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Archbishop accused of promoting climate change denier’s views on anniversary of Pope’s landmark letter – ABC News

Tasmania’s Archbishop has been accused of promoting the views of a climate change denier at the same time the global church is marking the seventh anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si: On care for our common home.

The May edition of the Catholic Standard included an article titled Exposing the ‘modern green religion’, a report of a speech given by geologist Professor Ian Plimer in Hobart at the invitation of the Christopher Dawson Centre, a think tank established by Archbishop Julian Porteous.

In the article, Catherine Sheehan, the Archdiocese of Hobart’s communications coordinator, wrote: “Professor Ian Plimer has written his most recent book on what he believes is a worrying trend in the debate of the science of climate change.

“He argues that the movement claiming human activity is responsible for global warming has been transformed into a ‘modern green religion’ filling the void left by the decline of traditional Christianity in first-world Western countries.

“For 25 years Professor Plimer has been asking fellow scientists to provide even one study that clearly shows human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing global warming. To date, he maintains no such proof has been offered.”

The article lays out concerns Dr Plimer, a former director of mining companies, has about climate science, his criticisms of renewable energy, and concerns about the approach taken in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si.

Dr Plimer is quoted as saying: “These people [advising the Holy Father] are well known in the climate industry as being socialists who are pushing a certain agenda … these green activists have got into his ear rather than the pope getting a balanced view on it.”

Prof Ian Plimer
Ian Plimer spoke in Hobart at the invitation of a Catholic think tank.(Keva Gocher: ABC RURAL)

The Catholic Standard is the official publication of the Catholic Church in Tasmania and is produced under the authority of Archbishop Porteous.

Concerned Catholics Tasmania, a group advocating for renewal and reform in the church, said “the article, the event it reported, and the fact that it was given such prominence in the official publication of our Archdiocese have caused widespread concern for Tasmanian Catholics”.

The group has written to the Standard’s editors asking that a letter of objection be published in the June edition of the Standard.

“At the very least, there should be a statement apologising for any offence caused by this article and stating clearly that the views expressed are not those of the Archdiocese of Hobart.”

Concerned Catholics has not yet received a response. No mention of the article has been made in the June edition of the Standard, which has just been published.

‘We are presently witnessing a disturbing warming’

In a response to the ABC, a spokesman said: “The Archdiocese of Hobart politely declines the opportunity to participate in your story.”

Concerned Catholics wrote to the Archdiocese in March expressing concern about material “not deemed suitable for publication through the Standard simply because they were organised by Concerned Catholics”.

In response, the Archdiocese’s chancery services director Michael McKenna wrote: “The Standard has long been the principal (sic) historical Catholic record and source of information regarding official church teaching.”

Mr Chen said the publication of the article featuring Dr Plimer showed hypocrisy.

“The official position the Pope’s put out is Laudato Si and they’re (the Standard) giving air to people who are putting a contrary view,” he said.

“It seems to be skewed and the articles in it seem to be skewed towards what I call a more right-wing position.

“I’m aware of people who want to contest what’s been written, people who are good practising Catholics, but their voice doesn’t get heard.”

Laudato Si was published in May 2015. In it, Pope Francis said the climate is “a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”.

“Humanity is called to recognise the need for changes in lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.

“It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.”

An opinion piece written by Dr Plimer and published in The Australian in 2019, titled Let’s not pollute minds with carbon fears, was criticised by climate scientists for being false.

Ten climate scientists reviewed the article for Climate Feedback, a global network of scientists who fact-check and analyse claims made in the media and said: “As was the case with three other op-eds written by Plimer that we evaluated previously, reviewers unanimously rated the scientific credibility of this article ‘very low’ … the scientists identify a large number of inaccurate or incorrect statements about the way Earth’s climate system works, how climate has changed during Earth’s history, and what we know about the impacts of continued climate change.”

The article was also found to have breached standards by the Australian Press Council.

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