The Roman Catholic Church and the environmental challenges

This post continues the one of May 7th, 2007, entitled “International Vatican Conference on Climate Change and Development“. It constitutes a follow-up after a friend has drawn my attention to an article published in the Catholic News Service under the title Mirroring Wider Debate, Vatican Seminar on Global Warming Gets Heated. This is an important contribution as it provides a source for other rc newsmedia. The author of the article, Carol Glatz, is well informed about the tensions at the Vatican seminar organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP). The fact that various approaches – eco-sceptics and IPCC claims – were present at the seminar is considered an asset: the situation is still somewhat confused and the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) should not commit itself all too quickly. I must admit that this point of view leaves me worried. The situation is not as confused as is suggested by this article: the reports of the IPCC constitute the best science available today and I feel relieved that the politicians and bishops who were present at the PCJP seminar share that opinion. I am also happy that a positive appreciation of the IPCC is likewise present in Archbishop Celestino Migliore’s address to the 15th session of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development, on May 11th, 2007 (the text has been presented by the news agency Zenit and I attach it as a Word Document to this post: Archbishop C. Migliore’s May 11th, 2007 address to UN CSD 15.).

Roman Catholic newsmedia have an important role to play with regard to public awareness concerning global warming and environmental challenges. They should take a courageous and responsible perspective, urging people to commit to change towards adopting sustainable life styles, with a particular concern for the poorest. I am wondering whether rc difficulties with the results presented by the IPCC do not reflect longstanding suspicions with regard to the sciences as these have been and are sometimes used to lend support to ideological positions that go against deep moral convictions and values of the RCC. This does not seem to me to be the case with regard to issues of global warming and environmental challenges. I appreciate C. Glatz’ remark that “Church leaders are aware scientific findings can sometimes be skewed by special-interest groups or overblown by an audience-hungry media”. The real question is whether this critical remark should not be applied to the eco-sceptics as they ally with religious fundamentalists. Therefore, Lord Robert May of Oxford does not mince his words in his 2005 anniversary address to the British Royal Society, Threats to Tomorrow’s World. There is a real danger when fundamentalist religious views, economic interests, political power games and the refusal to take seriously scientific results join forces. What are the interests that are at stake here, at an economical and political level, but also at the more spiritual level of our anguish to have to change our unsustainable life styles? After having listened to the eco-sceptics at the PCJP seminar in Rome, I am more convinced than ever that these questions should be put to them very clearly … there religious approaches and convictions have to be ideologically questioned!


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