Posts tagged with: environment

Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, June 25, 2015

Conservative Catholics Try to Domesticate Laudato Si
Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches

Meanwhile, the response from the US leadership of the church to Francis’ urgent plea for action has been noticeably muted. Mark Silk reports that at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ eagerly anticipated presser on the encyclical last week, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and other leaders seemed to go out of their way to tone down Francis’ message….

Pope Francis’s Poverty And Environment Ideas Will Worsen Both
Kathleen Hartnett White, The Federalist

As a lifelong Catholic with graduate degrees in religious studies and a long stint as the head of an environmental agency second in size only to the Environmental Protection Agency, I am deeply troubled by Pope Francis’ encyclical “Praise to You, Lord (Laudato, Si’): On Care of Our Common Home.” Long anticipated for revelation of the pope’s support for a global climate treaty, the encyclical is, and is not, focused on global warming.

Where Did Pope Francis’s Extravagant Rant Come From?
Maureen Mullarkey, The Federalist

Subversion of Christianity by the spirit of the age has been a hazard down the centuries. The significance of “Laudato Si” lies beyond its stated concern for the climate. Discount obfuscating religious language. The encyclical lays ground to legitimize global government and makes the church an instrument of propaganda—a herald for the upcoming United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Paris.

The pope’s climate change message is really about rethinking what it means to be human
Stephen P. White, Vox

What makes this encyclical controversial is its reading of contested questions of science, economics, and politics. What makes it radical — in the sense of going to the root — is the pope’s reading of the profound human crisis that he sees underlying our modern world. Abuse of our environment isn’t the only problem facing humanity. In fact, Pope Francis sees the ecological crisis as a symptom of a deeper crisis — a human crisis. These two problems are related and interdependent. And the solution is not simply to eliminate fossil fuels or rethink carbon credits. The pope is calling on the world to rediscover what it means to be human — and as a result, to reject the cult of economic growth and material accumulation


Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, recently wrote for The Federalist that the overreach by the Pope into a wide range of environmental issues plagues the text of the encyclical:

Neither the pope nor the teaching authority he exercises is required to comment on every imaginable subject discussed in the public square, whether it is air-conditioning’s environmental impact, contemporary threats to plankton, the effect of synthetic agrotoxins on birds, or how dams affect animal migration (and, yes, all four are discussed in “Laudato Si”). The same goes for Catholic bishops. They’re under no obligation as bishops to articulate an opinion—let alone formal teachings—on every conceivable public policy issue.

One reason for this is that the Catholic Church itself teaches there is considerable room for legitimate disagreement among Catholics about the vast majority of political and economic questions (the legal treatment of matters like abortion and euthanasia being two of the better-known notable exceptions). But a second reason is that the primary responsibility for addressing most social, economic, and political matters belongs, as affirmed by Vatican II in its decree on the laity “Apostolicam Actuositatem,” to lay Catholics: not popes, bishops, priests, or members of religious orders.

Read the full post “A Roundtable on Laudato Si” at The Federalist.

Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The problem with Pope Francis’ encyclical is that nature is nasty: Spengler
David P. Goldman, Spengler

The trouble with natural theology (the notion that nature itself points us to an understanding of the divine) is that nature herself is a nasty piece of work. When St. Francis of Assisi and his namesake, the reigning Pope, laud nature as “mother” and “sister,” they open a can of theological worms. Nature is no sister of mine. Christians like to view things in terms of teleology–their ultimate goal–and the teleology of the world we know is to be destroyed in a fireball.

What Do We Do When the Pope Gets It Wrong?
John Zmirak, The Stream

No less a defender of Catholic truth than Barack Obama has made it clear: Pope Francis threw “the full moral authority of his position” behind the need to abandon fossil fuels, junk our unjust and exploitative free market system, and massively redistribute wealth via globalist institutions. These heroic measures are essential to save the earth and cushion the impact of switching to solar, thermal or hamster-treadmill power for poor countries worldwide.

Pope Francis vs. Wall Street
Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post

For Pope Francis, the market and the economy must be bound by rules that serve “basic and inalienable rights.” At the center of these is work: “We were created with a vocation to work.” Work is the setting for “rich personal growth . . . creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values . . . giving glory to God.” Therefore, priority should be given to “the goal of access to steady employment for everyone, no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning.”

