Both secular environmentalists and Catholics are waiting with bated breath for the release of Pope Francis’ new encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. Many Catholics are deeply worried that the pope will play into the agenda of radical environmentalists, while many secularists are thrilled that the pope will seemingly endorse their worldview.
I haven’t read the Holy Father’s encyclical yet (yes, it was leaked, but I don’t read Italian), so I don’t have anything to say about it—but I do have a few thoughts about our relation to the natural world, as it is a topic I have thought about quite a bit. I’m going to wade into controversial waters today and share them with you. Here they are in no particular order.
“It Doesn’t Matter”
A common refrain among concerned Catholics is that the issue of the environment simply doesn’t matter. “The salvation of souls is what we have to worry about. What does recycling have to do with our eternal destiny?” This is a common line of thinking. And to an extent, I would agree with it. Yes, the salvation of our eternal souls is preeminent—but that does not mean the Church must cease speaking about other issues. In fact, much of Catholic social teaching was expounded in times of great cultural crisis, and I believe we should be careful not to dismiss this issue simply because it does not, at least on its face, appear to relate to heaven or hell.
The second reason I believe this issue of the environment is important is because it is being used to promote one of the most anti-human ideologies in history. There are environmentalists who literally want to exterminate the vast majority of human beings in order to save the planet. This is, quite simply, evil, and we should not ignore this twisted ideology or let it