Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Another lousy (non-Vatican, for a change) translation fixed.

An article came out a day or so ago in La Stampa re. the Abp. Viganò/Pope Francis mess. The English translation was pretty accurate re. to the intent of the original Italian but was, to be honest, a mess to read. At the request of Kate O'Hare from Pax Culturati, I took a quick swipe at fixing it up, therefore I didn't have the time to do that whole strikeout bold thing. I also am not verifying or discrediting any information or details in the piece. Caveat lector

(This is a rough on-the-fly first draft, so I may spruce it up later.)


[Here are the] Facts [also could be read as "Deeds" or "Events"] and Omissions of Viganò’s Brief Against Francis
A reasoned [or "methodical"] reading of the former nuncio’s statement requesting the Pontiff’s resignation and its contradictory conclusions

[PHOTO] 2nd of May 2012 (during Benedict XVI’s Pontificate) the [papal nuncio to the USA Archbishop] Viganò participates in an award ceremony for the [supposedly] “sanctioned” Cardinal McCarrick (photo taken from Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s blog)

[ORIGINAL IN ITALIAN] Pubblicato il 28/08/2018
Ultima modifica il 28/08/2018 alle ore 14:35



“I believe the Viganò communique speaks for itself, and you have the professional maturity to arrive at the [correct] conclusions." With these words, addressed to journalists on the return flight to Rome from Ireland, Francis invited them to read the 11-page dossier released by the former nuncio to the United States, Carlo Maria Viganò, who asked for the Pope’s resignation, accusing him of having covered up the 83-year-old Cardinal Emeritus of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, who had had homosexual relations with adult seminarians and priests. It is therefore necessary to start with a careful reading of the text, analyze it, and separate the events stated therein from opinions and interpretations. And, above all, from omissions.

The anti-Bergoglio operation  

The clamorous [in the sense of "jarring"] decision of the Vatican diplomat to violate the oath of fidelity to the Pope and professional confidentiality [NB I don't know whether a nuncio swears any particular oath of secrecy or confidentiality; however that phrase "segreto d'ufficio" is taken to mean in Italian as an ethical, not necessarily legal, obligation, in the same vein we might say "professional courtesy" or similar. -J.] represents the umpteenth attack against Francis, unfolded in an organized way by the same circles that, a year ago, attempted to arrive at a sort of doctrinal "impeachment," after the publication of the apostolic exhortation “Amoris laetitiaˮ. That attempt failed to achieve its desired result. Viganò is, in fact, one of the signatories of the so-called “Professione” (in which the magisterium of Pope Bergoglio is defined as promoting divorce) and is well connected to the most conservative circles overseas and in the Vatican. This document is not simply the unburdening [or "outburst"] of a man of the Church tired of the filth he has seen around him, but of a long and carefully planned operation, in an attempt to get the Pope to resign, [and this] is evidenced by [both] the timing and the involvement of the same international media network that, for years, has been propagating - often using anonymity [not clear if Tornielli means the anonymity of the sources or the media outlets or both -J.] - the desires of those who would like to overturn the result of the 2013 conclave. This is attested by the same testimonies written in the various blogs by the journalists who published the Viganò "dossier": always in the front ranks in the defense of the traditional family, but unworried [literally "without a care"] about launching a "bombshell" on the very day [or "precisely on the day'] in which Francis concluded, with a great Mass, the International Meeting of Families.  [NB Tone is impossible to translate, but to me it reads as very sarcastic. -J.]

The denouncing [or "accusation"] of 2000  

First of all, with the assumption that what Viganò said is true, let’s go through the Facts [or "events"]. On 22 November 2000, the Dominican friar Boniface Ramsey wrote to the apostolic nuncio to the USA, Gabriel Montalvo, and informed of rumors [literally, "had heard second voice"] over McCarrick having “shared the bed with seminarians.” The day prior, on 21 November, John Paul II appointed McCarrick Archbishop of Washington. Viganò notes the nuncio’s report [literally, "signaling"] to the [Vatican's] Secretariat of State, then led by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, had no follow-up. It should be noted: the first accusation that arrives at the nunciature, and from there to the Vatican, is immediately after the [McCarrick] appointment in Washington. We may ask ourselves why, if these rumors about McCarrick were [at the time] so widespread and insistent, these did not prevent [literally, "preclude"] him from being appointed as auxiliary of New York (in 1977, at the end of the pontificate of Paul VI), then as bishop of Metuchen (in 1981, at the beginning of the pontificate of John Paul II), then to the Archdiocese of Newark (in 1986, again with Pope Wojtyla) and finally the promotion to Washington (2000) and to being created Cardinal (2001).

It’s all Sodano’s fault  

The year following his promotion to Washington, Wojtyla then included McCarrick in the College of Cardinals. In his dossier Viganò assigns the "blame" for the nomination - without any citing any evidence – on Sodano, explaining that the Pope at the time was already sick and almost incapable of understanding [in the sense of "reasoning"] and of governing the Church. Those with knowledge of Vatican affairs knows this is not true, at least it not in the year 2000: John Paul II will live for another five years. We know that at that time, in the narrow wojtylian entourage that controlled the nominations, there was the Pope's personal secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz (a name Viganò omitted) and the Substitute of the Secretariat of State then Prefect of bishops, Giovanni Battista Re (whom Viganò mentions but exonerates). Was that first report, without complainants taking first-person responsibility, perhaps considered not reliable? Or was McCarrick’s power - particularly financial - able to open Vatican doors that should have remained closed? Doubts can be raised about the appointment to Washington, but why did no one think it [wise] to investigate [McCarrick] before he was created cardinal the following year? Sodano did not transmit the information to the pope? [BTW, this last sentence was curiously omitted from the English translation.] And why did the nuncio not insist, if he was so sure of the abuses committed against seminarians and priests (always of legal age), [or ask for] an audience with John Paul II?  [The previous passage is unclear. It could be read as "Why didn't X insist on an audience?" or "Why didn't X insist, and why didn't X also seek an audience?"]