Pope Francis’ climate-change encyclical: If only Galileo could see it
Sarah Mosko, The Los Angeles Times

If successful, this pope’s encyclical will more than make up for the harm the Catholic Church caused in the past by its intransigent denial of the science proving that the Earth is not the center of the universe. Too bad Galileo isn’t here to see the church take the lead this time.


Doug Bandow, member of the Advisory Board of the Acton Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, discusses the problem of politics with regard to Pope Francis’ recent encyclical.

In Calling on Government, Laudato Si Misses the Problem of Politics

by Doug Bandow

In his new encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis challenges “every person living on this planet” to adopt a new “ecological spirituality.” But his economic and policy prescriptions are more controversial than his theological convictions. Indeed, his ideas already are being deployed by political advocates. For instance, with the UN pushing a new climate agreement, Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, proclaimed that the encyclical “is going to have a major impact.”

The Pope’s commitment to the poor and our shared world is obvious and appropriate. Yet there is much in his practical arguments to criticize. When he speaks of spiritual matters his vision is clear. When he addresses policy his grasp is less sure. In practice, markets and property rights have much to offer humanity as it seeks to build a better, cleaner world.

Perhaps of even more consequence, the Pontiff ignores the flawed nature of government. He is disappointed with its present failings, but appears to assume that politics, unlike humanity, is perfectible. Thus, he hopes transferring environmental and other crises created by the flawed marketplace to the enlightened political realm will lead to the better world which we all desire.


Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Concerning the “Ecological” Path to Salvation
James V. Schall, S.J., The Catholic World Report

Whether or not we need church leaders also “believing” this ecological doctrine is probably not so clear. Still, the most problematic issue that Pope Francis’ earth-warming advocacy brings up is its scientific status. At best, it is opinion backed by some evidence. The document does not mention contrary evidence. Satellite readings of the planet’s temperature are different from UN computer generated statistics. The planet’s temperature has not changed in recent decades. Most of the controverted issues can plausibly be explained by natural causes. Climate changes have occurred on this planet since its beginning, long before man. The burning of fossil fuels does not produce any significant change in the already very low percentage (0.035%) of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Energy Realities And Big Data Complicate The Pope’s Call To Abandon Fossil Fuels
Mark P. Mills, Forbes

In Encyclicals, Popes quite properly speak from foundational religious and moral principles. I plan to speak about energy, hydrocarbons in particular, but from the perspective of foundational physics and economic principles. These are two different magisteria.

Being Stewards – Not Owners – of Our Environment
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, Huffington Post

Business is a human enterprise and must strive for true human development and the common good. In the years ahead, the challenges will be large. How can we develop technologies that will move us to a zero-carbon economy? How can we boost living standards of the developing world in a sustainable way? How can we make sure all have access to nutrition, energy, healthcare and education?

The Left and Right Try to Lobby Pope Francis Months Ahead of U.S. Visit
Melinda Henneberger, Bloomberg

Previous popes spoke about the environment, too–to the point that Benedict was even called the “green pope”–but American conservatives remained unfazed because the overall emphasis on social issues was still to their liking. With Francis, that’s no longer the case.

US bishops say Pope Francis’ encyclical is a call to examine lifestyle choices
National Catholic Reporter

The church is not interested in settling scientific questions or replacing politics, said Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski. “But she does, however, wish to contribute to the conversation and offer a road map based on a correct anthropology or understanding of human dignity that includes the poor and excludes no one.”


postudo-108Francis X. Rocca’s Wall Street Journal article about Laudato Si’ has been translated into Spanish. Featured in Tuesday’s EcoLinks, this piece addresses many topics surrounding the new ecological encyclical, including the pope’s seeming condemnation of capitalism. Rocca quotes Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg who argues that the system the pope condemns is not actually free market capitalism:

El pontífice argentino, el primero en la historia en provenir del hemisferio Sur, escribe sobre la “deuda ecológica” del Norte global con el Sur, aduciendo que “los pueblos en vías de desarrollo, donde se encuentran las más importantes reservas de la biosfera, siguen alimentando el desarrollo de los países más ricos a costa de su presente y de su futuro”.

Las duras palabras de la encíclica desataron una inmediata polémica, anticipando el peso que la postura del Papa puede llegar a tener en el debate sobre cómo responder al cambio climático. Samuel Gregg, un católico que se desempeña como director de investigación del Acton Institute, un centro de estudios ecuménico conservador que promueve el libre mercado, objetó las premisas económicas del Papa, al decir que Francisco tiene “puntos ciegos significativos” sobre la economía de mercado. También dijo que la encíclica “en muchos aspectos es una caricatura de la economía de mercado”.


