Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Laudato Si — Dear Pope Francis — Part XVI

December 27th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Final Comments regarding the review of Laudato Si’

Half a Dialogue Book cover scan crop 2The title for the book version of the Laudato Si’ posts is “Half a Dialogue.”  On December 23, 2015, the first copies  rolled off the press. There had been 15 parts posted on Cleansing Fire, which are still substantially in place as the first “rough draft.”

I have noted the contribution made to this work by being able to first post on and I have the hope that our site will get some new traffic as a result of our engaging in quite a serious subject.  But, we’ll see.

The last chapter of the book, Chapter 16, is now added here on the blog, in brief.  It is in the form of a letter to Pope Francis, covering 10 points shown in red bold below.  For each of those 10 highlight points, excerpts of just one related issue is shown below.

One of the main reasons for putting the review and analysis in book form was to make it available to heads of dioceses, and to other selected prelates, including of course Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. My plan is to execute this mailing program during January.


Chapter 16 in Brief — Excerpts

Dear Pope Francis,

Thank you for your invitation to engage with you in dialogue regarding your Encyclical, Laudato Si’ …. I am only able to set forth my own reactions, beliefs and opinions, …  I make no claim to adequacy, let alone perfection. I simply reaffirm that I have done the best I am able, and ask your patience as I set forth my concerns about Laudato Si’, detailed in this monograph…. I am limited by needing to work with the English translation, which I must take as being faithful to your work and to your intent.

Organization of the monograph

… I have not tracked my reply ‘section by section’ of the Encyclical, but rather developed macro subjects for attention and communication…. In the Foreword, I offered my belief and understanding as to why such a reply is permissible, and also dealt with such matters in Chapter XII on the question of Infallibility.  The Introduction describes the triggering issue of my being interested in Laudato Si’, as I am unconvinced (as a scientist) of the claims of ‘global warming.’

1. Scientific Truth vs. ‘Global Warming’ Allegations

… When I first heard that Your Holiness was going to accept the allegations regarding ‘global warming,’ I must admit I cringed, and still do, remembering how embarrassed the Church has been for centuries over Pope Urban VIII’s support for the arguments that the earth is the center of the universe. I do fear similar loss of credibility … occurring again …. it seems particularly mortifying not only to have merely made a mistaken conclusion, but to have written also extensively in the Encyclical in specific rejection of Science and Technology, the very ground on which Truth should be able to stand…. I find it to be sadly relevant, however, that virtually all the claims in Laudato Si’ of a scientific nature … are unsupported by footnotes or other references, while the writings of popes, bishops and earth conferences are highly referenced, and those opinions stated as fact. The irony … is that the Encyclical chooses a poor, inadequate, and even undisclosed scientific hypothesis as the argument on which to make its stand, and ignores the valid debate which rages around the issue…. It seems a contradiction to argue to be stewards of the environment but not be stewards of truth, which can neither be reached through consensus, nor by suppressing those who would disagree….

2. Environmentalism, Pantheism and One World Religion

The ever present threat of ‘wars and rumors of wars’ reminds us of the fragility of peace, the unfulfilled desire of the human heart for peace… The idea that nature can unite us, and be a source of peace could easily tempt its advocates to support the idea of ‘One World Religion,’ based on environmentalism, sans dogma, doctrine or anything else which divides… it becomes particularly alluring when a religious leader, especially Your Holiness, takes a leadership role in promoting such ecological directives without the full context of Faith … such environmental language, bordering on worship, will be confusing to the Catholic in the pew, and open up possibilities of unknowingly embracing pantheistic practices, leading to de facto idolatry, even without full assent or understanding the implications.  The concern is … for ‘the little ones,’ my brothers and sisters, that they may not be led astray…. With all due respect, Your Holiness, as Catholics we know that the “ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn” is … NOT to run an improvement program for the planet.  Christ said “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” … the planet, however pristine, will not survive end times, but we will. Forever.

 3. Syncretism is an Abuse of the True Faith

Frightening as is the ‘deity’ of environmentalism, leading to Pantheism, even more disturbing are the words used in Laudato Si’ to effect the synthesis of the environmental and the holy, creating a syncretistic path….  “conversion, communion, sacrament, sins, spiritual, spirituality, sacred, sacredness, sanctified, mystery, trinitarian dynamism, trinitarian key, supernatural, repent, pilgrimage, covenant, and as a path to offering ourselves as a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable” and more! … I beg you not to promulgate such combinations of environmental matters with words which Catholics consider holy in the faith, lest, through rote use, we misunderstand and are led to sin.

