Pope Francis' statements are a testament to the immeasurable and enduring damage that colonialism and transatlantic slavery had on Africa. But Pope Francis' covert finger-wagging to African leaders for their role in what the pontiff called 'new colonialism' seems like an apt distraction from the 'old colonialism' the Church has yet to answer for.
One could be forgiven for thinking climate change would be at the centre of the election. A decade of gutted environmental laws, unfettered fossil fuel expansion, missed carbon pollution reduction targets and a failure to capture the tangible benefits of shifting to cleaner energy production and use has not only lowered our collective expectations, but put us at the back of the pack globally.
The visit of Pope Francis to the United States and his unprecedented address to the U.S. Congress and the United Nations in the same week is making headlines everywhere and ruffling some feathers too. Around the world people of all faiths simply love this guy and maybe what we love about him most is that unlike most leaders, he is willing to challenge us even if we don't like the message.
Despite the undeniable facts (half of the world's Catholics are female; most Sunday pews are occupied by women; the vast majority of North American Catholics support the idea of women's ordination) Pope Francis' 2013 assertion that the "door is closed" to women in the priesthood has remained unchanged.
The federal leaders' debate on the economy focused on important issues but no one talked about a different vision for Canada's economy. A better economic vision would support the right of all Canadians to live in a healthy environment, with access to clean air and water and healthy food. It would respect planetary boundaries and provide the moral imperative to decrease growing income disparities. Businesses would be required to pay for environmental damage they inflict, capital would be more widely distributed and ideas, such as employee shareholder programs with ethically invested stocks, would be the norm.
It's astounding and tragic that, with all the evidence -- from volumes of scientific research to the very real effects we are experiencing everywhere -- some people stubbornly refuse to believe there's a problem worth addressing. Sadder still: Many of them are political leaders. Fortunately, most thinking people don't buy the lies. People from all sectors and walks of life -- religious, academic, business, political, activist, social justice and citizenry -- are calling for an urgent response to the greatest threat humanity faces.
I've been astounded by the lack of response over the years, but I'll go out on a limb and suggest a shift is now taking place. Although we may not recognize its significance without the benefit of hindsight, we appear to be in the early stages of something huge. Even some news outlets are shifting. The U.K.'s Guardian decided earlier this year to increase its coverage of climate change, going so far as to encourage divestment from the fossil fuel industry.
Earth is clearly experiencing more frequent extreme weather than in the past, and we can expect it to get worse as we burn more coal, oil and gas and pump more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This can have profound and costly impacts on everything from agriculture to infrastructure, not to mention human health and life.
Pope Francis recently put humanity's situation in context -- and offered hope for the future. Regardless of how you feel about religion or the Catholic Church, or even some ideas in the Pope's encyclical, there's no denying it contains a powerful, scientifically and morally valid call for radical change that will reach an audience far beyond the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. In his June 18 address, the Pope called on the world -- not just Catholics -- to recognize the need for change in the face of ecological crises such as human-caused global warming and the failure of growth-fuelled market economics to facilitate human survival, happiness and prosperity.
Our global food system is the single biggest driver of climate change. According to an excellent analysis by GRAIN, the way we grow and transport our food accounts for about half of all the greenhouse gases produced by humans. Here are three things you can do right now to opt out of the industrial food system that threatens our global environment.
When climate scientists refer to "tipping points" it is usually bad news -- a moment beyond which elevated levels of greenhouse gas emissions will result in extreme weather and catastrophic damage to life upon this planet. Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment may be seen as another "tipping point" -- towards ensuring that communities of faith take up the moral challenge to preserve and protect creation.
It is a black and white matter. Killing journalists because they write, draw or publish something you deem offensive is wrong, and yes, it is wrong even if the thing you deemed offensive is, objectively speaking, offensive. There are no shades of grey here, no colours, no nuances. None of that is relevant. It matters not if the cartoons were vulgar or sexist, or, as many think, not funny.
Any time of year is a good time to discuss poverty but the subject has obvious resonance at Christmas. Thus, unsurprisingly, Pope Francis recently wrote about the necessity of compassion for those on the margins. However, the Pope's letter also took capitalism in general to task -- troubling because the relationship between wealth creation and the alleviation of (some) poverty is often misunderstood. The Pontiff's critique will not necessarily correct this confusion. The Pope's letter is a broad-brush critique but thoughtful readers should pause, ponder and then object.