Here is what I hope Laudato Sí 2.0 will say

The human person, according to Genesis, has a privileged place in the world. The Patristic tradition spoke of man as a singer, as the one who gives voice to the rest of God’s creation to proclaim His glory.

(Image: Elena Mozhvilo/

Back in 2015, when rumors circulated that Pope Francis was writing Laudato Sí, an encyclical on the environment, I offered some unsolicited advice as to what should be in the letter: “What Should the Pope’s Ecology Encyclical Say?”

I remember writing that piece one night in a Beijing hotel room, after spending a day out in that city’s notorious air pollution. Yes, I really—not just notionally—understood why concern for the environment was (and is) important. But I also thought that the Catholic Church needed to be saying something more than CNN does, or at least not just the same thing with some pious words and a dash of holy water added. I also thought the secular environmental movement posed some dangers to Christian orthodoxy, and I believed the Pope needed to point them out.

Now that Pope Francis has said he’s writing a second part to his Laudato si’, a sequel of sorts that is reported to “cover current issues,” let me also revisit old advice and add some new suggestions.

Back in 2015, I cautioned against the quasi-religion into which environmentalism was turning. The environmental and climate movements apparently have their own anthropologies, their own views of the human person, and those visions were ultimately incompatible with the Judaeo-Christian one.

Our culture has been formed by a vision of the human person first put forward by Judaism and then shared by Christianity. It’s found on the first pages of the Bible, so I call it our “Genesis heritage.”

A central element of that “Genesis heritage” is how it understands man. The human person is not just another biological species. He is not just another life form with an oversized carbon footprint. The human person is qualitatively different from the rest of the material creation. (Spiritual creation, i.e., angels and what “eye has not seen of what God has prepared for those who love Him,” are outside this essay’s scope).

The human person is not just “part” of material creation. He stands at its zenith. As Vatican II (Gaudium et spes, 24) teaches, man is the only material creature God wanted for His/his own sake. The double pronoun signifies what I think is the double nature of the question: God wanted man for Himself, but he also created man as a person for himself, not just as a means for other creatures.

Every other material creature is simply created. “God said … and there was.” “Let there be …and there was.” Man alone is the product of deliberation. God interrupts His work of creation, as if to take counsel with Himself: “Let us make man…” (Gen 1:26). In that deliberation, God also deliberates about what is to be unique about the human person. He is to be “in our image and likeness,” a reality no other material creature enjoys. Man is to “have dominion” over other material creatures. And after God appears to reflect in His Wisdom on what this creature man is to be, He acts: “So God created man in His image; in the divine image He created him. Male and female He created them” (1:27).

So God, who is a communion of Persons, creates persons who can relate to Him. And He creates them “male and female.” Sexual differentiation is neither an Aristotelian congenital defect (the “misbegotten male”) nor a post-modern relic of “gender binary discrimination” (the “wrong body” amidst 40 shades of gender). That God created them sexually differentiated already points to the communion of persons that should ensue.

But God goes on: having created them, He immediately pronounces His first blessings and commands: “Be fruitful and multiply.” “Have dominion over the earth.” “Fill the earth and subdue it.”

The human person, according to Genesis, has a privileged place in the world. The Patristic tradition spoke of man as a singer, as the one who gives voice to the rest of God’s creation to proclaim His glory.

That vision of the human person excludes environmental irresponsibility. Man’s role as God’s image vis-à-vis the material world is fiduciary, not exploitive. Like the servants entrusted with talents, he’s expected to do something with the world (continue the work of creation with the same love God does), not be passive with that trust and certainly not to dissipate it.

This is not the vision of much of secular ecology. It’s “this world”-only perspective (which is why I explicitly excluded discussion of spiritual creation) sees the human person as just another biological life form, one that’s grown too big for his ecosystem britches. The more blatant of them talk about human extinction and write philosophy books published by distinguished publishers (e.g., David Benatar, Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence, published by Oxford University Press) speaking of procreation as a moral evil and human extinction a desirable outcome if we could only address that pesky problem of “thou shalt not kill.”

