This year Pope Francis is expected to deliver an encyclical on ecology, one concerning the environment broadly and perhaps climate change more particularly.
Believers and non-believers alike, united by a common concern for the future of the planet, have high hopes that someone who chose to name himself after that great lover of creation, Francis of Assisi, will say something truly transformational, for as a Canadian Council of Churches document lamentably observes, transformative change has not “found traction within political processes.”
The wrath of the biblical prophets was often directed at those who enjoyed the inequality of their riches while ignoring the needs of the vulnerable at the other end of the economic scale. One of the earliest of such prophets was Amos, who condemned those who oppress the poor and crush the needy. According to biblical scholar Walter Bruggeman, Amos was protesting against the “self-indulgent economy of the urban elite.” In statements made both before and after he became Pope, it is clear that Pope Francis sees the prophetic tradition as integral to his understanding of what it means to be a good pastor of the flock.