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Francis moving Church from pale green to deep green


Green globe

There is one area where the last three popes have been right on the ball: the issue of care for the environment. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis have been far ahead of most politicians on this issue.

It’s widely expected that Pope Francis will issue an encyclical on the environment and climate change early this year in time to influence the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in late 2015. He is already being hailed in the The Guardian, Bloomberg and Fairfax Media as ‘rattling’ and ‘upsetting’ Catholic climate change sceptics and politicians.

But Francis faces an enormous challenge to move beyond his predecessors and confront two core issues that have emerged in environmental theology. Because they failed to confront these issues, John Paul II and Benedict remained rather ‘pale green’ in their approach, under-estimating the magnitude and urgency of the environmental problems we face.

As a number of us writing in this area have pointed out for years now Christianity’s basic problem (and yes, this is not just a Catholic problem) is its ingrained anthropocentrism. To be anthropocentric is to be entirely focused on humankind and its needs and aspirations to the exclusion of all other species and priorities. It is the unconscious assumption that the earth exists for us and that its total meaning is derived from us.

Thomas Berry says that anthropocentrism is rooted in ‘our failure to think of ourselves as a species, interconnected with and biologically interdependent on the rest of reality.’ He says that we have become besotted with ‘the pathos of the human’ and take ourselves and our needs as the focus, norm, and final arbiter of all that exists.

Given that the cosmos has been here for about 14 billion years, earth for 4.6 billion years and life on earth for 3.8 billion years, if we are the sole meaning and purpose of the whole process then, as I said in the TV documentary God’s Earth, ‘God has been waiting an awfully long time for us to make sense of it all.’ As Irish priest-ecologist Sean McDonagh says, ‘God would not be waiting for homo sapiens to arrive about 200,000 years ago to give meaning to creation.’ In other words there is an emerging consensus among Catholics writing about the environment that the pale green, anthropocentric approach has had its day.

But there is another challenge lurking for Pope Francis’ new encyclical: the question of population. Very few Catholics have been game enough to tackle this issue and it’s difficult to discuss in polite society. Mention it and you are accused of being ‘anti-human’, an ‘extreme Green’, ‘racist’, ‘anti-immigrant’, or wanting to dictate to developing countries how they should behave. 

It’s hard not to sound misanthropic when discussing population. It offends political correctness on both the right and the left. For the right it suggests that you favour abortion, contraception, fertility control and sterilisation especially in developing countries, and you want to limit the rights of couples to decide the number of children they wish to have. For left-wingers discussion of population smacks of neo-colonialism and paternalism; you are accused of dictating population size to developing countries and of distracting attention from the priority of social justice. 

There is also enormous vested interest in maintaining high rates of growth and immigration, especially in Western countries which have reached zero population growth, or have decreasing populations. Behind the attempt to stifle discussion are the business and economic élites who want to maintain the number of consumers for their goods and services without regard for the pressure this puts on local environments. In market-oriented thinking new immigrants add to the pool of consumers, rather than putting strain on fragile environments.

Sure, only a naive optimist thinks that Pope Francis is going to tackle both these issues. But he does have to find a more balanced theological perspective for Christianity’s exclusive focus on the human. Two Christian virtues might come into play here are humility and prudence. 

Firstly humility: we have got to see ourselves and our needs within the perspective of the natural world on which we depend for our existence. Also our context is a cosmic history which has us born yesterday. The planet doesn’t just exist for us; it has a raison d’être that far transcends us. The meaning of our existence is derived from the cosmos, not the other way around.

As such we are under enormous pressure to constrain our use of resources. This is where prudence comes in. Thomas Aquinas says that prudence demands that we act cautiously and make sure that all our actions are in accord with the natural law, the primary purpose of which, surely, is to protect nature. 

Sean McDonagh makes another suggestion: that Francis calls a synod on creation. McDonagh’s right; at least it would get Catholics thinking about this issue. 

