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What are Bartholomew’s Invented “Sins”
Doing in a Papal Encyclical?

by Christopher A. Ferrara
August 3, 2015

This is a follow-up to my column on what may be the biggest bombshell in Laudato Si— i.e., its presentation of the environmentalist balderdash of the Orthodox “pope” Bartholomew, as if he could bind Catholics. A closer look at this prelate’s notion of “crime against the natural world” is in order.  Let’s take a look at the passage Francis quotes in the opening paragraphs of his “recyclical”:

For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins. For “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God”.  (LS 8)

As we can see, the schismatic that Francis presents as an authority for Catholics identifies three supposed sins “against ourselves and against God”:

First “sin”: to “destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation…”

I am not aware of any divine commandment “thou shalt preserve biological diversity.”  Quite the contrary, God commanded man to “rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.”  If certain species have become extinct because of human activity such as land use or farming, that outcome is nothing more than a consequence of man’s just rule over the earth and its creatures for his legitimate uses, including where he shall live, what he shall eat, and how he shall produce food. There is no divinely required quota of species that man must maintain to the exclusion of his own uses of the planet. Wanton destruction of animal life is one thing, but to call a loss of “biodiversity” a sin in itself is nonsense.

Second “sin”:  to “degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate.”

You’ve got to be kidding me. First of all, “climate change science” is an ideologically-driven fraud employing sham “computer simulations” and manipulated “data” as even the mainstream press is now recognizing.  At any rate, since when is a change in climate a wrong in itself? Where has God ever commanded: “Thou shalt not change the climate”?  On the contrary, His commandment is “to fill the earth, and subdue it…” As for the idea that we have some duty to preserve the “integrity of the earth” by maintaining a mythical climatological status quo — in fact, the climate has always been changing — the earth has no claim to any such “integrity.” The very idea is preposterous.  The earth is not a moral entity possessed of a “right” to a certain climatological pattern as part of its “integrity.”

Moreover, by what authority does a schismatic prelate declare that any and all “climate change” is ipso facto harmful, as if the earth God created were incapable of adjusting to the effects of the activity of the humans who are commanded to multiply, fill and subdue it? This non-existent sin involves the absurd “fragile earth” hypothesis in which man is always at the point of “destroying the planet,” as if divine Providence were not involved in maintaining the natural order for man’s benefit.

Third “sin”: “stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands.”

More nonsense.  No one has “strip[ped] the earth of its natural forests,” even if there is obviously a duty to manage and avoid the unnecessary destruction of this natural resource. Man has every right to chop down trees and clear forestland for legitimate purposes, even if there is, as with all things, a duty of moderation and prudence.  Without the clearing of forestland and the harvesting of lumber man could not have built villages, cities and roads and we would all be living in rude huts made of twigs and stones in the middle of the woods. The very paper on which Bartholomew’s invented sins appear was made from felled trees, albeit perhaps recycled (but only to a point before more trees are needed for the paper production cycle).

This is all part of subduing the earth.  And even if forestland is wrongfully abused or wasted, that would be wrong only because it harms man, not the earth. The earth has no moral claim against man to the retention of its virginal forests. And notice here the telltale phrase “natural forests.” Apparently reforestation programs that replace trees are not good enough for Bartholomew. Oh no. We must have only the original natural forests, otherwise the earth is harmed.  Please.

As for the claim that “destroying wetlands” is a sin, the only Catholic response should be laughter.  Wetlands are swamps, for Heaven’s sake, like those found in New Jersey, where the Mafia famously dumped its victims. If man needs to drain swamps for legitimate purposes there is no “sin” in doing so. Now of course communities may, for esthetic, historic and even environmental reasons, wish to preserve certain scenic wetlands by appropriate measures — the beautiful Low Country of South Carolina, for example. There may even be a duty to do so for the common good (e.g., refusing to allow Wal-Mart to build in the Low Country). But to declare simply that “destroying wetlands” is a sin just because they are wetlands is ludicrous.

So, Francis would have us feel guilty for committing sins defined by a schismatic prelate who does not even accept Francis’ authority — sins which, on close examination, do not exist. The more one examines Laudato Si, the more distressing it becomes.  There is much more to this book-length manifesto than one can appreciate on a first, second, or even third reading. So this will not be my last column on Francis’ outlandish 185-page address to “every person living on this planet.”