|Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)|
Don't laugh. It's the only explanation I can come up with.
Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth UK had the reputation for being one of the most stalwart defenders of Catholic orthodoxy in Britain.
He spoke out against giving communion to dissident Catholic politicians, and was unafraid to strongly proclaim Catholic teachings on the current hot-button issues involving marriage and family.
He urged caution for priests collaborating with groups holding or spreading non-Catholic or anti-Catholic views.
He often referenced "carrying the cross", "the coming persecutions", faithful Catholics and Christians comprising a "remnant" and so on.
Mundabor gave him three cheers.
He reintroduced and defended the Traditional Latin Mass.
So what's he doing going full-blown Laudato Si on us?
The full text of his Pastoral Message letter on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is now available on the website of the Portsmouth Diocese.
Yesterday we reprinted the Catholic Herald's description of the letter. If anything, the original is worse than we might have thought.
Had Bishop Egan ever used the term "Mother Earth" before?
Much of the letter is given over to a description of the recent encyclical Laudato Si with quotations of some of it's more famous (or infamous) passages.
He then announces that he's placing the Diocese of Portsmouth on "Environmental Alert", which will impact "(1) the way we think, (2) the way we act, and (3) the way we pray."
Regarding (1) among other things, he suggests "we heighten awareness (of environmental issues) through an occasional column in parish or school newsletters, through mentions in local media (and) through the parish Justice, Peace and Social Responsibility group." He also asks us to "consider engaging in an ecumenical effort with other Christians or with secular campaigns to bring about real change."
Again, remember, this isn't your local hippy priest. It's Bishop Philip Egan.
(2) quotes the encyclical on "avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse...planting trees" and the like.
Yesterday we reported Egan had asked penitents to confess sins against the environment. The actual language in (3) is: "And in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we should examine our life-styles, seeking His mercy for any sins we may have committed against an integral ecology."
It's true that Bishop Egan also recommends that we meditate on the first three chapters of Genesis, praise God for His Creation in Eucharistic Adoration and offer the Rosary.
But when offering the Rosary to "overcome the ecological crisis" as the Bishop advises, be careful it doesn't burn up in your hands.
I forgot to mention the most egregious recommendation. We should read and study Laudato Si carefully, "perhaps a few paragraphs a day". And Egan tells us it would be particularly appropriate to do this in a "parish Justice, Peace and Social Responsibility group."
The letter is signed "+ Philip".
Well, of course it is.
You want to stay Catholic? Sure. But this is about staying human.
Or if you don't like the pod metaphor, feel free to use another. Bishop Egan found a horse head in his bed, got a Malta phone call, was bitten by a member of the Zombie Church...
Or maybe he's just tired.
I know I am.