Laudate Deum and the Eclipse of the Church

What to make of a document like Pope Francis’s latest apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum? Like other Francis encyclicals, it is hardly recognizable as a Catholic document. The central portion of the letter addresses the “progress and failures” of various “climate conferences” held in the last decades. It features an entire section vaguely prognosticating on a upcoming conference in Dubai.

As this description suggests, Laudate Deum is single-mindedly materialistic and lacking in any supernatural focus. Its political arguments are naive, abstract, and self-contradictory. It endorses a global coalition of “activists” who will put “pressure” on national governments in service of a single world government. This secular world government will have “real authority” to punish those who defy it. In the spirit of “hagan lio,” then, Laudate Deum seems to endorse splashy climate activism of the type that blocks public roads and defaces works of art.  Ultimately, its political recommendations will be ignored, because they are not useful or insightful.

Without any hint of irony, Francis endorses the American politician Rahm Emanuel’s shameless quip, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Says Francis, “It continues to be regrettable that global crises are being squandered when they could be the occasions to bring about beneficial changes. This is what happened in the 2007-2008 financial crisis and again in the Covid-19 crisis.” It would be crass for a politician to talk this way, let alone a Pope. And the implication of these words is even more sinister: that the authoritarian tactics that emerged in the face of both crises might usefully be extended into the future, except this time in service of global climate goals.

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