we pointed out that the Encyclical "Laudato Si' " contained a beautiful summary of much of Catholic Teaching but dressed up in latter day environmentalist and anti-capitalist rhetoric.
It seems we were not alone in reaching this conclusion. Surprisingly a rather more scathing assessment was made in the Lead Editorial in last week's "WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN" the weekend edition of the nation's most serious newspaper. Oddly, the Editorial attracted little media attention and even seemed to slide by on the Internet forums due to the overwhelming effect of the U.S. Supreme court's decision to make law regarding Homosexual Mirage. But it is worthwhile examining just what this secular Editorial had to say about the Encyclical and its likely effect.
The Editorial begins by praising Pope Francis' earliest initiatives as wholly to be praised. But it is brought up short by its encounter with " Laudato Si' ".
It soon continues:
" But in his second encyclical " Laudato Si' " (Praised Be) he appears to have swallowed a new, pernicious dogma, that of the anti-development, anti-free market global Green Movement. Much of his 40,000 word letter to the world is a denunciation, dressed up as religious instruction, of free market principles and an enthusiastic embrace of the most dire, catastrophist warnings of the global environmental movement. "To degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate....these are sins", he writes, urging the world to reject the
" magical conception of the market" and bestowing a quasi-religious status on contentious policy prescriptions. Francis and his advisers, ..... emerge as environmental populists and economic ideologues of a quasi-Marxist bent" .
The paper goes on to say:
"But his "solutions" are secular economic and political opinions. They are not part of the Church's deposit of the faith and they are not tenets of faith and morals.............this outburst betrays a fundamental ignorance of economic history that, given the Pope's influence and moral authority has the potential to hurt those he cares for most - the poor. It deserves urgent rebuttal."
The Editorial goes on to review recent economic history, noting , despite the occasional reversal, that the general trend in the world has been one of the most marked economic progress in free market economies and those that have been liberalised such as China and India. It continues :
" In Africa, economic progress has been throttled by corruption and war, and in South America by repeated reversions to populist socialism. Indeed the Pope's pessimism may stem from experience in his native Argentina which, at the beginning of the 20th Century was - along with Australia - among the richest handful of nations on earth. While Argentina never sustainably liberalised it economy and tumbled down the global economic league table, Australia fought a feared economic deterioration in the 1980s and 90s by liberalising financial, product and labour markets and continues to reap the dividends."
"The Pope endorses the bleakest predictions about climate change, ignoring the inexactness of the science and the extended pause in rising temperatures".
" To cut emissions, the Pope wants " Enforceable international agreements" and " globally regulatory norms" He also would extend this new form of bureaucratic tyranny to his main moral imperative, re-slicing the economic pie , not enlarging it : "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." To that end, he favours " stronger and more efficiently organised international institutions" with functionaries appointed by agreement among nations and " empowered to impose sanctions"
Now comes the crunch :
" In advocating radical change in economic structures and world governance, Francis has stepped over important demarcations between Church and State, blurring the lines between God and Caesar."
" Francis framed this document around admirable concerns for life and the natural environment. But its flaws which are not about faith could weaken the standing of future encyclicals."
In sum , the Editorial reaches the conclusion that the Encyclical is too greatly involved in matters in which the Pope lacks authority , responsibility and expertise, and damages the attention which encyclicals - in recent times of moral uncertainty - have been accorded.
It is a sad to see this judgement being reached by such a distinguished Newspaper.
The summary of authentic teaching gets obscured by all the economic. political and green rhetoric - a great opportunity wasted.