Here is something that I am convinced of, and I will tell you why it is a problem. The past four popes, at least, have been telling us something that has been dismissed out of hand by conservative pundits and turned into something akin to goddess worship by liberals.
Liberalism and conservatism, by the way, have absolutely nothing to do with being Catholic. If your Catholicism isn’t tempering your liberalism or your conservatism and shaping those ideologies so that they fall in line with what the Church teaches, something is off kilter.
At the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter much if you are liberal or conservative, because if you’re a faithful Catholic and a liberal, or a faithful Catholic and a conservative, you’re going to reject whatever exists in either of those camps that contradicts your faith.
Liberals who call themselves Catholic and yet also think aborting babies at any point after conception is a good idea are having a rough time in the press right now. Good, they should be having a rough time. They should be going to confession, amending their lives, and doing penance.
Conservatives who call themselves Catholic and yet also think that raping the planet for corporate profit and “progress” is a good thing, and have been throwing mud at Pope Francis since the publication of his encyclical Laudato Si’. Whenever economics and the environment are discussed by the popes, or any other stripe of our clergy for that matter, the conservatively entrenched Catholics begin rending their garments and screaming “Marxism! Marxism!” If G. K. Chesterton were alive today, he would be having a ball with them, but I’m no Gilbert. I only have one thing to say. They should be going to confession, amending their lives, and doing penance.
And this has been stated clearly by the last three popes, at one or more times during their pontificates: Rampant consumerism is a serious sin. Let me ask you this. If all of the babies saved from abortion, were Roe v. Wade overturned, were born on a planet many of whose ecosystems were on the verge of collapse because of the human activities required to support rampant consumerism, and died horrible deaths from chemical poisoning, flash floods, droughts, from being chained to the factory machinery of production in developing countries and third world countries alike, would their deaths be less atrocious?
We are never going to live in a world where prosperity saves the soul.
In the opening paragraphs of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis says that our Sister, the earth, is crying out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.
Irresponsible use, he says, because maybe we simply didn’t know or suspect we were inflicting damage.
Abuse, he says, because those who do know, don’t care.
I find it interesting that Francis couched the argument in the theological language of soteriology. The act itself is evil, and culpability is only lessened by ignorance. The act itself remains evil, even if I don’t know I’m doing evil.
It is evil.