Benedict XVI’s "sanctions"  

New accusations arrived in 2006, when Benedict was Pope, and the Secretary of State was Tarcisio Bertone. At this time a former priest, and abuser of children, Gregory Littleton enters the scene, who informs the nuncio to the USA (at that moment Monsignor Pietro Sambi) a report in which he recounts that he, too, was sexually harassed by McCarrick (always as an over-18). Viganò prepared a note for the superiors, who did not respond. It is worth remembering that at this moment McCarrick has already retired: the new Pope, Benedict XVI, on 16 May 2006 accepted his resignation duly presented the previous year, 7 July 2005, when the prelate turned 75. If the rumors and accusations were so widespread and known, why wasn’t McCarrick dismissed immediately, at the age of 75? In 2008, new accusations on McCarrick’s improper behavior started circulating and again, Viganò writes, he sent another note to his superiors. This time something seems to have moved, though at the not-so-rapid speed of the Vatican bureaucracy. In fact Benedict XVI would ["or would" the original is unclear] have intervened against the cardinal (by now emeritus and retired) with a sanctioning order. Viganò cannot be precise about the date of this sanction: by that time, he had left his post in the Secretariat of State, where he coordinated the work of the nunciatures' staff, and was appointed Secretary of the Governorate. Therefore, if what Viganò affirms is the truth - and we ought to assume he does - “in 2009 or in 2010” Benedict XVI intervenes and presumably orders McCarrick to retire from public life, to lead a life of prayer, and to no longer to live in the neocatechumenal seminary Redemptoris Mater that he [McCarrick] had founded in Washington.

Mysterious restrictions  

Benedict’s order is not made public and is transmitted by word by the Holy See to the nuncio in Washington ([still] Sambi [at this point]) so that he may communicate it to ["]the person concerned.["] An indulgence [in the sense of "a kindness" and not carrying any theological implications] for a cardinal, by now old and retired, whom [Benedict] wants to spare the shame of public sanction? Or did Benedict XVI not consider evidence sufficient? If Benedict is the source of the sanction, [surely] he must have obviously been adequately advised of what McCarrick had committed. Pope Ratzinger therefore knew, but [must have] thought it sufficient to recommend to the already retired cardinal that he stay quiet [The word "tranquillo" doesn't translate well. It is meant as an imperative variant of -- at the kids say -- "chill"... -J.] and out of public view. It is worth remembering: no one has yet to speak, let alone make any accusation of, child [sexual] abuse. We are talking about molesting people of adult age, which - given that it is the bishop who invites his own seminarians or priests to bed, is  abuse. Since this was not a situation of parity, before it being sexual abuse, it is an abuse of clerical power. Although no one has ever said that, to bring seminarians approaching priestly ordination and young priests to sleep with him, “Uncle Tedˮ (as McCarrick called himself) used any form of violence or threats. We could ask ourselves: if these serious facts were so evident, why not impose an exemplary and public sanction on the cardinal, asking [in the sense of "requiring"] him to live in penitent retirement?

Why is nobody watching [out]?  

Some doubt about the real content of the sanctions is more than warranted, especially in the light of what happens afterwards. The Viganò dossier leads us to understand that, in the last three or four years of Ratzinger’s pontificate, McCarrick lived as a hermit or a cloistered monk and only after the election of Francis was the cage opened. Once again, we must stick to the documented facts, and that is not the case at all. The [historical] reality is different, documented, and documentable. At everyone’s fingertips, just a click on the web away. During Ratzinger’s last years of pontificate, McCarrick’s did not change his way of life: it is true that he left the seminary where he resided, but he celebrated diaconal and priestly ordinations alongside important cardinals of the Roman Curia, close collaborators of Pope Ratzinger. He lectured at conferences. On 16 January 2012, he participated together with other US bishops in an audience with Benedict XVI in the Vatican and his name was among the participants listed in the bulletin of the Holy See’s Press Office. On 16 April 2012, he met Benedict again at the audience of the Papal Foundation and celebrated the Pontiff’s birthday together with all those present. He traveled and returned to Rome in February 2013 to bid farewell to the Pope who had resigned and shook his hand with a smile (all immortalized by the cameras of Vatican TV). It is evident that [at the time] his position was not considered so serious, that the evidence of [his] guilt were not considered so irrefutable, and that the sanctions must not have been so restrictive.

Also Viganò stood beside McCarrick  

And even Viganò himself, in the meantime out of the Vatican by decision of Benedict XVI who "promotes" him nuncio to Washington, does not appear at all worried about the situation. His participation in public events with the abuser-cardinal is well documented, such as concelebrations in the United States or the presentation of an award to McCarrick (on 2 May 2012, Pierre Hotel in Manhattan), a ceremony during which Viganò appears anything but indignant or embarrassed to be photographed alongside the old cardinal. Why, now that he had the power to reach Benedict XVI directly, as his representative in one of the most important diplomatic seats in the world, does Nuncio Viganò not rise up, not act, not ask for an audience, not demand enforcement of the restrictive provisions?

Francis’ involvement 

The current Pope, the only real target of this whole operation, enters the scene in June 2013, a few months after his election. Let’s remember: McCarrick, being over eighty, did not take part in the conclave, as a retired but very active cardinal. He continues to travel around the world, to give lectures at conferences, to preside over celebrations. Viganò goes to an audience with Francis. It was the Pope who asked him a question about McCarrick and Viganò recalls [or "explains"] that the cardinal has “corrupted generations of seminarians and priests” and that in the Vatican there is a dossier that attests to this. Warning: it is not Viganò who speaks with worry [to the Pope, bringing up the subject of] the cardinal. It is the Pope who asks for an opinion. The nuncio does not say that he gave Bergoglio a note on the matter nor that he has asked [Francis] to intervene. Today, indignant, Viganò writes about the sanctions of Benedict XVI about which no one knows, but - assuming they exist - he, as nuncio, does not seem to have acted to enforce such measures. The above answer is all he says to the Pope.

McCarrick as adviser?  

