Post Pancake Day, Lent always threatens to be a slow ecclesiastical season, with thumbs twiddling till the fun starts on Good Friday. But this year, Pope Benedict has spiced the fast up, by selecting a controversial, archconservative cardinal to deliver the Lenten meditations. While Pope Benedict has retired for a week of ‘spiritual’ exercises, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi has sparked consternation by giving a hint of the shape of the Antichrist, which, apparently, is ‘green.’
Describing the current obsession with environmental matters as ‘pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist’, Cardinal Biffi claimed that whereas Christianity stood for ‘absolute values, such as goodness, truth, beauty’, aside from a few hard core Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, the masses are being seduced by ‘relative values’ such as ‘solidarity, love of peace and respect for nature’. Greenness, if it became absolute, would encourage ‘idolatry’ and put serious ‘obstacles in the way of salvation’.
It’s not often that spiked finds itself in agreement with a papal appointee (especially not one who has previously lectured on an ‘invasion’ of Muslims undermining Christian values in Europe) but the worshipping of environmentalism does surely amount to the worshipping of false idols: it is almost a new religion in itself, with its emphasis on the wages of sin - measured out by our ‘carbon footprints’ - and its stipulation of a never-ending Lent (where we give up everything without even a Mardi Gras first).
However, there is doubt as to whether this move by the Catholic Church indicates a shift in Vatican policy on the environment or is just a canny ploy to keep listeners to the Lent lecture awake this year.