The encyclical might be downgraded to some lesser form of “statement.” This is the rumor as reported to me from “sources.” Given the excitement the encyclical generated on the left, look for some prime grade, sustained hissy fits if a downgrade happens.
A downgrade would be good news for the rest of us, however, given the premise that the content of the document was, rumor had it, deep green, and thus anti-science, and even, given green “solutions” to population control, anti-faith.
An encyclical, in the form of brief or bull, is something akin to military orders. It can’t be brushed aside, but must be engaged. This is not to say an encyclical is a recipe containing step-by-step directives, but it has words which must be hearkened to. To have an idea, peek at one which is perhaps best known to our generation, St John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio.
Here’s the story. The “green” encyclical was written and sent, as a matter of due course, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith—the office then Cardinal “rottweiler” Ratzinger oversaw, and which is in charge of ensuring doctrinal fidelity of Church matters. German Cardinal Gerhard Müller heads it now and is, it is said, a traditionalist.
Now his Eminence’s team of canon lawyers and theologians, the press is reporting, took exception certain propositions in the document. Which, we don’t know.
According to Vaticanist Sandro Magister, Pope Francis has decided to postpone the publication of his long-awaited encyclical on the environment. The reason, according to Magister, is that the Pope realized that the document in its current state had no chance of receiving the approval of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith…
Magister, incidentally, is a well known and respected court watcher. Word is the encyclical was ghost written by Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández of Tiburnia, a native of Buenos Aires. Fernández, who once wrote a book on the theology of kissing. Yes, kissing. Sáname con tu boca. El arte de besar. Magister quotes from the book,
I explain that this book was written based on my personal experience as the lives of the people kissing. In these pages I want to summarize the popular sentiment, what people feel when they think of a kiss, what mortals feel when kissing…
Anyway, word of the rejection, if that’s what it was, filtered out to folks like Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, the force behind that latest Pontifical Academy meeting and whose writings are difficult to distinguish from Greenpeace broadsides. Maradiaga went on a rant and blamed “movements in the United States” for the push-back.
Meanwhile, one of the movements Maradiaga did not mean, was taking place. Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski and New Mexico Bishop Oscar Cantú met Wednesday behind closed doors Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island to prep for, the report says, the encyclical, which at that time was still thought to be on track.
With me so far? The tale grows necessarily murkier here. If the proposed encyclical was rejected as reported, it could of course be sent back for rewriting. Or it could be issued in some other form, with or without the Pope’s name attached. For instance, the Pontifical Academy for Science’s summary document of their recent meeting is, naturally, a Church-issued statement, but it doesn’t hold the force of doctrine nor did Pope Francis sign it. (And given the document is full of undefined terms like “sustainability”, thank God for that.)
Supposing the reports I have are true, and since they haven’t been widely reported in the media, there is still time for people to change their minds and save face. Bishop Fernández could redraft. But given the strong personalities involved, it’s a better bet we’ll see a downgrade.
How would the press and greenies react to a downgrade? I’m guessing with their customary petulance and with much whining about how dark capitalistic forces “made” the Pope suffer this ignominy. The left will juice up pity for the Pope and then treat the statement (in whatever lesser form it is) as if it were an encyclical. They’ll write headlines drawing from the document which say (we can guess) things like, “God doesn’t want global warming.”
They’ll say, “True Catholics must care for the environment”, where by “care for the environment” they mean Catholics must cede more control to government. Or use more birth control, or have more abortions. In other words, not much will change, though the two camps will become more divided.
Given the numerous collection of ifs, supposings, and rumor in this report, what’s your guess?
Update Two full seconds after I hit “publish”, I had this email, “Father Lombardi: Eco Encyclical on Track for Expected June Publication. Speaking to the Register, the Vatican spokesman dismissed a claim this week that doctrinal concerns about the encyclical’s draft text have derailed its publication.”
“…’rumors and fantasies,’ Father Lombardi said.”
Wheels within wheels. But it wouldn’t be the first time something that vigorously, even vehemently, denied by Vatican officials, turned out true.