Want to know the truth? I wasn't thrilled to hear that Pope Francis will be issuing an encyclical on climate change ahead of the upcoming summit in Paris. I am confident that, like all of his formal statements, everything he says about climate change will be a reaffirmation of Catholic doctrine; and I'm confident that his goal is to add a Catholic voice to a debate which is overrun by secular humanists who see the poor as parasites.

But as I said, I wasn't thrilled, and that's because I'm equally confident that the people who howl the loudest about whatever he says will be the people who read it the least carefully, if they read it at all.

Here are a few already-common complaints against the upcoming encyclical, and a few responses to them:

 

This isn't a religious issue. God doesn't give a damn about the environment. What He cares about is souls.

Might as well say "God doesn't care about stabbing people; all he cares about is souls." Bodies and souls go together. What we do with our bodies is a spiritual matter. One thing God commands us to do is to take care of the world. The Catechism says

373 In God's plan man and woman have the vocation of "subduing" the earth as stewards of God. This sovereignty is not to be an arbitrary and destructive domination. God calls man and woman, made in the image of the Creator "who loves everything that exists", to share in his providence toward other creatures; hence their responsibility for the world God has entrusted to them.

We may debate about the specifics of climate change: whether or not it's happening, what is causing it. But a reflexive distaste for any kind of concern for the natural world has no place in Catholic thought.

 

Pope Francis is taking a hard turn to the left with all this environmentalist chatter.

No, the press is just really slow in noticing that Popes love to talk about the environment. In 1990, at the World Day of Peace, John Paul II said 

IN OUR DAY, there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices among peoples and nations, but also by a lack of DUE RESPECT FOR NATURE, by the plundering of natural resources and by a progressive decline in the quality of life. 

Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past. . . a new ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS is beginning to emerge which, rather than being downplayed, ought to be encouraged to develop into concrete programs and initiatives.

And what about Pope Benedict XVI? Here, National Geographic praises Pope Benedict for his record as "the Green Pope." 

 

Why should we worry about something like climate change, while millions of babies are aborted every year?

I'm pro-life, I'm anti-abortion, I love babies, and yet I still manage to think and care about other things all the time -- things like "This coffee could be hotter," or "If that dog doesn't stop pacing back and forth, I am going to turn him into mincemeat." These are trivial thoughts, but if I express them, no one assumes I'm not pro-life beacuse of it. Brains are busy places, and can care about lots of things at the same time. Concern for one thing doesn't necessarily cancel out concern for everything else.

Now, environmental concerns are not trivial. It is very fitting for the Pope to speak about them, and to instruct the world on how one can be concerned about both the natural world and its most vulnerable citizens. Pro-lifers love babies, and all those babies have to live somewhere, drink something, breathe something.

 

Francis should distance himself from environmentalists, who are often eugenicists. 

Yeah, a lot of them are. A lot of ivory tower-dwelling environmentalists in the west think nothing of living cushy, extravagant lives while condemning third world women for ruining the world by having babies . This is evil. So instead, let's put things in their proper order: let's talk, like Pope Francis recently did, about how big families are a "gift to society," and let's figure out how to preserve the world so our big families have clean air and water to live in. Some environmentalists are anti-baby. Environmentalism as a concept, though, is not.

 

Pope Francis is barking up the wrong tree when he says this in his encyclical . . . 

. . . in his encyclical which hasn't actually come out yet. So, no, you don't know what he's going to say. Maybe you'll hate it, maybe you won't. But maybe you should wait for it to happen, before you react to it.

Tom Peters warns that, because the UN is equal parts dangerous and incompetent, "There would be great practical harm ... in legitimizing the UN and offering it the moral credibility of and association with the Church." 

Peters says,

The original sin of climate change is that it pits human beings and nature against each other. The United Nations sees people, and particularly poor people, as the problem, as consumers, which is why they funnel so much money into birth control and population suppression policies. That’s why those who hold power at the UN are the very last people we should be going to if we truly want to help the poor!

Again, preservation of the environment and promotion of sustainable development? No problem. But climate change and the blundering, malicious environment of the UN? No thanks.

The pope can do better.

He "can do better" in what he might do in the future?  Will he be "going to the UN?" Or will he be reminding them that there is a fuller, richer, wiser worldview? I maintain that we look very silly in criticizing the Pope for how or what he says, when he has not said it yet. So let's just wait and see. It should at least be obvious, by now, that no good comes of letting the secular have all the lines when it comes to environmental issues. If we want a pro-life message to be part of the conversation on environmental policy, then the Pope must speak.