“The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits.”
This is not the reaction of the leader of an international environmental campaign group, nor the words of a scruffy anarchist occupying Wall Street. It is not some footnote cribbed from Karl Marx’s Das Capital.
These are the words of Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, the coordinator of a group of nine cardinals that serve as Pope Francis’ informal Cabinet and is therefore one of the most influential members of the Catholic Church.
The Cardinal’s comments came during a press conference in Rome launching the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis – the international federation of Catholic charitable initiatives.
He was defending the pontiff’s forthcoming encyclical letter on the environment, which is widely expected to call for measures to prevent climate change in the interests of the world’s poor.
“I have already heard criticism over the encyclical,” Rodríguez explained, but dismissed them as “absurd”. The comments were reported by Inés San Martin, the Vatican correspondent of Crux, at the Boston Globe.
Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken about the desperate need to deal with climate change, and with more than a billion Catholics around the world listening to his message, his intervention ahead of the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP21) could prove critical.
The Cardinal was likely referring to the shambolic and widely ignored press junket held by the tobacco- and oil-financed Heartland Institute, designed to undermine the summit at the Vatican by Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations at the end of April.
Lord Monckton, the eccentric aristocrat who claims falsely to be a member of the House of Lords, spoke at the Heartland event to claim that coal-generated electricity was the only means for lifting the poor out of destitution.
Monckton, a lifelong Catholic, called the Pope’s encyclical a “climate-communist” text. He added: “Stand back, listen to both sides, and do not take sides in politics.
“For you not only demean yourself in so doing but you demean the office that you hold and you demean the church who it is your sworn duty to protect and defend and advance.”
Russell Shaw, a popular American Catholic author, attacked the Heartland response in OurSunday Visitor as “knee-jerk antipathy”. He added: “No papal document in years has received so much prejudicial negative comment before it’s been read.”
DeSmog UK was among the few news organisations to attend the Heartland press conference held outside the Vatican.
James Delingpole, the deeply reactionary, attention-seeking blogger, reported how Lord Monckton and a Heartland supporter had tricked their way into the official Vatican press conference –only to be flatly contradicted by his two co-conspirators.