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Francis' Enviro Text - The Boff Connection - Religion at the Service of Ecology

An important key to Francis' eco-document...

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Religion at the Service of Ecology
Francis’ Laudato Si and the Boff Connection
 
By John Vennari
 
            The purpose of Pope Francis’
Laudato Si is to promote “ecological awareness,” “ecological conversion,” and to advance responsible “ecological citizenship”. Everything else in the document – everything else – is meant to serve this final goal.
            Even the most “Catholic parts” of the document at the end – where there is mention of the Eucharist, the Blessed Trinity, Our Lady, St. Joseph – ­are not for the sake of leading people in devotion to these Divine goods as ends in themselves, but to provide a basis to spur us toward ecological awareness and ecological conversion.
Laudato Si is a blatant case of religion at the service of humanity, religion at the service of ecology.
            The spirit of the neo-pagan Leonardo Boff also pervades Francis’ text, which we will spell out below.       
            Those who take excessive comfort in the “Catholic elements” of Laudato Si miss the point of the document, which is clearly laid out by Pope Francis himself.
            In the beginning of the
Laudato Si, #15, Francis establishes the six-point plan that explains the document’s central goal: to increase ecological awareness, and the ecological conversion of all planetary citizens.
            “It is my hope,” writers Francis, “that this Encyclical Letter … can help us to acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face. I will begin by [1] briefly reviewing several aspects of the present ecological crisis, with the aim of drawing on the results of the best scientific research available today, letting them touch as deeply and provide a concrete foundation for the ethical and spiritual itinerary that follows.” It is here that Francis accepts uncritically – in an alleged magisterial document – the questionable science of climate-change alarmism.
            In other words, unlike John XXIII, Francis urges us to listen to the “prophets of doom.”
            Francis continues explaining the purpose of his eco-text: “I will then [2] consider some principles drawn from the Judaeo-Christian tradition which can render our commitment to the environment more coherent.”
            Please observe what I noted, the religious and scriptural citations in this document are for one reason: “to render our commitment to the environment more coherent.”
            Francis goes on, “I will then [3] attempt to get to the roots of the present situation, so as to consider not only its symptoms but also its deepest causes. [4] This will help to provide and approach to ecology which respects our unique place as human beings in the world and our relationship to our surroundings. In light of this reflection, I will [5] advance some broader proposals for dialogue and action, which would involve each of us as individuals, and also affect international policy. Finally, [6] convinced as I am that change is impossible without motivation and a process of education, I will offer some inspired guidelines for human development to be found in the treasures of Christian experience.” In other words, all references in Chapter 6 to the Eucharist, the Trinity, Our Lady, are actually motivations for ecological
action.
            For example, in Chapter 6 when Francis speaks of the Eucharist, he concludes that if we center our life on the Eucharist, this “motivates us to greater concern for
nature and the poor.”[1] (#237)
            Francis goes on to mention the Trinity, but for ecological reasons. Speaking of the interconnectedness of the three Divine Persons, Francis says, “Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity.” (#238) Ecology again!
As we’ll later explain, this Trinity-interconnectedness-global spirituality theme comes straight from the pen of Liberation Theology neo-pagan, Leonardo Boff.
            Francis goes on to speak of Our Lady, “Queen of Creation”. Why does he do this? So that we may “ask Her to enable us to look at this world with the eyes of wisdom.” (#242) Again, Catholic imagery at the service of ecology.
            Finally, Francis mentions the Holy Family and the figure of Saint Joseph, the hard-working father. Why? So that “he too can teach us how to show care; he can inspire us to work with generosity and tenderness in this world which God has entrusted to us.”Religion at the service of ecology.
            I cannot help but look at this approach as a process of manipulation. Nothing Francis says in the final “Catholic section” of Chapter Six leads the soul to conversion from sin, toward the life of sanctifying grace, towards acceptance of perennial Catholic doctrine, toward true devotion to these Catholic goods as ends in themselves.
            Rather, these holy images: the Eucharist, the Trinity, Our Lady, Saint Joseph, are mentioned by Francis to urge us toward the
naturalistic end of ecological awareness and ecological conversion. This manipulation of supernatural treasures is an abuse of the Papal Office, and indicates the man presently holding the office does not know what the Papacy is.
 
