Laudato Si’, the Encyclical released on June 18th by Pope Francis, has brought the issue of accelerating climate change back to the front burner of religious, business, and political discussion. And he made it quite clear he doesn’t want bitumen fueling the burner.
Naturally, the encyclical was immediately praised by environmental groups, alternative energy entrepreneurs, and green politicians. And as equally predictable, it was denied by Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Business, Conservatives and Republicans. Jeb Bush, U.S. presidential candidate and a Catholic, quipped about Francis’s encyclical, “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.” No, Jeb, but I have a good idea from where you do get your economic policies. And it’s a lot warmer than Florida.
The entire encyclical is available online. To read it is almost like having a conversation with the Pope. And it is a direct and honest conversation. He wastes no time acknowledging humanity’s fingerprints on the acceleration of climate change and the desecration of Our Common Home, the Earth. His main focus is on the ecological crisis, but he spends equal time on social justice issues, recognizing that the poor in both developed and developing countries will pay the greatest price for our consumptive sins.
Most notably, he makes it absolutely clear that the biblical line giving humans dominion over Earth, does not mean we can greedily consume it into extinction. It means we have to live wisely and well for the common good of all creatures, and for the well being of generations to come.
He also holds to account all government leaders who have talked big on the global stage and have done little of significance in policy and practice. He bravely exposed the myth that trading carbon credits, or carbon cap-and-trade deals are solutions to reducing our dependence on fossil fuel extraction and use. All the Canadian political leaders might want to re-examine their policies on that one.
For me, the key point of the encyclical was to make clear that our current Conservative Reform Alliance Party government, and the Canadians who voted for them, could be going straight to Hell if we don’t immediately get back to science-based decision making and come up with some actual policies to deal with and mitigate the impacts of accelerating climate change.
Laudato Si’, Francis!
Skid Crease, Caledon