Viganò then writes that the old cardinal became, in the early years of Francis’ pontificate, his counselor, especially for the American appointments. He does not present, at least not yet, any evidence. Instead he argues - and here, too, there is no reason to disbelieve him - that in that first meeting of June 2013 the new Pope recommended: “The bishops in the United States must not be ideologized, they must be pastors”. Since in the following months McCarrick also made a similar statement speaking with a monsignor of the nunciature (who then reported it to Viganò), the former nuncio, who asked for the Pope’s resignation, deduced McCarrick was behind Bergoglio’s attitude towards the US Church. A very weak deduction. It is in fact much simpler and more plausible to hypothesize that on his own initiative Francis - who knew the American Church - had repeated to various people that he met that phrase on the bishops that “they must not be ideologized” but must be “pastors.” Moreover, to understand that this is one of the insistent points of his magisterium on the episcopate, it is sufficient to read the Pope’s speeches, who thought that way well before the 2013 conclave.

The denial of the former ambassador  

An interesting confutation of Viganò’s theory came yesterday from the former American ambassador to the Holy See, Miguel Diaz, nominated in May 2009, who said he was stunned to read Viganò’s testimony on Francis’ words on American bishops because “I immediately recalled my first meeting with Msgr. Sambi (Pope Benedict’s representative) at his residency in Washington DC” (still during the pontificate of Benedict XVI) he said that 'we needed American bishops who were less political and more pastoral, not cultural warriors.'" Therefore, already under Pope Ratzinger the indication that arrived at the apostolic nuncio to the USA was that of appointing bishop pastors and not “cultural warriors.” Evidently the question of the excessive collateralism of the US episcopate with certain political positions and certain unilateral interests only in specific ethical questions was already felt as problematic at the end of Ratzinger’s pontificate.

The new accusation

Four and a half years go by and in 2018, for the first time, the news of the [sexual] abuse of a minor committed fifty years earlier by McCarrick, then a young priest, reaches the Vatican. The complaint had never been made before, nor - according to Viganò’s release - had anyone ever talked before about the possible sexual abuse of minors involving McCarrick. A regular canonical procedure was quickly opened by the diocese of New York, with the transmission of the documents to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There are also new reports, made known by the diocese of Newark, concerning two settlements with compensation for damages that McCarrick has paid, relating to harassment allegations made by seminarians (of adult age at the time of the events). With a decision that has no precedent in the recent history of the Church, Francis not only imposes McCarrick to a life of silence and retirement (that very life of silence and retirement that had not been imposed on him before or, if it had been imposed on him, that no one had made sure he complied with said order) but also removes his cardinal cap. The cardinal emeritus of Washington is no longer a cardinal; he is dis-cardinalized.

Distorted facts and logic  

Not only must we ask ourselves if what Viganò states is true (as the media repeats like a mantra, loudly asking for Francis’ resignation). One also ought to wonder whether the sequence described by Viganò, his considerations, his omissions, his interpretations are reasonable, and [if these] really lead to attributing some responsibility to the reigning Pontiff today. In any case, the pure and raw facts, and assuming that every detail told by the former nuncio is true, here is what happened. There is a holy Pope whose (far less holy) entourage promoted, and made cardinal, a homosexual bishop who abused his power to sleep with seminarians. Even if it is not clear how much information had directly reached the ear of John Paul II, at the time still perfectly capable of understanding and willing, to whom the importance of the appointment of the Archbishop of Washington, certainly, could not pass unnoticed. There is another Pope who has emerged today, Benedict, who (perhaps) may have ordered this cardinal to live in "retirement" but without then being able to enforce his orders, who never flinched even after seeing him arrive at the Vatican on several occasions, and without his then-nuncio to the USA (Viganò) having any problem in taking pictures next to him, in concelebrating with him, in having dinner with him, in making speeches in his presence. And finally, there is a Pope, Francis, who stripped the cardinal - despite being old and retired for some time – from his cardinal status after having reduced him to silence, forbidding him from celebrating in public. And yet it is the latter’s head the former nuncio today, indignant, is asking for, probably only because Francis had “dared” to appoint in the United States some bishops who are less conservative than those previously appointed (back when it was cardinals like Bernard Law who advised on the American appointments). The instruments of this operation, are evident to anyone who reflects on the succession of events, without the need to revisit information that leads to discrediting the person of Viganò.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Back with another correction to yet another substandard (ahem) Vatican translation

Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis
To the People of God

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it him” (1 Cor 12:26).  These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured lived through (In this case, “vivido” doesn’t fully translate into English. It sort of means “experienced in someone's own flesh” and it carries a sense of particular, physical anguish.) by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a [remarkably] significant number of clerics and consecrated persons.  Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness [literally “impotence” in the sense of “impotent anger/rage”], primarily first and foremost among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger whole community of be they believers and or nonbelievers alike.  Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon forgiveness and to seek to repair make reparation for the harm done will can ever be sufficient.  Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared be too small to create a culture capable to of preventing such situations from happening being repeated, but also to of prevent the possibility of their depriving [such situations] from the room needed being to be covered up [literally, “shrouded”] and perpetuated. (Emphasis mine, -J.)  The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent the situation demands (“Urge” in Spanish doesn’t quite translate the same way in English. This is a far closer rendition. -J.) that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure guarantee (Big difference, to my mind. -J.) the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.

1.      If one member suffers…

In recent these last days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of what was lived through by at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can If it could be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims.  We have realized that are conscious these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn, with force, these atrocities and join forces in uprooting eradicating this culture of death; these wounds never go away heal. (literally, “never respond to medical treatment”) The heart-wrenching pain of these victims is a wail which cries out to heaven, was for too long a time ignored, kept quiet or silenced.  But their this outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant intended to silence it, or sought even pretended to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity.  The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands.  Mary’s song canticle is not mistaken and continues be repeated quietly to echo throughout history.  For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: “he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53).  We feel shame (in the sense of “humiliation”) when we realize that our style way of life has denied put a lie to, and continues to deny put a lie to, the words we recite.