Paul Collins headshot

Paul Collinslast book on religion and ecology was Judgment Day. The struggle for life on earth (2011).




Topic tags: Paul Collins, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, climate change, eco-theology, Catholic C



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Existing comments

Under Emeritus Pope Benedict, the Vatican state was crowned 'greenest state in the world',while steadfastly, rightly opposing contraception and abortion.

Father John George | 16 January 2015  

Unless the Church confronts the Population Monster, and the obvious link between scarcities, environmental degradation, increasing poverty and our global population explosion, it's useless trying to be any shade of "Green"!

VivKay | 17 January 2015  

Prudence (in respect of our consumption of resources) is precisely the brick wall where current climate change activists are stopped in their tracks. Many of those advocating ‘clean, green renewable energy’ are too quick to reassure the shoppers out in consumer land that a shift to alternative energy need not result in a drop in their standard of living. It seems to me that until we understand that the expression ‘high standard of living’ is little more than a euphemism for high rate of consumption, it will be very difficult to change those habits, ways of living, which most adversely affect the environment. It’s interesting, ironic even, to note that the distributists of almost a century ago, the likes of Vincent McNabb, Arthur Penty, Hilaire Belloc and others, warned that an economy based on the consumption of finite resources was lunacy, the road to disaster. What a pity they were ignored, a century ago it may have been possible to change direction – but now? Perhaps we have passed the tipping point?
I’m also curious when commentators like Paul Collins express concern at immigrants putting a strain on ‘local, fragile environments’. Are we to assume that they didn’t ‘strain’ the environments which they left, that they are only a ‘strain’ on ‘our’ environment? Or is the fear that immigrants will duplicate our insatiable appetite for material things the real concern? If so, then perhaps the answer lies in changing the way we use natural resources, not restricting immigration. Australia is a big country and there is plenty of room for more people yet; just go for a drive from Brisbane to Melbourne via the inland route and count the number of towns with populations of more than twenty five thousand. Even an ex-sawmill worker will have sufficient fingers to keep count.
By all means, tell those cashed up citizens from countries with repressive governments to stay at home and agitate to change their political system rather than seek a bolthole here to which they might flee whenever their governments become too stroppy. But, for God’s sake, let’s not become more concerned for the environment than for people from places such as Africa, Syria or Iran.

Paul | 17 January 2015  

There is nothing which exposes the crude hypocrisy of the church more that when the institution, never leading from the front, jumps on to the tail end of an already well established popular social issue. And then claim for itself 'green' credentials it has never held.

Robert Landbeck | 17 January 2015  

Population monster"???
the world currently produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, and there are only 7 billion of us. That is, with 7 billion human minds at work, we produce enough food for 10 billion human bodies.Imagine how much food we can produce with 10 billion minds!

Father John George | 18 January 2015  

There are more fundamental salvific/moral issues than an environmentally aware jungle-like cosmocentrism, especially after UNO/OXFAM debunking of overpopulation mythologies.

Father John George | 18 January 2015  

A perceptive comment Robert, it reminded me of Dr Martin Luther King’s letter from Birmingham jail in 1963. In expressing his disappointment at the lack of support from church leaders in that city for the civil rights cause, he made this comment.
“So here we are moving toward the exit of the twentieth century with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a tail-light behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice.”
Admittedly, Dr King was specifically concerned with one issue in a certain city in the United States, but it seems that all too often the Church takes a rearguard, rather than a vanguard, position on too many important issues including the question of climate change.

Paul | 18 January 2015  

I must admit to a certain delight in imagining George Pell's reaction to Francis's views on the environment. As to 'very few Catholics' tackling population, I think more than a few women who are Catholics have been tackling that for quite a while, in private. They just don't have an official say on their decisions in the Catholic hierarchy.

