Pope Francis's dream

The pope's latest treatise is a powerful critique of our modern world

Pope Francis.

With the easy credulity that has become so typical of journalists during his pontificate, many observers, both Catholic and secular, expected Pope Francis's recent apostolic exhortation to relax the ancient discipline of clerical celibacy for some priests of the Roman Rite. This did not happen.

An entire column (indeed a document very much longer) might be devoted to the question of why so many people insist upon seeing Francis as some kind of antinomian liberal modernizer. But it seems to me somehow unimportant. Instead, the correct response to Querida Amazonia ("The Beloved Amazon") is joy. Here at last is a return to the great intellectual themes of Laudato si', the 2015 papal encyclical in which the Holy Father first articulated his critique of the neoliberal revolution in economics, the globalized regime of spoliation, exploitation, infertility, and distractedness that make possible the supposed "economic miracle" of consumerism. For Francis all of these things — the climate crisis, wage slavery, the mirage of technological progress, greed — exist along a sinuous continuum of immiseration; the planet is being destroyed because we are destroying one another because we are destroying ourselves.

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