Saturday, October 10, 2015

Guest Post: Ben Boychuk and Criticism of Pope Francis

To Ben Boychuk,
RE: Your recent syndicated comments in the Duluth News Tribune,

With all due respect Mr. Boychuk, it concerns me that you have the audacity to criticize religious leaders like the Pope for pursuing social and economic issues that are directly related to religious duty and moral actions concerning the practice of caring for our environment, and how we can preserve that environment for the benefit of posterity.

You accuse the Pope of resorting to misguided politics when he discusses the empirical research done by esteemed and knowledgeable climate scientists who are simply reporting their findings for politicians to either act upon or not act upon? You don't get that one does not choose to believe in climate science and global warming like you would choose to believe in Santa Clause or Bigfoot. What scientists are doing is simply reporting the facts they have discovered about our environment, and the effects man is having on it. For them it was never meant to be a political issue. They represent both conservatives and liberals and are merely amassing data and then reporting it—after all, that's their job.

It's also distressing that you make no bones about accusing the Pope of speaking about matters he knows very little about, yet decline to extend the same criticism to the many members of Congress who know absolutely nothing about the challenges involving human caused global warming—at least beyond how it will affect the future earnings of oil industry moguls and CEOs, who are myopically concerned only with increasing their profits and attending to their bottom line. The Pope was educated as a chemist in Argentina—and attained a level of proficiency which equals the expertise attained by those in America who earn degrees in chemistry from our Universities. As such, he very likely knows much more about the heat trapping properties of Co2 and the effects that even relatively small changes in temperatures can have on our biosphere. And, he is certainly much more knowledgeable than Ted Cruz or the many Republicans in congress who think climate change can be disproved by simply tossing a snowball procured from a single snowfall in Washington. It's also very presumptuous of you to imply that that the Pope has no right to view climate change as an issue directly involving human morality and proper stewardship of the Earth we live in—not only for ourselves but for our children, our grandchildren, and those who come after them.

And what pray tell, is your conception about his supposed ignorance of the way free markets work? His criticisms obviously involve our tendency to worship the materialistic products and the political environments which allow our love of money and power to flourish—he has never claimed the right to educate others about market forces—rather, his criticisms concern the ways we tend to ignore human moral responsibilities towards our fellow men when caught up in the pursuit of wealth via satisfying the materialistic needs we have all become so absorbed in. These matters are not merely matters concerning economic theories about capitalism or communism. He has never denied the need to make money—only to warn us about the immoral worship of money which has already enabled our “too big fail institutions” to foolishly threaten the economy of America and the world. If market forces require worshiping human greed and profit motives in exclusion of all other important social concerns, then materialism has clearly become a moral issue and something that the Pope or any other religious leader has the right, (and the duty) to weigh in on!

The Pope would be the last person to claim that he is acting or distributing opinions under a cloak of infallibility—he is not that kind of religious leader, and in, fact has asked everyday people to pray for him. However, the fact that he has dedicated his life to doing God's work, clearly gives him the right to criticize human forms of sin and folly wherever they appear. Jesus said, in Matthew 6 verses 19-22, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

This simple and unambiguous teaching directly from Jesus, leaves no doubt that it is entirely appropriate for our religious leaders to alert us about the moral folly of worshiping money and wealth, and about the consequences this kind of worship has when used to unnecessarily burden our fellow men. Sorry if you disagree, but as far as I am concerned you are much less qualified to lecture the Pope about man-made global warming, and economic greed, then he is to make these issues part of his mission to teach us what attitudes God and Jesus would want us to have—especially concerning the true value of wealth! Here is a link you should examine:

Peter W. Johnson

Superior WI

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