This is an informal, non-scientific poll that I’m conducting from my own curiosity.
Did you pastor address the Supreme Court decision doing away with marriage in his homily Sunday?
Has he ever preached on the issue of gay marriage?
I’m just curious.
This is an informal, non-scientific poll that I’m conducting from my own curiosity.
Did you pastor address the Supreme Court decision doing away with marriage in his homily Sunday?
Has he ever preached on the issue of gay marriage?
I’m just curious.
This statement was issued by Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz of Louisville, KY. Archbishop Kurtz is president of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.
I am printing it in full, without editing. To read more, go here.
June 26, 2015
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court decision, June 26, interpreting the U.S. Constitution to require all states to license and recognize same-sex “marriage” “is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The full statement follows:
Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.
The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.
Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.
I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.
Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Supreme Court, religious freedom, marriage, same-sex, Obergefell v. Hodges, Roe v. Wade, Pope Francis, integral ecology, encyclical
# # #
Norma Montenegro Flynn
The news cycle turns and turns.
Friday, when the Supreme Court decision ending marriage came down, pundits jumped on the run-in-circles, scream-and-shout bandwagon. One week-end later, and they are all set to do the don’t-panic-you-unlettered-ones, it’s-not-that-bad pat down.
Today is the day when the flood of there-there-little-buttercup-it’s-alright commentary begins. We’ll be treated to analysis as to how same-sex marriage has not hurt anybody anywhere and there has been no push past gay marriage to an even more elastic set of definitions. We’ll hear how the Church is flourishing in countries with gay marriage and has not suffered harm.
We’ll be told to stand down and go about our business as if nothing has happened. Somebody somewhere is sure to use the meme, Keep Calm and Catholic On.
This is evidently as predictable as pundit ignorance is inevitable. Most of these people couldn’t read a law and tell you what it means if their lives depended on it. They certainly couldn’t look at a statute or a court ruling and see the ez pz ways in which it can be massaged for use in further challenges or revisions or whatnot.
In my humble opinion and for what it’s worth, the decision the Court handed down Friday is as elastic as hot taffy. It is so elastic that it destroys marriage as a legal construct. There is now no marriage in the dependable, this-is-what-it-is way of law under American jurisprudence. We now live in the Wild West of marriage.
It will take a while for the destructive vagueness of this hatched-up decision to roll its way through the body politic, but when it does, the damage is going to be widespread, endemic and generational. The court created a Constitutional crisis that will spawn other Constitutional crises that will spawn civil unrest that will spawn a much uglier culture war than what has damaged this nation so seriously up until now.
The Supreme Court has, in the past 50 years, been the chief creator of civil and cultural unrest in this nation, and it has now outdone itself.
If you want someone to go hush-a-bye and sing lullabies to you, read another blog. I would be lying to you if I did that. Contrary to the things you may read elsewhere, I’m going to tell you that it really is “that bad.”
But I’m also going to tell you not to panic.
Today is not the time to begin the process of talking about how we will respond to this new challenge. People — including me — need a bit of time to process this emotionally.
I wrote Friday and Saturday on the decision itself. I will probably do that again.
But for today I’m going to tell you one thing: The damage the Court did to this country Friday is every bit as bad as your worst thoughts of it. But — and this sounds ironic, I know — there is no reason to panic.
Martin Luther King, Jr, said “A lie cannot live.”
I would paraphrase that to say that a lie cannot live forever. Western civilization is in the grip of a number of lies about the most essential questions of all. We are debating the roots of civilization itself with questions revolving around the basic right to life and what it means to be human.
One question we have not asked, but which is much-needed, is how much nihilistic rot a culture can withstand before it collapses. Another unasked but needed question is whether or not we will impose any limits on human hubris.
Those of us who are traditional Christians, specifically those of us who are Catholic, have a stronger position in this debate simply because we are not balancing, as the Supreme Court did in its ruling, on the ever-rolling marbles of public popularity and poll numbers. We are standing on the Rock.
Notice, I did not say that we are standing on “a rock.” I said “the Rock.”
I’m going to noodle with this decision and its supporting arguments for a couple of days. You and I both need to do this to get our bearings in this new landscape. We’ll deal with the what is part of this situation first. Then, we’ll deal with the personal challenges that we face.
Then — and only then — we’ll look at political responses.