Penelope | 19 January 2015  

The bumper stickers used to read, "Live simply so that others might simply live." Back in those days, by "others" we meant "other people". Now we are realising that the others include all life on this planet. Our future is together or not at all. For us, anyway. Some have pointed out that trees will survive quite happily if not a single human remains on Earth, but the reverse does not apply.

Janet | 20 January 2015  

Looking forward to Pope Francis on climate change and the rational use of energy. Thinking is loving, God, neighbour, self, Mother Earth, ending capitalism and the class system, joining the struggle, the caring revolution

Brian Smeaton | 20 January 2015  

Paul::"it seems that all too often the Church takes a rearguard, rather than a vanguard, position on too many important issues including the question of climate change."......... Historically the Church has been the leader in promoting Social reform, education, care for the sick, family values, and may other areas where it is really the State whose duty it is to provide these services. They become the concern of the Church only when the State defaults.

Robert Liddy | 20 January 2015  

Fr J.G.: "the world currently produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, and there are only 7 billion of us" And the 7 billion produce enough pollution to destroy the environment. Imagine how much more pollution 10 billion people would produce.

Robert Liddy | 20 January 2015  

The new PDF system is good but can we have Vol 24 No 21 and 24 to complete the 2014 sets. Thanks

michael head | 20 January 2015  

Thank you, Mr Collins. Yes, the world needs to produce fewer inhabitants. However in poorer nations, this will not happen until and unless parents are assured that their children will live for more than a couple of years. As well, women do need to be able to control their own fertility. It's outrageous that the (male-dominated) Church imposes a "teaching" that leads to death and misery. Contraception - especially in poorer nations - saves the lives of mothers and the children they can afford to feed.

Patricia R | 20 January 2015  

There are a lot of things that I like about the current pope. His focus on social justice, and his critique of unconstrained capitalism is much needed. I also look forward to the promised encyclical - it would be nice to see the Catholic Church at the vanguard globally. But I disagree with Fr John George at least on contraception. The anthropology behind Humanae Vitae is fundamentally flawed in its understanding of sex, and as such, the resulting theology and praxis is flawed _and dangerous_. (Also, repulsively patriarchal and sexist I might add.)

DeC | 20 January 2015  

'Christianity’s basic problem ... is its ingrained anthropocentrism'. OK, but granted the perspective of Gen 1:26-28 right there on the first page of Christianity's Bible the anthropocentric vision is hardly likely to go away. And, after all, the fact is that, for good or for ill, we humans do call the shots on this planet. The task is surely not to deplore or wish anthropocentricism away but to get human beings discharge our inevitable leadership in the world in a responsible and non-exploitative way. A sound Christian theology of sin (including sin against the environment) and grace, and the contemplative spiritual tradition have much to offer in this regard.

Brendan | 20 January 2015  

Thank you Paul for a very sobering reflection. Fr. John George, with respect the resources of the Earth are very much more limited than you realise .At present the environment is in crisis trying to feed the world. Not doubt more efficient storage will ease the massive wastage both in storage . We in the west are throwing out vast amounts of food because it has reached a so called "use by date". As Paul observes we have to change our thinking and actions if we are to survive. Once the poor are confident their off spring will survive, then they will have less children. Remember they do not have social security in their old age ! I salute Pope Francis' attempts, he has a massive task ahead of him.

Gavin O'Brien | 20 January 2015  

After all the right wing criticism of Pope Francis, attacking him for bringing the papacy into contempt through his alleged disregard of protocols and the traditional symbols of power and authority, Paul gives a timely reminder of just how strongly Francis supports and reaffirms the environmental teachings of JP II and Benedict XVI. A great silence seems to come upon the conservative end of the Catholic spectrum when this kind of continuity is pointed out. What fascinates me in the Catholic environment - climate change debate is the almost predictable conformity of response which emerges from the right wing. It has all the hall marks of a comprehensive defence of the honour of God, a kind of theodicy in the end time, when all the bad things that have gone wrong in the Catholic Church, social structures, economics etc are described in the language of polarisation and culture wars. On the specifically Catholic end of this debate are the guilty are invariably categorised as socialists, heterodox dissenters, contraceptors and modernists. Almost invariably too is the packaged solutions for all these woes. Intriguingly, they are the same: blind obedience to the Magisterium of JPII and Benedict XVI, rejection of the 'Spirit of Vatican II,' regular attendance at the Latin Mass, adherence to neoconservative economics and rightist politics, rejection of global warming and, never to be forgotten, home schooling.

