Right after his visit to the Philippines and meet the thousands of still agonizing Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) victims in Leyte last 2013, Pope Francis is bound work on with his first ever encyclical on environment hinged on environmental issues such as climate change. It is expected to be released by June or July this year. Environmentalists are hopeful that Francis' encyclical will jump-start the next talks of the United Nation (UN)-initiated climate change negotiation after the last round of in Lima, Peru, failed to reach an agreement. The pope is scheduled to deliver a speech at the United Nations in New York in September and expected to take the global stage taking off from his upcoming encyclical. Please read THIS report coming from his mini presscon while on board going to the Philippines yesterday afternoon.
Lolo Kiko pledged on his installation as Vicar of Christ to make environment a priority. Firmly Francis once said, "The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness." This stand of the Pope irked the rightists all over the globe saying that climate change is essentially a fraud.
They do not believe that climate change is man-made. Frank Walker writing for pewsitter.com said that, “This [Pope’s stand] is the essence of Socialism. It’s just simple oppression imposed in the name of justice and it has nothing to do with the charitable teachings of Jesus and his Church.” Another writer, Gerard Caplan wrote that, “Pope Francis is the most prominent leftist in the world.” True, he recently reinstated Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, a practitioner of Liberation Theology who later joined the revolutionary, left-wing government of Nicaragua's Sandinistas in the 80s’. d' Escoto is criticized by the Vatican for allegedly importing Marxist values into the church. Nobody asked me but my first taste of such theology came from the book “Ang Kristiyanismo ay Rebolusyunaryo” by Fr. Pedro Salgado, OP way back in college.
If indeed the accusation is true that the Pope is the “most prominent leftist” in the world today, he cannot be compared to his Argentine compatriot in Che Guevara. Guevara blasphemed Jesus when he said, “In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm,” while Francis endlessly reminded that Christ is the center of this visit and not him. That is why personally, Che is not my “rockstar”. It’s Bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, a Latin-American like Che and Francis.
Speaking of Bishop Romero, in August last year, Pope Francis lifts Vatican- imposed ban on the beatification of Romero, who was shot dead while celebrating Mass in 1980. Beatification is a step towards sainthood. Pope Francis said this after his recent trip to South Korea: “For me Romero is a man of God. There are no doctrinal problems and it is very important that [the beatification] is done quickly." Amen. Is the Pope Leftist? I do not care. All I hope is his visit would change us Filipinos and revisit our faith.
Well, whether Francis is indeed a supporter of “radical leftist green movements” or a leftist himself as alleged by haters of the Catholic Church, the Rightists and the capitalists,- if our systems still neglect the environment the moment Lolo Kiko has left us, our Church leaders, lay and clergy alike, and not nature deserve “a slap in the face”...