Pope Francis and the green environment

Welcome to Pope Francis. The early news is good: his habits include opposing the government of Argentina, walking to work and cooking his own food. And his choice of name is presumably after St Francis of Assisi. The child abuse scandals should have brought the Roman Catholic Church to its knees, begging forgiveness, but it would be something to have a Pope who cared about the birds and the flowers and the environment. To set against this, he is said to be as much against condoms, married priests and gay clergy as his immediate predecessor. For me, one of the most terrible aspects of Catholic Child Abuse is the reflection that if they have done this with all the communications and transparency of the twenty-first century, then what else have they done over the centuries? They have always taken young boys into monasteries and I recall that Charlemagne was much concerned about the prevelance of homosexuality in monasteries. For a lively debate on these issues see: http://www.intelligencesquared.com/admin/past-event-3/
I love the use of an ancient symbol (white smoke) to anounce Pope Francis’ election, and though not seriously worried about this contribution to global warming, we have to take an interest in the symbolism of smoke in relation to the Christianity’s lack of an environmental ethic.

9 thoughts on “Pope Francis and the green environment

  1. Christine

    Hmmm. The secret ballots could have had a number of uses 1) communication of the outcome of the election in the form of a smoke signal [long a favoured form of communication by environmentally conscious indigenous peoples] 2) going to landfill in the form of rubbish 3) becoming part of the compost.

    There is something endearing about the elegant simplicity and efficiency of the smoke signal as both a device to ensure the ballot remains secret and to also communicate to the world the outcome of the voting sessions. So the smoke is looking pretty green to me!

    There is an ancient wisdom within the Catholic Church that warns against the forming of particular friendships which are also termed false friendships. It may be that this has something to do with the prevalence of child abuse in the church. If so, perhaps it is part of a wider dynamic of child abuse outside the church also.
    [ http://news.smh.com.au/national/nsw-vic-raids-smash-child-porn-ring-20071216-1hcb.html ]

    Let us hope that Pope Francis is a reforming Pope with a gentle heart much like Francis of Assisi! He is also a Jesuit, and Ignatius was renowned for his organisational acumen so he may be the perfect person to lead in reform of the governance of the Vatican and of the Catholic Church.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Yes, I like the smoke too. A text message would be no substitute.
      Interesting about false friendships, which I had not heard of. Readering here http://www.catholictreasury.info/books/devout_life/dev64.php the falsity seems to be more in what it leads on to than in what it is. I remember reading of a previous pope (probably Paul IV) that wearing a miniskirt was a bad thing to do because once a man saw so much leg his mind was only too easily led on to think of other things. I thought at the time that this was more revelatory of papal psychology than enlightening about the human condition.

  2. Christine

    The account of false friendships by Francis de Sales is an interesting one, if a little more complex and difficult to understand than some accounts given elsewhere.

    I am not sure of the connection between ‘dress’ and male psychology, but presumably their is one -and is probably part of the human condition – as it seems to be a central preoccupation of Islam. Perhaps this aspect of ‘dress’ is also relevant to female psychology and has simply been neglect by a male focus on this issue?

    Presumably it was not part of the human condition before the fall – but afterwards – as both Adam and Eve wore fig leaves before God clothed them with skins.

    So the first clothes (the genesis of fashion) were provided by the garden! Tom, perhaps you will now have to provide us with more satorial commentary!

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      I remember an interview in which an Arab protested violently against the idea that Arab men are unable to see the hair on a girl’s head without getting lascivious ideas.
      Re sartorial advice for gardeners, here is some visual advice from Ian Pollard (an architect, if not in the RIBA sense) on how to ‘dress’ for gardening. Needless to say, I have always taken his advice with pinches of salt and other defenses against excess UV absorption.

  3. Christine

    It is indeed strange how they all look naked and decidedly self-conscious (on the clothing optional day), whereas this Peruvian tribe (which presumably aren’t posing for a clothing optional day) doesn’t [ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16816816 ].