David Timbs | 20 January 2015  

Falling birth rates result from higher standards of living as technocrats of the old EEU well understood. Yet as several correspondents have noted, higher living standards appear to go hand in hand with higher rates of consumption: of energy, water, food, and all other consumables. A conundrum indeed - particularly for those not wishing to look seriously at future scenarios with concern for the environment of spaceship earth. Thank you Paul for raising the questions again.

Ern Azzopardi | 20 January 2015  

Pope Francis during a speech in Manila remarked on a common stereotype of the Catholic family. It should be seen as adding a significant perspective on discussions about the 'population monster.' “Perdonen, pero hay algunos que creen que para ser buenos católicos debemos ser como conejos, ¿no?” Sorry, but there are some people who believe that to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits, right?

David Timbs | 20 January 2015  

Mr Liddy sir, most pollution is caused not by billions of people but the relatively low percentage of billionaires whose factories and companies pollute the globe If you resort to master race eugenics dont eliminate the victims but pursue the industrialist wealthy minorities, Uphold human life[humanae vitae] Don't attack it by population control and elimination, but grab the industrial jugular[gas and oil emissions etc]

Father John George | 20 January 2015  

You may not yet have heard Pope Frank`s comments on the plane yesterday about family size..."3 pretty good". There is a genuflection to Pope Paul`s general theme of "creative married couples" and that contraception should not be foisted on cultures, but much emphasis on the method of contraception to be more tailored to need...(and to be discussed with their sensible, sensitive and merciful pastor!). With one leap Humanae V has been re-booted, and probably more like Paul intended rather than what his more conservative successors wanted: i.e. emphasise the need for families to control fertility to what is reasonable for them and their culture/society; emphasise the dangers of a "contraceptive mentality"; but leave the details up to the conscience of coupes in dialogue with their priest. Well done yet again P Francis, and about time for common. sense.

Eugene | 20 January 2015  

For sure, anthropology and the new cosmology with ecology go together: we are to be human, in the world, before God. Let's not forget that this God, for Christians at least, is the Communicator of all that is good, which amazingly is reflected in a creation that enables us as conscious communicants, albeit stochastically, to share in the diffusion of the good. And special thanks to Jesus of Nazareth for his witness in confronting the ever present downside of such a privileged place in creation.

Noel McMaster | 20 January 2015  

Gosh, some of these posts are almost straight out of Malthus' "Essay On Population", (first edition 1798) when there were only 1 billion humans infesting the earth. I'd imagine he'd be totally gobsmacked at the 6 billion around today, most of whom are living far beyond even the average citizen of his time. Now, Malthus was a decent person, and acknowledged in subsequent editions of his Essay that his dire predictions were off base. Unfortunately, lefties like Paul Ehrlich, who terrorised me as a kid on the ABC's Monday Conference, famously predicting massive world famines before the end of the 1970s are not such men of integrity. Here we 45 years and the world is still producing more food than it needs, and increasing production every year. But Paul Ehrlich is not ashamed of his woefully inaccurate prophecies, none of which came remotely true. Of course, there are countries with desperate systemic shortages. Let's name them. Socialist North Korea. Socialist Cuba. Socialist Zimbabwe. (And of course, there was Socialist China, Russia, East Germany, Poland ... etc.But they've largely seen the light. Unlike the Western left.) And now, just coming on stage, that erstwhile darling of lefties such as Hillary Clinton and Philip Adams (and some E.S. columnists): the late Hugo Chavez' socialist Venezuela which, notwithstanding its fabulous oil income, shortages are now so embarrassing that it's been made a crime to take a photo of empty shelves in the supermarkets. Hmmm. Is there a theme here? Overpopulation has never been the problem, from Malthus's day onward. It's always been underproduction ... something dirigiste governments have been routinely liable to bring about. What the left refuses to accept is that individual humans are incredibly creative, resourceful and problem-solving, if you just leave off coercing them into your Great Plan (eg Ehrlich - vasectomies) and let them run their own lives.