This is going to be a long fight. We have an entire culture that is caught in a self-righteous suicidal frenzy before us, and it’s our job to save it. We have a world to convert and re-convert. Our first work in the conversion department begins with ourselves.
The truth of our situation is that it really is “that bad.” But those of us who are standing on the Rock have no reason to panic.
My spiritual leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, wrote a stirring letter to my diocese recently. I’m sharing it here without editing.
The Future of Marriage Hangs in the Balance
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
The recent media fascination with the “transition” of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn has highlighted the tragic confusion about gender and sexual difference in society today. Rooted in both natural law and divine revelation, our Catholic teaching affirms that men and women are equal and different. Together they are created in the image and likeness of God. Man and woman are designed by God in relation to one another to form a conjugal union that brings forth children. The consequences of this affirmation are far-reaching.
Sexual difference is essential to marriage and child rearing. Our bodies matter. We don’t just have a body. We are a body. Without this basis in sexual difference and complementarity, there is no limit to what “marriage” could mean.
Perhaps by the time this issue of the Sooner Catholic is published, and certainly by the end of June, the Supreme Court will have issued its ruling on two crucial questions dealing with the very definition of marriage. The questions the court is addressing ask whether the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a “marriage” between two people of the same sex, and whether the same amendment requires a state to recognize same sex “marriages,” which were lawfully licensed and performed in another state.
No matter how the court rules, it cannot change what marriage really is. Marriage by its nature remains the union of one man and one woman. It is a natural institution that predates and precedes governments and government regulation.
Every society has acknowledged that the sexual union of man and woman matters because it creates the next generation. While Jesus elevated Christian marriage to a sacrament, the complementarity of the sexes and the natural meaning of marriage can be known through reason even without appealing to Scripture.
Governments have long maintained an interest in protecting and preserving marriage. Society needs an institution that connects children to their mothers and fathers, and marriage is the only institution that does this. Every child has a mother and father and deserves to be loved and raised by them. Certainly, there are many circumstances that can hinder and prevent this, but marriage has always been the primary way that society protects this right of children to be raised by both a mother and a father. Both matter. Both are irreplaceable. Only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother. A child should not be deliberately deprived of either one. There are certainly wonderful single parents and others who make great sacrifices to raise children. They deserve our respect and support. But, every society ought to affirm each child’s basic natural right to come from and be raised in a loving home formed by his or her own mother and father joined together in a stable marriage.
Law is a teacher. A redefinition of marriage in the law teaches that one sex is interchangeable with another, and that either mother or father is dispensable as a parent. This ignores the wisdom of millennia of lived experience. It teaches that marriage is whatever consenting adults say it is and that these adults have a “right” to children they did not conceive. This is not only false, but it fails to take into account what is good for the child. Affirming the tried and true definition of marriage denies no one their basic rights. Rather it affirms the equal dignity and complementarity of men and women, and safeguards the rights of children.
Advocates for so-called “marriage equality” claim that the traditional definition of marriage unjustly discriminates against homosexual persons. Unjust discrimination is always wrong. But treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination. Protecting marriage is a matter of justice.
In addition to the devastating effect that a redefinition of marriage would have on children, there also are far-reaching religious freedom issues at stake.
It would change literally thousands of laws all at once. Marriage redefinition would immediately set the Church’s teaching and witness concerning the meaning and sanctity of marriage in opposition to the law of the land. This would result in countless conflicts between the state and religious institutions and individuals who adhere to the teaching of their faith and the judgment of their consciences.
So much hangs in the balance. What can we do? We can pray and we can fast for the protection of marriage and religious liberty. We can become advocates for marriage by our own witness to its sanctity and goodness. We can talk about the truth of marriage with patience and kindness and understanding. Who could have imagined that such common sense wisdom would become so counter-cultural in our time?
I’m writing about this because it comes from a reputable source, and because I know that many Public Catholic readers care about it intensely.
However I want to caution that it is not the official report. It comes from Italian journalists who evidently have an inside source.
According to these Italian journalists, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has concluded that the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje are not due to supranational activity.
From Catholic World News:
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has reached a negative conclusion regarding the authenticity of the reported Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, according to Italian media reports.
The CDF reportedly held a feria quarta meeting on June 24, at which the prelates discussed the findings of a special papal commission that had investigated the Medjugorje phenomenon. According to several Italian journalists—notably Vatican-watch Gianluca Barile—the CDF agreed with that commission’s finding that there is no evidence of supernatural activity at Medjugorje.
