Thursday, April 9, 2020

No, The Pope Didn't Say That

As a practicing Catholic, I want to be able to support Pope Francis 100% of the time. Unfortunately, in areas related to science, I haven't always been able to do so. So, when I saw these headlines I thought, "What now?"
Catholic News Agency
The original interview with Pope Francis -- on which these headlines are based -- is here. I interpret Francis' comments as saying we are not paying enough attention to the environment in general, not as attributing coronavirus to global warming. Here is the portion of the interview in question:

Pope Francis: There is an expression in Spanish: “God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives.” We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that eighteen months ago a boat could cross the North Pole because the glaciers had all melted? Who speaks now of the floods? I don’t know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature’s responses.

The Pope (as he often is when his comments relate to global warming) is factually incorrect regarding the North Pole. First of all, glaciers -- by definition -- form only over land. So, that comment is incorrect. Second, when he says "a boat could cross the North Pole because all of the [Arctic] ice had all melted." There has never been a time in modern history where all of the Arctic ice has melted. 

So, this is an ignorant statement by the Pope. I am also uncomfortable with the anthropogenic complexion of his comment about nature's 'revenge.'

That said, he does not blame coronavirus on global warming*.

CNN is generally left-wing. PJMedia is generally right-wing. Both are practicing poor journalism in this case. 

* In cases like this, papal infallibility sometimes comes up among non-Catholics. We believe the popes are indeed infallible when they are speaking officially (not, shooting the breeze with reporters on airplanes). But, the infallibility only applies to "faith and morals." It does not apply to science and other issues.

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