Pope Francis’ trip to the United States next week, including speeches to Congress and the United Nations General Assembly, will almost certainly put a spotlight on how the leader of the Catholic Church proposes to solve the global problems challenging human security in the world today.
Conservation International has sponsored a series of videos that have become YouTube sensations. They feature famous actors — Harrison Ford, Kevin Spacey, Robert Redford and others — voicing different aspects of the natural world, from the ocean, to the rain forest, to redwood trees. The most striking is the one that presents Mother Nature herself, given voice by Julia Roberts.
In the early 1940s, as a barefoot-in-summer lad in Ireland, I had my introduction to the natural environment. My family had a small store and pub on a gravel coast road in The Burren, a barren karst limestone district on Galway Bay.
My father had built a small windmill, using the dynamo from a Ford car, with a wooden wind direction indicator, on an eight-metre pole. The constant winds from the ocean kept three “wet” batteries charged, which provided enough electricity for four light bulbs and a wireless radio. Every night, my father and the neighbours from miles around gathered around the wireless to listen to the news/propaganda from the war fronts.
It’s summertime and the living is easy. Regular schedules are abandoned as day trips, vacations and relaxation provide respite from the everyday humdrum. In our churches, the pews that appeared to be sparsely occupied in fall, winter and spring seem to be even more vacated in the summer heat. Open the doors and where’s the people, we might ask.
There was a day when we would sit by the phone anxiously waiting for it to ring with important news. Nowadays, the phone is often muted, and it is a text message that intrudes into our vigil. So it was that at 3 a.m. I received the simple text message: “Gordie has passed. May he rest in peace.”
A future historian (on the generous assumption that there are any) might plausibly contend that the first salvo of the “culture wars” was fired in January 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court released its Roe v. Wade abortion decision. He might also conclude that the same Court’s June 2015 decision declaring gay marriage to be a constitutionally protected right represented a final victory.
- By Ian Hunter
The Vatican last week released the Pope’s encyclical on the environment and while many pundits suggested the Catholic Church and its spiritual leader should butt out of ecological politics and economics, the Pope’s hard-hitting missive about our endangered planet got a relatively positive review.