Draft of Environmental Encyclical Leaked: 12 Things to Know and Share [Akin]

One thing I like about Pope Francis is his deep reverence for Tradition and orthodox Catholicism. I don’t think even Pope St. John Paul II relied on the Catechism so much for catechetical instruction.

Since this new encyclical on the environment is coming out, I have been looking forward to an in-depth synthesis of Catholic moral teaching and the historic role of Sacred Tradition in promoting good stewardship over the environment. Now that I can read the leaked version of the document, I don’t think I will be disappointed. I’ve pasted here some of the paragraphs that I think may be very noteworthy once the official document comes out.

Note: What I post here depends upon a future official encyclical with a professional translation, which means nothing here is definitive. But I do think these paragraphs from the leaked document are things to look forward to. I modified these paragraphs from the Google Translate translation of the leaked document from Italy. (I tried my best to “fix” the Google translation wherever the machine-translation appeared flaky. My attempts are not guaranteed, so please wait for the official text to know what the document actually says.)

Paragraph 112 says: “There are discussions on environmental issues in which it is difficult to reach consensus. Once again I repeat that the Church does not claim to define the scientific issues, nor to replace politics, but invites an honest and transparent debate, because special interests and ideologies can adversely affect the common good.”

Paragraph 136 says: “It is worrying that some environmental movements defend the integrity of the environment, and rightly cry for limits on scientific research, while sometimes not applying these same principles to human life. Often we justify overstepping all the boundaries when experimenting with living human embryos. They forget that the inalienable value of a human being goes far beyond the degree of its development.”

Paragraph 117 says: “The lack of concern for the measurable damage to nature and the environment from important decisions, is only the reflection of a clear neglect to acknowledge the message that nature has inscribed in its own structures. When one does not recognize in reality itself the importance of a poor man, of a human embryo, a person with a disability—to name but a few examples—hardly will one listen to the cries of nature itself. Everything is connected. If the human being is declared independent from reality and its absolute ruler, the very foundation of his existence crumbles, because instead of playing his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man replaces God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion against nature.”

Paragraph 120 says: “Since everything is related, it is not compatible with the protection of nature to justify abortion. It does not appear as a practicable way to educate toward the reception of weak beings that surround us, that sometimes are a burden or a bother, when you do not give protection to human embryos, even when their arrival is due to hardships and difficulties. If you lose the personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance a new life, other forms of acceptance valuable for society also wither away.”

Paragraph 123 says: “The culture of relativism is the same pathology that drives a person to take advantage of another and to treat him as a mere object, forcing them to forced labor, or downward into slavery due to debt. It is the same logic which leads people to sexually exploit children, or to abandon the elderly who do not command one’s interests. It is also the internal logic of those who say: let the invisible forces of the market regulate the economy, because their effects on society and on nature are unavoidable damage.”

I’m loving the strong “natural law” vibe that runs through this encyclical, and how the pope connects the issues of environmental care with a strong condemnation of relativism and abortion. Man, I love this pope!

jimmyakin.com/wp-content/uploads/dry_landscape_258900-300x199.jpgWith just days to go before the release of Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, a draft copy has suddenly appeared on the Internet.

Here are 12 things to know and share . . .

1) What are the basic facts about this encyclical?

An encyclical is a teaching document issued by the pope. Encyclicals are among the more solemn and thus more authoritative papal documents.

This one is called *Laudato Si *(“Be praised”)—a line from the Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis of Assisi.

It is Pope Francis’s second encyclical. His first was Lumen Fidei, which was largely drafted by his predecessor, Benedict XVI. Laudato Si is thus the first encyclical prepared entirely at Pope Francis’s initiative.

It is devoted to ecology and related themes, and it is scheduled to be released on Thursday, June 18th.

2) Who leaked it?

Veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister leaked it on the web page of his newspaper, L’Espresso.

For reasons explained below, we will not be quoting from the document, though since it is already all over the Internet and has now become part of this story, we will link Magister’s original story, which includes a pdf of the document in Italian.

Magister’s original story is here.

3) What was the Vatican’s reaction?

