PEREGRINATIONS - Canadian Catholic Perspectives and Reflections by members of the PERSONAL ORDINARIATE OF THE CHAIR OF ST. PETER
Friday, 8 May 2015
Editorial on the Forthcoming Encyclical on the Environment and Pope Benedict
“We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment. This responsibility knows no boundaries.”
The Catholic Herald Editorial Board writes: “Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family.”
“Too often, attention is diverted from the needs of populations, insufficient emphasis is placed on work in the fields, and the goods of the earth are not given adequate protection. As a result, economic imbalance is produced, and the inalienable rights and dignity of every human person are ignored.”
After reading those statements, you might be thinking that Pope Francis has released his highly anticipated encyclical on the environment ahead of its projected June publication date, but that is not the case . . . These statements — each making a strong case for responsibly caring for God’s creation — all were given by Pope Benedict XVI at various times during his pontificate.
. . . . Yet despite his consistent voice on the issue, the environment remains one of the most politically charged and divisive issues facing the modern Church, particularly in the West. This especially has been the case in recent weeks as the world awaits the release of Francis’ encyclical.
The main bone of contention in this debate is climate change. While we do believe that this is an issue that has serious implications on human welfare, we are not choosing to argue its merits today. On the contrary, we acknowledge the right of all parties engaged in the debate to participate in a rational and responsible exchange of thoughts, ideas and information.
. . . . A line is crossed, however, when such rational exchange turns into venom-spewing, ideologically based commentary. And this is what has taken place. Well before the encyclical’s release, a veritable campaign against its content has not only been initiated, but has been growing in intensity. That these efforts presuppose the document’s content is bad enough, but they have gone much further. Some Catholic observers and commentators have recommended that their fellow members in faith completely ignore the work, calling it baseless and not a priority.
It’s true that Catholics are not required to agree with every word that is proclaimed by the pope. His infallibility is used sparingly, as is prudent. But to prejudge his teaching is unacceptable. To disparage, cast aside and belittle the leader of the Church is worse. Not only is it profoundly disrespectful to the office, it’s simply the wrong behavior for Catholics to be engaging in. It’s nasty, negative spin.
As disciples of the Lord who preached against casting stones, we should be better than that. We should be more loyal than that. We should be holier than that.
OSV Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor