We can talk climate change when you drop the condom.
Eduardo writes, with respect to the news that the Holy See is sending a delegation to the climate-change conference in Bali:
Let’s hope this signals the beginning of a shift away from the Church’s neglect of this important moral and political issue. One would hope that it could speak with at least half the urgency that it has endlessly heaped on such issues as gay marriage and contraception.
Why, exactly, should we hope this? As it happens, I hear (much) more about environmental issues in my own Catholic community than I do about “gay marriage and contraception”. In any event, on these latter questions, which involve the morality of particular activities or the nature of marriage, it seems that the Church has (for better or worse, one might think) a fairly clear and discrete teaching to articulate. What, exactly, would the analogous clear teaching be in the context of climate change?
Not that Eduardo can’t defend himself–UPDATE: just saw that he has responded at MoJ–but isn’t it obvious that he was simply asking for the church to speak with increased urgency about climate change? Too much? Why should we hope for this? Pollution bad–and not just for the environment, doubters. Lagging fuel-emissions standards bad. Dumping oil-processing waste into Great Lakes bad. Inattention to wastefulness–which certainly harms the poor–bad. Why shouldn’t we hope for this new urgency? Well, by holding up Al Gore as a model, according to one of Rick’s interlocutors, Eduardo has fallen into the well-known fallacy of believing you have something worthwhile to say even though you disagree with the church’s teaching against contraception.
One might go further, and ask whether, in fact, the failure of people like Al Gore to embrace the Church’s on matters of sexual morality and fertility calls into question their own “Green” credentials. As a friend of mine suggested to me in correspondence:
Who is more “Green”–the couple who recognizes the givenness of fertility, understands its times and seasons, and tries to build virtues of both activity and restraint in the exercise of the powers that they experience as given, or the couple that looks to a chemical or pharmaceutical company for a quick fix to a burdensome physical condition, namely, fertility? Which attitude is more in line with the idea of stewardship of a given world that presumably is behind “being Green?”
That doesn’t parse–and not only because this isn’t a contest to decide who among us is the greenest. (Or even the most Catholic: apparently the fact that Gore isn’t Catholic doesn’t impinge on this analysis.) Eduardo was endorsing the fairly recent phenomenon of Vatican officials–like the pope–increasingly mentioning environmental issues such as stewardship of the earth. Is Rick arguing that the curia should pipe down? Or should they simply avoid getting their hands dirty with troublesome “specific policy proposals”?
Wouldn’t it be great if the “shift” for which Eduardo hopes was, in an integrated and thorough way, distinctively Catholic, and involved talking about stewardship, solidarity, sustainable development, *and* the importance of valuing the truly human over chemically facilitated individualism? Surely the Church has more to add than “me, too!”
Sure it would, and no one suggested otherwise. But hooking the climate-change conversation to the contraception cart isn’t the only way to do it–or even a very good one.