Cardinal George Pell has publicly criticised Pope Francis’ decision to place climate change at the top of the Catholic Church’s agenda.
- “It’s got many, many interesting elements. There are parts of it which are beautiful,” he said. “But the Church has no particular expertise in science … the Church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters. We believe in the autonomy of science.”
Roger Jones points out that Pell himself claims to be a layman scientist, which is apparently OK and it’s OK for him to pronounce on climate science, adopting the views of a bunch of climate deniers.
- The scientific aspects of the encyclical were contributed by scientists, this content has been endorsed by pretty much every publishing climate scientist, so I reckon the good cardinal should take his own advice. If you want to act on scientific advice, consult the science.
And as a good Catholic, he is bound to take science seriously, is he not?
In my earlier post I pointed out that the papal encyclical now makes it obligatory for Catholics to be green. But this goes way beyond treating the environment better. As David Spratt indicates, it’s not about how we live in nature, we are part of nature:
- Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature…”
Market capitalism sees us as dominating nature and using it to our ends. In prioritising market capitalism we have created a system that shapes us, in a sense creates us. We need to turn this around, to civilise market capitalism and have it serve humanity in a way that heals our being in nature. As Melanie Klein says, everything needs to change. As I did back in 2013, I’ll quote her again and repeat what I said then:
- Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South. Of course, none of this has a hope in hell of happening unless it is accompanied by a massive, broad-based effort to radically reduce the influence that corporations have over the political process. That means, at a minimum, publicly funded elections and stripping corporations of their status as ‘people’ under the law. In short, climate change supercharges the pre-existing case for virtually every progressive demand on the books, binding them into a coherent agenda based on a clear scientific imperative.
If as progressives we take on an agenda like that, or similar, we’ll need to travel under the sign of justice, with a clear view of liberty and equality for all. But lest we create some new phallocentric hierarchical monster we’ll need to see ourselves as part of one human family embedded in the whole system of life, rather than just rights-bearing isolates.
Working on ourselves will be every bit as challenging as working towards a new political economy.
Pope Francis is engaging and struggling with the central question of our times. Pell’s blindness and ignorance is truly monumental.