Contrast: Saint Pius X
 
            If we wish to review what is first duty of the Roman Pontiff, we turn to Pope St. Pius X, the greatest Pope of the 20
th Century. Pius opened his 1907 Encyclical Against Modernism stating the first duty of the Pope is to preserve the purity of doctrine and to combat error.
            In the first lines of
Pascendi, Pius teaches that one of the “primary obligations assigned by Christ to the office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord's flock is that of guarding with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and the gainsay of knowledge falsely so called." He explains that in the face of the Modernist heresy, “We may no longer keep silence, lest We should seem to fail in Our most sacred duty ...”
            To neglect teaching the Faith in its integrity, and to allow heresy to run rampant among the flock, is a Papacy of failure.
            In contrast to Pius X, Francis mocks “those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists­—they have a static and inward-directed view of things.”
[2] He spends his energy provoking moral confusion (the tumultuous Synod of 2014 and the worrisome upcoming 2015 Synod) and on humanist endeavors, such as ecological awareness. It is safe to say that Francis’ understanding of the nature of the Papacy is skewed and deficient. He certainly has a different understanding from that of Pope St. Pius X.
 
Six Chapters
 
            Francis’ eco-document is divided into six chapters that directly correspond to Francis six-point outline mentioned above:
 
            Chapter I: What is Happening to our Common Home?
            Chapter II: The Gospel of Creation
            Chapter III: The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
            Chapter IV: Integral Ecology
            Chapter V: Lines of Approach and Action
            Chapter VI: Ecology Education and Education
 
            Here are some main points from each chapter. Keep in mind the document runs for more than 39,000 words (182 pages) so each chapter contains far more than what I spotlight here. And yes, I have read the entire document. Feel free to read
Laudato Siyourself, if you have the stamina.
           
Chapter I shows us Francis the climate change alarmist. He laments the increase of green-house gases, pollution, climate change, loss of biodiversity, the alleged melting of ice caps due to global warming, dangers posed by fossil fuels, concern for algae, worms, insects, reptiles, depletion of fishing reserves, damage to the rain forest, the standard Al Gore package.
           
Chapter II contains citations from Scripture regarding nature and care of God’s creation. Again, the purpose of these citations is not to set our sights on God, but to shift our gaze toward the earth. It reminds me of the American Bishops’ leftist 1983 “Pastoral Letter on Nuclear Weapons,” where they took up four pages piling on Scriptural citations that refer to war and peace, whether the citation were relevant or not.[3]
           
Chapter III speaks of technology and anthropocentrism, limits of scientific progress, GMOs, and other items. Here and there one finds in this section points that Father Denis Fahey would applaud, such as favoring small producers, and the problem of “productive land being concentrated in the hands of a few owners.” Francis says that these and other issues demand “broad, responsible, scientific and social debate.”
In fact this 39,000-word document contains seven calls for debate on these issues, and at least 16 calls for dialogue. And as we’ve seen already, any good points in this document are smothered by the overall panic-button theme propounded by Francis: the claim that climate-change danger is real, and we must respond radically on an individual, national and international level. Climate change alarmists now boast they have the Pope on their side, and that the climate-change skeptics have lost the battle.[4] It is no wonder Barack Obama exclaimed, “I welcome His Holiness Pope Francis’s encyclical, and deeply admire the Pope’s decision to make the case – clearly, powerfully, and with the full moral authority of his position – for action on global climate change.”[5]
            Chapter IV hammers home the “everything is related” principle of ecology, which again, as we’ll later demonstrated, comes straight from the pen of neo-pagan Leonardo Boff. Here we read, “We are not faced with two separate crisis, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.”
           
Chapter V deals with “Lines of approach and action,” in other words, what we are expected to do: “Bless me Father, for I have sinned, I tossed my beer bottle into the trash rather than the recycling bin.” Seriously, the Chapter urges “dialogue and action which would involve each of us individually, no less than international policy,” and encourages “an honest and open debate.” It is in this section where we encounter the frightening call for creation of a global authority with the power to enforce.
            The
Guardian accurately summed up this point (from #215) saying, “Francis also called for a global political authority tasked with ‘tackling… the reduction of pollution and the development of poor counties and regions.’ His appeal echoed that of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who in a 2009 encyclical proposed a kind of super-UN to deal with the world’s economic problems and injustices.”[6]
           
Chapter VI tells us that all educational sectors should be involved, in “schools, in families, in the media, in catechesis and elsewhere” for ecological education. Francis praises the pagan UN Earth Charter of 2000, calls for responsible “ecological citizenship” and descends into details such as “avoiding use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separate refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transports, planting trees, turning off lights an, or any number of other practices.”
            A few years ago I was in a doctor’s office where the TV blared the Oprah Winfrey show. I had little choice but to suffer through the proceedings. Ecology was the theme of the day’s broadcast, and Oprah interviewed families who adopted eco-friendly lifestyles. A number of practices Francis recommends in his alleged magisterial document are almost the same as those I heard spouted by Oprah’s eco-friendly families; though on Oprah, one family insisted on the necessity of adopting re-usable cloth napkins rather than through-away paper serviettes.
            These naturalist proposals, even if good, have no place in a Vatican pronouncement. For example, it is a good practice to brush your teeth every morning and night, and to change your car’s oil every 3,000 miles, but such proposals are ludicrous if found in an alleged Encyclical.
             
