ETC Group: Old Faith vs. Old Fossils
Pope Francis’s encyclical takes on the Fossil Fuel Industry – and much more
18 June 2015
“Liberation Theology” or “Liberation Technology”?
Pope Francis’s sympathies for “Liberation Theology” – the radical Catholic message of Latin American clergy of the 1960s and 70s that called for social change – has been uncertain. He was a young priest when Liberation Theology was at its height and didn’t speak up when it fell out of favour with the Catholic hierarchy. In 2014 and again this year, however, Francis met with social movements and their supporters (including ETC Group) and will meet with them again in Bolivia in a few weeks time, to discuss what some have described as a second phase of Liberation Theology. The Pontiff’s new encyclical, Laudato Si', certainly echoes the philosophy's emphasis on social justice.
While the focus is on climate change and the need for revolutionary action to protect “Sister Earth” (para 53) and humanity, the Pope deals harshly with the fossil fuel industry, demanding an urgent withdrawal from fossil carbon (para 26) and rejecting industry’s enthusiasm for carbon credits as a dangerous distraction. (para 171) But he goes beyond the Old Fossils to broadly confront corporate power and calls for an end to private-sector dominance over national governments. Pope Francis wants a stronger multilateral system (para 175) in which governments recover their policy role and where popular participation is encouraged. (para 14 and 135 but throughout the text)