The Holy See Press Office quickly issued a statement that said:

An Italian text of a draft of the Pope’s Encyclical “Laudato Si’” has been published. Please note that it is not the final text, and that the rules of the Embargo remain in place. We ask journalists to respect professional standards, which call for waiting for the official publication of the final text.

4) What is “the Embargo”?

This refers to a journalistic practice in which advance copies of texts are made available to journalists and others to enable them to prepare commentary in advance of the public release of a document.

The practice of letting them see advance copies of texts allows them to read them, digest them, and provide more accurate reporting and commentary than if they got the text at the time of its official release and had to read and report in haste.

Or that’s the theory.

Prior to the official release, such advance copies are said to be “embargoed,” meaning that reporters, etc., are not to publish things based on them until the time the document is officially released, at which point the embargo is lifted.

Movie reviews work the same way: Critics are frequently invited to advance screenings or sent “screener copies” so that they can have their movie reviews prepared by the day the movie is released, as a service to the public. They are not usually supposed to publish their reviews before the day of release, though.

5) Is breaking an embargo considered bad?

You bet. It’s a breech of trust with the people who gave you the embargoed text.

I’ve had embargoed texts of various documents any number of times (even years before the final text was released), and I’ve never broken an embargo.

I was shocked to learn that a respected Vaticanista (i.e., journalist covering the Vatican) like Sandro Magister had leaked this one.

Even if he thought he was leaking a pre-final version of the text (which is not clear from his original story), it’s an astonishing breech of journalistic ethics, and his name will likely be mud at the Vatican for some time.

6) How did Magister get the text?

This is unknown at present. In his article, he refers to the text having a “troubled” history and alludes to the first copies that the Vatican publishing house made having been pulped (destroyed) because of various places where they needed to be corrected.

It is possible that someone rescued one of the copies meant to be pulped and gave it to Magister. If so, he may have gotten it from a lower level person, such as a worker tasked with arranging for the copies to be pulped.

On the other hand, they could have come from someone higher placed.

If Magister’s text came from the batch that was pulped then that could explain why the Vatican Press Office said that it wasn’t the final version.

On the other hand, Magister may have been given a copy from a different batch, after some corrections were made. In any event, the Holy See Press Office says it isn’t the final copy.

7) How different will the final version be?

There is no way to know until Thursday.

Assuming that Magister is correct that a batch was pulped, this may have been due to nothing more than typos that needed to be corrected.

It is not at all uncommon for publishers to pulp runs of a publication that have typos which are caught at the last minute, assuming that the typos are significant enough. In my own experience with publishers, I’ve seen it done.

On the other hand, there may be more than typo fixes. This could happen, for example, if Pope Francis asked for certain editorial changes to be made and then, in the editorial process, these fell through the cracks and their absence was caught only at the last minute.

8) Why was the text leaked?

Without knowing who leaked it, there is no way to tell.

If it was a janitor who plucked a copy from a batch that were on their way to be shredded, it may simply have been that he knew Magister would be interested in a scoop and he wanted to be part of an exciting story (or possibly even be paid for his efforts).

Such an employee may not have read the text and there may be no larger agenda on his part.

On the other hand, if a person of higher stature leaked it—someone who had been entrusted with working on the text and read the content of the document—then there might be a deliberate intention to undermine the encyclical and its message.

9) How could the leak undermine the encyclical?

Part of the point of having an official release, with a press conference and everything, is to create on opportunity to get the document off on the best footing.

The media hops on it all at once, creating something of a saturation effect in different news channels, and the Holy See has the chance—via the press conference and associated materials given out to the press—to frame the story its way.

For a text to appear early can let some of the air out of the official release, and it can allow the text to be framed in ways contrary to the spin that the Holy See wants put on it.

In this case, because we have a pre-final draft, it will also cause attention to zero-in on the changes that were made between this draft and the final one, which may cause people to speculate about why those changes were made and what significance they might have (if they’re just typos or edits that were accidentally omitted and later caught: not much).

Further, this event raises the specter of the VatiLeaks scandal, in which Benedict XVI’s own butler was funneling private Vatican documents to the press as part of his own agenda.

