This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Say After Me ....

"The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged."
"Any harm done to the environment, therefore is harm done to humanity. The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species."
"Consequently, the defence of the environment and the fight against exclusion demand that we recognize a moral law written into human nature itself."
Pope Francis, United Nations
Pope Francis urged world leaders to care for the planet and the world’s poorest people. Later, the General Assembly adopted 17 goals, which extend through 2030. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times
"There may be some kind of inconsistency here between what the Pope has said and what the church is doing in U .S. oil and gas country."
"[As the church acquires mineral rights through parishioner donation there might be] legal or fiduciary reasons] to lease them out."
Mickey Thompson, consultant, former director, Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association
 In June, Pope Francis circulated among his faithful an encyclical pointing out the need to phase out highly-polluting fossil fuels in the battle against climate change, which is incumbent upon all, as an obligatory moral duty. Perhaps his visit to the United States has been calculated to remind his American dioceses that they have a duty to heed his papal words of direction.

In the archdiocese of Oklahoma City three new oil and gas leases have been signed by church officials in the wake of Francis's missive on the environment. Although they are not forbidden from investing in the energy industry, guidelines on ethical investing from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warn Catholic institutions against investing in those companies stained by abortion, contraception, pornography, tobacco and war.

While failing to specifically address the ownership of energy-production interests. In a review of country documents Reuters discovered 235 oil and gas leasing deals which had been signed by Catholic Church authorities in Texas and Oklahoma with energy and land companies since 2010 in 56 counties inside the two states, though none of the Texas leases had been signed after the Pope's encyclical.

A boom in American energy production in recent years, most notably through the controversial hydraulic fracturing production method known as fracking has seen those states at the forefront of undersigning deals. Church authorities gain royalties ranging from 15 to 25 percent on the value of petroleum extraction. The church acquires its mineral rights via the medium of parishioner donations, most often.

An United States Conference of Catholic Bishops official declined comment to a Reuters interviewer, understandably. While the Vatican has no direct power over U.S. church investment decisions, their diocesan bishops do. And it is the bishops who are answerable to the higher order of the Vatican. And there is none higher in that executive theological power structure than the Pope, quite obviously.

Creating a deep moral dissonance in the wake of the Pope's clear attack on human-caused climate change. Dioceses granting oil leases in recent years include Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio. A spokesman for the Diocese of Fort Worth stated that the diocese received $31,661 from its leases in 2015, declining to affirm whether consideration was given by the diocese for a review of its program in reflection of the Pope's encyclical.

About a quarter of the roughly 165 church lease deals signed since 2010 were granted by the archdiocese of Oklahoma City and most of the rest granted through the Catholic Foundation of Oklahoma and the St. Gregory's Catholic University of Oklahoma. The lease royalties don't seem all that compellingly rich, enough so to influence such questionable investments that come at the cost of moral iniquity.

Leading to the question, is the Catholic Church in the U.S. so fiscally challenged that it is prepared to degrade its moral imperatives as designated by the Shepherd of Rome?

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