Doug Bandow, advisory board member of the Acton Institute, praises the new encyclical for its understanding of man and religion, but criticizes it for its lack of knowledge of economics and politics in an article for The American Spectator.

Despite his commitment to ecological values, the Holy Father acknowledges that “a return to nature cannot be at the expense of freedom and the responsibility of the human being, that is the part of the world tasked with cultivating its ability to protect and develop their potential.” He also rejects “deification of the earth, which would deprive us of the call to collaborate with it and protect its fragility.”

Nevertheless, humanity’s responsibility for the environment is complex and the Pope discusses ecological values in the context of economic development and care for the poor. How to creatively transform but at the same time gently preserve the natural world is not easy. Unfortunately, in its policy prescriptions Laudato Si sounds like it was written by an advocate, largely ignoring countervailing arguments. The resulting factual and philosophical shortcomings undercut the larger and more profound theological discussion.

Read the full article “Praise ‘Be Praised’ for Its Intent, not Execution” at The American Spectator.


Peter Johnson, external relations officer for the Acton Institute, discusses the muddled economic message in the recent encyclical for The Federalist:

While I don’t doubt for a moment that Pope Francis sincerely wants to help the poor, I think it would be difficult for even the most erudite Catholic scholars to find a coherent message in a passage like this.

For example, he praises business as a “noble vocation” while summarily disparaging “economies of scale.” While he recognizes that poor people need to be connected to the larger economy to rise out of poverty, he also encourages “civil authorities” to constrain those in the larger economy who actually have the capital to invest in new enterprises.

This vacillation between upholding the merits of enterprise and disparaging profits runs throughout the encyclical. If I could sum up his view on commerce in one sentence it would be this: Business is okay, as long as you don’t make too much money.

Read the entire post “Pope Francis’ Incoherent Economics” here at The Federalist.


All eyes seem to be directed toward Rome last week as the Pope weighed in on climate change. As anticipated, there has already been a lot of spinning by the whirling dervishes of the zealous variety– doubling down on their over-the-top, pre-release spin.

Yes, it’s a given both sides of the climate-change debate are spinning, but as your writer is on the skeptical end of the spectrum it seems the other end is receiving the majority of media coverage. Skeptics? We’re castigated as “deniers,” “Republicans,” and, of course, “anti-science.” Ouch! No worries, however, as we skeptics have grown accustomed to ad hominem attacks, not to mention pseudo-science, false claims of a scientific consensus agreeing on human-caused global warming, and accusations we’re performing the bidding of Faux News. Hoo boy, as Boris Badenov used to say.

Allow me a bit of schadenfreude when I report the consistent defeat of so-called religious-based shareholder activism deployed against oil and gas companies – on which more below. I take pleasure in these persistent defeats not because I dislike my loyal opposition as much as they dislike skeptics but because I’m convinced the best way to lift the poor from poverty and incumbent disease, hunger and illness is cheap and readily available fuels. It’s not about winning an argument from my point of view inasmuch it’s about enabling the world’s poorest to attain self-sufficiency, health, and comfort – mostly because I recognize the world’s poverty has been halved in the past 20 years, largely due to affordable fuels.

And yet… Elizabeth Douglass at InsideClimate News reports religious shareholders are persistent in their failed efforts to deep-six economically the companies in which they invest. Douglass trots out the usual suspects: Timothy Smith of Boston-based Walden Asset Management; Sister Patricia Daly of the Roman Catholic Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, N.J.; and Rev. Michael Crosby from the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order in Milwaukee. Daly and Crosby, notes Douglass, “have worked together for years as active participants in the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a New York group whose members manage more than $100 billion in assets.” Douglass continues:

For the past few years, several climate resolutions at Exxon have won more than a quarter of the shareholder vote, and sometimes nearly a third. The vote count reached a remarkable level of backing for proposals opposed by management, according to Heidi Welsh, executive director at the Sustainable Investments Institute, a Maryland-based nonprofit that provides impartial analysis of social and environmental policy shareholder resolutions.


Acton Institute Co-Founder and President Rev. Robert A. Sirico made an appearance on America’s News Headquarters on Fox News Channel this afternoon to discuss the impact of Pope Francis’ new encyclical, and to share his thoughts as part of the discussion the Pope has called upon us all to participate in on the state of the environment. You can view his Father’s Day appearance using the video player below.