The Holy Father’s release of his encyclical Laudato Si has produced the amusing, and bemusing, sight of conservative Catholics hauling out the arguments used by dissenting Catholics and looking at the pope with the same attitudes. Change a few words and you could be reading the liberal reactions to Bl. Paul VI and Humanae Vitae or to St. John Paul II shutting the door on ordaining women to the priesthood or to Benedict XVI allowing the use of the old Mass. My favorite recycled argument is the claim that if the pope doesn’t speak infallibly, you’re free to reject what he says, an argument first used to justify support for contraception when the pope banned it. Then, in the late sixties, conservative Catholics roundly rejected the idea, and rightly so. Now, it’s useful. Everything depends on whose ox is gored.I responded via email:
"Everything depends on whose ox is gored."
I read the Aleteia article. Are you seriously drawing a moral equivalence between so-called Catholics who denied the Pope's authority to denounce the evil of artificial contraception, and conservative (orthodox) Catholics who question the wisdom (let alone the factual veracity) of this current encyclical? For example, if I dissented from Laudato Si, from what immemorial Church teaching, exactly, would I be dissenting? In Humanae Vitae, the Pope re-affirmed what all his predecessors had taught before him (and appealed quite precisely to the authority of that tradition), that we are forbidden resort to artificial contraception, use of which in fact perverts the sexual act between husband and wife.
So you ought to be able to fill in the following blanks: In Laudato Si, the Pope reaffirms (what exactly?), and prohibits us (from doing what, exactly?)
Or, if you prefer the form of a positive counsel: Humanae Vitae urges husbands and wives to love each other in body and soul completely, which includes the power of their bodies to generate new life. This is true love, sacrificial love, in which both are willing to lay down their lives for each other, and for any children they might beget.
What is the equivalent positive counsel from Laudato Si? You say that "Some of Francis’ claims about climate change can be disputed," and then quote a priest as saying "but to dispute would be to quibble, since his argument stands independent of these." What is that argument? I didn't get it from the article. And, I should add, it seems a little strange that he should bring up "claims" at all (things he considers facts) to support an argument that doesn't need them.
For the record, I don't know any conservative Catholics who claim to "dissent" from the encyclical. I know plenty who think he is just flat wrong about a number of things. Personally, I would appreciate a little perspective. Christians in the Middle East are being beheaded in groups (the religion may in fact be in its death throes), Catholic politicians in America support the right to in utero child-murder, a redefinition of marriage to include sodomites, a right to a dignified death by starvation for the disabled, and so on, all while still receiving communion in good standing and without threat of excommunication, and yet this Pope tries to convey the union of the family of man under God and that family's consequent duty to be good stewards of the home He gave us by taking as his point of departure a most contentious environmental and political issue that can do nothing but warm the cockles of a leftist heart (which sort of heart will completely ignore the part about "under God.") We would do well to remember, and so would the Pope, that the environmental movement is largely anti-human. People are the bad guys.Mills' response: "Dear Bill, I don't think there's any point in responding, since you haven't actually read what I wrote.