Among all the hallelujahs and groans about Pope Francis and his highly politicized climate change encyclical Laudato Si’, there’s scant mention of who actually formulated the core content beneath the lofty narrative. It wasn’t the Holy Father.
This is no disrespect to Pope Francis, a canny former professor of psychology and philosophy. Nobody pretends that he produced the 127-page, 245-paragraph document alone. The ten Pontifical Academies have multitudes of honorary experts available, plus many other advisers. German climate scientist Hans Schellnhuber, widely celebrated as “the Vatican’s atheist adviser,” was just another honorary expert. In January, Catholic historian Robert Royal, president of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C., said of an early draft he received that “the Vatican seems to be consulting widely and may incorporate some of the pointed feedback in the final text.”
Later, Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, convened a workshop of Vatican officials and 60 high-level contributors: 20 science, business, diplomatic, and development experts; 20 religious leaders; and 20 academicians, according to the resulting document, The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.
The document set the agenda for the April 28 “Pope’s Climate Summit,” hosted by Sánchez Sorondo (Francis did not attend) at Casina Pio IV, a patrician villa in Vatican City now housing several of the Pontifical Academies.
The co-host and moderator chosen by Sánchez Sorondo for the summit stunned the Catholic world: economist Jeffrey Sachs, arguably the world’s foremost proponent of population control using abortion as a way to reduce fertility. The shock came after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon gave the opening address and was followed by his long-time Special Advisor and Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Sachs. No one mentioned that Sánchez Sorondo is a member of the Network’s Leadership Council, which oversees Sachs’ projects. That would have sparked outrage.
After introductory speeches, Sachs formed the experts into four panels that he moderated for the rest of the day:
Panel 1: “Technical Aspects” (evidence on social exclusion and climate);
Panel 2: “Justice and Responsibility” (leading representatives from the major religions);
Panel 3: “Practical aspects from local to global” (proposed solutions); and
Panel 4: “Eliminate Human Trafficking and Resettle its Victims” / “Next Steps Towards Sustainable Development”.
The scientists and religious leaders ended by adopting a declaration for the pope that supported the theory that human activity is changing the Earth’s climate. According to a critical report by Catholic attorney Stefano Gennarini, the declaration’s authors did not see the accompanying background note that went to the pope. It had a Vatican emblem at the head and added the world’s population as a problem. Sachs was listed as an author.
All then waited to see what stamp they had impressed upon the Encyclical of Pope Francis.
In June, when Catholic historian Robert Royal saw the published Encyclical, he noted that “the Holy Father follows what may fairly be called some of the more extreme environmental views.” Royal found it particularly odd that the Pope’s whole message was coiled around “sustainable development,” a Big Green phrase that can mean anything, but advocates see it as necessarily implying population containment. As Royal put it, “Almost any human activity can be categorized as ‘unsustainable,’ from using fossil fuels to having babies.”
Sustainability ideology made it into the encyclical, almost point for point, from the failing theory that climate change is a crisis, to massive wealth transfer from rich countries to poor, to rapid replacement of fossil fuels, to ending national sovereignty in favor of central global governance. Without countering voices, it was as if the highly educated Francis could not perceive the poison in every fiber of “sustainability.”
Sachs and the summit cohort evidently prevailed. Who is this Sachs? He is Columbia University Professor of Sustainable Development. He is Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. His money machines include the Millennium Villages Project, operating 102 “sustainable” villages in 10 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, a joint effort of his Earth Institute, the United Nations Development Programme, and his Millennium Promise Alliance. The Alliance is a support network launched and nourished with $75 million from notorious billionaire George Soros.
Heartland Institute research found that Sachs’ Earth Institute received 65 percent of its 2014 revenue from governments and his Alliance gets millions from America’s sustainabiity elite. Between 2005 and 2013, it received 126 grants from 38 prominent foundations – including Bill Gates’ Microsoft billions and the celebrity-packed Entertainment Industry Foundation – totaling $45,067,242.
Sachs was blasted by law professors Brian Scarnecchia and Terrence McKeegan with the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute in a study titled, The Millennium Development Goals In Light of Catholic Social Teaching.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are eight save-the-world goals adopted in the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000, some irreconcilably hostile to Catholic teachings. Jeffrey Sachs was the lead architect of the MDGs and engineered the inclusion of “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights” over and against objections from the Holy See and the United States. Sach’s Earth Institute now oversees the implementation of the MDGs.
Francis did not countenance these direct challenges to the Faith. In paragraphs 119 and 120, he pushed Sachs away: “Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures” and “concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion.” Yet the Pope included the core of Big Green’s sustainability ideology, as if unaware of its toxic consequences. Regardless, Laudato Si’ reads like the sincere personal message of Pope Francis.
Was Francis manipulated into it by a zealous global warming cabal? Or, as some suspect, did he use the opportunity to forward a personal agenda? We don’t know. The question may be more important than the answer.
And how will that play out in politics?
One Catholic put it in a nutshell: “Catholics are required to believe abortion is wrong. We’re not required to believe in Global Warming.”
None of us are.
A previous version of this article appeared in The Daily Caller