I knew it would happen. It was as predictable as sunup. With the publication of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical Laudato si, the commentary began and swiftly ran to extreme places: some of which I imagine was offered without even the benefit of reading the entire encyclical (it was a bit lengthy!). There were those who rejoiced that finally the Church got some science right, and those who claimed that the Church should just shut up about science and politics. There were those who called him a Marxist and encouraged Catholics to carefully pick and choose what they took from the document, and those who were calling us to watch out because his words are discomforting and too strongly attack the culture. What do you think? Oh, you haven’t yet read the encyclical?
Don’t let my commentary be your Cliff Notes, but rather, allow me to offer a primer on reading Laudato si. It is my hope, that as a good Catholic, and one who appreciates that the Church calls us to respect Church teaching and respect our own conscience that you might come away from the document in a way that might help you to take to heart what Pope Francis is saying. After all, isn’t that what we as Catholics are called to do?
- Acknowledge your pre-conceived agenda in advance
- Don’t read it as a science book
- If it makes you uncomfortable, that is not exactly bad: remember “Gospel” means good news, not comfortable news
- Read it all and then pray about it before you draw conclusions.
- Engage in some conversations with others you respect and see what their take on the encyclical is (assuming they have read it).
- Read a few commentaries on it from diverse perspectives
- Ask yourself how you are personally being called to a change of heart and how you can be an agent of that conversion in a larger social context
This encyclical is not going anywhere, so take your time. No need to have your answer today. But don’t put it off either. While I have my comments to make, I’ll hold for now. I look forward to sharing them with you after you have read it. Let me just say that it is not a difficult document to read. Here is a link, read it!
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