Tag: Laudato Si’

Pastoral Failure or Council of the Wicked?


John Paul II and FrancisPope Francis is no John Paul II. This past weekend, an image of Pope Francis with Nancy Pelosi called to mind a famous image of Pope John Paul II with a Nicaraguan priest and Daniel Ortega. Ernesto Cardenal was a Roman Catholic priest serving as the minister of culture in the Marxist government. He and the dictator in designer glasses, Daniel Ortega, expected a great visual as they welcomed the Pope on the tarmac. Nancy Pelosi expected the same from Pope Francis. History did not repeat itself, and this pope appears to be steadily undoing the work and teaching of his prominent predecessor.

Not only was Ernesto Cardenal wrapping up Marxism in priests’ robes, he was part of a small group of leftist clerics who were collaborating with Ortega in the Sandinista government’s suppression of the official Catholic leadership. Pope John Paul II invoked “dark ages,” referring to the anticlericalism of the Mexican Revolution and other leftist Latin American movements earlier in the 2oth century. In this context, John Paul confronted the errant priest and the priest’s real boss, the dictator in designer sunglasses.

When confronted with the subversion of sound Christian doctrine by socialists, appending “liberation” to “theology,” John Paul responded forcefully both in official writings and in his wise use of the media. He avoided giving the Sandinistas and their heretical pet priest a world media victory, instead generating an unmistakable photographic image of the Church rejecting liberation theology. Caring about a priest, or any other member of the body, who has persistently strayed and refuses correction, means more than another gentle conversation.

Laudato Si and a Pope in Tune with the Spirit of the Times



Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote that “The Church aims, not at making a show, but at doing a work. She regards this world, and all that is in it, as a mere shadow, as dust and ashes, compared with the value of one single soul.” Pope Francis, in a sense, would agree. In March, for example, he said in a homily that “the style of the good God is not to produce a spectacle: God acts in humility, in silence, in the little things.” Of course, the papacy is not a little thing, and so much of a pope’s activity inadvertently can become “spectacle.” Yet this pontificate has been anything but quiet.

From the pope riding in a Kia to colorful off-the-cuff remarks in interviews, Francis seems to relish the spotlight. Now the pope has written Laudato Si, an encyclical about “doing a work,” albeit a work to save this world.  After some time to consider Laudato Si, and to observe some responses to the document, we can better appreciate its significance for the Church going forward.

Fr. Schall on “Laudato Si”


SchallEighty-seven years old, Rev. James Schall, S.J. is one of the most respected Catholic scholars in the nation. A philosopher, theologian, and political theorist, Fr. Schall, the author of dozens of books, served as a professor of government at Georgetown University for 35 years before retiring to a Jesuit home here in California in 2012. (If you’d like a thrilling intellectual experience, go to YouTube, then, in the search bar, type “Fr. Schall’s final lecture at Georgetown.”)

Fr. Schall has just published a long article on Laudato Si, the encyclical on the environment that Pope Francis published earlier this summer. Fr. Schall’s analysis is respectful, erudite, intellectually humble — and devastating.


Francis, the (Misled) Humanist Environmentalist


shutterstock_195361532I started reading Laudato Si’ over the weekend; I’ve a long way to go, but I’m now reasonably familiar with some of the basic arguments Pope Francis makes in the early chapters.

One thing that leaped off the page is the world of difference between the pope’s views and those of the environmentalist left, especially of the Paul Ehrlich variety. This is hardly surprising. Where the latter sees humanity as a sentient blight on the world that needs to reduce its number to negligible sustainable levels, the pope begins with a concern for the welfare of human beings (particularly, the poor) and expresses concern that they’re bearing the brunt of our industrialist/consumerist culture while being denied their share of its benefits. If lefty environmentalism is anti-human, Francis’ environmentalism is decidedly humanist in the best (and very Catholic) sense of the word.

Again, it’s hardly surprising the leader of the oldest and largest Christian denomination is concerned with human well-being, particularly that of the poor. What’s frustrating, however, is Francis’s apparent blindness to the similarly-human-centric motivations of the many climate change skeptics, fossil-fuel apologists, and free marketeers that he lambasts. Over and over, the pope identifies these groups as the defenders of a short-term focused, get-mine-while-I-can “throwaway culture” that’s largely to blame for the world’s material suffering. He writes repeatedly about the need to “protect” Nature, without ever hinting how, in so many ways, She seems to have it in for us — and that we’re only able to fight back thanks to this technology.

Laudato Si’: Now What Does a Catholic Do?


shutterstock_195361532For Catholics who advocate for free markets, Pope Francis has just made life extremely complicated. The Holy Father’s encyclical, Laudato Si’ — which I have only begun to read — contains statements that clearly indicate that the Pope has fallen in with the progressives. Although the encyclical still prohibits birth control, abortion, and euthanasia, Francis seems tone deaf to the constant demands of the left, particularly the environmental left, that the Church abandon her teachings and encourage the use of these prohibited techniques. The Pope also seems to have largely adopted the platform of the American Democratic Party. As a Republican, my stomach is queasy.

So what to do? As a Catholic, I must submit my personal convictions to the authority of the Magisterium– which means to the Pope insofar as he speaks within Church tradition on theological matters. That gives me some weasel room on Francis’s economic views. But not much room. A Catholic’s first duty is obedience, or as my daughter wrote in her new article for Catholic Exchange:

…our lives are not our own. They belong to God and that means a total emptying of self. It is within this framework that we will examine our call to love and submit in obedience to the hierarchical Church. In learning this obedience, we will mature and grow in our faith. Since Christ left us the Church, it is He who calls us to loving submission to the Church.