The less frank simply talk youth into foregoing childbearing “in the name of the planet,” so that Gaia/Mother Earth/Pachamama can be a pristine paradise of lichens, trees, and squirrels. But, as I’ve also asked, riffing George Berkeley’s famous question about whether a tree that falls in a forest which nobody hears makes a sound: if a pine falls in the woods only to startle a squirrel, who cares? I have no interest in a person-less world of pines. If that’s what Mother Nature requires, rename her Medea.

So, betwixt Christ and Gaia—like between Lazarus and Dives—there is fixed an unbridgeable great chasm (Lk 16:26). Francis does nobody a favor by failing to point out the cliff’s edge, much less decry those who would build a wall fencing it off.

Let me add to what I cautioned against in 2015. Pope Benedict XVI frequently spoke of “integral ecology” or “human ecology.” It was part of his integral or holistic vision of the person. Let’s unpack those ideas.

First, the integral vision of the person: man is but not only a physical being. As a creature, he has one foot in the material world. As a spiritual creature, made in God’s image and likeness, he also has a foot in a free world of persons who, by their choices, constitute themselves as good or evil. A Catholic “ecology” cannot leave out the latter.

Second, human ecology. Jesus told the devil, “man does not live by bread alone” (Mt 4:4). Jesus did not say, “man lives without bread.” (In fact, He gave His Body under the form of bread).

Apply that teaching to ecology. Nobody is saying that man can live without clean air. But man cannot live—in the sense of what St. Irenaeus of Lyons called man being “fully alive” to God’s glory—on clean air alone. Man’s physical environment is important. But there is something gravely wrong with an environmental outlook that chokes on 10 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter in ambient air quality standards but swallows the sludge of morally toxic values which people breathe everyday—especially young whose moral lungs, like their physical ones, are still developing. And if environmentalism says the latter is “not its concern,” it shows its readiness to swallow the sludge.

By identifying the moral element’s relevance alongside the physical, I am not suggesting we revise the Catechism to suggest Catholics confess using plastic straws instead of paper ones (wrapped in plastic). Individual moral responsibility for “sins against the environment” is usually very remote. A sin whose name, however, we rarely speak today—“waste”—may be more real in individual people’s lives.

What I am suggesting is that, if we look at the human person integrally, we need to consider the total environment—including the moral environment in which he lives—together. It would seem to me that this requires the kind of holistic, seamless approach that demands a comprehensive view of what we are doing, and not focus “only” on some parts of the physical environmental agenda. That would seem to be taking the Church’s teaching and reducing it to partisanship, making allies with some parts of the “green” agenda while relegating to the peripheries other key Catholic concerns. I would think this pontificate would not want to do that. Nor, in the name of that partnership and fraternal dialogue should the Church neglect what is uniquely her responsibility: the overall human environment with its physical and moral dimensions.

So, if the Pope is penning Laudato 2.0, my concrete suggestions are to contribute what the Church alone is uniquely qualified to contribute: her vision of the integral human person and the moral implications it entails. That means recognizing the uniqueness of the human person within material creation and opposing any ecological vision that in any way marginalizes his centrality. That also means broadening the vision of ecology from mere physical pollution standards to a wider aperture that combats the toxic moral pollution increasingly choking human persons.

Such a vision of care for our common home would make the Church’s environmental role that of a leader, not just a cheerleader, in this effort. More importantly, it would also rescue the central dignity of the human person that remains at real risk from environmentalisms that feign concern for the human person but which, in reality, are antithetical to him and his dignity.

That would be, respectfully, a real and lasting contribution from the Holy Father.

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About John M. Grondelski, Ph.D. 18 Articles
John M. Grondelski (Ph.D., Fordham) was former associate dean of the School of Theology, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. He publishes regularly in the National Catholic Register and in theological journals. All views expressed herein are exclusively his own.


  1. The Pope shouldn’t even be commenting on the environment. Instead, concentrate on the Catholic persecution in China, in Nicaragua, where priests are being imprisoned or deported, on the radical Germans, on the imprisonment of Cardinal Zen, etc. The Pope is FAR too interested in things NOT associated with the Catholic Church. Yet he feels NO guilt in creating a schism with traditional Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass – no problem in being outspoken (and wrong, I might add) on that subject…..

