Another "Prebuttal" of Pope's Encyclical on Environment

This article appears in the Francis: The Environment Encyclical feature series. View the full series.

Okay. It is pretty difficult to believe that there is not an organized effort among Catholic conservatives to rebut in advance whatever Pope Francis might say in his forthcoming encyclical on the environment, what we might call a "prebuttal." I mentioned four such articles in the past two days. Here is a fifth, and probably the clumsiest, from Kishore Jayabalan, who directs the Acton Institute's Rome office. I say clumsy because I find it hard to believe anyone with pretensions to Catholic intellectual life would pen this paragraph:

It is one kind of problem if a Catholic disagrees with papal teaching on the Trinity or abortion; that Catholic’s eternal soul would be considered at risk and all efforts would need to be made to correct his erroneous beliefs. It is an altogether different kind of problem if a Catholic disagrees with the pope on his diplomatic efforts or environmental views. Everyone should be in favor of peace between nations and care for God’s creation but we differ on the best ways to approach these worthy objectives. The Church wisely respects differences of opinion on such matters. 

Does Mr. Jayabalan really not see his own shell game? Of the four items he mentions, it is abortion and the environment that both require moral norms and prudential judgment in assessing how to deal with the issue in a given political context. The doctrine of the Trinity yields moral requirements, and diplomatic efforts require moral commitment, but both are more different from the issue of abortion and the environment that these last two are one from another. The right wing is clearly very nervous about the upcoming encyclical, and nervous people sometimes make foolish mistakes, but this is really pathetic. I would add that the libertarian, spread eagle capitalist right which calls Acton its home is right to be worried about the issue of environmentalism because their variety of capitalism has precisely no solutions to problem of environmental degradation and has, in fact, been a large part of the problem.  


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