Intellectual Responsibility And The Pope

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Posted: Apr 19, 2018 12:02 PM
Intellectual Responsibility And The Pope

The Pope is the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, and the most recognized and prominent religious leader on the planet. Within his creed, his pronouncements on matters of faith are considered above question.

This extraordinary authority comes with exceptional responsibility to carefully weigh every public comment, and to thoroughly research and carefully consider each and every position taken. Unfortunately, the current Pontiff has both dived into areas beyond his expertise and has done so, it would appear, without benefit of thorough analysis. 

During the 2016 presidential campaign, the Pope, in an unprecedented move, delved deeply and inappropriately into partisan politics when he criticized the Republican candidate’s stance on immigration, calling it “not Christian.” He returned to the theme of welcoming immigrants during a trip to Chile earlier this year.

It is consistent with Catholic beliefs to be charitable towards those in need and to accept all humans, regardless of their origin, as brothers and sisters. But the question of immigration, particularly on the significant level of illegal entry within the United States, is a complex one. It goes far beyond the affordability of caring for these needy individuals or protecting against the many members of violent criminal organizations that accompany them as they cross the border.

The levels of governmental incompetence, corruption, and criminal influences that compel citizens to leave some Central American countries and travel to the United States has been overlooked by both the Pope and other critics of those who seek to secure America’s southern border. To discuss the morality of assisting those who arrive impoverished, without condemning the terrible leadership that forced these people out of their native lands, is, at best, an incomplete and irresponsible analysis.

There is even more of a problem when discussing the massive Muslim immigration into Europe.  As in Central America, many have come fleeing poverty and oppression, with the added and powerful incentive of fleeing war.  And as in the New World, the failure to point out and condemn the governments that forced citizens to become refugees is an act of intellectual ineptitude.  Add to that the lack of discussion on the arrogance of those new arrivals who seek not to become part of, but to actually replace, the culture that gave shelter to them, and it becomes clear that the Pontiff has not been intellectually competent in this issue.

Pope Francis has also been quite vocal on the man-made climate change debate. As the New York Analysis has previously reported, Pope Francis has detracted from legitimate scientific debate by his intellectually limited and politically biased  perspective, noted most specifically in his  “ Laudato si‘” Encyclical:

But the question of man-made climate change remains an open question. The planet’s climate has consistently changed, frequently shifting from warming periods to cooling periods and back again long before the advent of industrialization, automobiles, or the extensive discharge of chemicals into the air.

The Vatican has not indicated what scientific data the head of the Church relied on, and how rigorous his research has been. It is most distressing that, according to the Washington Post, he did not seek alternative views.

If Pope Francis had expressed a deep concern for the health of the planetary environment without entering into the climate change debate, he could have accomplished more success in calling attention and concern to the issue in a far less partisan manner.

With great power comes great responsibility, a reality that the Pontiff should acknowledge by engaging in more thorough research, and, frankly, more soul-searching about the personal biases that affect his judgement.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government.