With shame (again, in the sense of “humiliation”) and [sorrowful] repentance, we acknowledge accept responsibility as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing that we did not acknowledge the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done and being done to so many lives.  We showed had, negligently, no care for the little ones [and] we abandoned them.  I make my own the words of the then-Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified united himself with the cry of pain shout of anguish of so many victims and exclaimed clamored
“How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the by the nature of their priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ] Him! How much pride (Soberbia” doesn’t translate well into English AT ALL. It means a hateful, misanthropic, sociopathic pride.), how much self-complacency absorption!  Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces through his heart.  We can only We have nothing left now, all we can do is call to him from the depths of our hearts soulsKyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).

2.   … all suffer together with it him

The extent magnitude and the gravity of all that has happened requires these events demands coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive global and communal way.  While it is important and necessary on every journey any road of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in this by itself this is not enough insufficient.  Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit.  If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our only way of forging present and future history.  And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain anguish (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228).  Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn (literally, “publicly denounce”) whatever endangers the integrity of any person.  A solidarity that summons demands us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption.  The latter because that is 
“a comfortable and self-satisfied absorbed form of blindness.  Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness absorption, for ‘even Satan himself disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Emphasis mine -J.) (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165).  

Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our any attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother's keeper?” (Gen 4:9).

I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with create the necessary means to ensure guarantee the safety, and protection of the integrity, of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable.  We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.

Together with those efforts, it is necessary that every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change transformation that we so greatly need.  This change Such transformation calls for demands a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does.  For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: 
If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see find him especially in the faces of those with whom he himself wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49).  

To Learning to see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of convert our heart in his presence.  To do so, prayer and penance will help.  I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.[1]  This can that it may awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.

It is impossible to think of envision a conversion of our activity as a Church actions that does not include without the active participation of all the members of God’s People.  Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately definitely, without lives.[2]  This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred.  Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and under devalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”.[3]   Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today.  To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.

It is always helpful good to remember that 
in salvation history, the Lord saved one a people.  We are never completely ourselves There is no [fully human] identity unless we without belonging to a people.  That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual.  Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community.  God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6).  

Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened taken so many lives is to experience live it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God.  This awareness consciousness of being part of a people and of having a shared common history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can will allow us to be renewed from within.  Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot eradicate the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound healthy and realistic change.  The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come place ourselves before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners who are imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion.  In this way, we will come up with develop actions that can generate resources attuned to dynamic situations (Literally, "dynamisms") in harmony with the Gospel.  For 
“...whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning significance for today’s world.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).

It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable.  Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness A consciousness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.

Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open make more sensitive our eyes and our hearts to other people’s the sufferings of others and to overcome the thirst zeal for power domination and possessions possession [The use of “possession” in the singular, that is “the desire to possess” and not “possessions” in the plural, meaning “material items” is, in my view, significant. -J.]  that are so often become the root of those evils.  May fasting and prayer open awaken our ears to the hushed silenced pain felt by children, young people, and the disabled.  A fasting that can makes us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. (Emphasis mine. -J.)  A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combating all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse sexual abuse, abuse of power and the abuse of conscience. (Very puzzling why the order of “abuses” was changed in the English translation. Also, the term “abuse of conscience” is an oblique – far too oblique for my tastes – way of addressing the bishops/seminarian abuse catastrophe. -J.)

In this way, we can show clearly make clear our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it him”, said Saint Paul.  By an prayerful and penitential attitude of prayer and penance, we will be able to become attuned as individuals and as a community in a personal and communal manner to this exhortation, so that we within us may grow in the gift of compassion, in of justice, of prevention and reparation.  Mary knew to, and chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross.  

She did so unhesitatingly not do so casually (Literally, “any old way”), standing firmly by Jesus’ side.  In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire way of life.  When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds open sores (! -J.), we will do well, with Mary, “to insist persist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church. (Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 319).  

She, the first of the all disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to come to a complete halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or hesitation.  To look to Seeing Mary is to learn to discover the model of a where and how the true follower of Christ is to be.

May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction guilt and our resolve courageously to combat them fight with courage.

Vatican City, 20 August 2018


[1] “This kind of demon (! -J.) is only cast out by prayer and fasting (Mt 17:21).

[2] Cf. Letter to the People of God (31 May 2018).

[3] Letter to Marc Cardinal Ouellet, President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (19 March 2016).

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Giving thanks...

Today's entry will be a brief recap of Thanksgiving 2015. It's very important to stress the process of getting Thanksgiving 2015 up-and-running started sometime around February 2015.

If you are lucky, you will have a stationer nearby which carries Crane & Co. or similar. If you are diligent you will be popping by on a semi-regular basis, and if you are assiduous, you will head directly for the clearance bin to the exclusion of all other temptations.

For it is there, the clearance section, on some fine day/evening in February when you will find Thanksgiving stationery, forlorn and forgotten-ish, at +/-90% off. You should pounce.

The same applies -- should you not have such accouterments at your disposal -- to tablecloths, napkins and serve/flatware (disposable is fine, provided they are attractive enough). (For these, I scour Williams-Sonoma, both my nearby stores and online, as they sometimes have different pricing and selection.)

February is the time to get this at ridiculous prices. If the inventory on clearance is large enough, and the prices low enough, you have my blessing and my example to grab every single last one of them. You may be unable to score such a bargain for Thanksgiving 20XX and then where will you be?

Weeping bitterly, as Scripture saith, leading a life of regret and remorse.


From such a happy February day, until November, you may rest easy; do try to put all of these where you won't forget.

Then, when Halloween is gone, you can start rehearsing. I normally make one of the components for a given dinner or lunch, and put my family through the test panel process for this year's variation on turkey (get a small breast, not a whole critter) or stuffing or mashed potato, etc. This will allow you to hone in on what you want to slap on your menu cards which you bought back in Feb. for 74¢ for a box of 12, instead of $16.99.

It's an inexpensive thought, but it lets people know, at an instinctive level, that you are going to give them a real treat and that you as host(ess) really care about them while they are under your roof (or airspace).

There are a couple of things to note from my previous Thanksgiving thoughts of 2006(!)...and they mostly center on the turkey.

