Working for a Catholic media organization can at times skew one's sense of what is Big News in the church and beyond. For the past week it has been, in the words of my colleague Kevin Clarke, #encyclapalooza here at America. My time was consumed reading the nearly 200-page papal document, searching for 140-character bits of wisdom to tweet and pulling together responses to "Laudato Si'."
So it came as a surprise when there was no mention of Pope Francis' environmental manifesto at the Mass I attended on Sunday. And apparently my church was not an exception. The New York Times reported that "few priests or bishops — other than in parts of Latin America — used their own pulpits on Sunday to pass on the pope’s message, according to parish visits, interviews with Catholic leaders and reports from Catholics after Mass." On Monday, WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer asked listeners what they heard at religious services on Sunday. Three Catholics called in; none had heard anything about the encyclical. One caller described a homily in which the pastor bemoaned the fact that fewer and fewer young people were coming to church. "What better outreach would there be then to talk about this document that addresses subject that are so important to young people," the man inquired.
To be fair, "Laudato Si'" is very long, and asking priests to read, digest and prepare a homily around such a complex document within two or three days is a tall order. Further, the horrific attack on the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston was rightly the primary concern for many religious leaders this Sunday. (Kelly Johnson discusses the encyclical in light of the Charleston massacre on our In All Things blog.)
But it is my hope that as the media buzz around "Laudato Si'" dies down, the pope's urgent call to action will be taken seriously in parishes across the country. "A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us," Pope Francis writes, "and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal." Churches have an integral role to play on this journey of social and spiritual conversion. "Everything is interconnected," we are told; how we worship cannot be separated from how we treat others and Creation in our daily lives.
So, readers: Was the encyclical on the enviroment mentioned at any point during the Mass you attended—the homily, intentions or announcements? How would you like your parish as whole to carry "Laudato Si'" forward?