Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment has leaked from an Italian media source, and it paints a picture of a Holy See definitely putting the responsibility for the planet's climate changing on the shoulders of those who would be Earth's stewards.
After months of build up, an Italian-language document believed to be an early draft of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment was leaked four days early on Monday, breaking a Vatican embargo on an official papal teaching that flatly rejects traditional conservative Christian justifications for exploiting the planet.
Vatican officials condemned the leak on Monday, saying that the early release of the nearly 200-page document constituted a “heinous act” and insisting that it is “not the final text.” Regardless, if genuine, the Italian-language draft of the encyclical — or one of the highest forms of official Church teaching a pope can produce — will undoubtedly make waves not only for its insistence that humanity protect the environment, but also for its deconstruction of conservative arguments against climate change.
ThinkProgress was not provided with an embargoed copy of the official encyclical, but ran sections of the leaked document by an Italian speaker. The likely encyclical draft — entitled “Laudato Si” or “Praised Be”, from a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi — directly addressed the old biblical claim that because God gave humanity “dominion” over the earth in Genesis, humanity has a right to exploit it at will. This has also been a popular position among American politicians, who have used God to advocate for the continued development of fossil fuels.
“We are not God,” the document reads. “The earth precedes us and was given to us. This allows us to respond to an accusation made against Judeo-Christian thinking: it has been said that, from the story of Genesis, which invites us to subjugate the earth (Genesis 1:28), the savage exploitation of nature would be encouraged, presenting the image of human beings as ruler and destroyer. This is not the correct interpretation of the Bible as intended by the Church.”
That's a pretty big departure from the usual prosperity/abundance gospel that has seen a big rise here in the US as of late, as well as a big departure from conservative dogma. No doubt he'll be attacked for this, but we'll see what the final work has to say.
Now if we can only get the church to moderate a few other positions...