Anyone who follows dear old @Pontifex on Twitter will be aware that the Holy Father has gone on social media hyper-drive over the past couple of days. Back in the day, before most of our days, we could expect Papal communication to move at the speed of a Mediaeval plague victim; Councils every few centuries, Encyclicals every decade or so, and the odd Infallible utterance (one in two millennia). Now we are experiencing near hourly tweets from the Papal apartments. Pope Francis is tweeting like a teenager at a One Direction concert. As if this acceleration in Vatican communication was not revolutionary enough, what is most startling about these holy tweets is that they are all about science and the environment. Pope Francis has published his encyclical letter Laudato Si, the opening lines of which echo the hymn of Saint Francis of Assisi, calling for Christians and people everywhere to pay closer attention to the needs of the planet we all share. He goes so far to say that it is wrong to separate the questions of human dignity from ecological concerns. At present the world is experiencing an unpresented level of migration triggered by various environmental problems caused by “unchecked human activity” that are amounting to a catastrophic global humanitarian crisis.

Of course the Pope has come under criticism for this Encyclical from other political leaders, some of whom have suggested that the Pope leave science to the scientists. What they have failed to take into consideration is that Francis is a scientist. Other than being a floor sweeper, a janitor, and a nightclub’s muscle before entering seminary, Pope Francis gained a master’s degree in Chemistry and worked as a laboratory technician. When it comes to telling his helium from his Hail Marys Francis certainly knows his onions. The difference between the Pope and the politicians working hard to silence his concern for nature is that he wasn’t financially backed by the petroleum industry to get himself into office. His concern for the environment and the people that ecological damage is harming (that’s all of us) is genuine and has not been compromised by big business, and it is this that is causing the big stir. The truth is that people have indeed inflicted a great deal of damage on the world, and the picture is bleak for future generations. We simply cannot afford to keep on living the way we do without concern for the world around us and for our neighbours. I for one really hope that Francis refuses to shut up.

Jason Michael
Blog Author

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