HH | 20 January 2015  

Fine essay, thanks Paul. A shame the correspondence moved so heavily into population control, that is a problem that with common sense is solving itself over time. More fundamental are the issues of energy-depleting and climate-changing lifestyles. How do we return as an equitable world to a dignified, satisfying frugality in lifestyle? Developing countries have much to teach the affluent West here. Pope Francis knows all this. I look forward to him communicating it in the lead up to the major upcoming world climate conference.

Tony Kevin | 21 January 2015  

Fair enough Robert Liddy, no reasonable person would deny that the Church has done exemplary work in many areas but, and this is a thought which has plagued me for decades, the time lag between the publication of the Communist Manifesto, in 1848, and Leo XIII’s response, Rerum Novarum in 1891, was an awfully long period. It is this sort of tardiness, I think, which entitles commentators like Robert Landbeck to view with some cynicism a Church which, in his words, ‘jumps on to the tail end of an already well established popular social issue’. Closer to home and to our times, it was humanists such as Nugget Coombs, Stewart Harris, Judith Wright and others in the 1970s who not only spearheaded the modern movement for Aboriginal rights, but who also pricked the consciences of Christians so prompting them to become active in the cause for justice for Aborigines. It should also be pointed out that it was the Communist Party of Australia which first called for Land Rights for Aborigines as far back as the 1920s, decades before the Church ‘jumped on to the tail end’ of the issue. And this in spite of the fact that Archbishop Bede Polding, Australia’s first Catholic bishop, had condemned the theft of Aboriginal land in the early 1800s. Incidentally, I disagree with your statement that matters of education, care for the sick and family values are duties of the State. These are precisely the province of the Church and it is a great pity that the State meddles in them. The State has one function only which Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations describes as: ‘Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.’ That is the true purpose of the State and no one should ever forget it.

Paul | 21 January 2015  

Why doesn't the comment form keep spaces for paragraphs, when inserted by the commenter?

Near every comment looks a tad Victorian in length.

Penelope | 21 January 2015  

It was disastrous for the aboriginal community that communists and ivory-towered "humanists" such as Nuggett Coombs gained hegemony over the Aboriginal rights struggle. As a result, against their overwhelming preference, residents of Australia's remote indigenous communities ("soviets" would be a more accurate term) are denied the right to private housing, a basic right recognised in respect of all other Australians and in fact of other citizens the world over -- with the notable exception of North Korea. This is one of the chief reasons why the remote communities are places of squalor, disease, violence and despair. Of course, the left is in total denial on this matter, as in fact it detests the theory of individual human rights as conceived by the Christian West.

HH | 22 January 2015  

Neither an anthropocentric nor a geocentric theology (or ideology) will do. Both are forms of self-referential egotism -- one individualist the other collectivist. I expect from Francis a christocentric eschatology; or if you prefer: a theology of hope that can see the world's true nature and destiny revealed in the one who loves it unto death, transcending and transforming death, by giving life, and giving it to the full. We need to have the mind of Christ if we are to see the world as it really is, and not just as it appears to be. And I mean the mind of Christ, not "religion" or "theology" or "spirituality" or any other human construct.