  2. John, I think you should be pope. NO? Perhaps, maybe you should just write on his behalf then? Perhaps, we can have some real semblance of Catholicism coming from the Vatican again. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  3. I would like the leader of our Faith to stay out of the science of “climate”, since it is evident from his first Laudato Si that such a premise is truly beyond his ability, let alone purview, to discuss, and stick to the moral and faithful aspects of us, as Christians, to be stewards of our Earth. In other words, leave out the parsed science which undercuts the entire point of the Laudato by it distraction into “scientific” cures which may or may not be true, and instead focus on our call to come to an understanding of and will to do what we CAN do to help our earth be healthy. For many of us, the entire Laudato was deemed invalid, like much of the political admonishments that come from our Pope, by the lack of understanding of the science of climate, its change, and how much humans may or may not be contributing to the changing climate.

  4. We read: “…vision of the human person excludes environmental irresponsibility. Man’s role as God’s image vis-à-vis the material world is fiduciary, not exploitive.”

    What endangers us today is the downside of a cultural trajectory accelerated by the likes of the Enlightenment Francis Bacon (1561-1626), who put the experimental method on a broken leash—so as to put “nature “on the rack” to reveal her secrets for our control. Exploitive/ secularist control is rape and abortion against the biblical “dominion.”

    Here and in support of Grondelski, yours truly repeats his own more particular and recent recommendations for Laudato Si 2:

    1. A restored DISTINCTION between the, yes, interrelated “human ecology” (e.g., the family) and the “natural ecology,” more than is provided by the conflated “integral ecology” (only the merged family of man?). Example, the moral equivalence between aborting our own children, the de facto triaging of ecological vulnerable human populations, and the abortion of the planet as our common home (our global amniotic sac). [My distinct memory is that Pope Benedict used the term “integral humanism,” not “integral ecology”.]

    2. The Catholic Social Teaching (CST) as the application of universal MORAL VIRTUES rather than as any ideology (the negation of all ideology!): prudential judgment (caution despite and even because of scientific uncertainty), courage (political), temperance (both personal and cultural), and fortitude.

    3.An eye to the Church’s direct responsibility as the dark side of progressive modernity unfolds, by recalling a broad definition of “the preferential option for THE POOR”: “This option is not limited to material poverty, since it is well known that there are many other forms of poverty, especially in modern society—not only economic, but cultural and spiritual poverty as well” (Centesimus Annus, 1993, n. 57).

    4. More HONEY less VINEGAR: More credit/encouragement to those kinds of programs well underway, or only partially, to preserve what is being lost or fix what is out of balance: conservation (whether Teddy Roosevelt’s National Parks initiative, or the transnational/public-private Nature Conservancy), environmental impact analyses ([at the federal level] in the U.S. since 1969), or sometimes the corporate triple-bottom line (profit, loss, social/environmental factors).

    5. A more developed message on the inseparability of the CST PRINCIPLES of Solidarity/ Subsidiarity (see again Centesimus Annus on human initiative and on ethical markets, nn. 32 and 44). Acknowledgment of knotty problems—details within the domain of those responsible for the common good (Vatican II)—in navigating uneven economic burdens and disjointed “politics” between the developed nations and India, and Marxist regimes.

    Later added to #4:
    Teddy Roosevelt’s National Parks initiative…” now totaling 52 million acres or 80 thousand square miles (0.08 million). From the internet, the Nature Conservancy operates in over seventy countries and the goal for 2030 is to have preserved 650 million hectares or 2.5 million square miles, a land area twice the size of India.
    By comparison, the total land surface area of the earth is 197 million square miles, of which about one-third is devoted to agriculture and about another one-fifth to urbanization.

