The draft text of the encyclical, titled “Laudato Si’” (“Be praised”), was leaked Monday by the Italian magazine L’Espresso in what Vatican officials called a “heinous act.”
Already buzzed-about in Catholic and political circles before the leak, the pope’s global call on the environment generated strong reaction this week, with everyone from theologians to aspiring presidential nominees chiming in.
“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope,” GOP presidential hopeful and Catholic Jeb Bush said at a campaign event this week in reaction to the pope’s views on climate change policy. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), also a Catholic, has spoken out against the pope as well, saying the pontiff shouldn’t meddle in scientific matters.
The encyclical, Francis’ first since becoming pope in March 2013, is considered the highest form of teaching a pope can give, and was officially released after months of edits in the halls of Vatican City and anticipation in Catholic universities and churches around the world.
While it is not considered an infallible teaching, it is “the most authoritative type of statement issued by a pope short of something declared to be infallible,” said Christopher Vogt, chairman of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at St. John’s University in New York. “This will put the issue on the agenda. It’s hopeful that the pope is naming the environment not just as a technical question of what’s happening to the earth, but as a moral issue.”
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