Pope Francis: “Nature Does Not Forgive”

January 5, 2014

Full disclosure, I am a recovering Catholic school kid. You never get over it.
That said, I have to observe that Pope Francis is emerging as a church leader unlike any other we have seen since John the 23rd.
And, he’s saying some things that will have strong impacts on the world’s billion or so Catholics, many of them in the US, many of them members of the increasingly powerful and already very climate-conscious Hispanic community.
Therefore, worth being aware of, believer or not.

A sampling of the Pope’s climate-centric comments:

We human beings are not only the beneficiaries but also the stewards of other creatures. Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. Let us not leave in our wake a swatch of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.

The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not, I repeat, not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: rather, it is the culture of solidarity that does so; the culture of solidarity means seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters. And we are all brothers and sisters!

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.

People occasionally forgive, but nature never does. If we don’t take care of the environment, there’s no way of getting around it.

Riverside Press Enterprise:

A 2011 report by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences warned of the devastating future impacts of climate change and called on nations to act. That follows a 2001 report by U.S. bishops calling for action on climate change.

Other faiths also are working to combat climate change. More than 300 evangelical leaders, including the Rev. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Rev. Rick Warren, the Orange County pastor who wrote the best-selling “Purpose-Driven Life,” have signed a statement on climate change. The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America endorsed a joint statement on the issue in May. Buddhists, Jews and Muslims have formed groups to combat climate change.

39 Responses to “Pope Francis: “Nature Does Not Forgive””

  1. I love this man. He’s rocking boats ALL over the world.

    I never personally had a problem with Catholicism per se, just individuals within it. But the Catholic Church has needed someone who is a true follower of Christ for … I don’t even know how long.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    I wonder how the fossil fuel interests, the plutocracy, and the corporate oligarchy are going to try to “neutralize” him? Since he doesn’t have to run for reelection, they can’t buy him with campaign contributions. Hmmmmm?

    • They had no problem with JFK & MLK and numerous others. I admit that is conjecture but any system that can turn a blind eye toward impending planetary ecocide in the quest for $$$ is capable of anything.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Lets hope that he has been allotted some extra guardian angels (as well as a beefed up Swiss Guard detachment).

  3. Let us make sure he knows how many of us, Catholic or not, love and support him. He is an extraordinarily mature, kind and compassionate human being committed to using his position in the service of the common good. What a beautiful role model he is.

    • “He is an extraordinarily mature, kind and compassionate human being committed to using his position in the service of the common good. What a beautiful role model he is.”

      Really? He is against gay marriage for *everybody* and against even the rights of gay people to adopt orphans. He also is not exactly enamored by atheists.

      There is nothing extraordinary about this guy – he just shines in comparison to his predecessor, who was a vile and evil man.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        “There is nothing extraordinary about this guy – he just shines in comparison to his predecessor, who was a vile and evil man”.

        True enough. And we have had many vile and evil men create havoc down through time, some of them popes (like those who supported the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Nazis).

        Maybe we should just be thankful for little things and take what we can get? It will be interesting to see how his stance on the issues you mentioned changes. Will it soften? Or harden? Will tildeb be proven correct? Stay tuned.

  4. omnologos Says:

    If anything funny happens to him, expect blood

    • Not from my quarter. Violence begets violence and the powers that be have more guns. They would love nothing better that to retaliate with “Shock and Awe.”

      The only thing keeping us in the fight is Non-Violence! And hopefully big numbers.

  5. tildeb Says:

    If you are suggesting that religious leadership could be a valuable ally in responding with support for sustainable alternatives to address AGW climate change, then you may want to remember first that there is a very strong correlation between religiosity, right wing politics, and climate/evolution denialism. And denialism of scientific claims (based on faith-based belief rather than reality’s arbitration of them) is not a friend of science and should never, ever, be mistaken for such.

    A responsible response to reality does not need any faith of any kind from any quarter ever; it requires compelling reasons adduced from reality and respected for the evidence that arbitrates our beliefs about it. Faith plays no role whatsoever. Yet this religious approach of elevating faith-based belief to be at the least equivalent to how we come to know anything about reality (and actually held by the devout to be a superior method to best describe it, while at the same time allowed by its supporters to be exempt from reality’s arbitration of its causal claims) is simply incompatible with promoting respect for the scientific method and the explanations it produces. (That’s why scientific consensus has no meaning for deniers.)

