Laudato Si

Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change is getting attention in Rappahannock.  A meeting at the Library on February 14 drew 56 attendees, enough to form five study groups and to set five more dates for more discussion.

Not everyone at the meeting was Catholic.  But the fact that a moral figurehead had issued a call to the world to take better care of itself and of its poorer members caused many to think that this was a breakthrough moment.   The Pope is the head of the world’s largest religion, with 1.2 billion members, so his decision to address this issue was seen as particularly significant.

For those not familiar with Catholic teaching, an encyclical is officially a letter to bishops, but it is usually thought to be tantamount to church doctrine.  Which is to say, it is a big deal.

This one is a big deal in more ways than one.  It is 184 pages long.  You can read the entire document here.  A summary of the document can be found here.

Very, very briefly, the Pope’s letter is an “urgent challenge to protect our common home”, noting that humans were endowed by God to be stewards of the earth, and that the changes happening to our climate are most damaging to those who are poorest and most vulnerable.

This message seemed to strike deeply in the hearts of many in Rappahannock, perhaps because we can see firsthand the beauty that must be preserved.

Five more meetings are planned, one each month.  If you’d like to learn more, including when and where they will be held, the contact person is Father Tuck Grinnell, pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church.  The phone number for the Church is (540) 675-3432; Father Grinnell can also be reached by email at

A first-hand account of the meeting is here.  Some further information on the background of the Pope’s encyclical is available here.

by Jim Blubaugh, Washington VA