"Blessed are the cheesemakers" - the problem of interpreting the words of religious leaders
Re-interpreting a message to suit our ends -- we all do it. For the pope's most recent messages about the environment and the poor, you had to figure that our local "newspapers" would have to do it in order to keep a cognitive balance. Here is Newsweek's conclusion about his speech to Congress on Thursday:
In his address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress Thursday morning, Pope Francis minced no words when it came to climate change. Referencing his recent influential encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, the pope called on the United States to make a “courageous and responsible effort” to “avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”
Quoting from his encyclical, he insisted on an “integrated approach,” which would not only care for the Earth, but at the same time combating poverty and “restoring dignity to the excluded.”
“We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
Today's lead editorial in the Intelligencer had a much different interpretation of the Pope's speech. From "Pope Is Right On Golden Rule":
Nowhere in the pope's remarks was the EPA's drastic approach endorsed, as U.S. Sen. Shelley Capito and U.S. Rep. David McKinley, both R-W.Va., have pointed out. Pope Francis called instead for a true Golden Rule strategy - for, in his words, "an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature."
Okay, if I understand the editorial's point, the pope really isn't that much in favor of American action on climate change because he didn't say "EPA." Maybe the editors, Capito and McKinley should look at what he said on Wednesday:
Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. (Applause.) Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generation. (Applause.) When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the change needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. (Applause.)
I'll leave you with one of my favorite Monty Python bits. From "Life of Brian:"