A wooden figure of St. Francis of Assisi is perched in the yard of the energy-efficient straw-bale house built by a Catholic religious order in Ohio. Pope Francis’ second encyclical on the environment is called “Laudato Si” and is named after a St. Francis of Assisi prayer. Pope Francis calls everyone to be a steward of the Earth. CNS photo/Chaz Muth

Vatican outraged by encyclical leak

By 
  • June 16, 2015

The most anticipated papal encyclical in history has anticipated itself. What an angry Vatican spokesman called an “intermediate draft” of the letter from Pope Francis on the environment was leaked by an Italian magazine three days before its official launch.

Vatican officials are outraged by the leak, and called on media “to respect professional standards, which call for waiting for the official publication of the final text.”

Reporter Sandro Magister from L’Espresso magazine, the publication responsible for the leak, had his press credentials revoked by the Vatican. His actions were “obviously inappropriate” and a “source of major inconvenience” which caused “serious disruption,” wrote Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office.

Major newspapers, including England’s Guardian and the American dailies The New York Times and Washington Post concluded they could not turn their backs on the Italian-language draft, even if it is not final. The official, final draft and translations into major languages was scheduled for release June 18.

If the leaked draft is accurate, the encyclical called Laudato Si (“On the care of our common home”) will warn of “grave consequences for all of us” if the world fails to act in a concerted effort to reverse climate change and other environmental crises. It urges changes in lifestyle and reform of the economy.

In the second paragraph of the draft, Pope Francis uses the words “violence” and “sin” to describe the environmental crisis.

“The violence that exists in the human heart, wounded by sin, is also manifest in symptoms of this disease we perceive in soil, water, air and in living things,” says the draft encyclical.

In an echo of Pope John XXIII’s 1962 encyclical Pacem in Terris, Pope Francis addresses this papal letter not just to Catholic bishops around the world, or even to Catholics, but to the entire world regardless of religion.

“In this encyclical, I intend to engage in a dialogue with everyone about our common home,” the Pope writes.

Like Pacem in Terris, which addressed the very common threat of nuclear war to all people in the context of the Cuban missile crisis, Laudato Si addresses the shared threat to the natural world in the run-up to this December’s UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, where world leaders are to come up with agreements to limit global warming to less than two degrees before mid-century.

Through 192 pages and six chapters, the draft unsurprisingly builds on previous papal teachings on the environment, extending Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching in Caritas in Veritate warning of the dangers of an economy based on consumption and speculation. Francis calls for “a new economy, more careful to ethical principles, and for a new regulation of speculative financial activities and virtual wealth.”

In a rare comment on specific policy choices, Francis comes out against cap-and-trade systems that try to reduce overall carbon emissions by creating a market for carbon credits. “A new form of speculation” won’t help, but could “support the super-consumption of certain countries and sectors.”

Ontario and Quebec have recently joined forces to create a cap-and-trade system, as opposed to the direct carbon tax option used in British Columbia.

Harkening back to Pope Paul VI’s landmark 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio, Pope Francis calls for solutions that focus on the poor majority in the developing world. The encyclical’s closing prayer culminates with the cry of the poor.

The Pope rejects “blind faith in technical solutions” and promotes a “social approach.”

“A true ecological approach must always become a social approach, integrating justice in the debate around environment, so that we listen to the cry of the Earth as much as we listen to the one of the poor.”

As expected, the encyclical accepts the scientific consensus that human-generated carbon emissions are the principal cause of climate change. The Pope condemns foot-dragging on the issue.

“With regard to climate change, progress has been deplorably scarce. The reduction of greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, especially by the most powerful and the most polluting countries,” reads the draft encyclical.

Comments (2)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has stated, “You are invited to respect the journalistic honesty that requests you wait for the official publication of the final text.” Why has The Catholic Register chosen not to honour this request,...

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has stated, “You are invited to respect the journalistic honesty that requests you wait for the official publication of the final text.” Why has The Catholic Register chosen not to honour this request, but instead to quote from the leaked document?

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Noel McFerran
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

The so-called "scientific consensus that human-generated carbon emissions are the principal cause of climate change." is only a consensus among those pushing the climate change/global warming agenda! It's not and it had never been a consensus...

The so-called "scientific consensus that human-generated carbon emissions are the principal cause of climate change." is only a consensus among those pushing the climate change/global warming agenda! It's not and it had never been a consensus amongst all scientists!

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Wilfred Camilleri
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