In a written analysis, Redemptorist Father Dennis J. Billy, who holds the John Cardinal Krol Chair of Moral Theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, offered his thoughts about the encyclical:
· Pope Francis’s new encyclical is rather lengthy and will take some time to digest. These are only some initial reactions after an initial perusal.
· The encyclical deserves a careful reading and analysis.
· We must try not to give into “sound bites” or hasty caricatures.
· After a first read, I see nothing substantially new in magisterial teaching.
· The pope seeks to place his teaching in continuity with the Church’s social teaching.
· He does so by appealing to the writings of his predecessors, especially John XXIII, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.
· He quotes significantly from documents published by various episcopal conferences.
· The pope wishes to emphasize the moral consequences of climate change and challenges us to find concrete way of tackling the problem.
· He connects climate change, at least in part, to a rampant consumerism that is a result of unbridled capitalism.
· He emphasizes the devastating effects that neglect of the environment has on those who are most vulnerable, especially the poor and marginalized.
· He encourages dialogue on all levels, especially among nations and emphasizes the earth as the common possession of all humanity.
· He emphasizes our role as stewards of God’s creation.
· He does not call for a “quick fix,” but would like to see us taking solid incremental steps at solving the problem.
· As an encyclical, the pope’s teaching is part of the Church’s social magisterium and deserves of the religious submission of will and intellect (obsequium religiosum) of all Catholics.
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