The CDF’s conclusions will now be presented to Pope Francis, who will make the final judgment on the subject. If the reports are accurate, and the Pope confirms a negative verdict regarding the Medjugorje phenomenon, that decision will have a heavy impact on thousands of Catholics who have developed a special devotion to the site.
This is my position on global warming:
I don’t know.
How did I arrive at this non-opinion?
I listened to the dueling experts, and got so confused that I decided to stop thinking about it.
Here is my opinion on climate change:
How did I arrive at this vague opinion?
I experienced two unprecedented, record-breaking killer tornadoes in 10 years. I watched as unprecedented weather cycles exploded all around. I saw the photos of the ice caps melting, and what happened after Sandy hit New York and Katrina took out New Orleans.
I think — not know, but think — that something’s happening.
I would like to know for myself, but that would require more effort than I’ve been willing to put into it. The fact is that the only way to even begin to understand all this is if I have the math and the science chops to read the original research – all of the original research, from both sides — and then have the chops to understand and synthesize it. After all that, I’d still be giving my opinion as to what it means. But it would be an informed opinion.
I might, if I, as Okies say, went to school on it, be able to figure out the research. But it would be like bailing out a lake with a bucket to get there. I just don’t have the push to take it on.
There clearly are big money political agendas at play in the argument. We are obviously being propagandized and lied to.
I don’t have the science and math chops to grok the original research on climate change and global warning without making a huge effort at self-education. But I do have the political chops to recognize this hysterical and dishonest tsunami of political propaganda for what it is.
We’re being manipulated in a crude and overbearing fashion. I am, to be honest, a bit flummoxed by how emotional and crazy-acting people who’ve been through this “education” program become whenever someone questions the craziness they’ve been taught. It’s weird to see heretofore passionate Catholics who’ve condemned others for choosing their political kool-aid over the Church flip like a flapjack and do the same thing themselves.
I understand, or I think I do, why they get so angry and out of it when they do this. It’s because they’ve become addicted to being propagandized and the addiction has cut off their thinking, reasoning brains.
If I can get even one or two people to calm down and start thinking with their own brains instead of warping out on repeating what they’ve been taught by people who are manipulating them, I will consider this blog a success. It isn’t so much what they decide, it’s that they, and not the pundits, need to be doing the deciding.
My feeling, which I’ve expressed in the comboxes, is that Pope Francis is the only disinterested party who’s spoken on climate and global warming. He is also the only honest man of the bunch. I trust that Pope Francis is speaking from the heart of Christ and that he — and he alone of all the many blabby pundits opining on this topic — is speaking on behalf of the poor, the disenfranchised, those without voice in the world’s affairs, and indeed, for all of us.
I absolutely believe that Pope Francis is speaking for the common good.
He’s the only commenter in this whole thing that I respect and trust.
So, I take what he says, including things he says when he evaluates scientific data, very seriously indeed.
I chose Christ. I am convinced that the simplest way, indeed the only way I can follow Christ with surety that I am doing it right, is by following the teachings of the Catholic Church.
I’ve done my deal on being my own god and making my own rules. I’ve sown and reaped the whirlwind of my own moral devisings. It is to me a sign of peace and hope that I can follow the teachings of my Church and not be forced, as Scripture says, to “rely on my own understanding.”
I want to trust in the Lord and do good.
That means, among other things, that when Pope Francis says something, I don’t go off in a rage and throw dirt in the air and pound a stick on the ground like an angry ape. My first reaction must be respect and trust.
I haven’t cancelled out my thinking brain. I took exception to his call to do away with life sentences because I honestly believe that there are certain people who must be locked up to ensure the public safety. But me, taking exception with the pope, is, as we say here in Oklahoma, as rare as hen’s teeth.
Even then, I did not dismiss what the pope said out of hand, and I certainly did not dismiss it in favor of some vicious talking head on tv or internet pundit. I based my reaction on a lifetime of dealing with both the perpetrators and the victims of violent crime in my former house district.
I looked at it from the perspective of someone who has considered these matters for almost two decades while living with the responsibility of having to decide. I have given a lot of thought and had to make many hard decisions about how to create laws that would allow for both justice and the public safety in these matters.
