A group of Polish bishops have rushed to the defense of Krakow Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski, who has been slammed for his criticism of climate icon Greta Thunberg and the ecological movement she represents.
On Christmas Eve, Archbishop Jedraszewski gave an interview to Poland’s TV Republika in which he said that the Christian tradition is undermined by new movements such as “ecologism,” which seeks “to impose itself as a binding doctrine,” and threatens the Christian understanding of man’s place in creation.
This ecologism is “a very dangerous phenomenon because it’s not just that a teenager is trying to impose it, but that this activist is becoming an oracle for all political and social forces,” he continued, in reference to Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
“Our culture is being questioned and the whole world order reversed, starting with the existence of God the creator and the role and dignity of every human being,” he said.
The archbishop’s remarks triggered an avalanche of anger, beginning with Warsaw deputy mayor Pawel Rabiej of the liberal Modern (Nowoczesna) party, who tweeted a photo of Australian bushfires and wrote of the archbishop, “There is no worse pestilence in the civilised world than those who question the need to care for our planet and its protection.”
Rabiej finished his tweet by telling Jedraszewski to “go to hell, that’s your place.”
Janina Ochojska, an MEP heading Poland’s Humanitarian Action organisation, sent a tweet to Ms. Thunberg, offering her support while criticizing the archbishop.
“Dear Greta, I support your activity, but, imagine you that archbishop from Cracow #Jedraszewski considers you as a manipulated person who denies the Bible,” she said. “Although God said: ‘make the earth a subject’, not ‘let us destroy it’. Good luck. We have a lot to change :)”
In response to these and other criticisms, fifteen Polish bishops prepared an open letter expressing support for Archbishop Jedraszewski.
“We stand in solidarity with you against these hurtful attacks, which an evangelical defender of truth must bear,” they wrote. “It is always praiseworthy to stand up for Christian anthropology, which sees in man the image of God himself, so we assure you of brotherly prayer and unity.”
For his part, Pope Francis has been a vocal fan of Greta Thunberg, praising her climate change activism.
Last August, the pope said he was greatly encouraged by the involvement of young people in the battle against climate change, which he called a “global emergency” that can lead to “the death of humanity.”
There are signs of hope for the environment “especially in the movements of young ecologists, such as the one led by Greta Thunberg, ‘Fridays for Future.’” Francis said.
“I saw one of their signs that struck me: ‘We are the future!’” he said.
The pope met the young Swedish activist in the Vatican last April and urged her to continue her crusade against climate change.
On that occasion, the pope approached the 16-year-old activist, who was seated in the VIP section in St. Peter’s Square, and recognized her, exclaiming in Spanish “La famosa!” before congratulating her for her advocacy work.