A Radical Pagan Pope?


Last week, Pope Francis’ much-anticipated environmental encyclical was published. As was expected, the Pope acknowledged the “human origins of the ecological crisis” (¶ 101), specifically that global warming is mostly due to the concentration of greenhouse gases which are released “mainly” as a result of human activity (¶ 23). And he called for the progressive replacement “without delay” of technologies that use fossil fuels. (¶ 165)

The Pope and small-p “paganism”

Image courtesy of the Scottish Skeptic Image courtesy of the Scottish Skeptic

Even before Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical was published, critics were calling the Pope a “pagan”. This isn’t all that surprising given how the religious right has always accused environmentalists of “paganism”. And indeed there are some similarities between the Pope’s statement and contemporary Pagan discourse. For example, in the encyclical, the Pope personifies the earth, calling the the earth “Sister” (¶¶ 1, 2, 53) and “Mother” (¶¶ 1, 92). However, this language is drawn from…

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~ by Sable Aradia on June 24, 2015.

3 Responses to “A Radical Pagan Pope?”

  1. I love this new Pope! He is great and I’m not Catholic. But what I’ve learned of him sounds like he is a mystic like myself. I would agree humans are not on the same level as animals for humans are divine. God gave US authority over all the Earth because we were made in the image of God and Goddess. So yes we are all fleshly interrelated but our souls are divine gods. Animals are not, they are aspects and of Mother Earth imbued with Her energy but they do not have the God spark. To me if animals were equal to humans then so should be plants and minerals. If we shouldn’t eat animals then we shouldn’t eat plants. Because a tree to me is a life and they have a Spirit and intelligence I connect and communicate with. I feel the interconnectedness of ALL living things on our planet and in our Universe. We are all God collectively but there is a hierarchy to maintain order. In Ancient Maya, they believed the Gods also feasted on us. So who is to say that they don’t in a sense? It’s all quite fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing this. I loved it! Got me thinking…😘

    • The jury’s out for me as to whether or not humans have more of a spark of the divine than animals; I think intelligence and sentience are more complicated than we care to admit. Surely dogs are as socially astute as we are (if not more so) and dolphins have art and ravens use tools. So who can say? But I do share your opinion about plants also having life-force and the nature of life is to consume other life. Still, this isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with your view (or others.) I am liking this Pope too so far; he is challenging capitalism and championing environmentalism and human rights on many levels, and my biggest fear is that someone will shoot him before he can do all the good that I could see him doing. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

      • I also enjoy your thoughts on the matter. And I’m always open to expanding my view. It’s something I’ve thought of a time or two. Thanks for the post! You’re terrific!

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