At Vatican City anyway, which has had “home rule” for about a thousand years. And maybe elsewhere too – where the locals don’t want to get fracked six ways to Sunday. Maybe electing a Jesuit pope was not such a bad idea after all. They’re not overly fond of dipping into Holy Water laced with radium 226, arsenic, and benzene. And the Jesuits are the kind of crew that would be inclined to do something about it.
Posted By Katelyn Fossett Wednesday, November 13, 2013 – 1:32 PM Share
Pope Francis has already become a favorite of progressives with his fairly open-minded statements on homosexuality and birth control. But that adoration may go into overdrive, now that the Pope has adopted a new role as an environmental crusader, too. On Monday, the Pope was photographed with environmental activists holding T-shirts with anti-fracking slogans.
The photographs were taken after a meeting in the Vatican on Monday in which the Pope spoke with a group of Argentine environmental activists to discuss fracking and water contamination. He reportedly told the group he is preparing an encyclical — a letter addressing a part of Catholic doctrine — about nature, humans, and environmental pollution.
In the pictures, one of the men standing with the Pope is movie director and Argentine politician Fernando ‘Pino’ Solanas, known for his activism against “environmental crimes” and his film “Dirty Gold” about mega-mining. In particular, Solanas is a vocal opponent of an August agreement between the Argentine government and Chevron to develop shale oil and gas, which he calls“the largest environmental disaster in the Amazon.” Drilling for these resources often requires hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which is criticized by opponents for relying on toxic fluid and posing water contamination risks.
The Chevron deal is just one instance of American oil companies looking further and further afield to develop shale oil and gas as vast foreign reserves promise imitations of the United States’ own shale oil revolution. Particularly in lower-income countries like Argentina, the promise of such a revolution is too lucrative to resist — especially with so many betting on its potential. The United States Energy Information Administration has ranked Argentina fourth behind Russia, the United States, and China in terms of shale oil reserves. In terms of shale gas reserves, Argentina is ranked second only after China. But the government’s embrace of Chevron has been met with fierce protests, some of which have prompted a brutal crackdown from police with tear gas and rubber bullets. Argentina’s indigenous Mapuche Indian community has been a firebrandgroup behind the protests, claiming they weren’t consulted on the deal as required by international treaties covering indigenous peoples.
Side note Back in ’61, my family flew to Italy on a TWA Lockheed Constellation – a 4 engine radial cylinder prop (like a B-17) – from NYC to Gander, Newfoundland, to Shannon, Ireland then to Rome. My mother had arranged a semi-private audience with Good Pope John in a room with about a dozen people. He went down the line greeting people and when he came to me he asked me if I played basketball (everybody asks me that – still) He was about 4 feet tall and looked like Yogi Berra. A truly great man. A reformer.