Drasko Dizdar | 23 January 2015  

The Church would have more credibility if it cared more for Creation, and not just promote human growth - and then bemoan poverty and living conditions caused by overpopulation! We are now facing the Sixth Extinction, and vast numbers of animal species are dying off due to habitat loss, pollution and all the impacts of climate change. Good planetary stewardship, and balance, should be part of the Church's agenda. All ecosystems and food chains are under stress and declining. The Population Monster is more than having enough food to feed 10 million people! There's the constraints of global distribution, and energy needed, and at what cost to the other species on the planet as resources are distributed to 10 million people? There needs to be balance, high levels of care for Creation as God Created. .

Milly Osborne | 23 January 2015  

How to move from anthropocentrism to a fully creation centered view of the world. A view that recognizes that pain and suffering are not specific to humans but indeed apply to all sentient creatures. A view that recognizes the interconnectedness of all creation and is antithetical to environmental destruction. We need a theology of suffering that includes all sentient creatures, not just humans. A theology of creation. The slavery of animals is practiced in globalized industrial animal farming. It is endemic in world meat production. The animal suffering which is intrinsic to this practice is well documented and just as widely ignored by mainstream media and is not significantly addressed by the world's religions. A thorough theology of pain and suffering needs to understand as well as educate that all creatures, ecosystems, all existence, is made in the image of god, not just humans.
Otherwise our God is simply made in our image! A reflection of our very human narcissism.

Peter Conroy | 23 January 2015  

We can thank Paul Collins for helping to shift the Catholic Church from pale to a deeper green. Anthropocentrism is an inherent barrier, however, to any institution or person adopting a really deep green stance. Unless we see humans as being part of nature and subject to its laws, then we have no hope of ensuring the ultimate welfare of humans. And in reply to the other Paul's comment about Australia being able to absorb more people; space is only one resource and according to Liebig's law, carrying capacity is determined by the resource in shortest supply. For much of Australia, that is water, including along the inland route from Brisbane to Melbourne.

Jenny Goldie | 23 January 2015  

Good to hear this news. However, not so good on the population front! What can the Pope do about this? The Church has been intransigent regarding contraception and countries like the Philipines are going to suffer the consequences. I read the Pope asked 'who could understand their simple faith' - indeed! I have heard reports of nuns, in Africa, providing condoms to women suffering from HIV or who's husband are. How do these brave women stand in the light of the Church's teachings?

Jennifer Raper | 23 January 2015  

Indeed, Jenny, we are often told that Australia is one of the driest continents on earth. Just a few years ago, South East Queensland came perilously close to total depletion of its reticulated water supply; and with depressing regularity we listen to appeals to assist the drought stricken ‘man on the land’. I freely concede that drought in Australia is a perennial problem and that your concern is valid; but did you notice that before drawing attention to Australia’s low population, I pointed to the stupidity of an economic system based on the consumption of finite resources and also suggested that perhaps we might re-consider the way we use natural resources?

I hesitate to use this anecdote as I am relying on memory, but I will persist as it is pertinent to my argument. Some years ago, ABC television ran a series of programmes examining the impact of the then drought on a number of farming and grazing families in western NSW and Queensland. Harrowing stories were told of bank foreclosures with families evicted from their properties, families breaking up, depression leading to suicide; and throughout, many images of barren paddocks, parched crops, cracked dam bottoms and starving livestock, all skin and bones. But the image that most struck me was that of a grain farmer, with plenty of time on his hands, preparing his horse for the coming country race meeting. Dressed in his broad brimmed hat and holding a hose from which dribbled a weak stream of water, he was washing his pride and joy in readiness for the big day.

Now, sure, the few gallons of water necessary to wash a horse would not have made a scrap of difference to a drought stricken grain farm covering several thousand acres. But it was symbolic of everything that is wrong with this country; that is, either squandering resources on meaningless activities or just simply misusing resources. We are a people who can’t even spend a day at the beach without consuming vast quantities of fossil fuel, we demand individual motor cars to transport one person to and fro (I confess, I’m guilty too) and the asphalt roads on which to drive them, we blithely leave multi-storied buildings lit and air conditioned 24 hours a day irrespective of whether they’re occupied or not … the list goes on. To my mind, there is something downright distasteful for such a profligate people to view migrants as an ‘environmental strain’. To repeat, let’s cancel the business migrant plan by all means, but let’s also recognise that we are the ‘environmental strain’; let’s abolish ignoble and wasteful consumption and let’s be scrupulously frugal in our use of finite resources; let’s build an economy directed to human need, not to production for profit, and when migrants from the world’s trouble spots come seeking safety and security, let’s invite them to share our new non-anthropocentric society. Could I also gently point out, Jenny, that the term ‘carrying capacity’ is generally reserved for livestock, not human beings?

Paul | 24 January 2015  

Mr Timbs his holiness has backpedaled on his rabbit quip since in-flight [hardly infallible dogma']

Father John George | 26 January 2015  

This article proves too much. If, as it insists, man is irrevocably a part of nature, then everything he does is natural: he just does what humans naturally do – builds cities , machines and other products of his natural endowment of intelligence and imagination, just as beavers instinctively build dams and termites mounds of clay. And if man is anthropocentric, it must be conceded that beavers are beaverocentric, lions are leocentric and so on. After all, beavers don't exactly build dams so fish can have a quiet spot to breed, and lions don't kill wildebeest out of a concern that the herd size is becoming unsustainable ! In fact the human species is arguably the LEAST self-centred of all creatures: you don’t see greenie beavers pulling down beaver dams in an effort to restore the original course of the stream, or a placard-bearing elephant conscientiously abstaining while the rest of the herd goes on a tree-destroying rampage. Moreover, there isn’t a beaver equivalent to Paul Collins (Narnia excepted perhaps), posting on blogs about excessive beaverocentrism. Man is a unique material creature because he is also spiritual: only he among material creatures is capable of thinking and worrying about these things. In Genesis we read that God placed man in the garden “to till and keep it” and that he had Adam name all the animals. So man, with his God-given faculties and obligations, is in a privileged position with regard to the rest of material creation. If that’s anthropocentrism, then God is anthropocentric! (Unless of course, one doesn’t believe in the authenticity of revelation. In which case, who cares what a Pope thinks about anything?) But this anthropocentric view of man and his relation to creation is precisely what grounds the serious obligations of man to creation. After all, non-spiritual creatures such as beavers just can’t have obligations - or rights, for that matter. So Berry has it exactly wrong ! And unlike other religions and world views which only imperfectly grasp the natural law on this matter, Christianity articulates the natural law with precision. On the one hand, Christians aren’t excessively scrupulous, proscribing the eating of creatures as do ideological vegetarians and vegans, treating animals as sacred as Hindus do cows, or stressing with Jains and other sects about accidentally squashing ants as they walk along. On the other hand, cruelty to creatures and wanton destruction are clearly seen as vicious – a legacy of original sin, and kindness to animals is extolled, as numerous saints attest by their words and deeds. Moreover, if overpopulation were to become a problem (it still isn’t, in my view – many ancient European peoples such as the Germans simply won’t exist in a couple of centuries time, thanks to ZPG), then celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, and the religious life are upheld as worthy alternative vocations to marriage. To the extent that man has lost his reverence and care for creation, more Christian “anthropocentrism” is needed, not less. A final note: the meaning of man’s existence is not “derived from the cosmos”. Both our meaning and that of the cosmos are derived from God. We don’t live for the cosmos. We live for God and His glory, and the cosmos exists for the same reason. Christianity is rightly anthropocentric in the sense I have described above, but that must be understood a limited, relative sense. Ultimately, Christianity teaches, the whole of reality is theocentric through and through.

HH | 06 February 2015  

According to the government’s stats, nine of the ten hottest years in NOA global records have occurred since 2000
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA calculated that 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded..

Wow. Sounds like we’re doomed.

May I please step in? Just type DebateMeAlGore.com into your Internet browser and you’ll understand why I have some credibility in this area.

