In a brilliant blend of distilled science and religious language, the pope has said what many of us have been saying for years: The whole Earth, our shared and increasingly degraded home, now cries out for our respect and reverence.
There is no taking away from the remarkable seismic shift indicated by the pope’s encyclical. Famous for centuries as the anti-science Church that silenced Galileo and burned Bruno at the stake, the Catholic Church has by the pope’s encyclical suddenly become the world’s foremost institution for embracing the science of global environmental change. I say foremost because of the world’s religions, the Catholic Church is the largest that has one person as its prime authority, making the pope a particularly influential communicator of moral valuation — good and bad. (It is rich indeed to see some on the inane right criticizing a Church long seen as at odds with science, for — embracing science.)