  5. Ringing of hammers driving spikes into trees to save the spotted white owl at the cost of human life references one religion. Another is Goddess of the Andes Pachamama, enshrined by His Holiness at the Vatican in the sanctuary of St Peter’s Basilica, which relegates Man to the peripheries of concern.
    There’s a third. Man is an integral part of the environment, says Grondelski, a moral vision that doesn’t exclude Man’s unique moral centrality, and recognition of moral pollution. At issue is clarity of vision. Example, what does, ‘He also has a foot in a free world of persons who, by their choices, constitute themselves as good or evil’, actually mean?.
    There are choices that reveal the complexity of moral rightness. For one, the question of developing fossil fuels in the US, with its inevitable toxic increase, to free ourselves of dependence on Communist China, and its virtual ownership of our economy, and with that perhaps obliquely, our moral values. Waste. Waste is a moral problem identified by the author, although it appears an inevitability within a consumer economy. Yes, we can do better, although it would require an herculean effort and ecological moral transformation. Moral good or evil exposed to existential realities are subject to modification. Would it be morally wise to revert to an eighteenth century lifestyle in a world of predatory nations prepared to envelope and rule, impose their own values as would Communist China, perhaps in unison with Russia? Does the moral good by necessity acquire greater topical coherence?
    Grondelski’s advice to Pope Francis on ecology is warranted, although within the complexities of our world it would require a shift in his priorities. That we should vie for.

  6. Prof. Grondelski may be looking forward to “the Pope’s penning [of] Laudato 2.0.” I for one am not.

    I would look forward, rather, to more of Prof. Grondelski’s commentary on the matter of the environment and the role of Catholic theology in addressing various issues concerning it. Not the least of which are the poisonous views of those–folks I’ll call gnostics for the sake of brevity–who seem to have developed an ideological hatred of humankind, which is perhaps not unrelated to self-loathing. The latter may in fact be one source of the former.

    The young and those who are desperate to get behind a cause to give their lives meaning may fall for the more extreme expressions of environmentalist ideology. All the more reason to provide a cogently articulated Biblical-theological perspective like Grondelski’s.

  7. 33. It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential “resources” to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.
    — Laudato Si

    More than 99% of all species that ever lived on Earth, amounting to over five billion species, are estimated to have died out.
    — Wikipedia

    The rise and eventual extinction of billions species took place long before humanity even existed on planet Earth. The extinction of species is an entirely natural phenomenon that continues to this day. If some of it is due to human activity that was aimed at the flourishing of humanity, contrary to Laudato Si, that is not something evil. God gave humanity dominion over animals.

    Let’s hope Laudato Si 2.0 acknowledges scientific facts and traditional Catholic beliefs instead of being more environmentalist propaganda.

    • Sorry, but you lost me the moment you cited Wikipedia. How about consulting legitimate scientific information as sources?

      • If one believes an Almighty Creator made the world we live in then one might wonder why he made vast pools of oil and endless seams of coal.
        Shall we imagine He Created without purpose?
        All the Catholic pundits fail by not pointing out that Pope Francis is simply not very bright. He is a mere ideologue of Modernism who is so obtuse that when he looks out the window of an airplane he cannot see the magnificence of God’s Creation. The twin spawns of the great sin of Pride, ignorance and arrogance, seem to blind his eyes. Paul told us why in Romans 1:16-32.

      • I share your skepticism of Wikipedia. Look it up for yourself. You will find that most of the species that have ever existed on Earth have gone extinct.

  8. Revelation 21:1 The New Heaven and the New Earth
    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

    Matthew 5:5 The Beatitudes
    Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

    Psalms 37:9
    Those who do evil will be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD will inherit the earth. Wait a little, and the wicked will be no more; look for them and they will not be there. But the poor will inherit the earth,…

    “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at Hand!” is what Pope Francis should be warning the earth about. St. Peter tells us that we received a second “New Heaven and New Earth” at the time of the Great Flood. St. Peter tells us that we will receive a third “New Heaven and new Earth” when Jesus Second Coming, Comes to Rule the World. What is clear in scriptures, is that the unrepentant wicked, like upon the Great Flood, will not be part of the coming third “New Heavens and New Earth”.

