I don’t follow Mother Church’s dicta, but I do try to keep up with world issues, so maybe for Lent we could talk about palm.
How a food feels to us has a lot to do with how much we like it, and the makers of baked goods, especially those that need a substantial shelf life, really like palm. Palm oil is now in hundreds of products including dog biscuits, as if our hounds even cared about mouth feel. Instead of having all peanut butter, Jif, for instance, contains peanuts and palm oil. A crazy/busy sale on Nutella in Paris recently made local news; Nutella was reformulated a decade ago to use palm oil instead of transfats, but it still has mostly sugar, then palm oil, hazelnuts, etc.
I ask you, good Catholics (and everyone), to take up this cause for the sake of the rainforests and orangutans, being wiped out so we can enjoy this 21st-century abomination. The biodiversity the forests evolved and still need are being cut down, with plantations of palm put in instead. The orangs try to return to what used to be their familiar foraging grounds — their homes — and are shot.
But what has this to do with the church? Palm Sunday. Palm fronds come from some of the same trees, when we shouldn’t be wiping out or denuding any of the planet’s trees for what is essentially decorations.
The dried fronds represent what was strewn before Christ; they are then burned. As has been said of eggs and rabbits (the bane of many gardens), this, too, in terms of communal fires, is a throwback to pagan times. And even having the palms dried and folded just so, into the shape of a cross, what does that do, really, to honor Jesus’s teachings? Like waving flags, finding, folding and burning palm fronds doesn’t heal the sick, it doesn’t feed the poor, it doesn’t raise the nearly dead. Can’t paper crosses – maybe folded by the homebound elderly or little children – assuage the faithful just as well, and the jungle catch a breather?
Last year the Pope declared everyone could ditch fish for St Patrick’s Day (and fish during Lent wasn’t an order from Jesus, but an attempt by the old Church to keep fishermen in business those six weeks, when everyone was doing penance by giving up all meat). The Pope could easily decree an end to palm fronds, and, by extension, palm oil. Will he?
Meanwhile, New Zealand has adjudged a river as having the same rights as a person. Economics will no longer trump ecology there. Now that’s progressive.