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.
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