How Everybody Will Misread the Encyclical on the Environment

How Everybody Will Misread the Encyclical on the Environment May 15, 2015

…and how it should be read:

Yesterday I heard a story on NPR about the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical on the environment. While the “conservative” who was interviewed spoke all about “prudential” decisions and the non-expertise of the Church on this issue, the “liberal” insisted that our individual decisions are ultimately social, and have impact far beyond the mere consent and free choice of the individual.

How refreshing it would be to hear the “conservative” recognize the validity of this argument in the economic sphere, and for the “liberal” to realize that our sexual lives also constitute an “ecology,” and thus that the same argument applies to marriage, abortion and sexuality. – Patrick Deneen

Meanwhile, OSV attempts to speak sanity to the pre-emptive strikers in the Francis-hating brigades of Truly True Real Catholics who are laboring to get everybody to ignore the encyclical before they even know what it says. Because they are so docile to the Magisterium and such better Catholics than the common herd, doncha know.

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  • Rebecca Fuentes

    I’m guessing there will be a lot more talking (and wailing, and grinding of teeth) than reading. I’m really looking forward to what Francis says, because it won’t be what everyone is predicting.

    • Ken

      It’s a big time saver to just start attacking Francis before it actually comes out rather than to wait until it comes out, not read it and rely on other people, who obviously haven’t read it, to attack the Pope.
      It would be nice if American Catholics would defend the faith as aggressively as they do their political beliefs.

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        Amen.

    • My prediction: it won’t be an encyclical on the environment. It will be an encyclical on the Gospel, which has some implications for the environment.

  • Elmwood

    good point mark, and you know any talk about climate change will be thoroughly ignored by the progressives also called “conservatives”.

  • MT

    I think the Encyclical will cut right through the silly anti-human ideas of environmentalism and the irrational anti-science ideas on the other end.

  • Pete the Greek

    And yet more Catholic pundits write expertly on the topic of an encyclical… that hasn’t even been published yet.

    With all this expertise at play, I guess I won’t even have to read it at this point.

    • HornOrSilk

      While we have not read the encyclical, we have many words of the Pope which indicate his thoughts going into its writing.

      • Pete the Greek

        What we KNOW, is that there’s going to be a document that expounds on Catholic teaching that is already there. I honestly don’t seen anything earth shattering to be expected.

    • Dave G.

      Yeah, I think just waiting to see what is says works.

  • samton909

    It’s pretty clear that global warming is a scientific, not a religious issue. Since the Pope is not an expert scientist, why should we listen to him blabber on about something he knows nothing about? By the same token, I don’t pay any attention to Stephen Hawking when he talks about religion.

    • chezami

      You might want to find out what he has to say before you launch you pre-emptive ideological strikes and shout him down.

    • MT

      I don’t understand this idea. Climate change is happening, and has major implications for what action the world must take if we all want to keep living well. I would hope the Church, which is the only thing in the world that has a proper understanding of the nature and purpose of humanity and the rest of creation, would get involved in such a huge question that is climate change action.

      Also Pope Francis is a Jesuit and worked in Chemistry, so I wouldn’t say he doesn’t have some scientifc knowledge. Your idea also follows the dumb modern idea of the specialization of truth. This goes against the fullness of truth, where science, theology and philosophy all inform each other and work together.
      I would also pay attention to Stephen Hawking because he’s good for seeing what contemporary atheism believes.

  • I expect the Pope to apply Catholic theology correctly to a world he will describe in this upcoming encyclical. The open question is whether the world described in the encyclical is the world as it actually is. I pray that Pope Francis is sufficiently prudent.