    2 Peter 3:3
    Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers will come to scoff, living according to their own desires and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? From the time when our ancestors fell asleep, everything has remained as it was from the beginning of creation.” They deliberately ignore the fact that the heavens existed of old and earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God; through these the world that then existed was destroyed, deluged with water. The present heavens and earth have been reserved by the same word for fire, kept for the day of judgment and of destruction of the godless. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out. Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought [you] to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire. But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

    Psalms 97
    The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad. Cloud and darkness surround the Lord; justice and right are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him; everywhere it consumes the foes. Lightning illumines the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim God’s justice; all peoples see his glory.

    Psalms 96:11
    Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them. Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice before the LORD who comes, who comes to govern the earth, To govern the world with justice and the peoples with faithfulness.

    Revelation 11:15 The Seventh Trumpet
    Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet. There were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world now belongs to our Lord and to his Anointed, and he will reign forever and ever.

    P.S. And if you want to talk Quantum Mechanics, I can scientifically explain how God can switch ‘Multiverse’ universes, out of all possible ‘Multiverse’ universes, in a blink of mankind’s eye.

  9. I was going to write that given the state of our Church, and the lack of belief of so many Catholics, that it was very unfortunate that the Pope was spending time on Laudato Si 2.0. But then I remembered how I at first thought it was unfortunate that our current president spent so much time on vacation until I realized that the more time he spent away from Washington the better off we were.

    So maybe the more time Pope Francis spends writing Laudato Si 2.0 the less time he will have to harm the teachings of the Church on Faith and Morality.

    Given that I believe that his knowledge of environmental issues and causes is equal to his medical knowledge of vaccine shots I believe it will be reasonable to ignore whatever he has to say.

  10. What is so sad is few journalists, politicians,or church folk state the fact humans play an insignificant role in climate change. Dr. Richard Lindzan, a climatologist being the lead person in a multi hundred page report to the UN had this document changed by the UN’s administrative group as the administrative report left out of their summary that which was contained in the science report that said on 5 occasions “at this time man has no responsibility for climate change.” This was back in the mid 90’s. People also ignore the dozens of published scientific studies saying heat first andcarbon dioxide follows.

  11. Some good insights by J. Grondelski, but one thing he kinda brags about is a bit laughable. He writes:

    “Back in 2015, I cautioned against the quasi-religion into which environmentalism was turning.”

    Was turning? Around 2015 and perhaps a few years prior thereto? Not exactly worthy of a “Nostradamus award.” 

    To be sure, the “quasi-religion” aspect of environmentalism was recognized by many and also warned about by many since at least the early 1970s when environmentalism began to infiltrate more and more institutions, including various churches.

    In fact, as far back as 1971, scholar and eventual convert to the Faith Fr. Richard John Neuhaus wrote a book entitled “In Defense of People,” and in this book, Neuhaus provides a theologically sound critique of the rising movement of the “theology of ecology.” Others joined Neuhaus in his warnings and criticism, but as the 1970’s unfolded and turned into the 1980s, more and more religious institutions and its leaders began to accept and promote the more radical environmentalism that basically promoted and still promotes the premise that religions are illegitimate and even promoters of evil if they do not incorporate the radical environmentalist agenda into their preaching and teaching.

    Alas, Pope Francis has also accepted and promoted much of this agenda that always has as one of its fundamental goals the destruction of capitalism that is wrongly characterized and caricatured by radical environmentalists and fellow travelers as a great evil comprised primarily of greedy people who care too much about making money and not enough about “saving the planet.”

    So while I join Grondelski and others in hoping that Pope Francis will actually write a decent encyclical on the environment, the greater likelihood is that he will double down on Laudato si’, and an ideology/agenda that evolved from the so-called “sustainability” ideology/agenda about ten or so years ago and is once again gaining popularity is what I suspect the Pope will feature based on what he has written in the recent past, and what others have written and promoted that the Pope aligns himself with in too many respects.

