A: Assume it’s a lie.
So we have this obviously provocative article, “What Can a Popular Pope Do About Climate Change?”. The article says this:
Pope Francis has ambitious environmental plans for 2015. Come March, he will deliver a 50 to 60-page edict urging his 1.2 billion Catholic followers to take action against climate change. The Pontiff will make his announcement during his visit to the Philippian city of Tacloban, which was ravaged by typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands in 2013.
So what is the source? Well, they bury it a bit, but it’s there. It’s an article from The Guardian, and the information is taken specifically from Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, the chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
So what does Sorondo actually say? I’m trying to find the original source and I can’t find a full text. It is generally agreed that Sorondo made the supposed comments at a speech he gave in London sometime in 2014, but the speech was apparently never transcribed. With no original source, I’m forced to go with the quotes The Guardian gives as the only direct evidence I have of the things Sorondo actually said. I’m not going to quote any paraphrasing they give of his points – the whole point of this is that I don’t trust their paraphrasing.
Here is what Sorondo (supposedly) actually said:
“Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions…The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”
That’s it. That’s literally everything they quote Sorondo actually saying about this meeting. It is vague to the point of uselessness.
Later, they quote Sorondo saying something else, except it has nothing to do with the supposed climate encyclical being issued or any future mission. It is just things Sorondo says, which is apparently notable because he knew the Pope in Argentina and is “known to be close to Pope Francis”.
(I never got this weird fixation on the idea that we should be taking the opinions of people the Pope trusts as the opinions of the Pope. I trust and accept advice from many people that I disagree with strongly on a number of issues. But that’s a whole other can of worms.)
As for the Pope’s actual words about the environment so far, they’re easy to find online. All I’ll say about them is that they’re not unique or particularly newsworthy, but the media finds a way. It’s your basic “don’t rape the planet” stuff, which is all well and good but is certainly not revolutionary.
The rest of the article is barely concealed glee at how this will anger conservatives. Check it out in the link if you’d like.
I find the idea of an encyclical being issued on climate change highly unlikely. What I DO think is likely is that the Pope is going to issue a much less interesting encyclical where tells Catholics to take special care to protect the environment and speaks of “modern dangers” but is careful to avoid saying anything specifically about man-made climate change. And then the media will turn it into the biggest thing since Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Ah well.
(Even then, the impact of the encyclical would probably be overstated,. As it has nothing at all to do with doctrine it would be little more than advice, if advice that we should place high value on.)