Encyclical Delayed, Possibly Downgraded To Lesser Form?


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.


  1. Gary

    My guess? The suspension will be reduced to two games and the loss of the first round draft pick changed to second round. Still a gross excess for a minor infraction…

    Oh… wrong controversy.

    The encyclical will be released, watered down into mushier language but resulting in interpretations even more favorable for the warmists. Capitalism will be blamed. It’s a pity this Pope can tell the difference between sinfulness and neutral human interactions (i.e., trading).

  2. Ken

    RE: “Given the numerous collection of ifs, supposings, and rumor in this report, what’s your guess?”

    I’ll top your “guess” and give a “guarantee”:

    Guaranteed: ‘The numerous collections of ifs, supposings, and rumor indicate that everybody outside the actual happenings within the Vatican don’t know what’s going on, at all…but their ignorance will not deter them from talking & blogging at length about matters they know nothing about.

    Such is the power of ignorance.

  3. Ken

    “There are times when even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog, waiting to see where the dog wants to go so he can take him there.” Lee Iacocca

    “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…”

    Whatever the actual statements that eventually come out of the Vatican turn out to be, what we’ve got very clear evidence of the topmost echelons of the Vatican not leading and not defining or defending doctrine…they’re instead like that kid with the big dog, waiting to identify what interests that dog & where its going so it can get out in front & pretend its leading.

    That’s not leadership, its a manipulative approach for trying to exert control, or create the illusion of such control, by jumping on a social bandwagon & then running out in front to create the illusion of leadership. The leaks coming out indicate a somewhat ham-handed skill at this shameless tactic, a tactic which ought not have any business manifesting in an institution that claims to be the caretaker of theological doctrine. Especially on a topic having no theological foundation.

  4. Ray

    Isn’t the pope a Jesuit and aren’t the Jesuits famous for their left leaning?

  5. DAV

    sustained hissy fits

    It’s what sustainability is all about.

  6. Ray: yes. The Jesuit magazine in the US is “America” which advocated the election of Al Gore in the 2000 election. I wrote a letter to the Editor stating this editorial position was an excellent example of the renowned Jesuit casuistry, given Core’s pro-abortion stance and the Church’s pro-life doctrine. The letter (surprise, surprise) was never published.

  7. Plus the tendency to “Liberation Theology” amongst Latin American prelates.

  8. Bella

    Just a note..l know for an incontrovertible fact ( from personal, specific experience) that the encyclical was drafted by the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, after a very great deal of research drawn from many sources, including Catholic theologians. It was not “ghost written” by anyone!

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