In short, I had a lot of experience and knowledge on which to form my opinion, and I tried to base my conclusions on what is best for the common good. More to the point, I did not — and will never — challenge Pope Francis’ authority in my life as my papa, the Holy Father.
For the same reasons, I am going to accept what he says about global warming. I don’t have the knowledge, understanding and longtime experience in the area of climatology to form an intelligent opinion. I honestly do not know of my own understanding what is fact and what is flim-flam in the discussions of global warming.
I am certain without doubt that there are lying liars afoot and that the reason for all the lying is $$$$$.
The one person I trust who has spoken on this is the pope.
Now, I’m going to let Public Catholic readers thrash this out. But be warned: I am a Catholic woman and this is a Catholic blog. Disrespecting the pope is not allowed here.
Deal Hudson is all agog because Pope Francis had the temerity to condemn international arms dealers who are providing the weapons that enable groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS to engage in their mass slaughter.
Mr Hudson doesn’t understand why the pope didn’t slam sex traffickers in this same speech. He’s even more flummoxed because the Holy Father has famously said “who am I to judge” about homosexuals who are repentant and doing their best to follow Christ.
Mr Hudson has a long political past, and I believe that he was speaking from that political viewpoint when he wrote his article. He was “outreach adviser” to the Catholic Church for President George W Bush’s presidential campaigns. What this means is that his job was helping the president gain votes from Catholic voters.
According to Wikipedia, “Since 2000, Hudson’s chief political activity has been to help organize the Catholic vote in support of conservative and Republican candidates.”
I think that’s relevant in terms of Mr Hudson’s reaction to Pope Francis’ remarks. Mr Hudson has a public history of viewing the teachings given to us by the popes in light of how they will “play” in electoral battles for power. It was his job to assess the Church as a political power base and come up with ways to use its teachings to craft political spin that would gain votes for one particular political viewpoint.
What that means is that he has a background of ignoring the moral implications of the teachings of the Church and analyzing them in terms of how this or that teaching can be used to gain votes. In order to do his job as a campaign adviser, he had to turn off the moral reflection on what these teachings meant to him as a Catholic and look at them through the absolutely amoral prism of power politics.
I do not say that as a condemnation of Mr Hudson. It is simply the nature of what his job was. He was a political operative.
I view Mr Hudson’s comments about Pope Francis’ condemnation of arms dealers in light of that understanding. In other words, I think they are politically motivated. Mr Hudson is not alone in this. He’s been joined by other defenders of the weapons manufacturing industry, all of them kicking the pope for saying the obvious.
I haven’t been able to find the text of Pope Francis’ remarks (Public Catholic reader JoAnna gave me a link to the speech. You can read it here.) so I’m forced to do as Mr Hudson does with his article and extrapolate from secondary sources. That’s always risky business.
For that reason, I went back and looked at earlier statements Pope Francis has made on this same subject. It turns out that his comments about arms dealers are not a new direction in his thinking. He has condemned arms dealers several times in the past two years, particularly those who sell arms to the likes of Boko Haram. He said this a year ago:
Apparently reacting to current acts of terrorism being perpetrated by the Boko Haram sects in north-eastern parts of Nigeria, Pope Francis early Thursday condemned all acts of terrorism, kidnapping and arms proliferation.
The Pope described the menace as “absurd contradiction” between the international community’s calls for peace, the proliferation of the global arms trade and the lack of attention to the suffering of refugees.
“Everyone talks about peace, everyone says they want it but unfortunately the proliferation of all types of arms is leading us in the opposite direction,” Francis told a group of new ambassadors to the Holy See.
At another time, he decried the power of the weapons’ industry’s lobbyists in government and the largesse they use to buy influence and coddle those who do their bidding, saying,
“And if you want,” he continued, “think of the great dining halls, of the parties thrown by the bosses of the weapons industry that makes the arms that wind up (in those camps). A sick child, starving, in a refugee camp — and the great parties, the fine life for those who manufacture weapons.”
Each of these previous comments were made in the context of the on-going bloodbath in the Middle East. The Holy Father made his comments yesterday in that same context. He made them as he was preparing to leave for a dangerous trip to that region of world.
Does that mean that Pope Francis intends for his condemnation of war profiteers to be limited to this one conflict in that one region of the world? No. When he says that these people are “so-called Christians,” that’s an obvious statement of moral teaching from a man who is the moral teacher for 1.2 billion Catholics .
