10 things you may have missed in ‘Laudato Si’
By Michelle Bauman
Catholic News Agency
June 19, 2015
VATICAN— You’ve heard about the Pope’s new encyclical, and you’ve probably heard that it talks about climate change. That’s true, and it’s a significant point, but there are lots of other points that it brings up as well. Don’t miss out on these other key ideas in “Laudato Si”:
1) St. Francis is a star player in the encyclical, which proposes a spirituality of “human ecology,” building on the work of Pope Benedict XVI.
2) The Pope suggests making concrete, practical changes, such as turning down the heat, avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, car-pooling, and planting trees.
3) The encyclical contains numerous strong pro-life passages, condemning abortion, population control and embryo manipulation.
4) The document also touches on transgenderism, saying that “valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different.”
5) Several people have been claiming to have influenced the encyclical, but a former Vatican official has stressed that the Magisterium has the final say.
6) In keeping with the tenor of his papacy so far, Pope Francis maintains his own unique style in Laudato Si. Some observers say the document reads more like a pastoral letter than an encyclical.
7) Pope Francis again brings up the idea of a “throwaway culture” – something that has become a recurring theme of his papal teaching. He uses the phrase to describe an attitude permeating society that is willing to disregard anything deemed no longer useful, whether it be a failure to recycle paper products or a societal rejection of the elderly.
8) Is it ok to disagree with the Pope on climate change and other scientific / policy assertions? Yes, says one theologian, as long as you seriously consider what the Pope is saying and accept his authority on moral topics.
9) On five separate occasions, the Pope references “The End of the Modern World,” a book by Catholic priest and author Romano Guardini. You can read more about that book here.
10) Beauty is another theme in the encyclical, referenced more than two dozen times. The Pope sees an important connection between how we appreciate beauty and how we act: “If someone has not learned to stop and admire something beautiful, we should not be surprised if he or she treats everything as an object to be used and abused without scruple.”