“Well-meaning but somewhat naïve”? Bishop David Atkinson responds to the GWPF on ‘Laudato Si’.


As David Atkinson, former Bishop of Thetford and former Trustee of Operation Noah says, it is not often that two members of the House of Lords suggest that the Pope is ‘well-meaning but somewhat naïve’. However, in their recent briefing paper Bernard Donoughue and Peter Forster, of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) do just that.

The briefing paper ‘The Papal Encyclical – a critical Christian response’ was published by the GWPF in July 2015. Chaired by Lord Nigel Lawson, the GWPF describes itself as a think-tank which ‘while open-minded on the contested science of global warming’, is deeply concerned about the policy implications.

But the GWPF is also well known to be extremely sceptical about the scientific consensus on climate change as embodied in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and highly critical of UK government policies aimed at the reduction of our dependence on fossil fuels.

In the GWPF paper, Dr Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, and Baron Donoughue a Labour Peer since 1985, provide what they call a ‘critical Christian response’ to the recent Encyclical from Pope Francis about our human responsibility of care for God’s earth, ‘Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home’.

In his paper Bishop David provides a comprehensive and robust repost to the GWPF briefing and what he describes as the saddest part, their conclusion that ‘The Encyclical strikes us as well-meaning but somewhat naïve’, suggesting that the authors (rather than the Pope) might be properly accused of myopia and unrealism in remaining untroubled by the polluting effects of fossil fuels and by the damaging loss of biodiversity as a consequence of climate change.

You can read Bishop David’s full response (first published on the John Ray Initiative website, and reproduced with their permission) here (Atkinson-response-to-GWPF-paper-20 21-08-2015), and the GWPF briefing here.


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