A prominent Catholic layman and a Church of England bishop have criticised Pope Francis' encyclical on protecting the environment, Laudato si', as advocating policies that are more likely to hinder than advance the cause.
The Labour peer, Lord (Bernard) Donoughue, and the Bishop of Chester, Peter Forster, claim “the encyclical is coloured too much by a hankering for a past world, prior to the Industrial Revolution, which is assumed to have been generally simpler, cleaner and happier”.
In a paper published by the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) - whose leading light is former chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson, a global warming sceptic - they say “there is little historical evidence for such a vision, and for most people then life was brief, painful, poor, and even brutal.”
In the encyclical Pope Francis called for fossil fuels to be "progressively replaced without delay", but Lord Donoughue said: “Wood and dung fires may be renewable energy sources but their disastrous impact on human health is undeniable".
In 2011, the foundation’s annual lecture was delivered by Cardinal George Pell, who Pope Francis has asked to oversee Vatican finances. The cardinal has yet to give a public response to the encyclical.