22 June 2015

Authority Squandered

The Pope's foray into political "science", hitching the Church to the climate change medicine show, is now history.  Many Catholic writers have weighed in, before (to warn) and after (to confirm the damage).

Rorate Caeli has a rather whimsical entry today, echoing what many have also written:  this encyclical is already yesterday's biodegradable diapers.

Today the Pope has moved on from condemning air conditioning to condemning people who make guns. As in the blanket condemnation of machines to make air cooler, His Holiness makes no distinctions in the kind of weapons manufacturers who, to use his phrasing, cannot call themselves Christians.  This means that along with nuclear weapons manufacturers, the makers of hunting rifles, kitchen knives, brass knuckles and maybe even Louisville Sluggers are simply out of luck, Christian identity-wise.

When the Pope condemned air conditioning, he made no mention of the tremendous, and even life-saving, good it accomplishes.  How many stories do we hear every summer about some elderly person who dies because of the heat?  And what about hospitals and other places of practical service to the community?  Do we really want stifling hot hospitals?

Similarly, the Holy Father makes a blanket condemnation of weapons manufacturers, and cited the Holocaust as a consequence of weapons manufacturing.  But really, I think if every Jewish family that was arrested by the Nazis had firearms, there may not have been any Shoah.  If only we could ask them.  And what about weapons used to hunt food to keep people from starving?

As silly as these necessary observations become, the prove an even larger point.  And this point concerns the reception of the Pope's messages and the weight of his teachings-- and by extension all the Church's teachings.  

You see, to the average modern world citizen, the Pope's encyclical, his rant against air conditioning or for global government, his condemnation of weapons manufacturers or his condemnation of the "doctors of the law" all have the same weight.  They are given no difference in weight by the hearers of the messages.

And due to their multiplicity, frequency and at times sheer banality, the weight they receive is none.

It matters not if this is intentional or unintentional.  The Holy Father is making sure that any subsequent Pope, should we live to see one, will be (hopefully) trying to right the ship while speaking from (unfortunately) the tiniest pulpit possible.

This really needs to stop.  We can only pray it is not too late.


Ferrara said...

Perfectly said.

Anonymous said...

You put forth truth plain and simple. Any fool would recognize it is, without question, prudent and entirely defensible. It is painful to read such words about a pope, but the current situation allows no alternative, especially the laity. Those in the hierarchy, priests and religious would endure an unwelcome reaction – vindictive and retaliatory, masked under the guise of an admonition to obedience. Pope Bergoglio’s statements and comportment could be attributed to geriatric dementia, or simple heterodoxy. Fools are enamored of this clownish performance attributing it to some sort of egalitarianism or humility. Those who support him from his circle are merely using him to accomplish a personal agenda. The rest of us pray only for this captivity in the hands of … who knows what … will soon find its terminus. Surely the nuts have taken over the asylum. Simply heartbreaking.

Fr. VF said...

The Pope didn't blame weapons manufacturers for the Holocaust. He blamed the Allies for NOT bombing Auschwitz.

In other words, he condemned weapons, and in the next breath, called for bombing!

Frank Rega said...

You mention a subsequent pope trying to "right the ship." Actually there already is a proposed Counter-Encyclical that a future pope might write:

Athelstane said...

Presumably the bombs that the Allies would have dropped on the Auschwitz railways would have been made by Sufis. Or somebody.

By the way, some of the most visceral opponents of bombing those rail lines when the question was debated in Allied circles were...Jewish leaders. Including David Ben-Gurion, founder of the State of Israel. The concern was that Jews would be killed, giving the Nazis the opportunity to blame the Allies for Jewish deaths at the camp.

Michael Dowd said...

Excellent summary of self created irrelevance. And I am reminded of Reagan's words to Carter at one of the Presidential debates: "There you go again." Plus Carter and Pope Francis seem to have micro-managing in common.

Long Pants said...

Do you honestly believe that just because it isn't front-page news a week after its promulgation that it is now irrelevant? Leo XIII's Rerum novarum is 124 years old and remains the continually cited foundation of modern Catholic social teaching. I think our 24-hr. news cycle culture has lured you into a mistaken sense of glee. Just because Rush and all the other Koch-heads have finished throwing their fits about it doesn't mean it's yesterday's news. In fact, it's real impact is yet to unfold as Laudato Si's contents begin to find purchase in new Catholic social teaching documents and theological works. That's always been the life of church teaching. Francis merely planted a seed. And this one has landed in very fertile soil.

chantgirl said...

Long Pants- Yes this encyclical has found quite fertile soil in the UN and the DNC.

I haven't seen such hysterical propaganda since the Population Bomb scare of the 70s, and even the New York Times recently admitted what a farce that was.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how this encyclical letter will be remotely useful for anyone. 1. It references scientific studies and a consensus but never cites a source or name. 2. It is unabashedly opposed to the top two goals of the green crowd (a. carbon credits b. reduce population). 3. It follows the philosophical framework of 'if x, then b; but the premise (x) is likely not factual.

So we're left with several what if, then we must ____?_____ scenarios.

The Holy Father has given us a document that I believe will be very ignored and even ridiculed. I've already read some atheists that are disappointed by the poor scholarship and miss the clarity and precision of Benedict XVI. Atheists at least found our Pope Emeritus to be a worthy study/foil. They don't see that quality of ability in Francis.