Five Things Pope Francis Needs to Know Before He Addresses Congress

Pope Reaches Getty Buda Mendes
Getty/Buda Mendes

1. There are bigger, more pressing problems than climate change

No, really, there are. Rep Paul Gosar, the congressman who is boycotting the papal address because he thinks the Pope is behaving “like a leftist politician” gives some excellent examples here. Foremost, surely, is the persecution and murder of Christians (and other minorities) in Africa and the Middle East by Islamist groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS. If the Pope isn’t going to stick up for his flock in times of crisis what exactly is the point of the Papacy?

2. Climate change is a turn off for (almost) everyone

The Pope’s encyclical on the environment was a flop. According to a poll in July — a month after its release — only 40 per cent of American Catholics and 31 per cent of adults had even heard of it. This despite a massive publicity drive, including a visit to the Vatican by the UN Secretary General and a handwritten note from the Pope to each of his bishops. Furthermore, the encyclical appears to have had a toxic effect on the Pope’s popularity ratings, which plummeted in its wake. According to Gallup, the biggest ratings fall occurred among Conservatives and Catholic traditionalists who had initially been big supporters of Pope Francis but were dismayed at his embrace of greenery. Even worse, though, for the Papacy is the terrifying news of the one person in America who has been attracted to the Catholic church by the Pope’s encyclical. Says Al Gore: “I was raised in the Southern Baptist tradition, I could become a Catholic because of this Pope.”

3. The Pope’s science is all wrong

Because, of course, it doesn’t come from the Pope, who may have rudimentary scientific training but who is reliant for his opinions on his “expert” advisors, most of whom, unfortunately, are card-carrying environmental activists. As climate statistician Matt Briggs is among many to have noted, the encyclical is riddled with basic errors:

For example, the claim that the world’s temperature has been increasing is demonstrably false: it hasn’t, and not for almost two decades. Another is the claim that storms are increasing in size and strength: also false; indeed, the opposite is true. Another is the claim that thousands of species are going extinct: false, and easily proved to be so (see ). Another is…but you get the idea. Most of the scientific claims cited in Laudato are not true.

As for the Pope’s extravagant claim — enthusiastically reported by leftist organs like Mother Jones and the Guardian — that “our earth is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”: this is a pretty bizarre response to man’s extraordinary achievements.

It’s a strange kind of trash that has caused global crop yields to increase by 160 percent since 1961 and deaths from droughts to be reduced by 99.8 percent since the 1920s.

It’s an odd kind of “mistreatment” of the planet over the life of the Industrial Revolution that’s resulted in the global life expectancy rising from 26 years in 1750 to 69 years in 2009.  This is in spite of the fact that Earth’s population increased from 760 million to 6.8 billion and incomes (in real dollars) rose from $640 to $7,300 during the same period.

4. Climate change is the opposite of social justice

Perhaps the Pope’s greatest misconception about “climate change” is that it is a way of advancing his crusade to help the world’s poor and disenfranchised. In fact it does the precise opposite. This is because for all the claims of the leftist bleeding hearts pushing the climate change agenda — everyone from Greenpeace to Oxfam to the Catholic relief agency CAFOD — the environmental movement has almost nothing but contempt for base humanity. The war on fossil fuel is a war on the cheap energy the poor so desperately need if they are ever to improve their lot. The use of agricultural land for biofuels is another slap in the face of the poor because it drives up food prices. The greens’ obsession with renewables unnecessarily drives up energy prices which in turn leads to fuel poverty and excess winter deaths, especially among the old and infirm. Does any of that sound like social justice?

5. Gaia and God are not compatible

If you believe that God sent his only begotten son in order to die on earth for our sins you may have noticed something distinctive about Jesus. He took the form not of a sloth bear or a cockroach or a snail darter but a man. Presumably this is why God gave man dominion over earth. Because by making man in His image He implicitly recognised that mankind was supposed to be top dog.

In his encyclical the Pope tries to argue his way out of this. He says:

[This] has encouraged the unbridled exploitation of nature by painting him as domineering and destructive by nature. This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church. Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. The biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to “till and keep” the garden of the world.

Hmm. I’d say the technical term for this is casuistry. It fudges over perhaps the fundamental clash with the Christian religion on the one hand and the Gaian religion on the other. The first most definitely places mankind at the top of the pecking order; the second sees man as but one species among many, all with equal value, none with a higher claim over the other. You can worship God or you can worship Gaia. But despite the best efforts of so many of our wishy washy church leaders, you really cannot honestly serve both.


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