This year, one of the turkeys proved to be the single best turkeys I have ever cooked. In fact, it's one of the best things I have ever cooked. So here is that, the abbreviated version:

  • Brine the turkey 24h. (If you have a frozen turkey, brining and thawing simultaneously is a GREAT way to do two things -- quickly! -- at once.) My brine is 1½ gal. water, 1 gal. ice (8 lb.), 2 c. kosher salt, 1 cup sugar)
  • Remove from brine and air dry in the fridge another 24h.
  • Mix some of the herb rub (Incidentally, for oven roast turkey the seasoning rub is 50% kosher salt, 50% dried herb mix [3 parts sage, 2 parts thyme, 1 part marjoram] with a teeny bit of baking soda added in to the skin side to help with browning and crisping of same.) with about 3T of softened butter.
  • Apply this between the skin and meat.
  • Season generously with the rub, inside the cavity and outside.
  • Sprinkle ¼t baking soda over the skin.
  • Place in the oven at 425°F (220°C-ish?) for the first 30 min, then drop the heat to 250°F (120°C?) and continue to roast until the white meat registers 160°F (70°C?) and allow to rest until the internal temperature drops to 130°F (55°C or so).

Hope that helps.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

OK, I'll do it, but I won't enjoy it.

Update 6/21/15 12:44pm EDT: Back at it. New stuff, as always, in blue. (I also threw in some clarifying comments in [brackets].)

Update 6/21/15 2:59am (!) EDT: Look at what I am going through for you, Internet.

Update 6/20/15 9:52am EDT: I just posted the opening sections correctly translated. I wanted to address something I have read in a few separate places: That Pope Francis is either a) picking on the free market model of development "whereas the greatest environmental damage is seen in centrally planned economies" or that "economic liberty is the surest way to lift the poor out of poverty." Ask yourself this question..."Why is it these authors automatically assume that the development model being criticized is the free market model?" Unless I have missed something -- possible, yes -- there isn't anything glaring in the text(s) to support such a why make it?

Update 6/18/15 11:48pm EDT: I'm posting the most recent sections correctly translated in blue. CHECK BACK OFTEN. I may very well catch errors in my own translation, and fix them, so don't panic if you notice some variations. Also, in your kindness, please be patient, I have a job and a family, and it's Fathers Day weekend, and...etc. ...

Update 6/18/15 9:06am EDT: At first I'll just put up a "straight" re-translation, later on I'll go with the usual "track changes" version. In the meantime read this and this.

Dear Internet,

Here's the thing.

The Pope is releasing an encyclical on the Creation, the environment, etc. I'm fully expecting the official English translation from the Vatican to be, at very best, lousy. I will, as is my stubborn habit, issue a correct translation.

However, I'm not expecting to feel the love.

I'm not expecting to accomplish much, frankly. People (generally) will take what they want from what they read (invariably commentary on it, and not the full text itself) and ignore what the truth is, as they always have even after a correction has floated around for YEARS.

In Spanish, there's phrase that, roughly, means "He who hits first, hits twice." In this case, that would seem the inevitable result. People (generally) are convinced the Pope wrote X and rejoice (if they are of a certain cast of mind) or jeer (if they are from the opposite cast of mind) and it doesn't really matter much to the overwhelming number of people that he wrote Y and not X.

Update 6/18/15 8:53am EDT: Already we are seeing headlines along the lines of "Pope calls for radical measures to combat climate change."

But God, as Bl. Teresa of Calcutta often noted, calls us to be faithful...not successful. So I plow on.

Part of the problem (and I've noted it previously) is that left-of-center people will run triumphantly with what the Pope allegedly wrote/said to further their left-of-center agenda, and that drives right-of-center BAT$#!+ crazy. It doesn't matter (to either side) that this wouldn't be an infallible declaration of anything, changing neither a jot nor tittle of doctrine. One side will run with no matter what is actually said, and the other side will be angry about it...and nobody will really bother to read it, preferring articles by critics with whom they generally agree.

This all said, it bears noting that I don't think an encyclical on the environment qua environment is wise at this time.

It further bears noting that I disagree (as is the case with some of his comments on capital punishment, Cuba, etc.) with what this encyclical says on climate change.

In the meantime, I'm not going to worry my pretty little head about the leaked version. As noted philosopher, Jackie Mason stated: "Why should this make me nauseous and disturbed? I have my own problems."

I leave you with this burst of wisdom from Princeton professor Robert P. George:

"Catholic friends: If I may offer a word of advice, please receive the forthcoming papal encyclical in a spirit of willingness to listen and to be taught by the Holy Father. Do not approach it by simply looking for what one agrees with or disagrees with on matters of climate science or anything else. The gift of the papal magisterium to us, the faithful, is just that: a gift--a charism. We are to receive it as such. We can, and no doubt... each of us will, appreciate the fact that different teachings or aspects of the teaching contained in the document will be proposed at different levels of authority. That is virtually always true of teaching instruments of this sort. But there will be plenty of time to sort all that out. It should NOT be our first priority. Our first priority should be to open ourselves to learning what is to be learned from the Holy Father's reflections on the physical and moral ecology in the context of the Church's witness to, and proclamation of, the Gospel. We are about to hear the voice of Peter. Our first and most important task is to listen attentively and with open-hearted willingness to be taught."

First, some general notes. While I'm not crazy about some parts of it, it's nowhere nearly as troubling as I feared. A LOT of the translation magically changes the  usual "we should" to "we must" and the "it would seem" to "it is" and so forth.

I've buried myself in re-translating it, so be on the lookout for that.

In the original there are a LOT of "hedge" words ("it may be that..." or "it would seem...") that, gee-whiz, just didn't come through in English. The Holy Father is trying to steer a middle course -- in my view not perfectly successfully, it must be said -- which is  the translation.

Also interesting (it may or may not be significant) is that this encyclical was openly ghostwritten -- previously the Pope "sent it back for revisions" -- and that may have affected some of the content.

If the translators were trying to hide their American-ness, with words such as "behaviour" and "centre"...they slipped up when they used "tons" instead of "tonnes."