    Any and all faith-based systems (as well as those who lead or support them) used to justify beliefs about reality – even if they appear to align with adduced reasons by science – are never, ever, the friend of those who respects reality’s role to adjudicate claims made about it. Regarding Catholicism and its leadership specifically, this includes this pope, all past popes, and all future popes. There are no exceptions because their respect for reality ends when it comes into conflict with faith-based beliefs about it. This approach defines what constitutes Catholicism, defines what being a Catholic means. (And we have a long and rich history to support this claim as well as modern examples too numerous to mention.) Knowledge about reality, however, works only one way to produce applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time: from science to religion and never, ever, the other way around. It’s just that simple to remember.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      WOW! A good rant, but perhaps a bit overdone? Why can’t we do as you say and leave all that “religion” and “religiosity” out of it for now?

      This “sampling of climate centric comments” is not particularly religious, catholic, or christian anyway—–if anything, it it more Gaia-like.

      The new pope IS someone who can have great influence and help move the AGW wars in the right direction. Can we not wait and see if he starts calling for an “umpteenth crusade” or a new inquisition before we start condemning him?

      (And are YOU catholic? You sound more like a protestant Republican here)

      • omnologos Says:

        He’s very religious and his religion is called “science” or whatever he thinks “science” to be

        • dumboldguy Says:


        • tildeb Says:

          Climate change is a real world problem requiring real world solutions. We don’t need any injection of faith-based belief to divert us from the task at hand. Reality tells us we have to do something about our lack of sustainable behaviours. Religion cannot help us in this task. It has a long history that divides us because no religion has any means to ascertain what’s true about reality. Various religions make all kinds of causal claims and people invest an amount of confidence in these claims but reject reality’s arbitration of them. This is the last thing we need. We don’t need a mouthpiece from this kind of thinking to interfere without causing at least as much trouble as aid. I want people to change their behaviour, to invest in political capita to bring about well-thought out plans for sound reasons and not as a matter of misplaced faith that some supernatural causal agency will intervene when required. This is delusional thinking and it is far too ubiquitous to pretend is part of the solution. It’s not; it’s very much part of the problem that got us to this point.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I’m still wondering if you even read the pope’s remarks. They are heavy on what we might call “spirituality” and “appeal to conscience”, but his references to “god” would seem to be acceptable to all who believe in any kind of “creator” or “supreme being(s)”—-(and that’s a lot of folks).

            Is it that you deny the existence of any sort of creator or that you are rabidly anti-catholic that you keep hammering on this? I also fail to see why you can’t just accept the “gift” to the world that the new pope represents. What he stands for and what he may achieve cannot help but improve the human condition. I think your fears have no foundation in fact (unless the new pope is really the antichrist and he is “setting us up”)

          • tildeb Says:

            I hammer at this because there is no epistemological difference between religious belief and climate denial; they use the identical method to arrive at confidence in beliefs exempt from reality’s arbitration and adjudication of claims about causal efficacy active in reality. Neither can be influenced to respect reality’s arbitration of them. And we are told to respect this as a virtue! Bollocks. It is a problem to hold faith as a virtue. It is a vice.

            This problem is not trivial or merely personal preference. It is not a side issue in most issues of importance. It is not something that can be accommodated or respected when people who exercise faith as a means to justify beliefs about reality threaten us as a species with our very survival in the name of faith-based beliefs immune from evidence adduced from reality.

            We need to wake up.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I’m done. You obviously have your blinders strapped on so tightly that you can’t see the difference between simple moral behavior and good example and “faith”, “beliefs”, and ideology.

            Please try to get into this kind of exchange with Eww-Pot. Talk about irresistible force meeting immovable object—that should be something to see.

            I will make plenty of popcorn.

          • omnologos Says:

            For once we agree on something, dumboldguy, even if my comments are often too short and cryptic for the message to come across. I am personally tired of reading people who think reason is something to adore and abuse rather than use, if the topic is religion.

