Laudato si

The release of Pope Francis’s second encyclical (and the first that can truly be called his alone, since Lumen fidei was essentially cowritten with his predecessor, Benedict XVI) was anticlimactic.  By the time the final text was released on June 18, there seemed hardly any point in reading it, since FOX News and Rush Limbaugh and various environmental groups and politicians both Democratic and Republican had already informed us what the encyclical was about and what to think of it.  Not that they had read it, either; that the words climate change were rumored to appear had told them everything they needed to know.  The document could be reduced to that single phrase and treated entirely in political terms.  “Liberal” Catholics loved it without even seeing it, and for the first time in decades urged the world to listen to the Vicar of Christ; “conservative” Catholics hated it, and went to great pains to remind their religious and political confreres that members of the Church of Rome need only listen to popes when they speak on matters of faith and morals.  Mater si, magistra no!

In the end, the phrase climate change appeared 12 times in a document whose body numbered 37,809 words, with almost another 3,000 words in footnotes.  The length of the document itself should have been a warning sign not to jump to conclusions before reading it...

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