyclical
Laudato Si’, would hold in store? Seems like Jennifer Roback Morse could.
In a January 2015 piece for The Daily Caller, Morse made some predictions that turned out to be spot on.
I do not know what he is going to say. Neither, dear reader, does anyone else you are likely to read. However, I can tell you two things that he will certainly not say. And those two unsaid things have the potential to speak volumes, if only we will listen.
He will certainly not say that overpopulation is the cause of any environmental problem. This old trope will be completely absent from the Holy Father’s document.
He will certainly not say that contraception, abortion or sterilization, voluntary or involuntary, are necessary components of any comprehensive solutions to environmental problems.
Morse asks the reader to consider the situation after the publication of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae, in 1968.
In my opinion, the dissenters did an enormous disservice to the Church and to the world. They choose not to defend the prophetic voice of Pope Paul VI, who accurately predicted that the widespread promotion of contraception would cause great damage. They looked for every possible loophole they could find to undermine his teaching. Instead of placing the most generous interpretation on his words, they asked themselves, “What is the least that an ordinary Catholic has to do to stay in the good graces of the Church.”
Knowing that no analogy is perfect, we can ask ourselves, what is the analogue with our current situation? We might very well find things in the Holy Father’s words about the environment that we don’t like, or that we think will not stand the test of time. We could spend all our time and energy focused on those points, explaining why we have every right to disagree. And it is certainly conceivable that there will be points where loyal but critical engagement is appropriate.
But even if that proves to be the case, we would serve the Church and the world better by a different emphasis. We should enthusiastically embrace every part of the document that we decently can. By doing so, our actions and words can shift the focus of the discussion and the debate. If the Pope gives us an opening, we should take it.