Feel free to compare this text with the official English translation:


1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praised be you, my Lord” sang Saint Francis of Assisi. In this beautiful canticle, he reminded us that our common house is also like a sister with whom we share existence and a beautiful mother who embraces us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, for [this] sister, our mother earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and grass”.[1]

2. This sister appeals to us because of the harm we have prompted upon her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has placed on her. We have grown up thinking we were her owners and masters, authorized to despoil her. The violence present in human hearts, wounded by sin, is also manifested in the symptoms of sickness we notice in the soil, in the water, in the air and in living beings. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of the planet’s elements, her air is our breath and we vivified and restored by her waters.

Nothing in this world is indifferent to us

3. More than fifty years ago, with the world teetering on the edge of a nuclear crisis, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote an Encyclical which was not satisfied with merely rejecting war but offered a proposal for peace. He addressed his message Pacem in Terris to the entire “Catholic world” and indeed “to all men and women of good will”. Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet. In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I wrote to all the members of the Church with the aim of encouraging ongoing missionary renewal. In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common house.

4. In 1971, eight years after Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope Paul VI referred to the ecological concern as “a dramatic consequence” of out of control human activity: “Due to an inconsiderate exploitation of nature, [the human being] runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation”.[2] He spoke in similar terms to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the potential for an “ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization”, and underlined “the urgent need for a radical change in the conduct of humanity”, because “the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most prodigious economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man”.[3]

5. Saint John Paul II became increasingly concerned about this issue. In his first Encyclical he warned that human beings frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption”.[4] Subsequently, he would call for a global ecological conversion.[5] At the same time, he noted that little effort had been made to “safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology”.[6] The destruction of the human environment is very serious, not only because God has commended the world to the human person, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of degradation. Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”.[7] Authentic human development has a moral character. It [pre]supposes full respect for the human person, but should pay attention to the natural world and “take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system”.[8] Therefore, the ability to transform reality which the human person has should develop from the base the original gift of all things that comes from God’s part.[9]

6. My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed “eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment”.[10] He reminds that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since “the book of nature is one and indivisible”, and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, etc. It follows that “the deterioration of nature is united to the culture which shapes human coexistence”.[11] Pope Benedict proposed that we recognize that the natural environment has is filled with wounds produced by our irresponsible behaviour. The social environment also has its wounds. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and therefore the liberty of humans is limitless. It is forgotten that “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature”.[12] With paternal worry, Benedict urged us to realize that creation is harmed “where we ourselves are the final authority [literally, “instance”], where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The squandering of creation begins when we do not recognize any instance above us, but that we only see us by ourselves”.[13]

United by the same concern

7. These offerings of the Popes gather the reflections of numerous scientists, philosophers, theologians and social organizations, all of which have enriched the Church’s thinking on these questions. Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities – and other religions as well – have developed ample concerns and a valuable reflection on issues which concern all of us. To give just one noteworthy example, I want to collect in brief part of the statement made by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with whom we share the hope of full ecclesial communion.

8. The Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of our [individual] ways of harming the planet, for “in the [same] way all generate small ecological damages”, we are called to recognize “our contribution -- small or great -- to the disfigurement and destruction of creation”.[14] On this point he has expressed himself in a firm and stimulating manner, inviting us to recognize our sins against creation: “That human beings destroy the biological diversity of divine creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth and contribute to climate change, by denuding the earth of its natural forests or destroying its humid zones; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its soil, its air. All these are sins”.[15] For “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God”.[16]

9. At the same time, Bartholomew has called attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems, which invite us to find solutions not only in technology but in a change of the human person; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms. He proposes passing from consumption to sacrifice, from greed to generosity, from wastefulness to the capacity for sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to renounce [or, possibly, “resign”]. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and dependence”.[17] Christians, are also called “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the smallest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet”.[18]
Saint Francis of Assisi

10. I do not want to develop this Encyclical without turning to a beautiful model that could motivate us. I took his name as my guide and as inspiration at the moment I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe Francis is the example par excellence for [how to] care for that which is weak and [also] of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the most poor and abandoned. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. In him we see up to what point the bond between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace are inseparable.

11. His testimony also demonstrates that an integral ecology requires openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics or biology, and connect us with the essence of that which is human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, his reaction was to sing, drawing into his praise all other creatures. He would enter into communication with all that was created, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, as if they enjoyed the gift of reason”.[19] His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual valuation or an economic calculation, for to him any creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “filled with the greatest tenderness upon consideration of the common origin of all things, he would call creatures, no matter how inconsequential they may have seemed, by the sweet name of or ‘sister’”.[20] Such a conviction cannot be written off as irrational romanticism, because it has consequences in the options which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, mere exploiters of resources, [who are] unable to set limits on their immediate interests [or “wants”]. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will spring forth spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere exterior asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an mere object to be used and dominated.

12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, proposes that we recognize nature as a splendid book in which God speaks to us and [which] reflects something of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); and, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left uncultivated, so that wild herbs would grow there, and those who admired them could raise their minds to God, the Author of such beauty.[21] Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery we contemplate with joyous praise.

My appeal

13. The urgent challenge to protect our common house includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, since we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never places his loving project in reverse gear or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work collaboratively in building our common house. I wish to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the house which we share. Special gratitude is deserved by those who strive with vigor to resolve the dramatic consequences of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people appeal [to us for] change. They ask themselves how it is possible to attempt building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.

14. I urgently make an invitation for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which unites us all, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, [is of] interest, and impacts us all. The worldwide ecological movement has already traveled a long and productive way and has spawned numerous civic organizations that helped in raising awareness. Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis tend to be frustrated, not just because of the rejection by the powerful but also because of lack of interest by everyone else. Attitudes of obstruction, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, comfortable resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”. [22] All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each from his own culture, experience, initiative and capacity.

15. It is my hope that this Encyclical Letter, which is now added to the social Magisterium of the Church, can help us to recognize the grand scale, urgency and beauty of the challenge with which we have been presented. In the first place, I will make a brief run-through of different aspects of the present ecological crisis, with the aim of drawing on the best fruits of the scientific research currently available, allowing ourselves to be profoundly touched and provide a concrete foundation for the ethical and spiritual itinerary that follows. From that point of departure, I will retake some topics which spring from the Judeo-Christian tradition, with the end of making our commitment to the environment more coherent. I will then attempt to get to the roots of the present situation, so as to look at not only its symptoms but also its most profound causes. This will help to propose an ecology which, among its other dimensions, respects the unique place of the human person in this world and his relationship to the reality which surrounds him. In light of this reflection, I would like to advance, along some broad lines of dialogue and action which would involve each of us as individuals, and also international policy. Finally, given that I am convinced that all change needs motivation and an educational path, I will propose some guidelines for human development inspired by the treasure of Christian spiritual experience.