  • Luis Gutierrez

    With all due respect for Pope Francis, the encyclical will lack credibility unless it recognizes that the
    patriarchal culture of male domination is reinforced by the exclusively male priesthood, and must be reconsidered:

    A Sacramental Ecology for the Anthropocene
    http://www.pelicanweb.org/solisustv11n06page1.html#editorial

    Ordination of Women in the Sacramental Churches
    http://www.pelicanweb.org/solisustv11n06supp6.html#section9

    The same patriarchal mindset that fosters male hegemony in the Church also fosters human hegemony in creation. This is a visceral issue that cannot be resolved by reasoning alone. But this is not about what women (or men) want either. This is about discerning what Christ wants for the Church in the 21st century, for the glory of God and the good of souls. Would Jesus, in today’s globalized world, choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel?

    • Joseph

      What the male priesthood has to do with climate change is over my head, but heck why not.
      .
      Your argument hinges on a rather chauvinistic predisposition on your part. You may not realise it, but it’s no different than the guy who is ultra-sensitive about how he addresses black people because he’s afraid of appearing racist (and he doesn’t really know how to interact with a black person)… proving that he *is* actually racist. You assume that, because a woman does not or cannot participate in one particular role, she has no role of importance at all. This is so far from the truth in how the Church operates. Just because a woman can’t be a priest, doesn’t mean the woman is discriminated against… it just means women have different roles and they are equally important.
      .
      Jesus is a Man. Mary is a Woman. Jesus is God. Mary is the Mother of God. Mary is the only non-divine human being to ever have been given the gift of complete freedom from sin. She’s also the Mother of God, like I said. God has commanded that we honour our Father and Mother. Which means that God places Mary in a place of honour (think about that). That also means that all Christians should do the same. She, a woman, deserves the highest honour from all Christians, even above that of the 12 male Apostles.
      .
      The question of ‘what would Jesus do today’ is an implicit denial of His Divinity. If Jesus is God, then wouldn’t He have known before the very first utterance of creation billions of years ago, before the very first human being came to be, when and where He was going to make an appearance… that His choice would be the *right* time? Therefore, even asking the question betrays a disbelief that He is God in the first place because you are questioning the wisdom of His choice in timing… that it was the wrong time, that the whole setup that was actually a fulfilment of every OT prophecy was done incorrectly.
      .
      Catholics believe that Jesus, the Son, is God, that all things were created through Him… that means everything from the beginning of the universe. If we believe that, then it’s simply illogical to question his timing or his methods.

      • Joseph

        Also, a priest is a *servant*. God, therefore, placed men at the service of women. By not allowing women to be priests, it is solidified that women are regarded in a special way, like the Mother of God… they should be revered by men. Has that happened throughout the centuries? No. But how men have actually treated women has nothing to do with how they should.

        • Luis Gutierrez

          What about allowing women to be priests for the benefit of men? Actually, by reinforcing “machismo,” the male-only priesthood does much harm to men, because “what goes around comes around.” What about allowing women to be priests for the benefit of the entire body of Christ? This is what really matters!

          • chezami

            Stop hijacking this thread with your women’s ordination obsession.

            • Luis Gutierrez

              No hijacking intended, and obsessions are not necessarily bad. Can you suggest a better way to share my hopes and concerns?

              • chezami

                Yes. Start your own blog. Goodbye.

      • Luis Gutierrez

        It is not illogical, because God adjusts timing and method to meet us where we are in real life, not where we should be in theory. So did Jesus during his public mystery to the people of Israel. See John 4:27, 16:12. The male-only priesthood reinforces patriarchy, and patriarchy reinforces the mindset of male domination (of women by men, of nature by humans) that is responsible for the ecological crisis. It is not that complicated, and all the patriarchal rationalizations cannot make the issue go away.

    • HornOrSilk

      Seems like the people who speak out against “hegemony” are just projecting their own ambitions on others.

      • Luis Gutierrez

        So is when people speak about injustice. Nothing human is 100% pure (good or bad) but we still must speak as best we can.

    • chezami

      Stop hijacking this thread with your women’s ordination obsession.

      • Luis Gutierrez

        See Canon 212. No hijacking intended, but will not be intimidated.

        • chezami

          Goodbye.