The Pope’s encyclical “Laudato Si” is winning fulsome praise from the left for its embrace of environmentalism. But, as the editors of The Stream point out, those folks aren’t saying anything about 11 other teachings in that document that don’t accord so well with the spirit of the times. These include the condemnation of abortion, a rejection of sexual immorality, and a tempering of feminism. (See the 11 after the jump.)
The Pope is indeed advocating environmentalism, but he is doing so in the context of a larger theological perspective on matter, the physical universe, and objective reality. Let me sum it up this way: Embrace nature, but that means also embracing the natural purpose of sex (conceiving children), the natural body (so no transgenderism), the natural difference between men and women (so feminism will have its limits), and natural law in general (the connection of moral truth to objective reality).
We can still quarrel with the Pope’s environmentalism and his theology, but he is working from a worldview that flies in the face of most postmodernists who, in believing that there is no objective reality they are subject to, reject the very concept of nature. That number includes, ironically, many environmentalists.
I am just going to list the 11 topics I’ve referred to. For the quotations from the encyclical that deal with each of these issues, click on the link to go to the original article. I will quote a few of those passages, such as the ones that deal with vocation (natch), since this is another Christian teaching about human beings living in the physical, natural world. Also the inconsistency of those who want to save animals while embracing abortion and those who criticize technology while supporting experimentation on human embryos. From 11 Things You Probably Won’t Hear about Pope Francis’ Encyclical | The Stream:
(1) Creation has a Creator, and is more than just “nature-plus-evolution”
(2) Human ecology means recognizing and valuing the difference between masculinity and femininity:
The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.”
(3) Jesus sanctifies human work:
Jesus worked with his hands, in daily contact with the matter created by God, to which he gave form by his craftsmanship. It is striking that most of his life was dedicated to this task in a simple life which awakened no admiration at all: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mk 6:3). In this way he sanctified human labour and endowed it with a special significance for our development. As Saint John Paul II taught, “by enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity”.(4) Look up from your phones and encounter each other:
(5) Save the baby humans:
(120) Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.”
(136) [I]t is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life. There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos. We forget that the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development. In the same way, when technology disregards the great ethical principles, it ends up considering any practice whatsoever as licit.
(91) A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted.
(6) Helping the poor requires more than just handouts:
(128) We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity fulfillment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work.
(7) Overpopulation is not the problem:
(50) Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health.” Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.” To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.
(8) True ecology requires true anthropology and respect for human dignity:
(9) Real change requires a change in culture, not just politics:
(10) The Church does not presume to settle scientific questions, and we need an honest and open debate:
(11) Stop with the cynicism, secularism and immorality:
HT: Bruce Gee