pope francis

A Prescription for the Earth

Deforestaion
Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock

AS THE FATE of the world hangs in the balance, one humble pastor—leader of the world’s smallest nation-state—offers a word. Well, closer to 40,000 words.

Pope Francis’ much awaited social teaching on ecology was released in June to global acclaim and thunderous Twitterapplause. Laudato Si’ (“Praised Be to You”) takes its name from a line in St. Francis of Assisi’s “The Canticle of the Creatures,” written in 1225. The encyclical lays out the house rules for this earthly commons we share—archaea, bacteria, and eukaryota alike. (Google it. You, me, all the fauna and flora, are part of eukaryota.) So, what do you need to know?

1. The news is not good. The world’s leading spiritual physician has diagnosed “every person living on this planet” with a progressive and degenerative disease. A soul sickness has spread through us to infect the soil, seas, skies, and even the seasons. Among humans, the poorest have the least resistance and the richest are the major vectors. This disease multiplies in isolation and loneliness, with symptoms of obsessive consumption, greed and corruption, and habitual narcissism. “The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.”

2. This disease is having dire consequences: objectification of the other, a failure of awe in the presence of beauty, and a defiance of reality by those who claim the “invisible forces of the market will regulate the economy” and dismiss the impact on society and nature as “collateral damage.”

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U.S. Cardinal Says 'Christian Nations' in West Must Counter Islamic Influx

Cardinal Raymond Burke. Image via Alessandro Bianchi / RNS

Amid heightened tensions over ISIS-fueled terror attacks and anti-Muslim rhetoric, a prominent U.S. cardinal says Islam “wants to govern the world” and Americans must decide if they are going to reassert “the Christian origin of our own nation” in order to avoid that fate.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a Rome-based prelate known as an outspoken conservative and critic of Pope Francis’ reformist approach, said in an interview on July 20 that Islam is “fundamentally a form of government.”

Trump Has Ground to Make Up With Catholics

Image via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/RNS

Donald Trump takes pride in rattling the GOP establishment, but he faces a major roadblock on the way to the White House.

Catholic voters, who have been key to picking the winning ticket in almost every modern election, reject Trump decisively. In 2012, President Obama won the overall Catholic vote 50 percent to 48 percent. Hillary Clinton now leads 56 percent to 39 percent, a sizable gap unlikely to close much by November.

Pope Francis Asks Leaders in Nice, 'What Can I Do for You?'

Image via Stefano Rellandini/REUTERS/RNS

Pope Francis has telephoned leaders of the terror-stricken French city of Nice, asking them what he could do to help in the wake of last week’s gruesome truck attack and promising to meet with the families of the victims as soon as possible.

The pontiff made his call out of the blue on July 17, reaching the former mayor of Nice and leader of the region, Christian Estrosi, through the head of a national association of Italians who live in France.

Pope Francis' New Spokesman Is a St. Louis Native

Greg Burke, left, with Paloma Garcia Ovejero and Father Federico Lombardi. Image via Paul Haring / CNS / RNS

Pope Francis has brought in a high-profile change of guard at the Vatican with the appointment of an American as press director and a Spanish woman to serve as the director’s deputy.

The announcement on July 11 means the Rev. Federico Lombardi, 73, will step down after a decade running the Holy See press office. The retirement of the Italian Jesuit priest paves the way for a younger, international leadership, with layman Greg Burke, 56, taking over on Aug. 1.

Vatican Court Sentences Monsignor to 18 Months in 'Vatileaks' Case

Francesca Chaouqui. Image via REUTERS / Tony Gentile / RNS

A Vatican court on July 7 convicted two people for leaking confidential documents to journalists, concluding a high-profile trial that had underscored the internal dysfunction that Pope Francis has been trying to end.

Eight months after the “Vatileaks II” scandal erupted and exposed secrecy and widespread mismanagement at the Holy See, the Vatican court ruled that a Spanish priest should be jailed for passing information to reporters.

Two Popes Share a Vatican Stage to Show Only One Is in Charge

Image via REUTERS / Max Rossi / RNS

A Vatican ceremony June 28 featuring a rare joint appearance by Pope Francis and his predecessor seemed aimed at tamping down speculation about the unusual circumstance of having two living popes.

In recent weeks debate has erupted over whether there are two popes sharing authority in the church, or whether Francis is the sole successor of St. Peter.

Pope Francis to Catholics: 'Who Are You to Judge Others?'

Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile/RNS

Stop being judgmental hypocrites and take a look at yourself in the mirror — without covering up your wrinkles — Pope Francis advised Catholics in a sermon that reprised one of his favorite themes.

In his last homily at morning Mass before taking a break for the summer, Francis on June 20 said those who constantly judge people should instead reflect on their own behavior.

Vatican Considers Rescinding ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ in Response to Request From Indigenous Leaders

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

After Native American delegates met with Pope Francis and other Vatican representatives requesting an end to the Doctrine of Discovery, the Vatican said that it would consider rescinding the 500-year-old Catholic policy, reports APTN.

The Doctrine of Discovery is the name for a body of Catholic law that granted land rights to whichever European Christian nation settled territory in the New World. It considered as terra nullius (“nobody’s land”) any territory occupied by “heathens, pagans, and infidels” — in other words, the original inhabitants of the Americas.

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