Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Papal Encyclical

During his first two years as head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has been causing a stir by bringing more progressive views to the table. As Francis prepares to release an encyclical this coming year, he is bringing focus to an issue that is at the forefront of many political discussions: climate change.

Encyclicals are letters written by the pope to an audience that includes 5,000 bishops, 400,000 priests and the 1.2 billion practicing Catholics in the world. They are one of many ways through which the pope can exercise his religious influence, typically address serious contemporary issues and can be up to 60 pages in length.

Papal encyclicals are highly important documents in the Catholic community and, in the case of the charismatic Pope Francis, the global community. Thus, information regarding the pope’s latest encyclical, which will be released sometime in 2015, has caused great anticipation and speculation in recent weeks.

In his eight-year papacy, Pope Benedict issued just three encyclicals. This year, Pope Francis will release his second encyclical, and the global Catholic community is already anticipating its arrival.

While details about the upcoming encyclical remain scarce, the Catholic Media has already begun speculating about the content, arrival date and influence of the encyclical. It is expected that Francis will use the encyclical to address climate change and ecological threats.

The official release date and presentation of the encyclical is still in question. Some sources suggest the release could come as early as the end of the month, however, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesperson, refuted those claims at a press conference earlier this month. According to the Vatican Dossier, Fr. Lombardi told journalists he believes the encyclical will be released “before the summer.”

The encyclical’s release promises to bring a new level of excitement to the Catholic world, given that it will discuss at length global climate change and its relationship to Catholicism, according to Rome Reports.

“He comes from Argentina, so he comes out at this from a little bit of a different perspective,” said Seattle University’s Fr. Patrick Howell. “I think he’s always coming from it, from the angle of…how is it going to affect the poor?”

Media voices are fairly certain that Francis is using the encyclical to address climate change. The National Catholic Register recently reported that, “Pope Francis’ forthcoming document on ecology is likely to put the human person at the center and draw attention to the connection between environmental problems and poverty.”

Seattle U students are also speculating about the encyclical’s impending release.

“I’m interested in hearing what [the pope] has to say about ‘human ecology,’” said junior Markus Huldin. “I’ve read a few articles that discussed how he will likely discuss our culture of waste and humanity’s lack of ethical behavior as things that need to change in order to address ecological and human problems.”

Global climate reform remains a priority for the pope as he begins his third year as the head of the Catholic Church. His strong stance in favor of addressing the problem and the timing of an international climate change conference in Paris this December indicate that the encyclical should have an effect on global policy.

Francis’ emphasis on climate change was illustrated when he twice wrote to world leaders, urging them to act on environmental issues. The pope sent a letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott asking him to address climate change and sustainability at the G20 summit. Later, at Lima, the Pope sent another letter to global diplomats, advising them to agree on a deal to tackle climate change as UN negotiations drew to a close.

Last January, in a meeting with ambassadors from around the world, Pope Francis spoke to the responsibility humans have to the environment.

“What is crucial is our responsibility on the part of all in pursuing policies respectful of the earth which is our common home,” he told his audience. “I recall a popular saying: ‘God always forgives, we sometimes forgive but when nature-creation is mistreated she never forgives.’”

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