In a letter to world leaders gathered at a United Nations conference earlier this month in Germany, Pope Francis applauded their efforts to “counteract one of the most worrying phenomena our humanity is experiencing.” He warned the prestigious group against “falling into the trap of these four perverse attitudes: denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions.”
So, what threats and perversions in this broken world was the pope referring to? The sickening, random attacks by murderous Islamic terrorists? Madmen acquiring destructive nuclear weapons? The living hell endured by millions of young girls around the world from prostitution, child marriage, weaponized gang rape, and female genital mutilation? Tyranny in North Korea, famine in the Sudan, oppression in Venezuela?
No, the leader of the world’s Catholic flock was referring to climate change. His message was aimed at the 20,000 delegates attending the United Nations’ 23rd annual climate change conference in Bonn: “I would like to reaffirm my urgent call to renew dialogue on how we are building the future of the planet. We need an exchange that unites us all, because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, affects us all.” His holiness also cheered the 2015 Paris climate accord, which the Trump administration ditched last summer, and urged the group to move forward to achieve the pact’s goals.
At a time of weak, feckless world leadership, it is sad, if not irresponsible, to have this powerful religious leader choose to push politically motivated climate orthodoxy rather than address legitimate problems in an unsafe world. Historically, the papacy has inspired non-Catholics and even non-Christians during perilous times. I cannot help but think of John O’Sullivan’s brilliant and moving book, “The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister,” which touted the success of Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher in vanquishing the Soviet Union. The contrast makes Pope Francis’s focus on human-caused climate change even more galling.
Climate Change Is a Mask for Economic Control
This week, Francis is in Myanmar and Bangladesh, two destitute nations reeling from a refugee crisis due to the religious persecution of minority Muslims, and where serious threats against the countries’ small Catholic population are increasing. Despite the myriad woes afflicting his poor flock, the pope will still waste time talking about global warming: “This visit is for spiritual causes, for highlighting peace and harmony,” the archbishop of Dhaka told the Washington Post. “But the Holy Father will also touch upon other very important issues that concern Bangladesh. The Rohingya crisis and climate change will come up prominently.” Holy moly.
But it makes sense for a man who laments the evils of capitalism to advance the climate change agenda, which is rooted in Francis’s preferred collectivist-based economic system. Francis blames terrorism on “a world economy has at its center the god of money and not the person.” He rejects meritocracy and claims “the new capitalism gives a moral cloak to inequality.”
In his view, the business man is evil, and the terrorist is a victim. That’s why climate change is the ideal cause for Francis: climate policies punish private industry, redistribute wealth globally, enact punitive taxes and harsh regulations, and minimize the role of technology. It is not about the environment or science; it is the late-twentieth-century model of how to impose socialism while looking like you really care about polar bears and sea levels.
This Is an Unholy Obsession for Pope Francis
Over his nearly five-year reign, Pope Francis has devoted an extraordinary amount of time and focus on manmade climate change. In 2015, a few months before Paris climate conference, the Vatican published “Laudato Si,” his encyclical about “care for our common home.” The paper is a lengthy rant against greed, industry, technology, and consumption, declaring that “never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.”
Naomi Oreskes, a well-known environmental activist, wrote the report’s introduction and the pope was subsequently criticized for aligning with other leftists who support abortion, population control, and contraception, policies inimical to Catholic tenets.
“Laudato Si” dismisses the reality that wealthy people in developed nations are typically far better stewards of nature than poor people in developing countries are: “A sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful.”
The paper cautions against adopting beneficial technologies like genetically engineered crops and nuclear energy because it gives “those with the knowledge…an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world.” During their meeting at the Vatican last May, Francis gave President Trump a signed copy of his encyclical. A few weeks later, Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
So Is Inspecting Science a Moral, or Venial, Sin?
In a world full of villains, Francis saves some of his harshest invective for climate “deniers.” Speaking to reporters last September from the papal plane—yes, an evil, fossil-fueled jumbo jet built and sold by greedy industrialists—Francis said climate deniers reminded him “of a phrase from the Old Testament, from the Psalm, ‘Man is stupid.’ When you don’t want to see, you don’t see.” He claimed, “history would judge” anyone who denies climate change is happening.
Fossil fuel corporations are also on the pope’s naughty list. Citing “Laudato Si,” 40 Catholic institutions announced last month they would divest from fossil fuel interests, and other groups are expected to follow. In July 2016, the same month Islamic terrorists killed 86 people in Nice, 29 people in a Bangladeshi bakery, and 323 people in Baghdad shopping district, the pope called for a World Day of Prayer…for the planet.
Most alarming about Francis’s climate advocacy is how it harms the same vulnerable people he wants to protect. In his letter to the Bonn delegates, Francis condemns the “strong links between combating climate change and poverty,” and cites that myth to promote a “low or zero-carbon model of economic development.” But that approach is precisely why hundreds of millions of poor people continue to live in poverty.
It is not climate change that causes global poverty, but the absence of a reliable, affordable energy grid does. Bangladesh is one of the most energy-poor countries in the world; only 60 percent of Bangladeshis are connected to an electricity grid. Instead, Bangladeshis rely on “biofuels, such as wood, cow dung and agricultural residues [that] are collected mainly from the local environment and have become a traded commodity as cooking fuel as access to local biomass becomes ever more difficult. Inefficient, kerosene lamps are the most common sources of light.”
Insisting that developing nations shun their troves of coal and natural gas resources to scale up wind, solar, and geothermal energy to avoid emitting carbon dioxide is literally keeping large swaths of the global South in the dark. People without electricity can’t work, grow food, access clean water, go to school, or get basic health care efficiently. Many more women die in childbirth, and mothers watch their children suffer from hunger and disease.
The Vatican’s unholy alliance with climate activists, many of whom hold views hostile to Catholic doctrine, is extending that misery. That, not climate denial or indifference, is a real perversion the pope should worry about.