Not Left, Not Right, Just Catholic

Pope Francis (photo credit: Aleteia Image Department via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Pope Francis (photo credit: Aleteia Image Department via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The release of Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Laudato Si’, has a lot of left-wing analysts over the moon.  “Pope Francis vs. Vampire Capitalism!” blares Salon.  “Eco-Feminist Theology?” asks The Huffington Post.  The more grounded analysts at Politico, however, took a closer look at the encyclical and asked a different question: What does abortion have to do with climate change?

Buried in Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, released Thursday, was a bold exhortation that pro-life conservatives support action to stop global warming on moral grounds.

“[C]oncern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion,” he wrote. “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient that may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?”

Congratulations to Politico for noticing!  But there’s more: Laudato Si’ also includes some very strong words condemning the practices of certain rich countries forcing poor ones to embrace population control as a condition of aid:

At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health”. Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”.[28] To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.

What to make of this?  On one hand we have a church opposed to corporate greed and national policy that disregards the environment and the global poor, usually associated with the political “left” in America, but on the other we have a clear call to end abortion and our coercing other countries to support it, usually pet causes of the “right.”  The short answer is that it’s not smart to associate the Church with the political agendas of either Democrats or Republicans.  She has her own agenda that includes respect for the environment, the poor, and the sanctity of life.

It’s not left or right.  It’s the Catholic Church.  Deal with it.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles in Action.