In Laudato Si’, his historic encyclical of 2015, Pope Francis firmly established care for creation as central to the agenda of Catholic Social Teaching. Now, eight years later, he has issued a shorter but even more urgent call to address the “climate crisis” of our time: Laudate Deum. Disappointed at the lack of progress in the intervening years, Francis addresses the irreversible effects of increasing global temperatures, the decrease in ice sheets, and other signs of the times. He critiques the “technocratic paradigm,” the ongoing addiction to a fossil-fuel economy, and the “weaknesses of international politics,” while leveling particular criticism at those who sow resistance and confusion. Just weeks since its release by the Vatican, we will publish an enhanced edition of this exhortation, including an introduction by theologian Erin Lothes Biviano, and highlights from Laudato Si’. May this message land on fertile soil!
What is at stake in the climate crisis is depicted vividly in Kate Rigby’s Meditations on Creation in an Age of Extinction. Following the ancient form of theological reflection on the days of creation (Genesis 1), she presents a chronicle of de-creation, tracing the effects of planetary imperilment on the waters and all its creatures, the air and its birds, the plants and animals that occupy the land, and lastly the humans made in God’s own image. Mary Evelyn Tucker calls it “One of the most engaging books I have read in some time—destined to become a classic.”
Father John Dear has spent a lifetime of reflection and action centered on the peace message of Jesus. His latest work, The Gospel of Peace, a magisterial “Commentary on Matthew, Mark, and Luke from the Perspective of Nonviolence,” may be one of his most important contributions. Reading the synoptic gospels through the lens of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., he shows how deeply Jesus’ revolutionary teaching and practice of nonviolence runs through the entire story. Bishop John StoweBishop-President of Pax Christi USA writes: “With the Third World War (as Pope Francis calls it) being fought piecemeal, we Christians need to be reminded that the Gospel of Jesus is about peace. This book assists us in becoming blessed peacemakers ourselves.”
One of the places where that piecemeal war is currently raging is in the very land of Jesus’ birth. Our hearts go out to all the innocent victims of violence in Israel and Palestine. It happens that this month we have published a new book by Mitri Raheb, a distinguished Palestinian Christian theologian and founder and president of Dar al-Kalima University in Bethlehem: Decolonizing Palestine: The Land, The People, The Bible. Written before the current crisis, this message addresses a critical dimension to any unraveling of the ongoing cycle of violence. It deserves serious attention by all who pray for lasting peace.
Peace and blessings,