If what I’ve been reading this morning in the press is accurate about the release of the papal encyclical Laudato Si, even the Pope, in calling for a “bold cultural revolution”, has become a revolutionist, and with that he has aroused the antipathy of conservatives. This is going to be interesting. It’s definitely a document I’m going to have to read.
It’s definitely an interesting situation whenever a progressive Pope becomes married to an incorrigibly conservative and even reactionary institution like the Church. The authors of the CTV article linked to above describe the encyclical as “a blunt, readable booklet full of zingers that will make many conservatives and climate doubters squirm” and indeed they are squirming, judging from the devious responses. Here’s a sample taken from the article itself,
“The simple reality is that energy is the essential building block of the modern world,” said Thomas Pyle of the Institute of Energy Research, a conservative free-market group. “The application of affordable energy makes everything we do – food production, manufacturing, health care, transportation, heating and air conditioning – better.”
Mr. Pyle’s attempt to equate “energy” with fossil-fuels is pure propaganda. One supposes that even he can’t be that stupid to really believe that energy is reducible to fossil-fuel production and consumption alone. That’s what we call “spin”.
And here’s US Presidential contender Jeb Bush:
“I don’t think we should politicize our faith,” U.S. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, a Catholic convert, said on the eve of the encyclical’s release. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”
Ooopsie! That’s more revealing of Jeb Bush than it is of the Pope. Mr. Bush doesn’t think that ethics, apparently, have any business in “the political realm”. Nice piece of self-contradiction which reveals a compartmentalised mentality — a Jekyll and Hyde mentality. There is, in other words, “religion” and “politics” (or ethics and power) and never the twain should meet, apparently.
Mr. Bush has also stated that the it’s none of the Pope’s business to venture into climate change. But the defence of Creation and the unity of life is the Pope’s principal business. It’s the very meaning of the word “catholic” — cata + holos — to concern oneself with the whole or the universal. When Pope Francis “urges people of all faiths and no faith to undergo an awakening to save God’s creation for future generations”, he is exercising true “catholicism” — a universal way of looking at things, an holistic or integral way of looking at things. That’s what “integrity” is. It’s Mr. Bush who is being hypocritical here, and quite “uncatholic”, in segregating and isolating ethics from politics. That is what we mean by “lack of integrity”.
I would suggest to American readers that they be very wary of a presidential candidate who demonstrates such a schizoid mentality and duplicitous attitude which, again, would appear to be a consequence of our inheritance of a pernicious Cartesian metaphysical dualism — the dualism of “spirit” and “matter”, or, in Mr. Bush’s terms, the radical segregation of “religion” and “politics”; ergo, of ethics and power (and apparently, the latter is more real than the former for Mr. Bush). It’s the very meaning of “duplicity”.
And Duplicity, thy name is Double-Talk, Double-Think, Double-Standard, and Double-Bind — those things which I have previously stated are the names of our own “four Riders of the Apocalypse” at our “end of history”.
Laudato Si might prove to be a pivotal event, but also one bound to provoke reactionaries.