Saturday, June 20, 2015

Is the Pope still Catholic?

So, the Pope (or his copy writers, at least) has brought out a papal encyclical on climate change, acknowledging that global warming is real, and that furthermore it is man-made, potentially devastating to the earth, and that we need to pull together as a planet and tackle the issue head on (and soon).
So, big deal you might say. Why should we get excited about the pronouncents of a failing institution that still believes in angels and miracles and a fiery hell, and which still disallows abortion and female priests? As a lapsed Catholic of some 40 years (and I mean very lapsed, read stridently atheist), that was my initial reaction.
But, judging by some of Pope Francis' recent pronouncements on matter such as homosexuality, poverty, etc, and now his willingness to wade into the quagmire of climate change, this new Pope does actually seem intent on dragging the Catholic Church kicking and screaming into the 21st - or even the 20th - century, and I think we need to give him his due (even given that some of his more provocative statements have been subsequently toned down, and his radical credentials may actually be overstated). Either way, a document such as this would surely have been unthinkable under any previous pontiff, and that in itself merits some attention.
And will this new radical pronouncement make any difference to the world? Probably not, but just maybe. And that is also important.
Whatever your opinions on the Catholic church and the various ideological holes it has dug itself into over the centuries, the Pope still represents the voice and conscience of a huge chunk of humanity. And, as Elizabeth Renzetti points in her Globe column, climate change these days is as much about belief as it is about science. The facts appear to speak for themselves, and yet there are whole segments of society that are entirely comfortable putting their own spin on these facts, often even using religious beliefs to justify their spurious interpretations. If someone of the stature of the Pope can lend his moral authority to changing some of these beliefs, then all power to him.
The movement to tackle global warming needs all the help it can get, and from whatever source that may come, however unlikely.

No comments: