Doug Bandow and Debra Saunders have already done an excellent job digesting Pope Francis’s new Encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, but I want to make sure that I flagged a bit of the Pope’s piece that’s flown under the radar.
In addition to discussing the impact of Climate Change on the poor, the Catholic and spiritual history of environmental stewardship, and suggesting economic policy changes, the Pope pointed out that there’s a disconnect within the environmental movement that will have a much longer-lasting impact than any filth-spewing industrial project: the environmental movement’s commitment to population control. In a harshly-worded passage, the Pope repudiates attacks on human dignity, noting that a respect for nature cannot be separated from a respect for human life, especially unborn human life.
The Pope explained that “a sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.”
“At times we see an obsession with denying any pre-eminence to the human person; more zeal is shown in protecting other species than in defending the dignity which all human beings share in equal measure,” he said…It is “clearly inconsistent” to combat the trafficking of endangered species while remaining indifferent toward the trafficking of persons, to the poor and to the decision of many “to destroy another human being deemed unwanted,” the Pope stated.
To have this attitude, he said, “compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment.”
Francis also highlighted that concern for the protection of nature is “incompatible with the justification of abortion.”
“How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” he asked.
The Pope also took to task population control advocates – noting that helping the poor does not mean reducing birth rates – and denounced aid efforts that were contingent on accepting “reproductive health” efforts that include birth control. The Pope covered, extensively, how the environmental movement has been callous in its approach to the dignity of human life, refusing to support curbs on research done on human embryos, disregarding ethical principles, and labeling the poor as undesirables to be cut off from procreating.
The left has been trumpeting this Encyclical as their needed “moral justification” for strict environmental policies. I don’t believe that it turned out to be the strong call to address the human factor in Climate Change that they thought it would be – Climate Change activist Michael Mann took the Pope to task this morning, already, in the NYT for “denying” the “strong science” demonstrating humanity’s contribution to Cliamte Change, and several population control advocates are already excoriating the Pope’s commitment to Catholic principles on the issue of “reproductive choice.” It turned out to take the left to task – including some of those on the left, like Jeffrey Sachs, who attended the Vatican’s recent conference on Climate Change – for their hypocricy just as stringently as it took the rest of the population to task for its excess.
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