Friday, January 16, 2015
WHEN THE POPE CAN SPEAK INFALLIBLY AND WHEN HE CAN'T
On Thursday, it is said that Pope Francis declared to reporters that climate change is caused by man.
This could be true or not. We do know that in Pittsburgh, PA, for a goodly part of the 20th century, pollution, air pollution and other types, changed the weather there. It would be so dark some days because of smog, mostly pollution, that the temperature was cooler than if there was not smog in the air. So I happen to believe that pollution can affect the weather and certainly affects the quality of life and can kill people.
But this is a truth of science. In science there are differing opinions about climate change. There has always been climate change. Some of it is man's fault or caused by him. If you build a canal through a city and cold river water is piped into it, the climate around the canal will be cooler.
So the pope can have an opinion about climate change. He can lead Roman Catholics to be better ecologists and find ways to curtail human pollution. His Holiness can be like Lady Bird Johnson, he has a moral right to lead Catholics to beautify the world. But His Holiness can't turn it into a matter of faith (the cause of climate change, for it is outside the realm of faith and morals) (although protecting the planet if it protects life and the quality of life is a moral matter!).
We follow the pope as a leader in faith and morals even when what he says or teaches is not to be taken in an infallible way. We owe respect to the Holy Father no matter who he is and we can respectfully agree or disagree with him in areas that fall outside his expertise and his pontificating.