Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Pope Francis weighs in on climate change

June 18, 2015

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Pope Francis (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

The full text of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change was released by the Vatican on Thursday. While highlights of the document were leaked earlier this week, the complete encyclical provides sweeping ideas that will touch many parts of the business world.

News organizations are all over the story. The New York Times writes,

The vision that Francis outlined in the 184-page encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He described a relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment, for which he blamed apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness. The most vulnerable victims are the world’s poorest people, he declared, who are being dislocated and disregarded.

Time magazine offers the five key points to know about the encyclical.

In modern fashion, Pope Francis tweeted a number of the key themes in the document, called Laudato Si (the hashtag #LaudatoSi was the No. 2 trending topic on Twitter Thursday morning, behind only the #CharlestonShooting).

We need a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. #LaudatoSi

— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 18, 2015

There is a need to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress. #LaudatoSi — Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 18, 2015

The throwaway culture of today calls for a new lifestyle. #LaudatoSi

— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 18, 2015

A key line in the encyclical comes in Pope Francis’ bullet point No. 15. He wrote,

“It is my hope that this Encyclical Letter, which is now added to the body of the Church’s social teaching, can help us to acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face.”

In other words, Pope Francis’ letter will be talked about in every Catholic church in the United States, and most likely around the world.

That means Laudato Si is probably the easiest story for any business journalist to write about. For story ideas, talk to local environmental and business groups, to Catholic leaders and clergy, and to church goers.

You can ask questions like:

What did Pope Francis get right in the letter?

What do you disagree with?

Will his high public profile bring significant action on the subject of climate change?

Is the timing of his letter significant to your community? Have there been weather, pollution or other events that will make people talk about it?

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