Pope Francis Utters an Orthodox Sentiment
Fatima Perspectives #1310
In a short address commemorating the publication of John Paul II’s Centesimus annus (1991) which commemorated the hundredth anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s landmark social encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891), Pope Francis provided a definition of the post-Vatican II novelty of “ecological conversion” that could actually bring it into harmony with traditional Catholic social teaching. Quoth Francis:
“The development of an integral ecology, then, is both a call and a task. It is a call to rediscover our identity as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father who have been created in the divine image and commissioned to be stewards of the earth (cf. Gen 1:27,28; 2:15); re-created through the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:17); and sanctified by the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Thess 2:13). Such an identity is God’s gift to every person and even to creation itself, made new by the life-giving grace of the Lord’s death and resurrection. In this light, our call to solidarity as brothers and sisters and to a shared responsibility for our common home becomes increasingly urgent.”
Now, if “ecological conversion” means the conversion of all peoples to Christ and their elevation to the state of sanctifying grace as “God’s gift to every person,” which in essence is the divine commission to make disciples of all nations and thus build Christian civilization, then the problems of society — the true problems, not the ones liberalism invents to increase the power of the state — would naturally find such solutions as are possible in a fallen world, given the moral and practical limits of political authority. Those limits are indicated by the Catholic principle of “subsidiary function”, which assigns governmental functions to the lowest appropriate level against the centralizing tendencies of post-Christian state secularity.
Alas, and quite predictably, however, even within the space of this short address, Francis undermines his own suggestion that Christian civilization ought to be the result of this “ecological conversion.” Instead, we have the same dreary prescription for merely worldly initiatives. Thus, Francis laments that “progress on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals has in some cases been slow and even non-existent, or, sadly [sic], has regressed.”
It is perhaps telling that Francis omits “United Nations” from his reference to the U.N.’s “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For the faithful know that nothing the U.N. produces as goals for “human development” could be free of evils exactly contrary to the ideals of Christian civilization. One example suffices: Goal 5 of the SDG is “Gender Equality.” Among the Goal 5 Targets is target 5.6: “Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.”
The phrase “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights” means — as if anyone didn’t know — contraception and abortion. Thus, the cited Beijing Platform for Action declares that “Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law [i.e., legalized abortion]…”
Then there is “target” 5.C: “Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.”
As John Paul II declares in Centesimus annus on the subject of legitimate human rights: “Among the most important of these rights, mention must be made of the right to life, an integral part of which is the right of the child to develop in the mother’s womb from the moment of conception.” Alluding to Rerum Novarum, he further declares “the right of children and women to be treated differently with regard to the type and duration of work.” And, regarding the workingman, he teaches in line with Leo XIII: “A workman’s wages should be sufficient to enable him to support himself, his wife and his children.”
Moreover, in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, John Paul II denounced:
“systematic campaigns against birth, contrary not only to the cultural and religious identity of the countries themselves but also contrary to the nature of true development. It often happens that these campaigns are the result of pressure and financing coming from abroad [including the United Nations!], and in some cases they are made a condition for the granting of financial and economic aid and assistance. In any event, there is an absolute lack of respect for the freedom of choice of the parties involved, men and women often subjected to intolerable pressures, including economic ones, in order to force them to submit to this new form of oppression. It is the poorest populations which suffer such mistreatment, and this sometimes leads to a tendency towards a form of racism, or the promotion of certain equally racist forms of eugenics.”
These teachings would be rejected as intolerably “sexist” and “medieval” by the proponents of the SDGs to which Francis appeals. The SDG of “Gender Equality” means effectively making women into men by eliminating or dramatically reducing child-bearing as a perceived barrier to equal competition with men in the workplace and in politics. But the genders are not “equal.” They are radically different biologically by divine ordination, and that difference requires special treatment for women, not brute “equality” with men so that women may act like men in society.
What good does it do to express the pious sentiment that “ecological conversion” means conversion to Christ if that sentiment is not given its proper embodiment in social order? What good does it do to speak of Christian conversion in one paragraph of one address in the course of a pontificate whose entire program is but a furtherance of the religious indifferentism and humanist utopianism that has de facto replaced the Social Kingship of Christ in the post-Vatican II era?
The answer is none at all. A lone pious reference to conversion to Christ is, at this point in the post-conciliar debacle, not even a band-aid on the cancer that has ravaged the human element of the Church.
We will know that the Church has been restored only when a future Pope has the courage to declare once again, with Pope Saint Pius X, that “society cannot be set up unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants. INSTAURARE OMNIA IN CHRISTO.”
That is the vision that will find its realization anew with the fulfillment of Our Lady’s prophecy of the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart.