Back in 2015, when rumors circulated that Pope Francis was writing Laudato Sí, an encyclical on the environment, I offered some unsolicited advice as to what should be in the letter: “What Should the Pope’s Ecology Encyclical Say?”

I remember writing that piece one night in a Beijing hotel room, after spending a day out in that city’s notorious air pollution. Yes, I really — not just notionally —understood why concern for the environment was (and is) important. But I also thought that the Catholic Church needed to be saying something more than CNN does, or at least not just the same thing with some pious words and a dash of holy water added. I also thought the secular environmental movement posed some dangers to Christian orthodoxy, and I believed the Pope needed to point them out.

Now that Pope Francis has said he’s writing a second part to his Laudato si’, a sequel of sorts that is reported to “cover current issues,” let me also revisit old advice and add some new suggestions.

Back in 2015, I cautioned against the quasi-religion into which environmentalism was turning. The environmental and climate movements apparently have their own anthropologies, their own views of the human person, and those visions were ultimately incompatible with the Judaeo-Christian one.

Our culture has been formed by a vision of the human person first put forward by Judaism and then shared by Christianity. It’s found on the first pages of the Bible, so I call it our “Genesis heritage.”

A central element of that “Genesis heritage” is how it understands man. The human person is not just another biological species. He is not just another life form with an oversized carbon footprint. The human person is qualitatively different from the rest of the material creation. (Spiritual creation, i.e., angels and what “eye has not seen of what God has prepared for those who love Him,” are outside this essay’s scope).

The human person is not just “part” of material creation. He stands at its zenith. As Vatican II (Gaudium et spes, 24) teaches, man is the only material creature God wanted for His/his own sake. The double pronoun signifies what I think is the double nature of the question: God wanted man for Himself, but he also created man as a person for himself, not just as a means for other creatures….

So, if the Pope is penning Laudato 2.0, my concrete suggestions are to contribute what the Church alone is uniquely qualified to contribute: her vision of the integral human person and the moral implications it entails. That means recognizing the uniqueness of the human person within material creation and opposing any ecological vision that in any way marginalizes his centrality. That also means broadening the vision of ecology from mere physical pollution standards to a wider aperture that combats the toxic moral pollution increasingly choking human persons….
From Catholic World Report