The pope’s statements on climate change read like press releases from the Sierra Club. Even the pantheism of modern environmentalism creeps into his comments. “Listen to the cry of the Earth,” he lectured leaders this week.
The pope is still miffed that Donald Trump blew off his counsel on the Paris climate accord. Trump had responded to the pope’s lobbying with the wonderfully neutral comment, “He is something.”
Socialists, meanwhile, sing the praises of the pope. The socialist Brazilian sociologist Michael Lowy gushes about the pope’s use of environmentalism to try and undermine the free market and empower statist pols: “For Pope Francis, ecological disasters and climate change are not merely the results of individual behavior, but rather the result of the current models of production and consumption.”
Openly endorsing the anti-growth policies of the left, Pope Francis is rooting for economic decline in the West, casting it as a requirement of redistributive justice. In a burst of Malthusianism, he wrote in his environmentalist encyclical Laudato Si’: “… the time has come to accept decreased growth in some parts of the world, in order to provide resources for other places to experience healthy growth.”
The Canadian socialist Naomi Klein has written about the propagandistic nest she and her friends have built at the Vatican. Klein readily acknowledges that for the pope environmentalism and socialism are one and the same. After one trip to the Vatican, she wrote that the pope agrees with her that “climate change requires fundamental changes to our economic model.” In the pages of the New Yorker, Klein wrote about a giddy dinner at the Vatican with a roster of socialists who had burrowed into the Church:
My dinner companions have been some of the biggest troublemakers within the Church for years, the ones taking Christ’s proto-socialist teachings seriously. Patrick Carolan, the Washington, D.C.-based executive director of the Franciscan Action Network, is one of them. Smiling broadly, he tells me that, at the end of his life, Vladimir Lenin supposedly said that what the Russian Revolution had really needed was not more Bolsheviks but ten St. Francises of Assisi.
Now all of a sudden these outsiders share many of their views with the most powerful Catholic in the world, the leader of a flock of 1.2 billion people. Not only did this Pope surprise everyone by calling himself Francis, as no Pope ever had before him, but he appears to be determined to revive the most radical Franciscan teachings. Moema de Miranda, a powerful Brazilian social leader, who was wearing a wooden Franciscan cross, says that it feels “as if we are finally being heard.”
For [Fr. Sean] McDonagh, the changes at the Vatican are even more striking. “The last time I had a Papal audience was 1963,” he tells me over spaghetti vongole. “I let three Popes go by.” And yet here he is, back in Rome, having help draft the most talked-about encyclical anyone can remember.
In almost any other Vatican, pantheistic injunctions such as “Listen to the Cry of the Earth” would have been unthinkable. But in the atmosphere Klein describes — where churchmen quote the murderous Lenin approvingly — they flow easily.
Listen to the cry of the earth and don’t breed “like rabbits” — that is Pope Francis’s idea of profound papal teaching. And if you fail to be “respectful of creation,” go to confession and confess your sins against environmentalism, he says, provided, of course, that you show firm purpose of amendment by “avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planning trees, turning off unnecessary lights, any number of other practices.”
The image that this conjures up — of torpid Catholics who won’t confess their abortions and adulteries but will confess their failure to “separate refuse” and carpool — would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Under the dilettantish clericalism of Pope Francis, the Vatican has become a bully pulpit for extreme environmentalists, a group notable above all else for its virulent anti-Catholicism.
This, after all, is the same group of leftists who, with Diderot, longed for that day when the last pope was strangled with the guts of the last priest and get misty-eyed at John Lennon jingles about a world without religion. These days they are having dinner with Naomi Klein and Pope Francis a few rooms away from the Sistine Chapel.
George Neumayr is author of The Political Pope.