Before I explain, let me provide an excuse for my oversight. Since Vatican II, which began the trend of ecclesial logorrhea, Catholics have become so habituated to parsing increasingly lengthy papal documents for the “good parts” that we lose sight of what has been, overall, a downward departure, step-by-step, from the uncompromising clarity, brevity and fierce evangelical courage of the great pre-Vatican II encyclicals. The Council’s “opening to the world” has produced, along with all its other ruinous effects, a linguistic equilibrium with worldly discourse, giving rise to Church documents that say more and more about less and less of what the Gospel requires: a sign of contradiction to the world.
But now we have arrived at an encyclical—the first ever, I would say—that the world not only finds entirely inoffensive but universally applauds as a wondrous thing. Yet the world applauds this encyclical—rapturously applauds it—despite its tacked-on Catholic content in Chapter 6, its discussion of the Bible in Chapter 2, and its numerous references to God and the “uniqueness,” “inalienable worth” and “infinite dignity” of man, who is created in God’s “image and likeness.”
How can this be? The obvious answer to that question is what I missed before, or at least failed to put forth with sufficient clarity. So let me present it to our readers now for their consideration.
Man is endowed with a rational and immortal soul of infinite worth. This means that the life of one man is of greater value than the life of every lower creature on earth taken together, of greater value than the whole earth itself save man, of greater value than everything in the universe together save man.
For this reason, the deliberate killing of one human being by abortion or abortifiacient contraception is an offense against God infinitely greater than the destruction of the entire earth and the entire universe.
Which brings me to the fatal defect of this encyclical: its attempt to preach to the world about the duty to care for nature without ever mentioning that every conceivable offense against nature is as nothing in comparison with the deliberate destruction of even one human being by abortion or abortifiacient contraception. Abortion and contraception are man’s most heinous attempts to dominate Creation in a manner contrary to the human dominion conferred by God, yet LS says nothing about contraception and glances off the issue of abortion.
Confronted with hundreds of millions of infinite offenses against God—the murders of unborn children perpetrated by those who manipulate Creation to their own evil ends with killing machines and deadly pills—Francis says the following about the abominable crime of abortion:
· it is “inconsistent” with “[a] sense of deep communion with the rest of nature”;
· it “compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment”;
· it shows “disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself”;
· it “fail[s] to acknowledge” as “part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities—to offer just a few examples”;
· it makes it “difficult to hear the cry of nature itself” because “everything is connected”;
· it causes “the very foundations of our life [to] begin to crumble”;
· it provokes “a rebellion on the part of nature”;
· it is inconsistent with “concern for other vulnerable beings”;
· it is contrary to the supposed principle that “everything is interrelated”;
· it is inconsistent with “concern for the protection of nature”;
· it reflects a lack of “sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life,” and thus diminishes “other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society.”
· it shows forgetfulness of “the inalienable worth of a human being…”
LS employs only ecological, naturalistic or humanistic arguments against abortion, which is thrice described in terms of a “human embryo.” Nowhere does Francis even suggest that abortion (or the unmentioned abortifiacient contraception) is mass murder, the greatest possible offense against the natural order and an infinite offense against the God who is invoked throughout the encyclical (but never as a lawgiver whose law has been violated). Abortion is not even condemned explicitly as an immoral act.
Chris Ferrara's Groundbreaking Article, "Laudato Si: The Autopsy" appears in the Current Print Edition of The Remnant. Subscribe Today!
Further, contraception in general, even where it is not abortifiacient, receives no mention at all, despite its intrinsic evil and its grotesque interference in the natural order established by God.
Now compare Francis’s treatment of the loss of plant and animal species by extinction supposedly due to “human activity.” This paragraph, appearing many pages before Francis first mentions the “human embryo,” offers a striking contrast in moral tone:
It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential “resources” to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.
Notice the tone of moral indignation, the reference to a tragic and irreplaceable loss of life, the consequent diminution of the glory owed to God, the loss to our children from not being able to see these plants and animals, the loss of the “message” the lost plants and animals would convey, the clear assignment of moral culpability for these heinous acts, and the unambiguous declaration of wrongdoing: “We have no such right.”
Now return to the abortion passages and notice the complete absence of the same elements of moral outrage:
· no reference to the planned extinction of human beings, often on the basis of class discrimination (sex-selection and fetal disability);
· no reference to a tragic loss of life, in this case infinite;
· no reference to the glory owed to God, who is infinitely offended;
· no reference to the loss our children suffer from the mass murder of their own brothers and sisters in the womb, or the “message” these murdered human beings would have conveyed had they been allowed to live;
· no clear assignment of blame to the perpetrators of the abortion holocaust; and
· no declaration that we have no right to engage in mass murder.
Something else is resoundingly absent: There is no mention that the hundreds of millions of victims of abortion have been deprived of the sacrament of Baptism, so that not only have their bodies been destroyed but their immortal souls, so far as we know, have been deprived of eternal beatitude if not consigned to hell. The “Catholic appendix” at the end of LS does not even hint at this catastrophe.
One must ask how it is possible to take seriously a call to respect God’s creation in an encyclical that mourns the loss of plants and animals as an offense against God we have no right to commit, but then, many pages later, weakly criticizes the mass murder of unborn children because it “compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment, ” is inconsistent with “concern for other vulnerable beings,” and “everything is connected.”
Perhaps it would be enough to say that any encyclical in which a papal condemnation of excessive air-conditioning appears 62 paragraphs before the first muted mention of the legalized murder of “human embryos” is a mockery of the papal Magisterium. But the overall thematic way in which this “pro-embryo” encyclical treats the infinite value of even a single human life in comparison with plants and animals shocks the sensus catholicus. The abortion holocaust rages on while Francis eulogizes lost fish, mammals and flowers our children will never see, never mentioning the murdered children our children will never see.
This is ridiculous. We cannot allow ourselves to suffer the fate of frogs in the slowly heating pot of the post-conciliar Church, in which we are expected to cheer ever more loudly for a voice of moral authority that is growing ever more difficult to hear and, with this encyclical, has become almost literally a whisper. Is this how the Pope addresses “questions which are troubling us today, which we can no longer sweep under the carpet”: discussing air-conditioning and the loss of extinct plants and animals before he gets round to the mass murder of innocent human beings, presented as a form ecological inconsistency respecting the “human embryo”? Is this how the Vicar of Christ defends the sanctity of life against a world gone mad: “Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures”? (LS 119) Christian thought? Really?
Anger driven by mere passion is sinful, Saint Thomas teaches, “[b]ut if one is angry in accordance with right reason, one’s anger is deserving of praise.” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, Q. 158, Art. 1) And so I am angry about this encyclical. Good and angry. And I believe every Catholic has a right to be, without harboring any enmity toward the person of the Pope. The ecclesial insanity of which Laudato Si is but another symptom will not end if we do not do what is expected of us as the instruments through which God works in His Church: Stand up and say enough and demand that the Pope speak again with the authority of Christ, not the soothing tones of a life coach to the world—a world that will not even obey the most basic precepts of the natural law yet is asked to turn down its air conditioners before it is informed that the “human embryo” should be allowed to live because “everything is connected.”
Thus I will not praise the “good parts” in this document while overlooking the massive moral default that leaps from its pages, and I regret my attempt to do so elsewhere. Despite all its religious accouterments, this “pro-embryo” encyclical delights the world because the world can see the big picture it presents: the Church’s further retreat into utter irrelevance and her de facto absorption into the New World Order.
Our Lady of Fatima, save your Church!