 4. The Risk of Alignment to ‘Sustainability’ Speech

I believe there is a serious risk in aligning with the United Nations “sustainability” language, … defined by some supporters in themes as radical as a need to reduce world population from 7 billion to 1 billion.  I wish it had been said clearly in Laudato Si’ that …  apparent strategies aimed at achieving population reduction are in violation of Catholic Teaching.  It would have been helpful to have had stronger statements on Catholic morality regarding such issues as contraception, abortion, euthanasia and even, infertile by nature, ‘same-sex unions.’ … ‘Sustainability’ words are used 27x in the Encyclical, raising an appearance of cooperation with a highly suspect global agenda.  Unfortunately, it seems inevitable that the papal words “the firm resolve to achieve sustainability” will become misleading in the future, and taken for the Church’s having endorsed the now current meaning of ‘sustainability.’ … The language of  ‘sustainability’ is embraced by the Catholic Church only at great risk, and potential scandal. I believe it would have been wiser to use an alternative word, and also to have used the global ambo more strongly to teach the world the non-negotiable expectations of population morality.

5. Subsidiarity Unsupported as a Basic Catholic Principle

It is unfortunate that the basic Catholic principle of subsidiarity is only mentioned twice in Laudato Si’, because without that principle, strategic implementation inevitably tends toward collectivism…. I believe the fundamental principle of subsidiarity should also have been rigorously applied in the Encyclical to its very questionable recommendations of collectivism…. The Encyclical seems to surrender this long standing Catholic principle of subsidiarity to the exigencies of supposed effectiveness, but without explanation ….

6. Collectivism and Covetousness

 There seems to be a departure from prior papal teachings with respect to collectivism…. Furthermore, writings of … Cardinal Ratzinger regarding Liberation Theology do not seem to be acknowledged, respected or reiterated in the premises of Laudato Si’ … One particularly disturbing aspect of the Encyclical is the desired redistribution of wealth.  Not only is it of concern from a political viewpoint, but also seems, in practice, to violate the 10th Commandment, by coveting finances, power and resources of other countries or companies, and by diminishing others’ sovereignty with intrusive and divisive ‘new structures’…. Laudato Si’ proposes: “It is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions.” (#175) I find myself unable to defend these words as anything except classic socialism…. It is difficult to imagine how appointed ‘functionaries’ would selectively address such matters, since large collectivist organizations have ultimately no accountability, resulting in being responsible to no one, because they can hide behind being responsible to every one….

7. “Who am I to Judge?”

Your Holiness will of course recognize the question so often echoed from your return travel after World Youth Day in Brazil….  It is not only a matter of content, but also of tone…. There are a number of statements throughout Laudato Si’ which seem to ascribe a questionable motive to others, to people, groups or nations. Affluent individuals, multinational companies, and northern-hemisphere countries, in particular, seem to be targeted …. Jesus did not discriminate against the people God had blessed with ‘riches,’ and it isn’t clear to me why the rich are such targets in this Encyclical ….

8. Individual Action Plans have Little Action

Even if Catholics in the pew were to read through Laudato Si’ to assess what more they are being called to do for the environment and ecology, the list is scant. This observation leads to the conclusion that Laudato Si’ is written much more in support of worldwide organizational superstructure than for the individual The only truly unsustainable, nonrenewable resource is our own time.  To be principally consumed with environmental and ecological matters detracts, in the sense of time and energy, from higher spiritual activities ….