This event raises the question of whether there are additional leakers—or new leakers—who are in some way seeking to undermine Pope Francis.

10) Does the encyclical say anything supporting the idea of manmade global warming?

Yeah, but we knew it would, anyway. Previous statements coming out of the Holy See had made that clear. We didn’t need the leak to tell us that.

I won’t quote from the leaked version, but since it is out there and people are commenting on it, I can report that this isn’t a huge theme in the document.

A machine translation of the Italian original clocks in at around 42,000 English words. Of those, the word “warming” occurs four times, and the phrase “climate change” occurs 14 times.

So it’s not a huge theme. The vast bulk of the document is devoted to other things.

11) Does the encyclical oblige Catholics to believe in manmade global warming?

I’ll have more to say about this once the final, official, English version is out, but the short answer is no.

The idea that the planet is getting warmer and the idea that we are responsible for that are both empirical propositions that belong to the domain of science.

As a result, they are matters of science and not of faith.

There is even a place in the draft (no. 188), where Pope Francis makes the point that the Church does not pretend to settle scientific questions.

The Church has the responsibility to urge appropriate responses to what the best science available has to say on matters impacting mankind and the world under man’s care, and Pope Francis thinks that present science is sufficiently in favor of manmade global warming to urge cuts in greenhouse gasses, but if you think that the best science points in a different direction, you are not bound in faith to believe a particular scientific viewpoint.

12) Is the encyclical critical of the secular environmentalism that we hear so much about in the media today?

Yes. Again, not quoting it and keeping things at the level of general themes, the draft document is expressly critical of aspects of environmental ideologies that are incompatible with the Christian Faith.

This includes ideologies that would reject the unique place of mankind in creation.

The draft criticizes anti-human and pro-abortion ideologies, which often go hand-in-hand with secular environmentalism.

feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/jimmyakin/HPRf?d=yIl2AUoC8zA
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/jimmyakin/HPRf/~4/vacIjhKnCvg

More…

:thumbsup: Me too!

Noteworthy as we await the Thursday release of His Holiness encyclical.
Pray and prepare…

Yes, some people distinguish between Secular and Christian science. I suppose we’ll have to make room for Muslim and Feminist science as well.

The author of this article is Jimmy Akin, who is a senior apologeticist (if that’s a word with Catholic Answers. He is definitely not trying to undermine the pope. The gist of his article seems to be geared toward if the Catholic community should be concerned that this document was leaked and what its impact might be. He’s not discussing the document itself, just the fact that it’s been leaked.

I get the feeling you don’t know much about Jimmy Akin. That’s NOT what he would be doing.

I suspect Jimmy Akin is probably wrong on this point 5, and that Sandro Magister’s decision to leak this text is by no means a clear-cut case of unethical behavior. It may possibly be a borderline case, depending on the details of what actually happened, which we haven’t been told. In any case we shall see soon enough whether “his name will be mud” at the Vatican press office. My hunch is that the people there are sufficiently familiar with the rules of the game to recognize that Magister simply did what he had to do, once he had got hold of a copy of the text.

If Magister, or another L’Espresso journalist, had been handed a copy of the encyclical by the Vatican press office on condition of complying with the embargo, then his failure to abide by that undertaking would have been seriously unethical. But that isn’t what happened, according to what Magister himself has written in his introductory note. He says he is publishing an uncorrected proof copy that came from the publisher, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. That means, as far as I can see, that it can only have been leaked to him by some unnamed Vatican official. That official has presumably acted in breach of his terms of employment, but Magister himself only did what any professional journalist would have done, once he’d been handed the printed text. If he had decided not to publish it, once it was in his possession, he also, in his turn, might even have been acting in breach of the terms of his agreement with L’Espresso.

Who the heck made that word up? Now even the environment has to be either religious or non-religious?.:shrug: Terminology is just how humans define stuff.

Most definitely!

No one said anything about ethics, though he might find himself without connections in the future because of this. Anytime a journalist abuses a courtesy of a press release the authors are likely to think twice about including him in the future.

