Following on the heels of the Synod, those who are wary of what is being taught by today’s church leaders are quite concerned about rumours about an impending encyclical on Global Warming by the Holy Father. Take note that these are just rumours, but American conservative publications are already seeking to discredit the authority of the Pope on such matters. This is very much linked to the skepticism around the causes of climate change, as made popular by Al Gore. That being said, nobody at this point actually knows what Pope Francis will say should such an encyclical materialize.
Cooler heads should prevail with such rumours, and being Catholic does mean reminding oneself of the Holy Spirit’s protection over the Ordinary Magisterium that the Church will not teach error. Whatever comes out should be read from the lens of Catholic tradition, and the skepticism that should exist, should be any second hand reporting by the media, typically not known to be friendly or conducive to the church’s message.
Thus to set up the right lens, perhaps a review of the official teaching on the environment from the Catechism, as this is indeed an area that the Church has authority to pronounce teachings:
2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.
Climate Change controversy notwithstanding, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an expansion on the need for clean air, water, and responsible use of natural resources for the common good. I’d see an encouragement for innovation in conservation and improved access to the necessary resources for life at all stages and income levels. I look forward to the challenge set forward for Catholics to make a difference within an environmentalist movement typically characterized as pagan.
Thus as we bundle up for a cold winter, and perhaps anxious over pronouncements to come, just take a breath, stay warm and trust the Holy Spirit.