London 14 July: A senior figure in the Church of England has described the recent papal encyclical as unlikely to produce the desired reduction in global poverty.
In a commentary on Pope Francis’s recent encyclical on the environment, Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester, and the Labour peer Bernard Donoughue, say while they share the Pope’s deep desire to reduce poverty, they are concerned the very policies advocated by the papal encyclical are more likely to hinder than advance this great cause.
In a paper published today by the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the authors argue that “the encyclical is coloured too much by a hankering for a past world, prior to the Industrial Revolution, which is assumed to have been generally simpler, cleaner and happier. There is little historical evidence for such a vision, and for most people then life was brief, painful, poor, and even brutal.”
Bishop Peter Forster said:
“Pope Francis should certainly be commended for his desire to deal with poverty in the developing world, but it is hard to see how he hopes to do so without economic growth and fossil fuels, both of which he thinks are unnecessary evils.”
The authors are also critical of the failure of Pope Francis to address some of the most pressing moral dilemmas in the environment debate.
Lord Donoughue said:
“Wood and dung fires may be renewable energy sources but their disastrous impact on human health is undeniable. We would have liked to have seen the encyclical address moral dilemmas like this head on. We would also have liked to have known Pope Francis’s view on the bans on development aid for fossil fuel plants that so many western governments have put in place.”
Full paper (pdf)
About the authors
Peter Forster is Bishop of Chester and Bernard Donoughue is a former special adviser to two Labour Prime Ministers. Both are Trustees of the Global Warming Policy Foundation and Members of the House of Lords.