Is the current Pope a Christian? When reading this article by Matthew J.L. Ehret, one can develop doubts about that.
Ehret points out what the current Pope wrote during the recent COP26 conference:
“We can confront these crises by retreating into isolationism, protectionism and exploitation. Or we can see in them a real chance for change, a genuine moment of conversion, and not simply in a spiritual sense.” [emphasis by me, PwG]
In this, Pope Francis has form. As Ehret writes:
Within the 2015 Laudato Si, the Pope took aim directly at the “old and obsolete” notion of Christianity that had seen humanity as a divine creature born with a Promethean spark saying:
“An inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world. Often, what was handed on was a Promethean vision of mastery over the world.”
This is weird indeed – from a Pope. “Fill the earth and govern it” (Genesis 1:28), God’s first commandment to humanity, is pretty unambiguous. What’s there to misunderstand?
What was and is indeed understood wrongly down the ages is that some people thought and think that we can exert “mastery over the world” without God, i.e. by disregarding his commands. On our own. Many of us don’t just want to “govern” (in God’s name). Many of us want sovereignty for ourselves. We want to ignore, or even deny, God’s sovereignty. That’s the big, fundamental problem plaguing humanity since the fall.
Ostensibly, Francis is against this kind of rule as well. But because he doesn’t make that distinction, he obviously has very different ideas altogether.
As Ehret then highlights:
This new Christian ethos unveiled by Pope Francis saw humankind not as a species which could transcend the limits of nature, but rather as a species bound inexorably to the ecosystem within which he evolved. If the ecosystems of earth imposed limits on all species according to such variables as space, food and resource availability, then according to the secular priests of the new world order, humanity was expected to be no different. Nature was little more than a mother Gaia figure from ancient Babylonian times long past with the 2015 encyclical’s opening prayer reading:
“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her”
Ehret then presents us, as a stark and almost shocking contrast, the attitude Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005) had in this regard:
In Pope John Paul II’s 1981 Encyclical Laborem Exercens, the terms of the Manichean cold war dichotomy were laid bare with the pope taking aim at two opposing ideologies that suffered from inverse, though equally destructive poisons. On the one hand, the encyclical polemicized against those systems which value the liberties of the individual over the wellbeing of society (Smith’s hedonistic doctrine of Laissez Faire ‘each-against-all’ forms of capitalism for example). On the other hand, the Pope took aim at the destructive materialism of Marx’s ‘Dialectic Materialism’ which value only the whole but in total defiance of respect for the sacredness of the individual.
The Christian principle defended by the Pope within this seminal writing was found in the edict of Genesis 1:28 which called forth man to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.”
And then Ehret quotes from John Paul’s Encyclical:
“THROUGH WORK man must earn his daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family. And work means any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very nature, by virtue of humanity itself. Man is made to be in the visible universe an image and likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth. From the beginning therefore he is called to work. Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth.”
John Paul understood the “dominion covenant” that God imposed on humanity. Francis doesn’t. Or rather, doesn’t show that he does. And by that, he is leading his flock astray. Instead, he is inviting humanity to swap God’s sovereignty with “Gaia’s” sovereignty. Thereby he is asking us to submit to the rule of those who claim to know her every needs. By any stretch of the imagination, that’s not Christian.