Frankly, my reaction to his statement is … duh.
Does anyone seriously expect that the Vicar of Christ is going to support arms dealing and war profiteering? Are you going to jump in there and join with those attacking the Pope and defend arms dealing and war profiteering yourself?
It’s easier to understand the Pope’s point if we consider another set of comments he made. At some point — I’m not able to figure out if this was all in one homily or at two different times — he also condemned the Allied bombing runs in World War II for not bombing the train tracks over which people were taken to the Nazi death camps. This is the quote:
He spoke of the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century – though he did not use the word – and of the failure of the Allied forces to stop the Nazi genocide programme. “The great powers had photographs of the railways that brought trains to concentration camps, to Auschwitz, to kill Jews, Christians, Gypsies, homosexuals.
“But tell me, why didn’t they bomb them?” he asked. “The great powers, they divided Europe like a cake.”
Now, how does that jibe with his condemnation of arms dealers?
I think it simply means this: Weapons are objects. They are things. They have no souls. They do not think. They are tools we make. They can be used for self-defense, to hunt for food, for recreational target practice and for cold blooded murder of innocents.
The failure to bomb those tracks was a failure to use the weapons of war to save lives.
That does not, as Mr Hudson implies, smear the men and women in uniform who give their lives to fight these wars. We pray the Centurion’s prayer at mass. Jesus did not condemn this soldier. He praised him for his faith.
It would seem to me that this conflating of these two things — a condemnation of the refusal to use arms to save lives, and a condemnation of international arms traders — tells the story.
The people who are fighting ISIS are also using weapons. But they are using them in self-defense. The war against the Nazis was a war to save civilization. I think the war against ISIS is also a war to save civilization.
That is a vast oversimplification, I know. There is a danger in trying to judge between wars and labeling one side moral and the other amoral. The danger is that we all tend to see “our side” as the moral one. That can lead to justification of any war, any where, against anybody.
There are also a number of great dangers in an economy that is built on arms manufacturing, as the American economy has become. But that is beyond the scope of this post.
Finally, Pope Francis evidently also encouraged his audience to not place their trust in politicians.
Again, I say … duh.
Here is what he said:
“One day everything comes to an end and they will be held accountable to God,” he said.
In his Turin address to young people he also warned against putting too much trust in politicians, saying: “In Europe there is war, in Africa there is war, in Asia there is war. But can I have trust in a world like this? Can I trust the world’s managers?
“When I go to give my vote for a candidate, can I trust that they will not bring my country to war? If you put trust only in people, you lose.”
It’s no wonder that Mr Hudson is so upset with Pope Francis. The Holy Father is challenging Catholics to follow Christ instead of politics. He is directly opposing the political heresy that Mr Hudson served so ably during his time in politics.
Not only that, but he’s going against the biggest pork barrel around: The arms industry. He’s calling foul on the practice of selling weapons of war to mass murderers. He’s saying that you can’t serve both God and mammon.
Somebody else said that a couple of thousand of years ago and He got in big trouble for it.
Pope Francis is cracking apart the political heresy. Those who make their livings by it are responding by calling him everything but the Vicar of Christ.
Who’s going to win this argument?
The Catholic Church has been attacked by governments, powers, armies, and now pundits, for 2,000 years. It has suffered loss and peril. But it has always prevailed.
I’m pretty sure that most of the people who’ve been snarling and sniping about Pope Francis’ latest encyclical have not read it.
The reason I say that is that they are angry — purple in the face, hissing and spitting angry — about things it does not say. They are also angry about things they claim it doesn’t say that it in fact does.
Laudato Si has a simple underlying argument. Pope Francis reasons that our spiritual bankruptcy has led us into destroying our earth, along with destroying ourselves. He teaches that the loss of respect for the human through our attacks on the sanctity of human life have led us into an extreme individualism that has in turn led us to a destructive relativism.
This shallow and meretricious outlook on life has caused us to befoul and slime our own nest, our home, which is this planet Earth.
Our financial, economic, social and political institutions, all of which should serve the common good, now operate only for their own immediate competitive success, without the element of moral responsibility on the part of those who control them. This deforms human life on a mass scale and leads to the destruction of the planet on which we live.