16. Although each chapter has its own theme and specific methodology, it will also retake from a new optic important questions dealt with in previous chapters. This is particularly the case with axes which will traverse the whole Encyclical. For example: the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, a critique of new paradigms and the forms of power derived from technology, the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature, the human sense of ecology, the need for sincere and honest debate, the serious responsibility of international and local policy, the discarding culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle. These questions are neither to be closed nor abandoned, but constantly reconsidered and enriched.



17. Theological and philosophical reflections on the situation of humanity and the world can sound like a repeated message [i.e., in the sense of “broken record”] and abstract, unless they are presented anew taking as a point of departure the current context, in that which is unprecedented in the history of humanity. So, before gathering [thoughts on] how faith brings new motivations and demands with regard to the world of which we form part, I propose we pause briefly turn to consider what is happening to our common house.

18. The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is united today with an intensifying rhythm of life and work which might be called “rapidification”. Although change is part of the dynamic of complex systems, the speed with which human actions has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. To this is added the problem that these objectives of rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to an integral and sustainable human development. Change is something desirable, yet it becomes a source of anxiety when it causes deterioration to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity.

19. Following a period of irrational confidence in progress and human abilities, a part of society is entering a phase of greater awareness. We notice a growing sensitivity to the environment and the care of nature, along with a growing concern, both sincere and pained, for what is happening to our planet. Let us make a review, which will certainly be incomplete, those questions which prompt disquiet and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. The objective is not to gather information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become take pains to be conscious, to dare turn what is happening to the world into personal suffering and thus recognize the contribution each of us can bring.


Pollution, waste and the culture of discarding

20. There exist forms of pollution which affect people daily. Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces an ample spectrum of effects on [human] health, especially for the most poor, and trigger [literally, “provoke”] millions of premature deaths. People are made sick, for example, from breathing high levels of smoke issuing from fuels used in cooking or heating. To this must be added the pollution that affects [us] all, caused by transport, industrial fumes, deposits of substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general. Technology, which, linked to business [literally, "finance"], presents itself as [this is a weird one to translate because in Romance languages “technology” is seen as a “person” and thus this usage that reads weirdly to the Anglophone] the only solution to problems, usually [or “often”] is incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others.

21. One must also consider the pollution produced by residues, including dangerous waste present in different environments. Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from houses and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our house, is beginning to look more and more like an immense deposit of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now inundated with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to a bioaccumulative effect in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxic elements in a given place are low. Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has had irreversible effects.

22. These problems are closely linked to a discarding culture which affects excluded human beings just as it does those things quickly reduced to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is discarded and not recycled. It pains [literally “costs”] us to recognize that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reutilize residues [in the sense of “residual things”] and discards. To this day, the adoption of a circular model of production, capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them, has not yet been achieved. Pondering this issue would be one way of counteracting the culture of discarding which winds up affecting the entire planet, but we make the observation that advances in this regard are still very scarce.

Climate as a common good

23. The climate is a common good, of all and for all. At the global level, it is a complex system related to many of the essential conditions for human life. There is a very consistent scientific consensus [This is technically correct, in that there is such a scientifically valid that may be, I am not yet convinced. -J.] that indicates we are encountering a worrisome warming of the climatic system. In the last several decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would be difficult not to relate it to an increase of extreme meteorological events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. [Emphasis mine. -J.] Humanity is called to be conscious of the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or accentuate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that the greater part of global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) emitted mainly as a result of human activity. [Therefore, according to these studies] by being concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space. This is seen as potentiated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes.

24. Warming has effects on the carbon cycle. It creates a vicious circle which aggravates the situation even more, affecting the availability of essential resources like drinking water, energy and agricultural production in warmer zones, and would [or “might”] prompt [literally, “provoke”] the extinction of part of the planet’s biodiversity. The melting in the polar ice caps and in high altitude plains threatens [us] with the risk of release of methane gas, while the decomposition of frozen organic material can further increase the emission of carbon dioxide. Things are made worse by the loss of tropical forests which would otherwise help to mitigate climate change. Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain. If present trends continue, this century might witness unheard-of climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us. A rise in the sea level, for example, might create extremely serious situations, if we consider that a quarter of the world’s population lives on the coast or nearby, and that the majority of our megacities are situated in coastal zones.

25. Climate change is a global problem with grave dimensions: environmental, social, economic, political and distributive. It poses one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, lead to the migration of [those] animals and plants which cannot always adapt; this in turn affects the productive resources of the poor, who then see themselves obligated [in the sense of "needing"] to leave their houses, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.

26. Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to concentrate on masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, trying only to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will become worse if we continue with current models of production and consumption. For this reason it has become urgent and necessary to develop policies so that, in the coming years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other gases which are highly polluting can be drastically reduced, for example, replacing the use of fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy. In the world there is scant access to clean and renewable energy. It is still necessary to develop adequate storage technologies. Although some countries have begun to make significant advances [in these efforts], these are far from reaching an important proportion. Investments have also been made in means of production and transportation which consume less energy and require fewer raw materials, as well as in methods of construction and renovating buildings which improve their energy efficiency. But these good practices are still far from becoming generalized.

27. Other indicators of the present situation have to do with the exhausting of natural resources. [This has roots in a deforestation/paper mill controversy in South America. –J.] We know well the impossibility of sustaining the current level of consumption in developed countries and the wealthiest sectors of society, where the habit of wasting and discarding reaches unheard of levels. Certain maximum limits in the exploitation of the planet have already been surpassed, without us having yet solved the problem of poverty.

