Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Chris, the first question that most people are going to have – and this is why I wanted to deal with this as soon as possible – the first question or the first statement that is going to come out of most people’s mouths is: Francis has now made binding proclamations that every Catholic on Earth must now obey and must now become best friends with Al Gore and must now be all in with whatever efforts are made to curb manmade, catastrophic global warming or you’re disobeying the Church. Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
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Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Yesterday it would have been important because you had translated it from the Italian. Today it doesn’t matter because it is available in English. Chris, the first question that most people are going to have – and this is why I wanted to deal with this as soon as possible – the first question or the first statement that is going to come out of most people’s mouths is: Francis has now made binding proclamations that every Catholic on Earth must now obey and must now become best friends with Al Gore and must now be all in with whatever efforts are made to curb manmade, catastrophic global warming or you’re disobeying the Church. In other words, he’s making statements of infallibility here that cannot be ignored. True or false?
Chris Ferrara: It’s absolutely false. We need to clarify the limited object of papal infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council, not the Second but the First. The pope is infallible. Obviously when he teaches something on faith and morals that has always been taught, such as the absolute elusive character of the use of artificial contraception, or when he formally and infallibly defines as a truth to be held definitely by all the faithful a dogma such as the immaculate conception of Mary. Otherwise, the pope is subject to error as anyone else. If he ventures some novelty, that novelty is not part of what the Church has always taught. It has not been infallibly defined as a dogma. It’s just the pope’s presentation of something, which could be true or could be false, especially when you’re talking about assertions of fact. There’s no possible way a pope could pronounce infallibly on the extent to which human activity contributes to global warming. It’s not part of his job and his office does not carry any guarantee that he could make any reliable opinion, much less an infallible one, on these questions of scientific fact.
Mike: Let’s just try to explain this to those that may be still a bit confused. [mocking] “Mike, last week you were reading from Pope Pius X and you were declaring him to be infallible and that his teaching about modernity was infallible. So aren’t you contradicting yourself now?
Ferrara: No. Let’s be clear what the difference is. When popes speak about modernity, they’re speaking about errors against the faith, errors that men commit against morality and against what they owe to God in terms of obedience to His law, or they’re talking about theological errors against the doctrines of the faith. They’re not talking about contingent matters of scientific fact. The fundamental distinction here is between a pronouncement by a pope on a matter of faith and morals, in other words doctrine, and the right and wrong of human conduct under the Ten Commandments, and given to announce new doctrines, but to hand down intact what has been received from the apostles and what the Church has always taught. You have to distinguish between scientific claims, factual opinions. And the kind of encyclicals you were reading on the air were talking about general theological and moral principles, not scientific particulars.
Mike: Let me bounce on over to a subject that I had thought about before you had posted your comments, as I was contemplating what surprises Francis may have up his sleeve before this document was released. I actually thought that – you mentioned something about teaching as it applies to morality. You mentioned something about the pope’s opinion on global warming and how he has apparently fallen in with the neo-communists, which is where all the communists fled was into environmentalism. He has apparently now, unfortunately, fallen in with them and to what they are sowing as an ideology. The belief that man controls the climate or has control over it is, I would say, borderline heretical.
Ferrara: The problem is he views Earth as fragile, as if we’re living on this fragile planet whose entire ecosystem could collapse. That isn’t what God gave us. He gave us a world that has capacities to adapt to human activity. Let’s be clear about this, though. If the pope wanted to make moral pronouncements on the question of the environment, he could have done so within the limits of his competence, by enunciating some general principles. Who would disagree that people should avoid cruelty to animals? It’s an offense against God’s creation. God gave us animals for our use, not to abuse them. No one would disagree if the pope said we should avoid the waste of food, which he does say in this encyclical, that we should avoid pollution and uses of the environment that amount to abuse and which harm our neighbors. He could have stated that level of generality. Everyone agrees that there are abuses of the environment by corporations, but there are laws to correct these abuses.
The problem is when he gets into particulars and tries to identify scientific causes of climate change. He talks about other things like policy recommendations, setting up framework for regulation of the environment, and to address so-called global inequality. You have to keep in mind this careful distinction the Church has always made between contingent pronouncements of a pope based on facts, which could be true or false, and general moral principles. If the pope had confined himself to general moral principles, this document would have been ten pages long.
Mike: It also will appear to many – for those who say, [mocking] “You ought to keep your little church and your Byzantine views about science separate from religion. Religion and science don’t mix and everybody knows it,” which is, of course, preposterous and not part of the history of developing or growing man and man’s growing understanding what he has been allowed, what has been revealed to him of how the world does work and has been revealed through sciences.
I was listening yesterday to a biography of St. Benedict. I was amazed to hear – remember, Chris, he establishes the monastery in place of where the temple to Apollo was. Monte Cassino, is that the right one? In this massive, huge monastery, which is where the original Benedict option happens, they . . . turn to Monte Cassino and the other Benedictine monasteries as beacons of hope and light and progress and good things for mankind and not this silliness that one must abdicate and abandon all your faith and leave it at the door and you can’t mingle the two or that science and faith do not exist together. This is due to a misunderstanding that modernity has put into our heads, and that is that they are separate. This is what Brother Francis calls the heresy of scientism, that is that science is separate because God didn’t create the things that science wants to study. That’s what science is pursuing, that this was created by the Big Bang or whatever other cockamamie theory you may have. That’s what has caused the error. I think you have to be also careful and cognizant of that.
Ferrara: Again, referring to the First Vatican Council, they insisted that faith and reason are never in opposition. Faith supports reason and reason helps to clarify faith. The two work together. The Church, in her history, been a pioneer of scientific investigation, beginning, of course, with the creation of the university system, which is a fundamental part of the development of Western civilization. The credit for that goes entirely to the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church invented the university system. There are craters on the moon, many of them, named after Jesuit astronomers. The Church is not afraid of science, and many members of the Church are quite competent in the areas of scientific investigation.
That isn’t the issue here. The issue is bad science. Whether a pope should be writing essays regarding scientific claims by environmentalists whose agenda is clearly that of the expansion of government power to no good effect on the environment. This is the problem with this encyclical. We have to stress again that the pope can, in these matters, these contingent matters of fact, make a misstep. Not everything between the covers of a document called an encyclical is to be regarded as infallible. There’s room here for criticism, discussion, and even disagreement with claims about a matter so contingent as global warming. It just isn’t part of the pope’s competence to tell us that there’s global warming caused by human activity. He has no authority to say that.
End Mike Church Show Transcript