downloadWhile Pope Francis’ recent ”cri de coeur” over man-made global warming and climate change sounds like the first chapter in a cli-fi novel, it’s never going to end up as in an American or Italian novel because it’s already been published by Our Sunday Visitor publishing company as a 176-page pamphlet.

Yes, “Laudato Si” has made the transition to book form and is available for purchase at most online ordering sites. In addition to Our Sunday Visitor, a Catholic publishing service, Ignatius Press is also bringing the book out in hardback as a 165-page book.

When I perused the Amazon ordering site, the webpage told that other books I might be interested in after reading the Pope’s shout-out included a Catholic book titled “The Naked Now.” I was a bit surprised by the nakedly strong title of that other book Amazon’s autobot was telling me I might want to read, but the subheadline of the book set me at ease. It wasn’t pornography at all but another religious book, this one by Richard Rohr and subtitled : “Learning to See as the Mystics See.”

So while “The Naked Now” was recommended, it turns out not to be porn at all, although some rightwing critics of the Pope in the climate denialist camp are already calling his encyclical as “climate porn.”

There is no rest for the wicked, is there? Attack the Pope, attack the climate scientists, 97 percent of whom say the Earth is in big trouble, and attack anyone who disagrees with the party line of those who insist global warming is a hoax perpetrated by former Vice-President Al Gore.

So if you read the news about the Pope’s call for action, and you want to read it in English, Amazon is offering three choices: hardback, paperback and in pamphlet form.

Everyone’s talking about ”Laudato Si.” Even the New York Times right-wing columnist Ross Douhat — who as an adolescent converted to Pentecostalism and later to Catholicicm — has weighed in (may be paywalled) on what he calls “Pope Francis’ sprawling new encyclical” where “there are many mansions,” including meditations on Hebrew and Christian Biblical ecology, a discussions of various national environmental policies from over 100 countries, a very strong and almost Marxist critique of consumerism, and more.

“Laudato Si” (which means “Praise Be to You” in Italian) is subtitled “Caring for Our Common Home.” The Pope intentionally had his Vatican ghostwriters write the encyclical in every day Italian rather than stuffy old Latin because he wanted it to reach ordinary citizens. Now that’s a cool Pope.

“The Onion” — a satirical online site, please note — puts the brouhaha over the Pope’s climate lecture to the world this way, with a headline sure to provoke everyone in the current Republican Party, even Sarah Palin in Alaska: “Frustrated Republicans Argue Pope Should Leave Science To Scientists Who Deny Climate Change.”

So this book has legs. The Vatican has legs, just as the Catholic Church has legs. Such institutions have been around for thousands of years and neither are going away soon. Atheists can scream all they want, but the Pope is here to stay, and now he is having his say.

The Pope cites Catholic sources and Judeo-Christian scriptures, and his heartfelt appeal makes repeated references to the environmental ideas of Patriarch Bartholomew I, an Orthodox Christian leader who has pioneered something called ”green theology,” whatever that is.

His book is also for non-Christians and contains many secular ideas about our home planet, while carefully avoiding extremism.

Is the Pope’s book for you? No doubt this Vatican-copyrighted tome is going become a major global bestseller in many languages, from Spanish to German, from Chinese to French. This is a book for our times. And it comes with a blessing from above.


  1. Noting that the Onion is satirical, I have to wonder why you seem to feel gratuitous references to Sarah Palin are not aspects of the war against women.

    Is the Pope an authority or not. If you want to make him so, do you agree about his views on abortion? I ask this not as a Catholic, but as a skeptic about global warming. I’m certainly not looking to Catholic teaching to interpret satellite global temperature readings. And finally, what has this to do with electronic publishing?

  2. UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal reports on the publishing side of the Pope’s book, noting among other things that release the pope’s impassioned encyclical on climate change attributes global warming to human activity and accuses the global market economy of plundering the Earth. Turns out that the
    U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has exclusive U.S rights to publish the encyclical for 30 days and will be in stock by June 25.
    After that, the book will be up for grabs, the WSJ says, and it could be released by multiple publishers. Contracts would be issued by the official publishing office of the Vatican, Libreria Editrice Vaticana in Rome.
    One major publisher, W.W. Norton’s trade division, which published the ”9/11 Commission Report,” said it won’t publish the pope’s book because it wouldn’t be in keeping with the company’s history of secular titles.
    But possible publishing contenders might include Image, a Catholic imprint of Random House that published Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel”; and the leftwing progressive house Melville House in Brooklyn, which published the ”Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture.”
    Melville House has already reached out to the rights department of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. But so far Sunday Visitor and Ignatius Press seem to have cornered the market.

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