Chapter VI of Laudato Si is also where we also encounter the “Catholic section” that mentions the Eucharist, the Trinity, our Lady and St. Joseph. But as explained earlier, these sacred topics are mentioned not for their own supernatural good, but to spur us toward responsible “ecological citizenship” – Religion at the service of ecology.
 
Neo-Pagan Boff
 
            A number of Catholics who read
Laudato Si note that, while they do encounter Catholic terminology and various praiseworthy sections, the overall spirit does not seem Catholic.
            If you have this sense when reading the document, congratulations: your
sensus fidelium is up and running.
            Brazil’s Leonardo Boff, the infamous Liberation Theologian and neo-pagan ecology enthusiast, was tapped for input on
Laudato Si. Boff’s spirit pervades the document.
            In the 2013 book
Pope Francis: Untying the Knot, Paul Valley writes in admiration of Francis, “…not long after becoming Pope, Bergoglio privately got in touch with one of the liberation theologians most reviled by Rome – the former Franciscan priest LeonardoBoff, who was condemned to ‘obsequious silence’ and suspended from his religions duties by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for his theology. Pope Francis asked Boff to send him his writings on eco-theology in preparation for a majory encyclical Francis is considering on environmental matters.”[7]
            Boff had been silenced by Cardinal Ratzinger’s CDF in 1984, primarily for his book
Church: Charism and Power. Due to various pressures, the sanction was repealed in 1986, but the Vatican threatened him again with silence in 1992. Rather than submit, Boffeffectively renounced his priesthood, “promoted himself to the state of the laity,” and explained, “I changed trenches to continue the same fight.”[8]
            In 1995 Boff published the book
Ecology and Liberation: A New Paradigm, in which he lays out a neo-pagan eco-theology that harmonizes with that of ex-priest, Matthew Fox, known for his New Age “Creation Spirituality.” In fact, the back cover of Boff’s book displays a fervent endorsement from Matthew Fox: “A book that will have profound implication for earth and humanity’s future. With his emphasis creation as the new paradigm, Boff’s theology has never been more liberating.”[9]
            I’ve read large sections of Boff’s book, and it is clear that a similar spirit prevails in both Boff’s writing and in
Laudato Si. We will first look at six examples of Boff’s bizarre teaching, and then list another set of Boff’s points that are reflected in Francis’ enviro-document.
           
1) Boff praises pagan gods. In a prayer composed by Boff at in the book’s opening pages, he assumes the voice of ‘god’ speaking to creatures saying, “Blessed are those among you who believe in the hidden strength of the seed. You have the power to raise up the people and give back life to their culture, bringing joy to the aged and praising my holy name: God, Virachocah and Quetzalcoatal.” (p. 3) Quetzalcoatal was the Aztec “Feather Serpent” god, one of the two gods to whom ancient Aztecs offered human sacrifice.
           
2) Boff exalts “Creation” above Bible, Church and Sacraments:  “When we forget creation, we tend to exaggerate the importance of the Bible (fundamentalism), inflate the role of the Church (ecclesiocentrism), and exaggerate the function of the sacraments (sacramentalism).” (p. 47)
           
3) Boff refers to earth by the pagan name Gaia and as a living thing: “Gaia is sick and wounded”; and elsewhere, “It should be clear why certain ecologists understand the earth as a simple complex system, as a living organism: Gaia.” (pp. 18 and 41)
           
4) Boff rejects the scholastic doctrine of Natural Law, as well as the Church’s central role in teaching natural law. He complains, “the Roman Catholic Church arrogates to itself the right to interfere in ethical decisions of society, and to try to ensure that its decisions are accepted by everyone.” (p. 72)
           
5) Boff advocates a kind of new-age, free-love view of sexuality: “Everything seems to show that human reason is incapable of explaining the most profound and ultimate significance of sexuality, which is also wholly resistance to any ethical inquiry or to any other discipline which seeks to scrutinize it by some form of control or sublimation.” (p. 173) In other words, out go the 6th and 9th Commandments.[10]
           