28. Clean and potable water represents a question of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life and for sustaining terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Sources of fresh water supply the health care, agriculture and industrial sectors. Water supplies had [always] remained relatively constant, but now in many places demand is superior to the sustainable supply, with grave consequences in the short and long term. Large cities dependent on important levels of water storage have experienced periods of shortage, and at critical moments is not always been administered by an adequate government [possibly “governance”] and impartiality. Water poverty especially affects Africa where large sectors of the population have no secure [possibly “stable”] access to drinking water or experience droughts which impede agricultural production. Some countries have areas with abundant water while others endure grave scarcity.

29. One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor which every day results in many deaths. Frequent among the poor are water-related diseases, including those caused by microorganisms and chemical substances. Dysentery and cholera, linked to inadequate hygiene and water supplies, are a significant factor in suffering and of infant mortality. Underground water sources in many places are threatened by the pollution produced in certain mining, farming and industrial activities, especially in countries where there are not satisfactory regulation or controls. Let us not think only of factory effluents. Detergents and chemical products, used by the populations of many places of the world, are continue spilling into rivers, lakes and seas.

30. Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is an advancing tendency to privatize this scarce resource, turning it into merchandise subject to regulation [not in regulatory sense] by market laws. In reality, secure access to potable water is a basic human right, fundamental and universal, since it is [a] determinant [factor] to the survival of the human person and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of the other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life rooted in their inalienable dignity. This debt can be paid partly by greater economic contribution to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor populations [or “peoples”]. But water continues to be wasted, not just in the developed world but also in developing countries which possess it in abundance. This demonstrates that the problem of water is partly an educational and cultural question, since there is no consciousness of the seriousness of such conduct within a context of great inequality.

31. An increase in the scarcity of water would prompt an increase in the cost of food and the various products which depend on its use. Some studies warn that an acute water shortage may occur within a few decades if we do not act with urgency. The environmental repercussions might affect billions of people; it is also plausible that the control of water by great global businesses might become one of the major sources of conflict in this century.[23]


32. The earth’s resources are also subject to depredation because of immediacy-first [literally, “immediatist”] forms of understanding the economy, and commercial and productive activity. At the same time, the loss of jungles and forests implies the loss of species which could constitute extremely important resources in the future, not only for food but also for curing disease and multiple other services [to mankind]. These diverse species contain genes which could be key resources in the future for meeting human needs and for normalizing some environmental problem.

33. It is not sufficient to think of different species merely as eventual developable “resources”, forgetting they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever. The great majority become extinct for reasons which have to do with human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.

34. It may possibly disquiet us to learn of the extinction of some mammal or bird, by their greater visibility. But necessary to the good functioning of ecosystems are also fungi, algae, worms, insects, reptiles and an innumerable variety of microorganisms. Some less numerous species, which generally go unseen, play a critical role in maintaining the equilibrium of a [given] place. It is true that humans must intervene when a geosystem reaches a critical state. But today human intervention in a reality as complex as nature is such that constant disasters caused by humans lead to further interventions; human activity is made omnipresent, with all the risks which this entails. Often a vicious circle results, as human intervention to resolve a problem further aggravates the situation. For example, many birds and insects, which disappear due to agrotoxins created by technology, are helpful for agriculture: their disappearance will have to be replaced for by yet other technical interventions which may bring noxious effects. Laudable and even admirable are the efforts being made by scientists and technologists who seek to bring solutions to problem created by humans. But looking at the world we notice the degree of human intervention, frequently at the service of financial interests and of consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, while at the same time the development of technology and temptation [literally, “offers”] to consume continue advancing without limits. In this manner, we seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.

35. When the environmental impact of any project is analyzed, it is normal to be attentive to its effects on soil, water and air, but not always are careful studies included of its impact on biodiversity, as if the loss of species or animals and plant groups were of scant relevance. Highways, new agricultural fields, fencing, damming, and other similar construction, take over habitats and, sometimes, fragment them in such a way that animal populations can no longer migrate or roam freely. As a result, some species enter into [the] risk of extinction. Alternatives exist which at least mitigate the impact of these projects, like the creation of biological corridors, but few countries demonstrate such care and foresight. [those “few countries” are in the Western mold, such as the US –J.] Frequently, when certain species are exploited commercially, little attention is paid to studying their reproductive patterns in order to prevent their depletion and the consequent imbalance of the ecosystem. [i.e. Latin America and its rapidly depleting sea bass fisheries, among several examples]

36. The care of ecosystems [pre]supposes a view beyond the immediate, because when only quick and easy gain is sought, nobody is really interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage prompted by egotistical carelessness is much greater than the economic benefits which might be obtained. In the cases where certain species are lost or seriously harmed, the values about which we are talking are incalculable. We can be silent witnesses to grave iniquity if we seek to obtain important benefits by making the rest of humanity, present and future, pay the extremely high costs of environmental deterioration.

37. Some countries have made advances in the efficient preservation of certain places and zones -- on land and in the oceans -- where any human intervention is prohibited which might modify their physiognomy or alter their original constitution. In the protection of biodiversity, specialists insist on the need to place special attention to those zones richest in [the] variety of species, [or] in endemic, rare or less effectively protected species. Certain places need particular protection because of their enormous importance for the global ecosystem, or because they represent important water reserves and thus safeguard other forms of life.

38. Let us mention, for example, those lungs of our planet, replete with biodiversity, which are Amazonia and the fluvial Congo basin, or the great aquifers and glaciers. The importance of these, for the totality of the planet and for the future of humanity, is not [to be] ignored. The ecosystems of tropical jungles possess an enormously complex biodiversity which is almost impossible to recognize in an integral manner, yet when these jungles are burned down or razed to develop [agricultural] cultivation, in a few years countless species are lost and the areas frequently become arid deserts. A delicate equilibrium imposes itself when speaking about these places, because cannot also ignore the huge global economic interests which, under the guise of protecting them, can undermine the sovereignty of individual nations. In fact, there are “proposals to internationalize Amazonia, which only serve the economic interests of transnational corporations”.[24] Laudable is the work of international agencies and organizations of civil society to make the public sensitive to these issues and offer critical cooperation, employing legitimate mechanisms of pressure, to ensure that each government complies its proper and inalienable duty to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources, without selling [out] to spurious local or international interests.