Friday, 30 November 2007

Holier than thou - Aussie Catholics join the debate

Two Australian Catholic social services and justice groups [not generally known for their technical insight, but I'm in a forgiving mood] have put out a report opposed to nuclear power. Nothing new - the same unjustified [from the perspective of risk, among others] 'concerns' about safety and waste management are there [despite no data on any impact on real people in recent history] as are the false claims of high cost etc. In fact, I'd swear I've read some of the paragraphs before - verbatim. My guess is that this 'report' was to come out about a week or more ago to influence voters, but got stalled in the review process. Since they put in all the work, why not issue it now?

However, Prof. Camilleri and friends had better be careful, because the Pope has fully endorsed nuclear power in the name of the Church. And just last month the Church affirmed this view by issuing comments about nuclear power's global expansion. I'm assuming that, as one of the wealthiest institutions on earth, the Holy See has access to considerably more resources than our friends above. However, I'm also confident that the former are within earshot of considerably more nonsensical anti-nuclear babble.

Any Catholics out there care to comment? What's in store for a Catholic who contradicts the Pope in open literature? Are we talking eternal damnation, a few millennia in purgatory or perhaps just a stern look and a slap on the wrist from Sister Mary-Margaret?


  1. The Pope was speaking as the head of state of an IAEA member, and his comments should be read in this light. He was actually pretty bland – his “nuclear power is good if used for good purposes” line could be applied to any number of scientific fields. He was not teaching in the very specific way which Catholics believe requires the assent of the faithful, which happens remarkably rarely in practice.

    Catholic social teaching is more a way of looking at the world than a set of prohibitions and prescriptions – although these do exist. For instance, we must not ignore the poor among us. The concrete steps that a government or company or individual should take to look after the poor, however, is a prudential matter. The Church is silent on whether a steeply progressive taxation system with generous wealth redistribution is more helpful than a business-friendly tax regime that leads to higher employment levels; that decision is the responsibility of those who govern.

    In Australia, Catholic “peace and justice” groups tend to have a very left wing approach to most social issues, and sometimes present their considered opinion as the authentic Catholic approach to a matter. I generally find them tiresome. This does not, however, make them un-Catholic; they are free to hold these views.

  2. I added a note to the discussion board on the CN site there. Mostly I was observing the dishonesty of presenting the booklet as a discussion paper, which it clearly isn't.