            Even Stephen Hawking is capable of saying stupendously stupid things, when discussing other people’s beliefs. I can only ascribe that to some “brights” trying to replace the old gods with a new one, their “Science”.

          • skeptictmac57 Says:

            John Cook ,creator of Skeptical Science which is arguably one of the most potent resources for debunking denier arguments,is a devout christian and a scientist. In interviews he makes it clear that his christian faith only informs his conviction that we need to be good stewards of our world,not that it conflicts with science.
            So you see, you cannot lump people into nice neat categories to suit your personal ideology. I do not believe in any deity or supernatural power,but I can certainly appreciate the fact that someone who does can use that belief in a positive way (as well as negative).

          • ” I can only ascribe that to some “brights” trying to replace the old gods with a new one, their “Science”.”

            The “religion of science”? Another glib, shallow, and ultimately incoherent concept typically strewn about by people who don’t really understand science, but love sounding au courant.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I’m just a dumb old guy. Does “au courant” mean relentlessly pursuing an argument that no one accepts but you?

    • I’m sure I’m speaking to a wall here, but I’ll try anyway.

      It’s not religion that’s the problem, it’s people and their interpretation of it. You are saying you do not want the Pope to help the cause of climate change, because he’s a religious leader. Think on that for a minute. What percentage of humans are religious who look to their religious leaders for guidance? Most of the world. Like 95% of humans.

      If you think a sea change in attitudes about climate change and consumerism can come only from shedding religion, then we’re all doomed, because that simply won’t happen.

  6. Lars Larsson Says:

    You never get over it.

    No, you never do. Sad, ain’t it?

  7. fortranprog Says:

    It is estimated that 59% of the world are religious, the largest faith being Christian at 2 billion, 1.2 billion of those being in the Catholic faith. While I am not particularly religious or follow a faith, I do know many people who do and are actively guided by their church’s hierarchy. So this is an excellent statement by the leader of this very popular worldwide church and will surely influence followers. There are also around 1.2 billion worldwide followers of the Islam Faith and there are strong climate change policies going on in that religion too, and devout Muslims pray 5 times a day and follow guidance from their Imams. Certainly Buddhism, with 360 million followers, is sympathetic to climate change science, with strong statements from the Dalai Lama and I don’t think you will find many Hindus (811 million followers) in denial. I suspect most denial comes from agnostics and some of the more extreme Christian groups (the heavy denial fuelled by the free market think tanks and fossil fuel lobby). I was brought up under the Christian – Church of England, which purports to be strongly supportive of the IPCC AR5 report.


  8. Wes Says:

    The point that tildeb is missing in his rant against religion is that religion at its best brings empathy to the table. That is the issue that makes modern fundamentalist American Christianity a heresy by its stunning and proud lack of that quality. The Pope has changed the dialogue by putting empathy back on the table as fundamental to faith, and that has caused the faux outrage from the Right.
    Most American religious organizations, with the exception of the strict fundamentalist Right, are on the side of the scientists in the climate issue, not only because of the obvious damage to the planet, but because of the disproportionate suffering that the poor will endure. They are a major ally on this issue and should not be so dismissively treated.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      Empathy and compassion are signs of intelligence, and so no surprise that fundamentalists of any stripe do not comprehend them.
      That said, I have lots of compassion for those so afflicted. Just don’t post bullshit here.

      • tildeb Says:

        Every religion has fundamental beliefs. Every religion is built on them, so I’m not sure how your criticism makes any sense. As for empathy and compassion, religious faith is not a prerequisite for their exercise. In fact, my city’s Hospice – one that serves its half million population – is staffed by 80% atheists and a majority of its volunteers are religiously unaffiliated, so again, I think your assumption is entirely misplaced. Any educated person should appreciate what scientific consensus about AGW and its impact on climate change means – from pope to pauper. Inserting this respect under the guise of being part and parcel of a set of faith-based beliefs that do not respect reality’s role to arbitrate them is not honest.

