The apparent resurgence of ‘Green Politics’ at local, national and EU level has been the focus of significant commentary in recent times. For many, this is a welcome development that signals the arrival of a renewed global consensus on the various ecological and biodiversity challenges that confront us.
This was certainly the reaction of the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) last year, who praised the victories of Green parties in the EU parliamentary elections.
Speaking to reporters, Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich said that the success of ecological parties is a positive sign, because it signals attention to the themes of environment and creation. For the Archbishop, the overall sentiment was that “as a Church the victory of the green parties makes us happy”.
I have no hesitation in affirming my belief that at best, this was an injudicious and ill-informed statement that calls for immediate and urgent qualification.
Let me be clear. As Catholics we have a clear duty to live and act in this world as stewards of creation. We recognise that the earth and its resources are a heritage from the Lord and as such they are not the exclusive preserve of any given generation.
There is no doubt that this entails the embracing of personal and corporate levels of social responsibility.
What it manifestly does not entail however is a commitment to celebrate the rise of individual political parties like the greens, who it cannot be forgotten, advocate for the permissibility of violence in the form of abortion toward the weakest members of that same creation, namely the unborn child.
I am sure that having read this some will take the view that I am being somewhat pedantic and even unfair to the good archbishop. Wasn’t it clear after all that he was referring to one aspect of the green agenda and not endorsing their entire policy approach?
According to this logic however, would it not be equally appropriate for the European Bishops Conference to express happiness about the rise of, let us say, extreme socialist or communist parties given their alleged focus on the poor and the fair distribution of wealth?
You see the dilemma.
What I want to suggest is that we ask ourselves the following basic questions when it comes to assessing the credibility of the various green parties claims that a vote for them is ultimately a life-affirming vote:
Is it credible to campaign against the human degradation and destruction of habitats that make animal and plant life unsustainable while at the same time promoting the right of human societies to violently attack the natural environment of unborn human life?
Is it credible to promote the adoption of legal attitudes that grant identical or equivalent moral status to animal life and human life (on the basis that all life is inherently equal) while at the same time promoting the view that it is ok to end some human lives on the grounds of disability?
Is it credible to argue against the infliction of pain on animal life while denying the implementation of measures that would prevent pain capable unborn human life from experiencing pain?
Is it credible to promote gender equality as a core principle while arguing for the permissibility of ending some unborn human life on the basis of sex-selection criteria?
If you do think that these positions are compatible, then I suggest that you have also accepted some of the more bizarre paradoxes that reside at the heart of green party policies.
In order to confirm that this is actually the case, and in order to allow the Greens the chance to speak for themselves, let us take them one by one as they are outlined in various Green Party statements at national and EU level.
As regards the first question, we need only look to the document called ‘Adopted-EGP Priorities for 2019: What European Greens Fight For’. Within that document you will find the line: “We want the right to abortion to be included in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
For a ‘Green’ take on the second question, we can turn to the UK Green Party statement on Values and Principles where we find the extraordinarily concerning assertion: “The Green Party is aware that issues such as sex selection, time limits and disability screening have been raised in attempt to restrict the rights of pregnant persons. The Green Party acknowledges that these can be controversial, but ultimately believes that no socio-economic, cultural or other social group should be stigmatised and denied healthcare.”
If there were any doubt about the reality of Green attitudes to the third question, look to the vote of the current Deputy Leader of the Irish Green Party who voted against an amendment requiring the administration of pain relief to pain capable babies during the Oireachtas debates on the Health Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018.
Finally, in trying to find out where Green politicians stand on the fourth question, we need only refer to the above statement made by the UK Green Party.
What this should hopefully make clear is that centrally occupied within the ‘Green Politics’ objective of achieving a better future is a policy approach that would deny any future at all to entire categories of unborn human life.
It’s just something worth remembering as we are subjected to an endless focus on all other aspects of their more obvious political agenda.
This article first appeared in the Irish Catholic