What has likely happened is that he published something that was only meant for release on Thursday. If, OTOH, someone at the Vatican press office did leak it…they should be out of their job.

Read it again, Church Militant. That’s the word Jimmy Akin used in his point 5: “an astonishing breech (sic) of journalistic ethics.”

**

You bet. It’s a breech of trust with the people who gave you the embargoed text.

I’ve had embargoed texts of various documents any number of times (even years before the final text was released), and I’ve never broken an embargo.

I was shocked to learn that a respected Vaticanista (i.e., journalist covering the Vatican) like Sandro Magister had leaked this one.

Even if he thought he was leaking a pre-final version of the text (which is not clear from his original story), it’s an astonishing breech of journalistic ethics, and his name will likely be mud at the Vatican for some time.

**

I see Magister has now had his accreditation suspended “for an indefinite period.” At first sight, it looks as though Lombardi may be overreacting to the leak, particularly since Magister is now saying that the text was leaked to an (unnamed) colleague at L’Espresso, not to him personally.

At the same time, it’s understandable that the Holy Father might find it a bit embarrassing, in the circumstances, to find himself face to face with Magister, and having to answer his questions politely, at Thursday’s big launch of Laudato Si.

In the context he used the phrase “secular environmentalism,” he means people who inject things like abortion into the environmental issue, such as happens with population control zealots. Strict science, of course, needn’t be labelled religious or non-religious.

My question is to what level of creedence must we give, as a matter a Faith bound by threat of hell, to a Papal Encyclical? It appears the Pope is poised to release an encyclical stating definitively that man is the cause of global warming. As a growing number of reputable scientists, including me, believe this assertion is complete garbage, what are we to do with a Pope who is spreading unproven falsehoods on so many levels?

An encyclical is typically part of the ordinary magisterium, and typically on a doctrinal matter. Typically teachings of the ordinary magisterium requires religious assent, which is different from assent of the faith.

But we do not know whether this encyclical will be any of those things, particularly an act of the ordinary and universal magisterium.

I’m not sure where you get the “thread of hell” idea.

Well, really, I doubt that. Perhaps you should wait for the actual encyclical.

Which, if true, would be the Pope’s opinion but not a teaching on faith or morals per se.

I think you should wait until the encyclical is published, read it, reflect on it, make sure you actually understand it and the numerous references to other documents it will no doubt contain, and THEN come back and post.

Because everything else is just noise and I think you’re making much ado about nothing (for example “threat of hell”).

Perhaps, as your name implies, you should expect the best of our Pope. You seem to be looking for the worst.

Thanks. I meant threat of hell in that if we are obliged to belive something and take the decision not to, we will go to hell. I do expect the best from my Pope, but that doesn’t mean my expectations are being met. I personally thing what is going on here is very dangerous and I am scared to death the Church is going to require me to belive something I know to be false.

I’m curious what you would say to someone who was commenting on another encyclical.

“It appears the Pope is poised to release an encyclical stating definitively that artificial contraception is wrong. As a growing number of reputable scientists, including me, believe this assertion is complete garbage, what are we to do with a Pope who is spreading unproven falsehoods on so many levels?”

Paragraph 188 of the document is expected to say something almost identical to the following: “There are discussions on environmental issues in which it is difficult to reach consensus. Once again I repeat that the Church does not claim to define the scientific issues, nor to replace politics, but invites an honest and transparent debate, because special interests and ideologies can adversely affect the common good.”

That’s modified from a machine-translated leaked version of the encyclical to be released later this week.

Based on that, I think you can rest assured that the pope knows that the Church cannot ordinarily pronounce on scientific issues and does not intend to. I think it is likely, though, that he will cite the scientific consensus about man-made global warming as a reason for protecting the environment. He and his predecessors have already spoken up about how they think the scientific consensus on this issue is credible. But that doesn’t mean you have to agree; the pope has already said that, and from the document quoted above it looks like he will say it again in the encyclical.

The cause of global warming is not a matter of faith or morals. not sure why you think the Church is going to require you to believe anything at all on the matter.

Thanks. My fear is that is will be twisted into a matter of faith or morals based on the morality of protecting the environment based on a false premise.

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