    The aforementioned ideology/agenda that has evolved from “sustainability” is unabashedly referred to as “Degrowth,” and this word is self-explanatory. You see, even so-called “sustainability” doesn’t go far enough for today’s radical environmentalists who foolishly maintain that the emphasis on economic growth (despite its objective history of helping millions of people) is itself a destructive and evil ideology/economic agenda that must be replaced by “degrowing” economies to allegedly not only save the planet, but also bring about greater equality among people.

    And make no mistake. “Degrowth” is yet another aspect of Marxism, which is of course a real evil that should be vigorously combated instead of championed in one form or another by the Bishop of Rome. God help us.

    • GRANTED that “sustainability” is used as code language for a political and even abortionist agenda. On the other hand, how might the Church more competently reclaim the term for moral and non-ideological purposes? On the scientific question of sustainability can the Church seize a sort of Galileo Moment?

      A credit card lifestyle that overshoots the personal debt limit is not sustainable. A federal budget with a cumulative national debt of $32 Trillion is not sustainable. Soil exhaustion in the 1930s Dustbowl was not sustainable. Under the Genesis account, man is given “dominion,” not domination, over the world (this rather than domination over each other). Today, for ecological and other real issues, needed is “dialogue which involves past AND future generations” (JP II, Centesimus Annus, n. 49).

      In his Liechentstein Address (1993), Solzhenitsyn urged the need for “self-limitation [….] in an economic race, we are poisoning ourselves.” Over thirty years earlier, in Mater et Magistra (1961), Pope John XXIII refined earlier glib confidences by noticing that nature has only “ALMOST (caps added) inexhaustible productive capacity.” In 1993 it was with an eye on rising per capita resource consumption, that JP II counseled “above all a change in lifestyle (and) models of production and consumption . . . (and) structures of power . . .(n. 58), in order to limit the waste of environmental and human resources, thus enabling every individual and all the peoples of the earth to have a sufficient share of those resources” (n. 54). As part of the Catholic Social Teaching, “care for God’s creation” is less a secularist slogan than a dimension of solidarity.

      In one of his hundreds of letters, St. Augustine, sixteen centuries earlier, intuitively connected expansive passions and a finite world: “[the passions, he said] are more easily mortified finally in those who love God, than satisfied, even for a time, in those who love the world.” A finite world…

      Yours truly proposes that in many ways (interrelated with ecology), we are entering starkly Augustinian and Apostolic times. And, that a future pope will have to find a better way—unambiguously in step with the magisterium and Veritatis Splendor—to make this almost self-evident point, than has the current ghostwriter Archbishop Fernandez. A good place to start will be a restored sexual morality (with better understanding of “responsible parenthood” and NFP—always at the parental and family level) to replace the national/international, backward, decadent and contraceptive/abortive/gender theory regime of the moment.

      The “transcendent dignity of the human person:”—a regime change, and not an easy sell “in season and out of season.”

      • You wrote, “In his Liechtenstein Address (1993), Solzhenitsyn urged the need for ‘self-limitation [….] in an economic race, we are poisoning ourselves.’ Over thirty years earlier, in Mater et Magistra (1961), Pope John XXIII refined earlier glib confidences by noticing that nature has only ‘ALMOST (caps added) inexhaustible productive capacity’”.
        A well worded description of the other side of the coin to the development of fossil fuels in the US to compete within a predatory world. Our dilemma then, is it morally correct to risk annihilation as a State and follow Solzhenitsyn’s, John XXIII’s suggestion to pull back the reins on fossil fuel exploitation and industrial production? It appears morally correct, but practically foolhardy. Personally my sense is that someone has ‘got to do it’.

        • Our dystopian moment is not confined to fossil-fuel residues…

          About the reference to “poisoning” ourselves, for example, JP II also noted our “poisoning the lives of millions of defenseless human beings, as if in a form of ‘chemical warfare’” (Centesimus Annus, n. 39). Other techy dilemmas include EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals) which apparently can cause personal confusion about sexuality. And, ecological tipping points and feedback loops endangering food chains, etc. Plus toxic post-Enlightenment politics in all its progressivist varieties (“variants” as with COVID).

