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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/18/15

Why Progressives and Liberals Should Be Wary of Pope Francis' Encyclical About the Environment

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Thomas Farrell
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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) June 18, 2015: In parlance of American football, there is an expression that the best defense is a good offense.

Pope Francis is trying to use this strategy in his encyclical about the environment -- LAUDATO SI' -- instead of cleaning up his own house.

There is nothing laudable about the priest-sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. Both the priest-perpetrators and their bishop-enablers are the opposite of laudable.

There is nothing laudable about the church's official opposition to artificial contraception -- and to legalized abortion in the first trimester.

There is nothing laudable in Pope Francis' referring to the imaginary personification known as Satan. Granted, there is no shortage of evil in the world today. Nevertheless, the imaginary personification of "Satan" is a pre-modern conceptual construct that should be retired.

There is nothing laudable in Pope Francis' referring to the church as "feminine" -- as in the expression "holy mother church." Granted, he is just repeating an old expression. But it is another outdated way of thinking that should be retired.

In Pope Francis' new encyclical titled LAUDATO SI' ("Be praised" or "Praise be to you"), the pope uses phrases from and imagery suggested by St. Francis of Assisi's medieval song known as "The Canticle of Brother Sun" to personify the earth as our sister and also as our mother (paragraph 1).

Concerning St. Francis of Assisi's "Canticle," see Eloi Leclerc's perceptive book THE CANTICLE OF CREATURES: SYMBOLS OF UNION: AN ANALYSIS OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI (1977; orig. French ed., 1970).

Next, in paragraph 2, Pope Francis refers to our human abuse of the earth:

"This sister [i.e., the earth] now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she 'groans in travail' (Rom. 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen. 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters."

But enough!

Let us not forget that Pope Francis has NOT yet cleaned up the church's canon law that informed and coordinated the priest-sex-abuse scandal and cover up.

In his book POTIPHAR'S WIFE: THE VATICAN'S SECRET AND CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE (2014), retired Australian lawyer and judge Kieran Tapsell explains that all Roman Catholic bishops take an oath of office to obey the church's canon law.

Through his encyclical about the environment, Pope Francis is just trying to divert our attention away from the real evils inflicted on innocent victims by the church's canon law, which he as the church's supreme pontiff has the authority to change single-handedly.

So let's see Pope Francis lead by example by cleaning up the church's canon law.

As long as Pope Francis does NOT clean up the church's canon law, he is behaving irresponsibly and collaborating in the church's further clergy abuse of innocent victims.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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