        I understand the allure of championing religious leaders who agree with scientific explanations, or religious scientists who are able to compartmentalize and keep isolated faith-based beliefs from informing and altering their science, but note why this support must be conditional: because of the direction of agreement… from religion to science. This is why the pope’s message has any merit at all.

        The problem arises when a contrary faith-based belief to a scientific explanation is supported by the religious – and the pope certainly holds a great many of these, too. Now the champion becomes a liability if the purpose of support from the scientific community is to support good science rather than an exalted religious person and the set of beliefs he represents. Throwing in diversions of some lack of empathy or compassion if one doesn’t offer knee-jerk obsequious support the pope’s position hardly typifies what constitutes an intelligent response.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          “The problem arises when a contrary faith-based belief to a scientific explanation is supported by the religious – and the pope certainly holds a great many of these, too”

          Could you be more specific about the last part of that? The “faith based belief contrary to a scientific explanation” that the pope CERTAINLY HOLDS A GREAT MANY OF?

          • tildeb Says:

            This isn’t the place to get into all that.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            “This isn’t the place to get into all that.”

            Really? Then why did you say it here?

          • tildeb Says:

            I said it here to underline the fact that the leader of the Roman Catholic Church holds ideas antithetical to scientific understanding. And it is respect for scientific understanding like AGW and climate change, and not the faith-based belief set of the person championing a specific agreement (for all the wrong reasons) that deserves our support.

          • omnologos Says:

            senseless as it is, tildeb’s attitude is not unprecedented. how many times have I said I was all for reducing black carbon, only to be told I remained an evil denier because I didn’t build my opinion out of the “right” reasons?

            so there you go, have fun with somebody who is just asking why can’t you all just isolate yourselves in a small band of committed “pure of hearts” 🙂

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Why do you find it so difficult to answer simple questions?

            I will ask you again to specifically enumerate the “ideas antithetical to scientific understanding” that are held by the new pope.

          • tildeb Says:

            It’s not difficult at all. You may question me further about this at my site but, as I said (and you should respect the intent), this is not the place. This is about respecting what the pope says about climate change and my criticism about doing that.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Let me speak as plainly as I can. One should NOT carelessly run one’s mouth and then refuse to back up the allegations they make with facts.

            Based on what you have shown us here, I will not be visiting “your site”—it would be as much of a waste of time “questioning” you there as it is here. You obviously don’t answer questions.

            And I really don’t understand why you left that site to come to Crock and make the idiotic religion-infused comments you did make—-this is not the place for you to spout your ideas (that are actually more “antithetical to scientific understanding” than anything the pope has said).

            Could you tell us how you managed to find Crock and decide to make the comments you did? Are you a “paid Francis Denier”? A troll that searches sites for any reference to Francis and piles on? Do the Kochs sign your paycheck?

    • Wes – there is an interesting discussion underneath this topic. You put your finger on it. Ethics and morals matter to society and culture. They are the the heart that guides the mind. What we have is a problem with religion failing to provide that heart. The Pope brings that back. The backdrop to this is a culture of ego driving the mind without heart, without regard for the rest of humanity, only the self. Just listen to the Faux Noise talking head disagree with the Pope. Their right to do whatever they want. To them, freedom means egoistic hedonism. The Pope is goring their ox.

  9. James Olson Says:

    Thank you, Peter Sinclair, for this article. Thank you, Pope Francis, for speaking the truth about climate change and other human actions that violate fundamental values. What Pope Francis is saying is supported by ancient principles — commons and public trust doctrine — embedded in law, values, and imposed on and attributable to sovereign government. No one is above these values and their required limitations. Under public trust, citizens are indeed “beneficiaries,” and governments and private corporations have a responsiblityto protect, in fact cannot violate or harm, the right of public to use and enjoy the water, special commons, or or the water and ecosystem that supports such use; moreover, no one has the right to subordinate or impair the common basic necessities, like air, water, soil, genes, plants, wildlife, of the earth. These support all, and all are bound by a duty to respect their integrity. For background on commons and public trust, see work of FLOW, http://www.flowforwater.org or follow FLOW on facebook. Thank you. Jim Olson, Chair, FLOW.

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