Pell knows better than Pope Francis on climate!

Cardinal George Pell has publicly criticised Pope Francis’ decision to place climate change at the top of the Catholic Church’s agenda.

There’s coverage at CathNews and at the SMH.

    “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.

Jones says:

    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.


7 thoughts on “Pell knows better than Pope Francis on climate!”

  1. The Catholic Church has come in for a lot of well-justified criticism and condemnation for many of its terrible errors: hammering witches and denying the heliocentric nature of the solar system are two that come immediately to mind. However, it has tended to be in favour of a better understanding of God’s wonderful universe – they accepted the science of the ancient world that had been transmitted to The West by the Saracens without condemning it because it had passed through the hands of Moslems. The Jesuits, in particular, have always taken an active part in advancing science (sorry about Torquemada, Ximenes and all those barbequed heretics, Moors and Jews).

    In some ways, the Catholic Church has been more progressive than the English and Dutch Protestants.

    I’m afraid Cardinal Pell seems to have aligned himself with the very influential regressive cliques which have plagued and hindered all of Christendom ever since the 2nd Century AD. Cardinal Pell is a very intelligent man so it is beyond me why he would allow himself to be seen as one of the herd that includes the “American Taliban”, the flat-earthers, the climate change deniers, the TV evangeli$t$ and all those who have brought ridicule and contempt upon the whole Christian religion. Who needs Atheists when this bunch are doing such an effective job of undermining Christianity?

    One of the great strengths of the Catholic Church is its ability to change in response to improvements in our understanding of the world. Pope Frank The Beaut is doing exceptionally well in encouraging these necessary changes in our time.

    Cardinal Pell has a clear choice: Get aboard – or get out.

  2. Yes Pope Francis puts us non-believers in an awkward position! I have not read his whole paper, but what I have seen of it is very good. Sadly there is still so much wrong with that strange old patriarchal structure that he heads. It’s a paradox.

    I’m not against religion or religious feeling, I think we need to regard the ‘natural world’ (of which as Brian says, we are part, though sometimes a rather virus-like part!) with religious-like feelings, but the old patriarchal gods I can do without.

    Cardinal Pell, what a sad and sorry old man he is.

  3. Pell probably got an e-mail from Tony Abbott, or worse, his mates in the IPA demanding he speak out against Francis’s encyclical.

    As for Francis’s scientific qualifications, ts now been pointed out several times he has an MA in, I think, chemistry.

  4. Pell was part of the authoritarian push that insisted that Catholics toe the theological line of the last pope. A push that stifled the creative and caring stuff like what was going on in St Mary’s in Brisbane.
    If he were consistent Pell would be demanding that Catholics like Abbott support Pope Francis and the things he is trying to do to look after his god’s planet.
    Perhaps Pell should join the Tea party Catholics in exile?

  5. I’m atheist but some of the best and most progressive people I’ve ever met are religious. I worry most about the evangelical “prosperity” gospellers like Hillsong Church, who are conservative and align with the right side of politics. They are seriously creepy and cultish.

    I suspect that if a Pope became too progressive, many Anglosphere Catholics would drift off into the evangelical cults. It would probably also lead to a split in the Church, given the homophobic nature of many African Catholic Church leaders.

  6. Karen, I disagree.

    Firstly, I think that if the Catholic Church followed Pope Frank The Beaut’s example, many of the Catholics who left the Catholic Church in frustration and disgust would come flocking back.

    Secondly, the Catholic Church becoming more progressive would be a unifying rather than a dividing force in Christendom – except for the Republican Party/ Tea Party Religious Front, the anti-homosexual African Anglicans, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons and the “Hallelujah, Give Me Your Money” racketeers disguised as churches.

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