          The perfect storm…

          As our pretenses and the unintended consequences of liberal Progress run away with us…in earlier and not-yet-so disrupted times, and about prudent and realistic policy approaches, Cardinal Newman had this to say: ““I am not a politician; I am proposing no measures, but exposing a fallacy and resisting a pretense.”

          It’s almost as if one could hope that Catholic higher education would cultivate what might be done at this late hour and in a non-Luddite world—both morally and scientifically/politically—a world now drifting precariously in several directions at once, especially politically (your “predatory,” as in Marxism).

          Oh, but wait, in a 1960ish fit of adolescent dissent, Catholic “higher education” opted for the peer-approved secular mainstream–with the 1967 Land O’ Lakes Declaration of decapitated “autonomy.”

          This leaves us with a more-or-less stranded Church and pope whose functionary bishops then “facilitate” bottoms-up, “aggregated, compiled, and synthesized” focus groups (aka synods), and then turn to flotsam-and-jetsam clericalists, other “experts” like the incomparable James Martin, and finally (holy) ghost writers…

          • Read through your response. The problems are multiple. Although I’m not certain you agree we should withdraw from hyper industrial activity. And if so how would that be managed? For example, we’ve already had world forums on carbon pollution that left us in attempted compliance and the other major powers in virtual non compliance.
            Do we strike out on our own or should we have continued negotiations? These questions as said have moral as well as practical implications that are worthy of consideration.

          • After my response I thought it should have been better expressed a subject of edification not argument. For example, we may consider withdrawing industry manufacture that produces chemical toxicity or at least better regulate. An election is at hand in which the two likely candidates will have opposite proposals on the environment. The difficulty is the candidate that favors environmental protection favors a moral agenda regarding life, biological identity contrary to Catholicism, whereas the candidate who seeks to [at least better protect] life and divinely ordained sexuality is seemingly oblivious to environmental damage control.
            There is a growing religiosity attached to environmental awareness that affects the secular and the religious forums. How may the Church offer a reasonable alternative, or is the religious forum the only viable alternative? That is, a formal policy of conversion?

      • Peter: As I mentioned in my previous comment, “sustainability” is basically becoming passé among the movers and shakers of the environmentalist movement as it evolves into what is known as “Degrowth.”

        • I do hear your about Degrowth…

          The long-term question for finite spaceship earth is—what kind of growth? (For example, even with regard to GNP, the U.S. includes defense spending while the European nations do not.) Readers can type “sustainability indicators” to view where the broadened discussion is going…

          In the 1980s and at the front end of “sustainability” was the U.N. working group called the Brundlandt Commission, later replaced by Common Future (which sounds like the later Laudato Si’s “Our Common Home”). In my professional work as a 1980s middling public servant, yours truly already noticed, I think I recall, something about abortion. Maybe not.

          In any event, with the Church’s strategy of sometimes “leavening from within,” what does the Church have to say about a morally-grounded kind of sustainable growth? Is Laudato Si a premature and even defective delivery?

          While its new neologism “integral ecology” makes an illuminating connection, does it conflate too much the interrelated but distinct “human ecology” (as in the family, sexual morality, the immorality of euthanasia, reduction of the human person to a carbon footprint, etc.) with the workings of the “natural ecology”? A distinction which John Paul II clearly articulated in Centesimus Annus (and which Benedict also had clearly in mind when he wrote of “integral humanism”). Not at all sure that the needed clarity and moral witness has much of a chance in “synthesized” parts and omissions of “aggregated and combined” synodality. Instead, now, a drift into moral accommodation and the global statistics of bundled proportionalism and consequentialism?

          Inconvenient realities: the Natural Law, Revelation, and all of the Magisterium including JPII and Veritatis Splendor. Butt, surely ghost writer Archbishop Fernandez will figure something out on his new letterhead.

    • I am quite aware of the long history of atheistic environmentalism being anti-people: I remember sitting in seminars in the philosophy department at the Catholic University of Lublin around 1990 with students discussing a thesis about the dangers of “deep ecology.” I was not pretending to prognosticate the “religionizing” of environmentalism in 2015, but I was noting the confluence of two things that had hitherto not occurred: the mass secular governmental policy commitment to the movement and the fact that the Pope was writing the first encyclical devoted primarily to that topic. Regardless of its antecedents, the 2010s represented a decisive shift in ecology becoming an ersatz faith.

