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The Church and the environmental movement

Today we respond to Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter, who in turn responds to conservative derision of the environmental focus of Pope Francis (and before him, Pope Benedict XVI). You can find his comments at My response follows:

The environmental movement was less necessary because, aside from clear cutting forests and plowing fields into rivers through erosion, not much was done TO the Earth that was seen as destructive (except for the odd dam bursting and ruining the country-side, but even those dams were not big). Oddly, both seminal environmental disasters, at least in the US, had to do with Pennsylvania - the Johstown flood and the fatal air inversion in roughly the same area. Of course, modern China puts turn of the century Pennsylvania to shame. The reason the Left sees this as their issue is because it is also an issue of workers rights and of wealthy capitalists (the kind the fund the pro-life movement) acting with no consequence.

Father Z decries adding environmental issues to the mix of what is pro-life because Fr. Z is a partisan Republican who knows that truth that abortion is not about protecting the unborn at all (it would be bad for the movement to succeed). It is about turning out votes for the GOP. If it were more bipartisan (if there were more Democrats for Life) it wound no longer be any good for GOP electoral efforts. That there are bishops behind this view is no surprise - they like their donor friends. This is why environmentalists on the left (are there any other kind?) are shocked to find the Pope and the Church in the movement - they had assumed that all bishops were in on the deal. If Republicans were looking to Christ on abortion, they would not be so eager to break bread with the GOP.

Fr. Z would really oppose linking fighting abortion to giving more assistance to families with more children (which Rerum Novarum dictates in its teaching on living wages), as this would put the movement firmly in the hands of the Democrats, rather than seeking a form of legal protection that is legally problematic at best). This would never do.

It would be refreshing if we could rise above political group dynamics in the unity of Communion - however the Jesus Christ of both Communion, Paul's letter to the Collosians and all creation included both our brains and our social instinct to use in determining exactly what must be done and who it must be done with. I would content that we should not do it with Fr. Z and his political allies.

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