He calls this destruction of human value and human community a destruction of the human ecology. His teaching is that the human ecology and the natural ecology are linked and interwoven, as they must be if human beings have dominion over the earth.
Laudato Si states at one point that the decision of whether or not to leave a dead planet to future generations is ours to make.
Media pundits have used false claims about what Laudato Si says to get gullible people worked up into a hysteria.
Here are 9 things that Laudato Si does not say, but that people have been told it does.
1. Laudato Si does not attack the free enterprise system.
2. Laudato Si does not advocate Marxism. (This would be laughable except that foolish people keep falling for it.)
3. Laudato Si does not advocate socialism.
4. Laudato Si does not support population control.
5. Laudato Si does not support abortion.
6. Laudato Si does not support contraception.
7. Laudato Si does not support a global tyranny of nutty “greenies” who would take away all our freedoms.
8. Laudato Si does not support doing away with private property.
9. Laudato Si does not recommend specific legislation or reforms.
Here are 14 things Laudato Si does say.
1. Laudato Si recommends support for forming small businesses on a global scale.
2. Laudato Si directly links disregard for the environment with the cheapening of human life caused by abortion, saying that when human life becomes conditional, nothing else is protected either.
3. Laudato Si specifically condemns the idea that population control is the way to “save the environment.”
4. Laudato Si specifically condemns business practices which ignore human rights and encourage human trafficking, drug trafficking, disruption of populations, seizure of individual’s property and wars for profit. It also condemns embryonic stem cell research and attempting to destroy the complimentarity between men and women.
5. Laudato Si calls for respect for local cultures and economic reforms which take the common good and human life into consideration.
6. Laudato Si says that all of life is interrelated and that human beings, as stewards of the earth have a grave responsibility to care for it.
7. Laudato Si condemns the out-sized consumption of goods by some parts of the world (ouch) which leads to impoverishment of people in other parts of the world. It calls us to look beyond consumerism to God to fill the emptiness of our lives.
8. Laudato Si says that access to life-giving water is a human right.
9. Laudato Si says that technology, if we use it incorrectly, can isolate and divide us.
10. Laudato Si condemns keeping poor people under a load of debt that makes it impossible for them to build lives for themselves.
11. Laudato Si exhorts us to develop solutions for housing crises which leave so many people homeless.
12. Laudato Si emphasizes the kinship and value of every living being. It also condemns extreme animal rights advocates who place greater value on animal life than human life and who would create a false tyranny with their ideologies.
13. Laudato Si calls for reforms of corruption in our financial systems.
14. Laudato Si says that the evidence for global warming comes from reputable scientific sources.
No wonder Rush Limbaugh hates this pope.
A lot of you are going to find yourself challenged by Laudato Si, precisely because Pope Francis does not give you the option of ignoring what he’s saying. You can decide to go against the pope. Or you can decide to walk with him.
But you can’t pretend he didn’t say what he said.
Pope Francis comes right out and says that global warming — along with a lot of other things — is leading us to a dark future. He points out the spiritual hollowness a society whose chief goal is to blindly consume, and whose community has dwindled to the internet. He says that access to life-sustaining water is a human right, and blasts corporatist control of the earth’s riches to the destruction of the poor.
This is a long Encyclical and unpacking it will take a while. But here is my first thought about it. It is a thought based on a memory and a historical fact.
The memory is of a conversation I had with a friend over a decade ago. My friend and I were talking about the universal sins of each time in history, sins that the people of that time are blind to. What we meant was that when a behavior is universally accepted and no one questions it, even great sins can pass unnoticed by the people committing them. Racism was once such a sin here in America.
Later generations often look back and are appalled by the cruelty and ignorance of their forebears. But they are committing their own sins of cultural blindness, even while they express their disdain for their forebears.
I remarked that I thought that one of the things about which future generations would look back at our time and ask “Why didn’t you do something? Were you blind?” was going to be the environment. If we bequeath a ruined earth to our grandchildren, what will they think of us?
The second thing I want to base my reaction on is a historical fact. That fact is simple. The Popes of the 1930s and 1940s did not issue an encyclical against the Nazis. An encyclical was drafted, and from what I’ve read of it, it was a strong and powerful document.
If that encyclical had been issued instead of shoved in a drawer, the many questions about what the Church did during those dark times would have a clear and compelling moral answer. I believe without doubt that if that encyclical had been issued, all of history since 1930 would be different.