9. What about the Church’s Responsibilities?

It is quite disappointing to read: “Nor are there genuine ethical horizons to which one can appeal.”  If the Catholic Church is not a “genuine ethical horizon” in her own eyes, then much has been abandoned, and the words of Laudato Si’ would have little authority…. It is startling to me that so many organizations receive blame in Laudato Si’, but not the Catholic Church, her magisterium or even other religions … what condemnation is there of the silent pulpit on true life issues? …  when the Catholic Church asserts a collectivist superstructure as the solution, rather than conversion of souls, she begs the question of her own authority.…  The tradition of the Church for centuries had been to act on her own to respond to need, i.e. to open monasteries and churches, orphanages,  soup kitchens, schools and colleges, hospitals and nursing homes, to provide direct service to those in need. Many of these are now abandoned, and the people served are dispersed to secular organizations, replaced by fundraising. Sadly, money has become a ‘fungible grace.’ … Thus, the mechanism to respond to need is impaired, and the Church more easily cedes her rightful place to government regulation, especially government opposed to Freedom of Religion … As the Church has become more of a “middleman distributor” of financial resources to other organizations, which often function outside of the Church’s direct control, the link of the Faithful to the work itself is seriously weakened and unfocused.… is not surprising, then, if the Faithful reasonably determine that they can distribute their own financial resources better than the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, its allied organizations and recipients around the world.… there is more emphasis in this Encyclical on behavior modification than on spiritual metanoia.… Where is the Church herself to be found — in the battle for souls or in an environmental skirmish?

10. Environmental Education, Other Concerns

There is a Chapter … in Laudato Si’ …  entitled “Ecological Education and Spirituality” which makes me quite uncomfortable. One reason is that these items of faith are separated from, rather than woven through, the entire Encyclical.  If integral to the text, it would strengthen every section with what the Church teaches and we believe is truth….

…But the prayers Laudato Si’ offers are not spoken by creation toward God, but our praying ‘for’ the creation … The following two intercessions are put forth … “Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.”  (#246) “Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.” (#246) … I can’t imagine myself ever offering up such an intercession at Mass in the wording of either prayer. I can’t imagine myself even silently praying such a prayer. It is unfortunate and unnecessary, I believe, to allow those kinds of division to enter into the Church….

Final Thoughts

… I have searched both the Encyclical and the New Testament to try to find any precedent for special care of the environment as put forth in Laudato Si’, and the evidence is sparse. Yes, Christ calmed the storms but he didn’t command us to do so; or to try to manage the weather.  Rather, He made it a matter of Faith. He expected Nicodemus to be able to observe and understand the weather, God’s prerogative.

Holy Father, I can only hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will always direct your work, strengthen your flock for what may well be the end-times, to not give up on the teachings of the Gospels at this late date, to not allow re-inventing of the Faith but to hold firm to what we have been taughtWe remember especially the words of St. Paul to the Galatians 1:8: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Thank you, Holy Father, for your invitation for dialogue. I am grateful for the opportunity to offer this “Half a Dialogue” to you, and hope it will create some value in honor of the Lord.

Respectfully submitted in Christ,

Diane C. Harris


4 Responses to “Laudato Si — Dear Pope Francis — Part XVI”

  1. JLo says:

    May God bless you in everything, of course, Diane, but may this splendid work of yours find its way to prelates everywhere and even to the pope himself. St. Catherine of Sienna, pray for us. +JMJ

  2. Bernie says:

    This is quite something; very impressive. Regardless of a person’s stance on the issue you are to be congratulated for going to this extent to seriously respond.

  3. Diane Harris says:

    Update on “Half a Dialogue”: At this point I have mailed a book to every bishop / archbishop / cardinal who heads up a diocese in the U.S. plus some other ‘high’ figures. Of 180 mailed, I have 19 responses, of which 3 are acknowledgements only, 15 are positive (a few to a surprising extent) and one likes that Pope Francis wrote an encyclical re global warming, but thanked me for doing the work. None has said explicitly that they have read the encyclical. Just thought you might like an update. I think the second printing will come off the press this week.

    Previously I’ve been asked if just printing out the 16-part series from Cleansing Fire would be the same as the book. Actually the CF posts are about 60% of the wordcount of the book. But I do give credit to CF for having been a ‘draft opportunity.’ I have two ‘loaner’ books available and the home page is here: which can also be reached through a re-direct from From time to time there will be discussion points available there (or here, if you prefer.) I’m happy to answer questions in either place.

    Last night, LifeSiteNews published an article on Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s negative reaction to the Vatican using children to promote ‘global warming,’ and that kind of ‘mind-forming’ methodology. Bp. Schneider’s interview can be found here:

    Relevant quotes from Laudato Si’ regarding concerns about such education can be found on the author’s discussion notes at

    Again, I thank those who inspired and supported this effort, especially proof-readers!

  4. Ben Anderson says:

    Thank you for the update, Diane. God bless your diligence!

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