Thursday, December 10, 2015

Writing on the Pope's Wall

After the Holy Father's light show will his talk to the Curia be illustrated this year. Will he start using power-point? I'd love to see how he chooses to illustrate those 'neo-pelagian sourpusses'. "Parrhesia Day", as it has become known in the Curia, has become a day of significance, it is a day they get the drinks in to fortify themselves for the annual roasting and then to drown their sorrows afterwards. Sweepstakes are being run on what might be the insult of the year. Rough speaking by the Pope leads to rough speaking by those men (and women) who write letters for him, one Monsignor tries to include the word 'Promethean' in every letter he sends, another specialises in 'butterfly', as in 'butterfly Christians'. Its a game, but its a game about open and fearless speech, maybe a little intensified by the sense that you are probably going to sacked soon.

As for the Holy Father and the Environment, Americans get uptight about it but if saving carrier bags or turning down the heating a tad saves the Maldives or stops a turtle from getting indigestion or keeps alive a coral reef, I'm up for it. I'm with Paschal and his wager on this one: the consequences of rejecting the accepted view (if it is true) are horrendous - not quite hell but they are not good, whilst accepting it, being in harmony with the environment, is not heaven but it is an act of charity to share our resources, it is part of stewardship of creation. I have noticed in the last ten years a build up of moss on the north side of our buildings here, something not here fifteen years ago.

I have to admit I find something off putting about cats on social media, fish are probably even worse than cats but lets not get up tight about it. Old men and old ladies like those nature documentaries, and if the Pope wants to put them on the walls of his church they actually don't do any harm. Another Pope might decide to show Russian Icons, another might decide on displaying catechetical material, next year it might be naming or shaming those 'orrible 'fundamentalists', who we all hate but don't quite know who they are, or another Pope might decide to promote happy jolly Catholic families. My one quibble is that the pictures tended to be of the pretty or the fluffy, not many microbes, disease organisms or even mosquitoes.

Yes, we can get uptight, rightly so, by who the Pope is making friends with: the World Bank? the UN? Greens of varying kinds? Mmm! but in the end no-one has to look at it what is on 'his wall', even if he chooses the walls of St Peter's rather than Facebook. Obviously Italian intellectuals will think this is just a little bruta figura but that is what they have come to expect.

Now I know I am known for my radical views but why doesn't the Holy See, at least for the remainder of this Papacy reduce its carbon footprint. It would be too easy to dismiss Laudato Si as being window dressing, but a start would be for the Holy Father to abandon air travel. Rightly has he complained about "airport bishops"but most bishops I know spend a great deal of time going backwards and forwards to Rome. There is 'Skype' nowadays, or even the phone. I had to give evidence to Roman dicastery last year, six people turned up at my front door, four of them from Rome, only one of whom spoke English - ridiculous! The City of Rome authorities have said the city cannot cope with an implosion of pilgrims. It would be a positive ecological step to tell people to stay home, or if they must come to Rome not to fly, a pilgrimage is after all about the journey not the arrival.

It is fine for the Pope to use small cars but what a tremendous sign if he abandoned fossil-fueled transport altogether, he needn't look backwards he could look forward, I am sure there are new technologies that the Holy Father could highlight. The Vatican City is made for the electric car, and if the Holy Father must travel abroad there is 'slow flight technology'.
Already the Aula Paulo VI roof supplies much of the Vatican's electricity, why not declare the Vatican a Green State, using fairtrade produce, paying a living and just wage to its employees. Let us have more than words.


RichardT said...

The only problem with Pope Francis travelling by "slow flight technology" is that it would leave more time for his in-flight press conferences.

Stephen Turton said...

Pope Francis does indeed talk about many things, often issues that interest our contemporaries eg the state of the natural world etc. Now here's a cat among the pigeons: has he, to anyone's knowledge talked about Fatima ?

JARay said...

Oh dear! Not more "in flight press conferences"!

PAPALCount said...

Your commentary is right on, Father. This light show on the walls of Catholicim's most sacred temple was an outrage. Pope Francis had to know. How could he approve? Try this stunt in Mecca or on the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Would never happen. St Peter's is a sacred place and it has been profaned by this garbage. What is going on?
I really shake my head at our pope. Does he have all his faculties?

Patricius said...

"Writing on the wall..."? Does this need a Daniel to work it out?

Adrian said...

I agree with your Pascal's wager stance on the environment, Father. I simply do not have the scientific knowledge and understanding to judge, but it seems to me more in tune with Catholic morality to husband the world's resources rather than squander them and to avoid doing things that might cause permanent damage, even if we are not certain of the balance of probabilities.
Regarding the Holy Father's mode of transport, wouldn't it be splendid if he were to take a leaf out of our own gracious Queen's book and use on formal occasions one of the horse-drawn landaus or barouches used by his illustrious Predecessors.

George said...

Father, please reconsider your view of climate change. I think there's a very dangerous force behind it.

Climate change is just the latest permutation of Malthusianism. The spirit of Malthusianism won't die. For centuries the spirit thrived under the assumption that the human population would outpace the food supply. Only a few decades ago this was proven absolutely false. Just a fraction of the African continent can theoritically produce enough food for the entire global population. So the spirit of Malthus moved to man-made industrial activity as a threat to the environment. Acid rain. Global cooling. Global warning. Climate change. Severe weather. These concepts come and go. Who remembers acid rain? All our lakes in the northeast USA were supposed to be dead by now.

We cannot play Paschal's wager with Malthusian in any form. Because the ultimate goal of Malthusianism is limiting human population. It's an attack on be fruitful and multiply. Even if the proposals on climate change don't directly address population control, the economic constraints (such as restrictions on energy) result in costs of living going up, which result in voluntary population control by married folks who simply cannot afford to have more children.

Malthusianism was an inevitable result of the Protestant Reformation. As soon as Original Sin became the cause of man's fundamental corruption, Malthusianism was inevitable. As you know, traditional Catholicism (i.e. the True Faith) teaches that man is weakened but fundamentally still good after Original Sin. Luther's change to the doctrine of Original Sin had truly sublime effects. It's frankly at the root of modernity's abortion and contraceptive mentality. Climate change is its latest offspring.

Liam Ronan said...

In my opinion Francis went for the light show as a direct result of his traumatizing release of the doves in January 2014 which were promptly torn to pieces by awaiting ravens.

Lions on the loose might have proven a bit much.

In any event, there are enough raging lions roaming about unfettered in the world these days with hardly a soul taking notice of their tearing and rending.

fzk5220 said...

The question whether the pope "has all his faculties " is valid.
But then who is to judge, to paraphrase his own words?

Unknown said...

Revelation 11.2 : the pagans will trample on the holy city (Rome) for 42 months.

Fr Ray Blake said...

There are very dangerous forces behind climate change denial too - mainly from the US, significantly!
We have to be concerned not with whether something is is politically correct but whether it is true, first of all and then whether it is just.
Concern fror the ecology of our planet is not just about the physical environment but but human ecology and biological ecology too. One serious issue is the effects of of oestrogens pouring into our seas as a result of contraceptives.

Christopher Boegel said...

Laughing out loud

Fr Ray Blake said...

Lynda it did not appear because it crossed the mark it criticism of HH the Pope!

Fr Ray Blake said...

As does this comment.

Physiocrat said...

Bring back the sedia gestatoria.

Physiocrat said...

That the climate is changing should not be in doubt. Botanical gardens and botanists have been keeping records of flowering dates since the middle of the eighteenth century. Spring has been slowly getting earlier throughout this period.

Whether man-made carbon dioxide emissions are the cause is a different question.

Anonymous said...

How do we know, for sure, that climate change is not the work/effect of God's coming and re-creating the Universe (or the planet, as you may call it)? We can presume, but do we know?
Were the forefathers of Christianity, Apostles and Holy Parents too, just some superstitious silly people?
Shouldn't we get scared more about His Judgement (that might be coming, as the Bible promises/threatens)? What is our faith now? Do we trust miracles? Do we trust the Holy Angels? Do we "blindly" trust God as He commanded? (quotes are because I believe that blind Faith gives way to the Truth, a brighter light that any other empiric illusion/observation that might haunt us). What is being saved in Christ? Are we too proud to look away from the world (enemy of Redemption across Christianity from the beginning, the world cannot be expected to associated with God, it's a maze of gossip, lies and maybe even witchcraft, of human or fallen divine nature as one pleases, but we can't whine the world is evil, it has always been, the Apostles faced it, so did God, even the Prophets, many martyrs, many people of Faith).
That's my problem with the Pope (also the Orthodox Churches too) talking about ecology rather than the Holy Spirit, science rather than Faith, politics rather than God.
Kitties on the wall are nothing but wasted precious time, when we should be thinking if God is mad at us each and if yes, then why (source cannot be outside He says and this must be true).
We worry about the future or lack there of. "The pride of life" some priest said, another demonic enemy of Redemption.
Back in the year 1000 AD our "mongrels" forefathers and mothers knew the conclusion is bound to be drawn. What do we know now? Except that we want to live, we want not to suffer, we want peace of mind, we want to be loved (by God or not necessarily, just someone), we want and we ask and doctors teach us how to beg even lower.
Low is low and High is high.

George said...

This is why I read your blog Father -- to help me as an American Catholic see things differently.

We don't have the same tradition of devout Catholicism participation with initiatives found with the political Left. Catholic participation with the political Left here is almost always occurs among the heterdox libertines. Among devout public Catholics we don't have Malcom Muggeridges, we have William F. Buckleys.

That said, one of the leading anti-Climate Change voices on right-of-center media here in the USA is a English Catholic, Christopher Monckton. So there.

George said...

...just continuing with some thoughts as an "American" Catholic...

I have great mistrust of the Left. For the reasons I mentioned above regarding its association with heterdoxy and libertinism, but also the economics just seem bad to me. My personal experience with Western Europe is from living for a short time in Norway. As the father of 10 (and counting), I can't see how I'd survive in Western Europe. I drive a big 15 passenger van which gets 10 miles to the gallon. We shop at big box stores which sell mega-size jars of peanut butter and mayonaise. How would my family survive in Western Europe? The grocery stores seem designed and priced for singles or contracepting couples. The cost of energy is astronomical. Again, it's great for singles and contracepting couples -- tiny cars or even in Norway loads of people biclycing around. It's a Leftist Adult's utopia, but a large Catholic family's nightmare.

Stephen Turton said...

Well done Father for pointing out there are dangerous forces also behind climate change denial. I have a suspicion verging on certainty that this denial comes from lobbyists, sometimes apparently scientific, representing businesses that don't want profits reduced by paying for pollution control.

George said...

Father, another thought about European economics.

I remember as a young boy on a summer trip in Greece being on a bus driving along the scenic shores of the Aegean Sea. We were stopped for lunch and the bus driver took the load of trash from the bus and dumped it all over the side of the cliff and into the sea. This would not happen in the USA. A major busline with a bus full of people, and the driver seemingly routinely dumping trash in the sea. From my time in Italy I remember similar types of street pollution. I'd imagine that Argentina would be little different.

I guess I wonder how much these Southern European and South American attitudes negatively affect the Church's position on climate and ecology. The Anglo-Saxon culture tends to be much more self-regulating and responsible about such things as littering and pollution. Yet, the bill-payers for these credit swap schemes and other mechanisms will be the US, UK, Germany,... all the countries that tend to have the most responsible people in them to start with.

fzk5220 said...

Father Ray, I for one would appreciate an additional comment of what are those dangerous forces behind climate change denial. I think truth and justice are separate and distinct concepts. "It is, what it is.” If something is true, then it is true without other qualifications. The application of a truth may be just or unjust and of course justice is often in the eye of the beholder as an example Christian justice and Sharia justice. The problem of estrogenic compounds pouring into our seas as a result of presumably human contraceptives is one of only negligible concern. I quote from an article on the subject from EHN : “A new study finds that oral contraceptives are not the main culprit in estrogenic pollution of U.S. and European rivers and drinking water. Instead, the contribution of contraceptives is quite small compared to other human, industrial and agricultural sources. “The authors find that agricultural sources are an important source of estrogens in waterways because livestock produce 13 times more solid waste than humans. The animals can excrete both natural and pharmaceutical hormones. One study estimates that up to 90 percent of total estrogens in the environment could come from animal waste.”
Perhaps, by implication we should move to the desert areas of our planet where all these factors would also be minimized until the next “injustice” results from human technological and scientific efforts.
Should not our pope put more effort into defending his Christian/Catholic flock and take a stand on radical Islam rather than climate change? Which is more urgent? Hint, hint…. Paris, San Bernardino, etc… Should not The church which was wrong about new scientific discoveries in centuries past reread those cases? Or is it incapable of learning from its own mistakes?

Fr Ray Blake said...

I thiink Greeks are not typical of the rest of Europe, hey have a different sene of law and order to the rest of us, hence their economic sitution.

richardhj said...

It amused me too.

Until I realised that it is unfortunately very true.

Anonymous said...

@Frank K: You said "Should not The church which was wrong about new scientific discoveries in centuries past reread those cases? Or is it incapable of learning from its own mistakes?"

I would reply, not the Church perse, but this particular Holy Father,... he doesn't seem to understand history. I wonder sometimes whether he even knows the Catholic Faith, and its Tradition. If one does not even know about the mistakes, how can one learn from it?

I see it as incredible hubris to think that only now the Holy Spirit is speaking, and wasn't for the past 2000 years. Only a lack of knowledge could allow one to come to that conclusion.

Gatepost productions said...


The US is has a large land mass and the culture therein is far from homogenic. Europe isn't exactly small. Comparing these large areas is interesting, but I suggest a memory of Greece when you were a young boy is not a sound foundation for your hypothesis. Just about everything has changed since I was a young boy... not least the Church.

I would suggest that there are devious forces on both sides of the 'debate' each bent on commercial and political gain.

Nicolas Bellord said...

George: I think you are unduly harsh on the Greeks. The problem of rubbish is an evolving one as countries develop. I have watched this in Portugal which has developed very fast. In the beginning most household waste was bio-degradable - food waste, paper etc so they tended to chuck it out anywhere. As the country developed the quantities of paper increased, tins, bottles and above all plastic appeared and most of this is not bio-degradable so it makes an awful mess. However Government action then intervenes. We first of all had an oil drum at the side of the road which got emptied by the municipality; now we have proper wheelie-bins and recycling. There is still a problem with fly-tipping but it is improving.

Travelling through Spain if you stopped at a bar you had to wade through inches deep of cigarette ends and paper to get to the bar - that is no longer the case. I remember visiting Italy in the 1970s when the rubbish at the side of the road was awful - more recently the problem seems to have disappeared. I suspect Greece has gone through the same evolution.

Sadie Vacantist said...

George, William F Buckley had the habit of firing devout Catholics at the behest of his paymasters. He had a less anarchic streak than Muggeridge. Catholics in the rest of the World regularly voted "left". In order to get your own vision to work, it requires invoking American exceptionalism.

Ignore what has been said about Greece. A catholic priest is not an economist.

Cosmos said...

C'mon Fr. Blake. If you are for conservation, moderation, and good stewardship, you don't have to be pro-Global Climate Religion. It seems like a truism of the modern world that the moral pull towards progressive scientism (i.e., the left) is so strong that whenever we embrace one of their positions we feel totally justified, like we have done some kind of good deed. It's nice to be with the sane people, the winners, every once in a while!

"As for the Holy Father and the Environment, Americans get uptight about it but if saving carrier bags or turning down the heating a tad saves the Maldives or stops a turtle from getting indigestion or keeps alive a coral reef, I'm up for it."

That is not AT ALL what people are talking about. People are talking about giving international beurachrats total control over energy consumption, with all the attendant consequences. Cathollics have been charmed by atheistic, centralized power for about 70 years now, but its evil. What could go wrong? But its foolish.

You know who this policy makes sense for? Professionals who live in apartments in awesome, progressive, cosmipolitan cities. Their expendible income will take a hit, but it will be marginal. You know who is going to hurt: the working class and devloping naitons who don't have expendible income. How should they cope? The answer is always the same: don't have children (birth control, abortion, etc.). Having large families used to be Catholic virtue, but now its just breeding like rabbits...

"I'm with Paschal and his wager on this one: the consequences of rejecting the accepted view (if it is true) are horrendous - not quite hell but they are not good, whilst accepting it, being in harmony with the environment, is not heaven but it is an act of charity to share our resources, it is part of stewardship of creation. I have noticed in the last ten years a build up of moss on the north side of our buildings here, something not here fifteen years ago."

This is exactly what they are hoping for. Despite the scandals, the major models being verifiably wrong, lots data to the contrary, they have created a sitatution that is so dire that NOTHING could ever outweigh the cost of inaction. You are a bad, irresponsible person if you don't do what we say.

What a joke. Totalitarian China is going to ride the wave and guilt the West into gutting its economies as it makes symbolic gesutures of its mutual comittment. meanwhile China obviously don't believe the hype, or they wouldn't be committed to building a new coal-fired power plant per week. What they know is that highly-industrialized nations are the richest AND CLEANEST IN THE WORLD BY FAR, and they got there through industrialization. China is planning on going through an industrial revolution and cleaning things up when it has the money to do so.

And we are planning on becoming centralized, socialist societies. More and more people permanently unemployed and governemnt dependent. Politiains thrilled.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...