BY ROGER WATSON
If anyone reading this can afford it, could they please pay the money to whoever it is who has captured the Roman Catholic Church and is holding it to ransom?
This is not the first time my church has appeared on these pages. The past two years have seen an increasing level of politically charged nonsense from CAFOD (Catholic Fund for Overseas Development) — of which the Catholic Church increasingly seems like the religious bit that is tagged on — on climate change and families (which was also about climate change).
This week, leaving Mass in my local parish church on Sunday morning, I noticed a pile of small, square glossy leaflets and picked one up. I wish I hadn’t. This leaflet described An environmental policy for our diocese (Middlesbrough).
I made a mental note of some ‘trigger’ words and phrases that would get my gander as I walked home before reading it and, sure enough, they were all there. Thus, the reader is treated to the evils of ‘capitalist economies’, ‘global warming’, ‘green energy’, ‘disinvest(ment) from fossil fuels’, ‘solar panels’, ‘consumption of meat’, and questioning ‘whether we need to fly.’ And there was more.
Catholic social teaching has always formed an important aspect of Papal encyclicals and I don’t question the right of The Church to comment on the social and political issues of the day. However, such teaching as contained in, for example, Rerum Novarum by Leo XIII and even Laborem Exercens by the much less impressive John Paul II (which dealt with work, the nature of work and the dignity of work) steered very clear of specific advice. These could so easily have been left-wing political pamphlets, and indeed, ‘socialisation’ is mentioned in the latter. However, our former Popes studiously avoided political statements and any evidence that they or The Church espoused either socialism or capitalism.
The present, disastrous incumbent has no such qualms and in his execrable encyclical of 2015, Laudato Si‘ he was lucky to avoid charges of plagiarism, such was its similarity to the average Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth pamphlet. Pope Francis demonstrated that he had fallen for the global warming, climate change agenda — hook, line and solar panel.
Our diocesan environmental policy takes Laudato Si’ as its starting point (of course) and then proceeds to demonstrate how it too has been captured by the cult of Greta Thunberg. The problem it seems is the ‘never ending growth of our industrialised, capitalist economies.’ I can only assume that The Church favours deindustrialised socialist economies; after all, they have been such a roaring success.
Pope Francis, clearly warming up to his own rhetoric, went even further than his 2015 encyclical in 2016 when he said that environmental concerns should be added to the corporal works of mercy. These good works and Catholic duties are: to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to give shelter to travellers, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, and to bury the dead. Presumably to that should be added ‘put your plastics in the blue bin.’
The politicised nature of the pamphlet is crystal clear in places. At one point it exhorts the faithful to ‘work with those sharing similar concerns’. Like who, exactly?
We are advised quite specifically to buy what we ‘genuinely need, purchasing Fair Trade and organically and ethically sourced items where possible.’ Who decides what is ethically sourced?
Of course, we should ‘reduce our consumption of meat’ and ‘give careful consideration to whether we really need to fly.’ It seems that the Catholic Church really has been captured by left-wing environmental activists who simply want to make life more miserable for everybody. I don’t suggest for a minute that The Church should ‘stay in its lane.’ But, instead of issuing advice—much of it based on dodgy data—they should be providing a balanced view of social and political issues, including environmental issues, and get back to telling us how to be, rather than what to do.
Roger Watson is a Registered Nurse and Editor-in-Chief of Nurse Education in Practice.