This has been percolating in alternative media some time, but it's getting new attention as Pope Francis prepares an encyclical on the environment, which is expected to address human-caused climate change.
In 2013, two of Francis' fellow Argentinians, also environmental activists involved in a documentary, had a lengthy audience with the pope. Francis gave an interview on issues of the environment and the economy -- and posed with a T-shirt saying "No Fracking" in Spanish. Apparently that's an issue in Argentina.
And, of course, it's an issue around here in heavily Catholic, heavily fracked western Pennsylvania. I've written before on Christians on both sides of the fracking divide -- fellowship among oilfield workers and efforts by Catholics and others to divest from all fossil fuels. Apparently Francis has staked out a position, although without elaboration.
In the interview, Francis didn't get into the specifics of fracking, but the Youtube excerpt shows he clearly knows what he's holding and why. And he does criticize open-pit mining, a practice that presumably would cover mountaintop removal coal mining.
In excerpts, the pope sounds like he's channeling Wendell Berry:
"We must take care of God's creation.
"(Humans have the experience of) transforming ignorance into culture, through science, art, work. Man is the author of culture. So what happens when he is no longer a builder? He takes over culture and uses it, not for improvement and the good of humankind but for selfish reasons. And then things happen. Think of Hiroshima just to name a faraway example. Things happen that create ignorance.
"Take manipulation, using people for your own good, consider ... for example mining ... open pit mines, which pollute the environment, or high voltage cables. ...
"Then man, with such culture, is capable of creating ignorance again. That is the second form of ignorance we must be careful of, because then we create and destroy.