I don’t think I should take instruction on the meaning of genuine Christian faith from Rush Limbaugh any more than I take my example for Roman Catholic faith from Nancy Pelosi. However, I will be instructed by the words and example of Jesus Christ, even when I receive what purports to be moral instruction from my local pastor, or even the Bishop of Rome.
The priests and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, including the Bishop of Rome, are just as likely as I or any of the rest of us to be flawed, confused human beings. Given the facts in evidence in recent years, there’s no need to belabor the point with erudite proofs. So if I happened to live in a parish where the pastor let it be known that he was voting for Barack Obama, I would be under no obligation to mistake his example for the gospel truth. That’s especially true when, without much labor, I can see that his example contradicts Christ’s admonition to “Seek … first the Kingdom of God,” which means that I must decide all my actions as a member of the sovereign body of the people on Election Day in obedience to God and Christ, not my pastor’s predilections.
Some priests have been known to molest children. Some under vows of chastity have committed fornication with married or unmarried women under their pastoral care. This includes even popes, like Alexander VI, father to the demonic tyrant Cesare Borgia, whom that duke of political immorality, Niccolo Machiavelli, held up as the subject in his famous “mirror for princes.” With all these things in mind, Roman Catholics cannot pretend to escape the dilemma that must arise when the words or example of the pastors of the Church evidently conflict with the words or example of our Lord, as stored up in the rich deposit of faith accumulated over the centuries, by the efficacious grace of God through the power of His Holy Spirit, in the lived faith of the members of the body of Christ.
Since the election of Pope Francis, his words have, for better or worse, posed this dilemma on more than one occasion. A pall of confusion still hangs in the air on account of his self-effacing response to the question about the compatibility of Christian faith and practicing homosexuality – “Who am I to judge?” With respect to those who trespass against us, Christ instructed us to forgive those who repent. But he also said that we should judge people not by what they say but by their fruits. Being led by God, John the Baptist foreshadowed this when he chastised the crowds that came forward to be baptized saying: “Ye offspring of vipers. … Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance: and do no begin to say, ‘We have Abraham for our father. …'”
There are many times in life when, by dint of our vocation from God, we are called to judge. When my children were not yet of age, I was called to judge when their behavior was harmful to themselves or others, and to chastise them at times on account of it. Could I say “Who am I to judge?” and let it be? As a government official, I was called to judge, in light of my Christian conscience, the actions I was called upon to take. Could I say “Who am I to judge?” Pope Francis was responding to a question fraught, in our day, with immediate moral implications as a near occasion of sin, a pitfall for children in faith and for people of goodwill in the world at large. Pope Francis had been elected to occupy the seat from which the mouth of the living body of Christ, as active in this world, is supposed to speak with the authority of Christ, on matters of faith and morals. Given the circumstances, there is an obvious answer to the question “Who am I to judge?” when the Vicar of Christ purports to ask it.
There is no doubt that Pope Francis sowed confusion with this answer, softening the ground of authority on which every Roman Catholic stands to deal with matters of moral judgment as required by God’s vocation for their lives. I know that many shared my earnest prayer that the pope would give priority to dispelling that confusion. To do so would be a work of instruction and also be a work of spiritual mercy. Instead, in his latest encyclical, Pope Francis undertakes to instruct the faithful with respect to a controversial matter of scientific fact about which he could very well ask, “Who am I to judge?” since it is only fraught with questions of human moral responsibility after the facts have been established.
We are called to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to our care. About this there is no doubt. That it is we, rather than God, who are responsible for pervasive and massive changes in the condition of our little corner of the universe is, to say the least, an assertion freighted with controversy. That’s especially true given the fact that the issue of man-made climate change is being exploited as an excuse to advance a totalitarian agenda for the use or abuse of government power throughout the world. The massively life-destroying human catastrophes of the 20th century prove beyond doubt that it is an agenda fraught with evil consequence for the moral, spiritual and material life of the human race.
The “Richter Scale” that indicates the size of the 20th century’s government-centered catastrophes must be calibrated to measure scores of millions of murders perpetrated by governments or in wars that were the consequence of the totalitarian ambitions of the people in control of them. If the facts of humanity’s responsibility for global climate change were incontrovertibly established by dint of the most scrupulously conducted and verified scientific observation and analysis imaginable, the last century’s appalling record of government power abuse would caution against any policies that might spawn more such government-centered hurricanes of fear, oppression and mass murder.
But the facts have not been thus established. In fact much that has come to light supports the view that scientific data were purposely skewed to support a conclusion contrary to fact. But this would be that the human race stands falsely, or at least very dubiously, accused of a great crime, for which the pope is now standing with others to demand the harsh punishment of what amounts to perpetual imprisonment in a global penal colony under the totalitarian control of a government with unprecedented global powers.
More than that, John Schnellnhuber, one of the academics reportedly chosen by the Vatican to explain the pope’s recently released encyclical, has “previously said the planet is overpopulated by at least 6 billion people. Ted Turner, Warren Buffett, David Rockefeller and Bill Gates have envisaged similarly drastic goals for planned depopulation, along with the abuse of “vaccines” targeting vulnerable populations to achieve it. So the agenda Pope Francis seems willing to promote, at the risk of slandering humanity, encompasses punitive action near unto genocide against the human race. Those left will amount to the elitist few and the people needed to cater to their whims.
Last I heard, the intent to commit genocide is in one of the things prohibited by “Thou shalt not murder.” Another of the Ten Commandment proclaims “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” But if the climate change allegations against humanity are unproven, the whole push for totalitarian government remediation of the allegedly terrible damage we are inflicting on God’s creation is a slander against the human race, a sin against humanity being committed as a pretext for the rape of human life, human conscience and God-endowed human liberty. This looks awfully like a crime against humanity, perpetrated by way of unproven allegations and outright lies in order to subject the earth to a regime of government that demands that people live by lies.
Simply put, if the science is not proven true, the charge is not proven true. So the discussion for Pope Francis’ new encyclical does not extend to arguments about faith and morals. It has everything to do with the proof or disproof of scientific fact. In the encyclical, the pope labors mightily to lay out what he claims is the “scientific” consensus on the issue of man’s responsibility for global climate change. But modern science was born, and sustains itself, by rejecting the notion that a consensus of opinion is any substitute for scientifically observed and demonstrated facts.
When it comes to a matter of obvious moral substance (sexual sin) Pope Francis humbly wonders “Who am I to judge?” When it comes to a matter of scientific fact and methodology, he not only judges, he demands the imposition of a harsh sentence of perpetual deprivation and servitude upon the whole human race, with a view perhaps near unto genocide. I doubt that I’m alone in seeing something dreadfully wrong with this picture.
Even if the facts “Laudato Si'” relies upon were scientifically verified (and at this point, God only knows), the harsh sentence demanded would be for Christ to impose upon the whole sinful human tribe, when he comes again in judgment. Yet when I look in the mirror of reason at the reflections Pope Francis offers in his encyclical, what I see looks unlike Jesus Christ (who as of now still comes to save and not harshly to penalize humanity). Pope Francis’ reflections look more like Marx, Stalin or Mao Zedong – materialistic ideologues who punished not for the sake of God or truth, but on account of resentful, self-idolizing human will and ideology.
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