The release of Laudato Si, the pope’s climate change encyclical, has caused quite a stir. He takes to task world governments, consumerism, and throwaway culture. He rejects carbon-credits as a way forward and calls for a strengthening of the “conviction that we are one single human family” (52). What has gotten precious little attention, though, is the way the pope uses his discussion climate change to reiterate the Church’s opposition to abortion.
Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties. (120)
You cannot justify abortion and then pretend to care about climate change, apparently. Abortion is, according to Francis, one of the many negative effects of modern anthropocentrism and we can only achieve an “integral ecology” if we stop allowing abortions. Of course, some would point out that most abortions are not abortions of convenience and that describing an embryo that endangers the life of the mother as simply “uncomfortable and creat[ing] difficulties” is beyond insensitive and quite out of touch with the reality that some women face.
So, while Francis is being championed for taking a stance on climate change and is being lambasted by conservative Catholics and Catholic Republican presidential hopefuls in America, he is still Catholic. He has repackaged some of the teachings of the Church in ways that are more acceptable to modern society, but he is not the progressive pope many hoped he would be or still think he is.
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