6) Boff rejects the Catholic distinction between nature and supernatural, and promotes a kind of divination of all human beings: “A forces emerges and a light breaks forth from the depths of the human psyche, and we become aware of a living and vital center that straightforwardly inspires and takes command of the empirical self. Mystics like Teresa of Avila called it ‘supernatural,’ which does approximate to a truth, though its force does not live ‘outside’ the human psyche. The force in question is the supreme expression of the psyche (and in that sense belongs to the natural realm).” (p. 167)[11] In Boff’s view, the supernatural does not come from God, but from the depths of the human being, a kind of divination of man, which is textbook Modernism.
 
Bergoglio’s Boff-isms
 
            Boff is clearly a “creation spirituality” pagan and has nothing to offer any true Catholic. He propounds a perversion of the Faith and of truth itself. Why would a Catholic, or a Pope, seek Boff’s input on any Church document whatsoever?
            Pope Francis
sought Boff’s contribution, and the spirit of Boff wafts up from the pages of Laudato Si.  This is why our sensus fidelium quivers when we read the text; it tells us there is something not quite Catholic about Francis’ final product.
            We will close with 11 quick examples that show Boff’s naturalist tenets, and their reflection in Francis’
Laudato Si:
           
1) “Everything is interrelated”: Boff writes, “From an ecological viewpoint, everything that exists co-exists … nothing exists outside of relations.” (p. 7)
            Likewise Francis often repeats this theme in
Laudato Si: “Everything is related” [#92]; “Since everything is interrelated” [#120]; Since everything is closely interrelated… [#137]; “If everything is related…” [#142]. This is a new cosmology.
           
2) Catholic God-talk: Boff peppers his theology with a lot of Catholic God-talk, such as mention of Saint Francis of Assisi, sacraments, other Catholic phrases, as part of his creed on the centrality of ecology.
            Francis’ eco-document likewise contains portions of Catholic God-talk, but we have the sense that much of this vocabulary is used primarily to point us toward a new direction of eco-awareness.
           
3) The Trinity and “interconnectedness”: Boff invokes the Blessed Trinity, with an emphasis on the Trinity’s inter-relatedness: “The Trinity is three distinct Persons, but the links of life, the loving correlations, and the eternal interplay of relations is such that the three exists, subsist in one … The universe is a reproduction of this diversity and of this union. The world, indeed, is complex, diverse, one, united, interrelated, because it is a reflection of the Trinity.” (p. 48)
            Francis likewise spotlights the inter-relations of the Trinity of Persons as a springboard for ecological awareness: “The divine Persons are subsistent relations, and the world, created according to the divine model, is a web of relationships … Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity.” [#240]
            We thus encounter Catholic vocabulary when reading Boff and Francis, but this vocabulary is often used in a way we’ve not heard before, and leads us always to the cause of ecology.
           
4) Praise for Greens and UN Gatherings: Boff showers unqualified praise on the Green Movements, as well as the 1992 UN Rio de Janeiro congress, (p. 17) even though this hedonistic summit opened with a minute of silence in honor of “Mother Earth”.
            Francis likewise praises the various Green movements, the Rio conference [#167], as well as the humanist “Earth Charter.”(#207)
           
5) Population: Boff does not subscribe to the ‘people-as-pollution’ mentality of many environmentalists. (p. 13).
            Francis also does not subscribe to the “people as pollution’ mindset of modern ecology. [#61]
           
6) Climate Change “Science”:  Boff accepts global warming alarmist science without question (pp. 16-17).
            Francis likewise assents to climate-change alarmism and spouts it as definite crisis that we all must work together to remedy. (see Chapter I )            
7) The Poor: Both Francis and Boff show throughout their writing a tremendous preoccupation with the plight of the poor. Boff does this primarily as a humanist. The reader can discern for himself what is Francis’ thinking.
           
8) Need for Global Authority: Boff laments, “We are without a global policy regarding an ecological framework capable of safeguarding all appropriate aspects of social ecology, that is what is really needed…” (p. 23).
            Francis likewise calls for a global political authority tasked with tackling the reduction of pollution and the development of poor counties and regions …  “a kind of super-UN to deal with the world’s economic problems and injustices.” (#215)
[12]
           
9) Misuse of Our Lady: Boff mentions Our Blessed Mother not for the sake or prompting devotion to Her, but because the Annunciation is “thus divinizing the feminine of all times,” and all “such visions can sustain an ecological mysticism.” (p. 50)
            Francis likewise mentions Our Lady as “Queen of Creation,” not for Her own sake, but as a prompt that we “ask her to enable us to look at this world with the eyes of wisdom.” (#242) Once again: the cause of ecology.
           
10) Teilhard the Magnificent: Boff bursts with admiration for Teilhard de Chardin: “We also believe in the cosmic presence of the Risen Christ, who is acting in the process of evolution, as Teilhard affirmed so brilliantly…” (p. 49)
            Francis also alludes lovingly to the Teilhardian system, “The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things,” supported by footnote 53 that gives Francis’ words their true context: “Against this horizon we can see the contribution of Fr Teilhard de Chardin.” (#83)
           
11) Tribute: Boff has another book on ecology that is titled Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor. Francis in Laudato Si uses Boff’s title verbatim saying, “Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of jus- tice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
Leonardo Boff, a neo-pagan theologian considered too revolutionary even for John Paul II, and censured by Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation of the Faith, now receives indirect honorable acclaim in an alleged magisterial document from Pope Francis.
            We could expand the Boff-Bergoglio list with other examples, but I think the point is made.
 
The Goal: Ecological Conversion
 
            It thus appears that Francis attempts yet another new post-Conciliar synthesis: this time between Catholicism and neo-pagan environmentalism. As any informed reader of
Laudato Si observes, it is the humanist, worldly spirit that prevails, despite the Catholic terminology we encounter.
Laudato Si is a document that takes on the entire world, it takes on too much. It’s massive size and tedious prose guarantees that few will actually read it. The average Catholic will only learn the main talking points delivered by the press: Pope Francis endorses climate-change hysteria, urges all peoples to change their lifestyles and take action.
            Francis’ preoccupation with this worldly concern could not be more ill-timed, for Catholic doctrine, morals and discipline are in shambles worldwide, and he does virtually nothing to correct it.
Dear Pope Francis, clean up the vast pollution of doctrine inside the Church, and after this is accomplished, maybe we will be more well-disposed to listen to your suggestions on how to clean up the pollution of the planet. Please do your main job first, for all else is babble.
            And for the first time in history, an alleged magisterial document contains a prayer for non-Christians, and a prayer for Christians [#246]. This borders on apostasy, since there is no true ‘religion’ apart from the Catholic Faith. Never was there a Pope in history who composed and inserted into an alleged magisterial document what appears to be a prayer that invokes an unnamed “god” who has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.
            It is not wise to be unduly taken in by the Catholic vocabulary we find kneaded into the document.
            As mentioned at the outset, the purpose of Pope Francis’
Laudato Si is to promote “ecological awareness,” “ecological conversion,” and to advance responsible “ecological citizenship.” Everything else in the document – everything else – is meant to serve this final goal.
            The text is permeated by the sprit of neo-pagan Leonardo Boff.  It is religion at the
service of humanity, religion at the service of ecology.
 
  
Notes:

[1] Emphasis added.
[2] “A Big Heart Open to God,” Interview with Pope Francis, America Magazine, Sept. 30, 2013.
[3] See “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise, Our Response,” Pastoral Letter on War and Peace by the National Council of Catholic Bishops, May 3, 1983.
[4] “How Climate-Change Skeptics Lost the Papal Fight,” Washington Post, June 20, 2015.
[5] “Obama Calls for World Leaders to heed Pope Francis’s Message,” Catholic Herald, June 18, 2015 (see also page 14 of this issue)
[6] “Pope Francis Warns of Destruction of Earth's Ecosystem in Leaked Encyclical,” The Guardian, June 16, 2015. This article commented on the original “leaked” document which turned out to be identical to the final document, except for two minuscule changes in the wording of prayer at the end of the document. 
[7] Pope Francis: Untying the Knot, Paul Valley [London: Bloomsbury, 2013], p. 138. Emphasis added.
[8] From Boff’s webpage (http://leonardoboff.com )
[9] Ecology and Liberation: A New Paradigm, Leonardo Boff [New York: Orbis/Maryknoll, 1993], Matthew Fox’s endorsement, back cover.
[10] Boff’s entire chapter “Spirituality and Sex” is a grand mish-mash of pagan spirituality, philosophical confusion that includes heavy borrowing from Hindu paradigms.
[11] Emphasis added.
[12] The Guardian, see endnote #6.


See also: Pius XII's Allocution to Farmers


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