Over at Patheos, my good friend Joseph Susanka maintains a blog that people actually read. So it was an honor when he posted (with permission) some words of mine about reading the Pope’s new encyclical, Laudato Si. Feeling in a strange way at one remove from myself, I quote my own words from Joseph’s blog:
I am in the middle of reading the encyclical myself, so I can’t offer you anything detailed yet, but one thought weighs on me as I read.
Everyone who finds the encyclical troubling should start by listing the “I like it” elements and the “This bothers me” elements. Then he should do one more thing: write down at least ONE element in the encyclical that genuinely challenges him, that is, one way in which he feels this encyclical may change his mind on something he has thought for a long time.
The Spirit leads the Church through weak human beings, and yet we have to be on the lookout for God in the midst of it all. As Fulton Sheen once remarked, Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on an ass. If we don’t make a real effort to find ONE element in an encyclical that changes our attitude or conviction, then we have failed as readers.
Maybe a Catholic makes a real effort and can’t find it. If the effort was real, that’s not a failure: God asks for our ears, not for our accomplishments. But I would be surprised–shocked, even–if most readers could not find at least ONE element in this present document that falls neither in the “I like” or the “I don’t like” columns, but in the column titled, “This hurts in a good way.”