First of all, the temperature records are rigged. The vast majority of measuring stations have been erected and placed in operation since the 1980’s, purposely located in warm artificially warm locations (near airport runways, in the center of downtowns, etc.). This thermometer network is made up of a patchwork of non-research quality instruments that were never made to monitor long-term temperature changes to tenths or hundredths of a degree. Additionally hundreds of temperature monitors in colder climates such as Siberia, Canada, the Alps and the Andes have been withdrawn from dataset. These huge voids are either ignored or in-filled with fictitious data. Thus the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere is purposefully reading warm"

Father John George | 08 February 2015  

Mr Timbs aside frim non infallible in flight rabbit quip, legit dissent rages on non infalible 'spanking' faux on spamking from papal commission on child abuse!

Father John George | 08 February 2015  

Mr Timbs aside from non infallible in flight rabbit quip, legit dissent rages on non infallible 'spanking' faux from papal commission on child abuse!

Father John George | 08 February 2015  

"There is one area where the last three popes have been right on the ball:," announces Mr. Collins!! # Forget not myriad areas where countless past popes have been authoritatively "on the ball" e.g. Paul VI Humanae Vitae'; Pope Saint John Paul on Male Priesthood; and Pope Saint Pius X on the curse of Modernism and: #Humani Generis , a papal encyclical that Pope Pius XII promulgated on 12 August 1950 "concerning some false opinions threatening to undermine the foundations of Catholic Doctrine." #Also"Pascendi dominici gregis" ("Feeding the Lord's Flock") a Papal encyclical letter promulgated by Pope Pius X on 8 September 1907 against modernism. #More than 3 popes have been consummately :on the ball", Mr. Collins.

Father John George | 09 February 2015  

Father John George, you claim to have some creditability in the area of climate change, claim that "the temperature records are rigged" and more representative of city temperatures, and to justify your claims, you refer to a website obviously put in place by untruthful climate change sceptics and deniers. Father John, I refer you to the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC is the world's most authoritative body on climate science. Please read this Report's 'Summary for Policymakers.' If you go to item B.1 (b) you will see a map of the world that indicates where temperature measurements have been taken over a long period of time. You will notice that many more temperature measurements are taken in remote places, such as the middle of the oceans, than in big cities. I'm surprised that one who claims to be a priest can be so dishonest as to make the claims you make. When you deny the truth, you also deny Jesus of Nazareth, the One Who is 'The Way, the Truth and the Life'. You also discredit your profession and the Christian churches in general.

Grant Allen | 09 February 2015  

Mr Allen,Scripture prognosis of doomsday makes climate change like pleasant sun bake on Bondi beach not forgetting diabologenic climate extremes in Hell! IPCC can metastasise the Sahara and Alaska with thermometers, but IPCC fails abysmally to factor in the most relevant independent variable that the temperature of the earth has varied a great deal, long before the arrival of fossil fuels. To take only the past thousand years, a thousand years ago we were benefiting from the so-called medieval warm period, when temperatures are thought to have been at least as warm, if not warmer, than they are today. And during the Baroque era we were grimly suffering the cold of the so-called Little Ice Age, when the Thames frequently froze in winter and substantial ice fairs were held on it, which have been immortalised in contemporary prints.
Not forgetting IPCC incredibly unscientific assumptions from artificial lab climate models that fail to account for real earth unpredictables, inbuilt variables! Aside from eschatology 666:[hardcore earth climactic realities belie artificial lab earth model knick knacks Mr Grant Allen Sir.

Father John George | 09 February 2015  

If only all the world were rational, pragmatic, and had common sense. We would have solved the overpopulation issue a long time ago and would live in balance with all species on this planet. Unfortunately, instituionalized religions of any denomination have always been obsessed with just the one species, to the detriment of everything else. They continue to do so, judging by some of the comments below.

Margit Alm | 20 September 2018  

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