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We used to be reminded regularly by our pastors that we should view the world “sub specie aeternitatis” – under the aspect of eternity. This meant that temporal concerns should be subordinated to spiritual ones. Such counsel was given frequently, for a constant reminder was needed to draw us away from the whirlpool of the world, which always threatened to swallow us in material desires and the distractions of the day.
But Pope Francis has reversed this counsel. To see things “sub specie aeternitatis” is denigrated as a resignation of one’s responsibility to tend to the things of this world. This has been evident since the ascension of this Pope and was on display again in news that was reported, rather approvingly, by all the major wire services and broadcast outlets. The Pope sent a message to representatives of various governments convening in Bonn, Germany to elaborate plans for implementing the Paris Agreement on combatting “climate change.”
The Pope listed four “perverse attitudes” that he said are inimical to “honest research” on climate change and “productive dialogue” about solutions. The first thing to note here is the use of the qualifier “perverse.” The word means a turning away from the right direction. It has the connotation of a seriously sinful orientation, usually of a sexual nature. Such a word should be used when addressing moral questions of importance. For Francis, however, “honest research” about climate change meets the threshold.
Just how the Pope determines what constitutes “honest research” is unclear. He has no credentials by which to judge scientific papers on the subject, or to weigh and sift data. And many reputable scientists have questioned the so-called “facts” about climate change, some of which are proven fabrications. The infamous “Climategate” scandal involving falsified research at the University of East Anglia, and the substitution of computer models for actual data are cases in point. There are obvious monetary and political motives involved in this “honest research” that makes it less than honest and more than a little difficult for one not versed in the appropriate sciences to judge its authenticity.
But just why someone maintaining skepticism or reserving judgment about “expert” claims in this controversial field should be called “perverse” by the presumed moral leader of the world requires some reflection. The Pope obviously considers the claims that the earth is warming — and that this portends disastrous developments for the planet and mankind — as having been established beyond reasonable doubt. He would be hard-pressed to make a convincing case, but he doesn’t even try, and settles instead on a blanket assertion based on the authority of his judgment. He then labels all who would oppose this judgment as morally “perverse.”
But the Pope goes further. He specifies four ways in which this perversion manifests itself: “negation, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions.” To fail in any one of these areas is to fail in our moral duty so grievously that it must be considered “perverse.” This is, on the face of it, an outrageous claim. When examined more closely, it is absurd.
First of all, our Faith does not bind us to any particular opinion on scientific research, nor does it even require that we have an opinion. We may quite rightly decide that we are not competent to judge a particular matter, in which case we must trust the experts. And when the experts disagree, prudence would suggest we let the matter be sorted out by those qualified to engage in an informed debate. If we doubt the sincerity or motivation of those espousing a particular opinion, we may make a character judgment that inclines us to doubt their conclusion. But such an attitude amounts to what the Pope calls “negation,” which is “perverse.”
Second, our Faith does allow us to be indifferent to many things. In fact, common sense even requires it. But a 24-hour news cycle in which everything is politicized and editorialized imposes upon us the felt burden to take a position on a host of matters that do not immediately affect us and that tend to be a distraction from the duty of our state in life, which must always come foremost. It is not perverse to remain calm and detached concerning so-called climate change.
Third, to be resigned to events, both natural and human, as they unfold is not forbidden, it is even encouraged. St. John of the Cross says that it harms our soul when we are perturbed by anything; that we should remain at peace even if the whole world were to collapse. To work ourselves into fear and worry and anger, desiring that our will be followed in some particular way, is to put ourselves in the place of God by assuming the office of Providence. Resignation in worldly matters, rightly ordered to a higher spiritual good, is a path to holiness.
Fourth, to trust in “inadequate solutions” implies some culpability for not knowing they are inadequate. But we only trust in that which inspires our confidence. It would seem that the Pope wishes to vilify anyone who would trust in anything he disapproves. The only adequate solutions are, to the Pope’s mind, those likely to be proposed by a faceless commission of multinational bureaucrats whose credentials and motives would be either impossible or ridiculously onerous and time-consuming to check. No one should be labeled “perverse” for failing to meet this outrageous requirement in a matter that is not even morally binding.
Despite all of this, we have the media nodding with approval and dispersing the Pope’s message to all its mainstream outlets to show that even the leader of the alleged backward and benighted Catholic Church has seen reason in this cause celebre of the globalists. And the Pope, in what is yet a further descent into doctrinal disorientation, wants to load onto our already bowed backs the weight of impossible requirements in a secular and scientific matter in which he has usurped jurisdiction.
When will the madness end? With each passing day we are given more evidence of the truth of Our Lady’s words, “Only I can help you.” To find help, we must turn to Her, to Her Message of Fatima, and do as She asks. To do anything else would be truly “perverse.”