The problem, however, is that the present hype about “the greenest pope in history”—to cite another headline—is misleading. A somewhat different picture emerges from careful analysis of Benedict’s formal pronouncements on environmental matters.
I disagree, too. The greenest pope in history was Sylvester II, whose work in hydropower produced a hydrolic-powered organ. Sylvester, before his pontificate, also did a lot of work on astronomy. We can only assume he was looking at the stars because of the utter despoliation of surrounding fields with CO2-producing cows and wretchedly unregulated agriculture.
Furthermore, as the first French pope, we can infer that his aspirations were more environmentally zealous than any of our own. His economic practices are probably a model for our own. You see, Sylvester’s carbon footprint is reputed to be zero.
Bryan Wandel works in government finance and has studied history, accounting, and religion. He is a member of the editorial board at Humane Pursuits. Bryan’s writing has appeared at Comment Magazine, First Things, and elsewhere.