Would the encyclical have stopped Hitler? Probably not. But it would have fueled the resistance to his evils by faithful Catholics. It would have either silenced the go-along German bishops who have become the shame of the Church or it would have exposed them for the anti-Christs that they were. It would have strengthened and ennobled the moral and prophetic voice of the Church for all time.
The failure to issue that encyclical was such an appalling failure of the Church that all of Christianity has been paying for it ever since.
Seen in the light of that memory and that history, I can say without equivocation that I am glad beyond glad that Pope Francis has taken the historic step of issuing this encyclical. I know that it is will unsettle a lot of Catholics who have up until now felt comfortable in their political fealties. I know that is painful. Believe me, I’ve been through such pain myself. In fact, I feel a bit of that pain with Laudato Si.
But it is necessary. Among other things, Pope Francis puts down the corporatist-created heresy that our followership of Jesus Christ stops where commerce begins.
Both the right wing and the left wing of our political spectrum want the Church to shut up and go along where their particular sins are concerned. They both claim, each with their own language, that when it comes to their sins, Jesus Christ is irrelevant.
They are both self-serving liars.
By writing this encyclical in such bold terms Pope Francis demonstrates what Hitler managed to keep an earlier pope from demonstrating: That Jesus Christ is the Lord of all life and that He is never irrelevant, no matter the topic of conversation.
Now, to get to the touchy matter of global warming. What to do with a Pope who does not equivocate when he says that reputable science shows that global warming is, in fact, happening?
First, the Pope does not say this as a matter of morality. He bases his statement on what he terms reputable scientific studies. I am not advocating that anyone drop kick the pope’s opinion on this in favor of Rush Limbaugh’s.
Pope Francis has a scientific background, and more to the point, he has nothing to gain and lot of to lose by making this statement. The talking heads of the world are highly paid mouthpieces who get their money from the people who benefit financially by the public not believing in global warming.
If I had to pick who to believe, it would be Pope Francis without any question. The vicious and totally untrue attacks on Pope Francis’ good name by the minions of the right have convinced me that nothing they have to say about the Catholic Church or our Holy Father is worth hearing. I think they’re all about the money. Their own money.
What Pope Francis does say as a matter of morality is that we have a responsibility to the earth, to all lifeforms and to the poor. This is sound Christian theology. It is the historic understanding of our call as Christians as regards these matters.
We can think — and by that I mean think, not be led around by pundit pied pipers who slander and slime the pope –and let think on matters of scientific investigation. We do have an obligation to think and not just repeat one-sided arguments that are designed to induce us to allow ourselves to be used.
It is important to the max to listen and read widely about an issue as contentious as this. I say that because it is a grave issue. The wanton destruction of entire species and ecosystems, the loss of breathable air and drinkable water, the unnecessary deaths of millions of people to preventable illnesses that are caused by pollution, starvation and thirst are, all of them, intrinsic evils. The rape of the earth is a violation of our first compact with God to have dominion over creation.
We have, as Christians always do, the freedom to think and let think on the particulars of the science of these matters. But we have an absolute moral obligation to approach the question with integrity instead of political sloganeering, from a vantage of concern for the common good, the welfare of the least of these and the provision of a hope and future for the generations who come after us.
We are Christians and we are called to more than to live only for ourselves with no regard for anyone or anything else in all of creation or in the future.
This is my first blush impression of Laudato Si.
I’m going to read it carefully and write about it extensively. I think we may be in the presence of an encyclical as important as Rerum Novarum.
Make no mistake about it folks. Pope Francis is kind, approachable and unassuming. But he is not a wimp.
For other thoughts on the Encyclical, read All of Our Sin, All of Our Hatred, on Trial by the Anchoress, Reading Francis Through Francis by Kate O’Hare, So Much to Say, So Much to Learn by Kathy Schiffer, Should You Read Laudato Si? by Simcha Fisher, Patriarch Barthelomew on the Encyclical: We Count it a True Blessing, by Deacon Greg Kandra, The Pearl of Great Price by Mark Shea, 3 Sources to Understanding Pope Francis’ Encyclical by Pia Solenni, Laudato Si, Hold Your Breath, Make a Wish, Count to Three by Tom McDonald, Why is THIS Missing from Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical? by Dr Greg Popcak.