    I am not sure whose environment would require greater UV protection or would present more scratch and cut etc hazards.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Good observation!

      I am no admirer of politicians and have sometimes wondered if they should be required to appear for election broadcasts in their underwear, or less, because we want the truth from them. Then I wondered if the BBC’s sexist Womans Hour had the same idea when the presenter asked two contenders for the leadership of the Conservative Party what they wore beneath their trousers http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-461868/Boxers-briefs-Why-mans-underpants-bloodstream-country.html

  4. Christine

    Is that the literal meaning of the naked truth? I am not sure that nakedness and truth necessarily go together?

    According to the definition on the clothing option day the people are probably naked according to the first definition (1) while the Peruvian tribes (not withstanding the human/animal distinction) are perhaps naked according to definition (8).[ http://www.thefreedictionary.com/naked ]

    I am not sure how the choice of underwear contributes to truthfulness or not, whether you are male or female?

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      The OED entry on ‘naked truth’ is below and it seems we would have to ask Horace what it originally meant but it is a good phrase for what I would like to have from politicians and I think that appearing in their underwear would limit their pomposity. There is a Russian TV News programme with a comparable attitude http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/803226.stm

      b. the naked truth n. [compare classical Latin nūda vēritās, Horace Odes 1. 24. 7] the plain truth, without concealment or addition; cf. sense A. 19b.
      1436 Rolls of Parl. IV. 502/1 If..ye naked trouth sholde be effectuelly founden, hit sholde cause sesyng of gret part of the commune perjurie.
      1568 in J. Anderson Coll. Mary Queen of Scotl. (1728) IV. ii. 120 We are compellit for justifying of our cause to manifest the nakit trewth.
      1636 A. Montgomerie Cherrie & Slae (new ed.) 1141, I..truely told the naked trueth To men that meld with me.
      1663 S. Butler Hudibras: First Pt. i. ii. 74 We shall tell The naked Truth of what befell.
      1709 G. Berkeley Ess. New Theory of Vision §120. 138 It is scarce possible to deliver the naked and precise Truth.
      1785 L. MacNally Fashionable Levities iv. ii. 48 Sir, that is the naked truth.
      1843 R. J. Graves Syst. Clin. Med. xiv. 181, I have not deviated in the slightest degree from the strict and naked truth.
      1888 A. Jessopp Coming of Friars v. 242 An unmarried woman was a chattel… That is the naked truth.
      1904 J. Conrad Nostromo ii. iv. 142 Here we have the naked truth from the mouth of that child.
      1987 R. Lomas Limits of Interpretation iii. 27 Can either of the participants bear the naked truth or do they collude and agree upon a mutually acceptable formula?
      1995 Afr. Amer. Rev. 29 651/1 Instances of radical revelation expose the text’s simultaneous claim to utter falsity and the naked truth

      Horace Carmina
      BkI:XXIV A Lament For Quintilius
      What limit, or restraint, should we show at the loss
      of so dear a life? Melpomene, teach me, Muse,
      a song of mourning, you, whom the Father granted
      a clear voice, the sound of the lyre.

      Does endless sleep lie heavy on Quintilius,
      now? When will Honour, and unswerving Loyalty,
      that is sister to Justice, and our naked Truth,
      ever discover his equal?

  5. Christine

    Tom you are right. The difference is probably between ‘naked’ and ‘nude’.[ http://www.wordreference.com/definition/nude ]

    Thankyou for the interesting references to the contextual use of the ‘naked truth’. Perhaps, the meaning and use demonstrates something of the social mores about truth telling at a particular time like the phrases ‘political correctness’ or the ‘inconvenient truth’ function today?

    [ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-naked-truth-why-humans-have-no-fur ]
    If this article is right about the evolution of hairlessness, then perhaps the symbolic disjunctions in the Russian news show are part of this phenomenon of evolving intelligence? (ie.in the use of irony?)


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