      • Thanks for the additional chuckle and at least 20-plus years too late history, John.

        J. Grondelski: “I was noting the confluence of two things that had hitherto not occurred: the mass secular governmental policy commitment to the movement and the fact that the Pope was writing the first encyclical devoted primarily to that topic. Regardless of its antecedents, the 2010s represented a decisive shift in ecology becoming an ersatz faith.”

        Where did you actually make this alleged connection between the “mass secular governmental policy commitment” to environmentalism and the writing of Laudato si’? Please be specific.

        Are you now also claiming that only beginning in the 2010s did the secular world and religion link up to make environmentalism an ersatz faith? Not until then? Really?

        I attended graduate school a handful of years after you write about discussing deep ecology in a philosophy department visit, but I had a bit of a misfortune in attending a Jesuit school not too far from Chicago. Back in the 1990s, it was already recognized that environmentalism was a quasi-religion with many cultic elements. Moreover, many Jesuit instructors and priests were already touting the hysterical works of people like Al Gore in sermons, lectures, and so on, and the message then as now is that people of faith have to follow the more extreme environmentalist movement ideas to be good Christians, and that “Mother Earth” needs to be honored almost as a goddess.

        Also, in an interview concerning her 2020 book on Religion and Environmentalism, the environmentalist Dr. Lara Stone set forth the following:

        “In addition to Jewish and Christian responses, by the 1980s Muslim philosophers and scholars were increasingly noting the shared values between Islam and modern environmentalism,”…

        “By the 1990s, all religions in the Abrahamic tradition were involved in a distinctly religious environmental movement that had roots in the contemporary secular environmental movement that emerged in the 1960s.”

        The so-called decisive shift that you claim only took place in the 2010s is, as they say in the scientific community, so far off the mark that it is not even wrong.

        Nevertheless, where we are at today is of course most important, and one prognostication unfortunately seems to be an almost sure bet: Laudato si’ 2.0 will likely cause quite a bit of harm to the Catholic faithful and many others, especially if it contains many unsupported claims and dubious details about the real state of the environment that will be deemed to be more important than presenting objective truth.

  12. When I learned that Pope Francis was writing Laudato Si II, I hoped that what I missed most in the first part would appear there: Jordan Peterson says that if young people want to change the world, they should start with themselves. Similarly, if we want to change people’s relationship with ecology, we need to start in our own bedrooms. Ecological conversion should start in our own bedroom – if someone uses artificial contraception, often abortifacient, to technologically reduce the number of their own children, it’s hard to expect them to be ecologically friendly to the rest of nature 🙂 Ecological conversion is not possible without ecological conversion of sex life, marital life, etc.

  13. As a backwardist, traditionalist, rigorist, who is “stucked” in an ecologically guilty consumeristic rut of cheap food, housing, electricity and toilet paper – it would be a blessing from this pontificate to get anything less vitriolic and verbose, like a letter from a fellow friend of Christ.

  14. A future encyclical needs to address the toxic abuse of the Catholic Magisterium’s Teachings for Propaganda Due.
    We have to wait for the Catholics to infiltrate their Church and wrestle it back…

  15. It is clear to me that the Pope is working to implement a totalitarian and communist agenda. He makes this clear in a blatant way. Throughout history, the Popes have always worked towards a satanic agenda, and the goal is to implement a world that is completely controlled by a leadership that imposes its principles and religious practices on humanity in a forced manner, in the same way that Rome did in the past. It is using climate change as a strategy to gain prominence, and when it gains power and authority, it will apply its decrees in a mandatory way with the support of the state. This includes religious traditions such as Jewish-Christian practices such as Sabbath rest to save the Earth from global warming, etc.

    • “….is to implement a world that is completely controlled by a leadership that imposes its principles and religious practices on humanity in a forced manner…”

      And if you think it is the Catholic Church that is calling the shots on some sort of global world order, you’re not paying attention.

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