And so, on eve of the release of Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si', the onslaught of the cafeteria Catholics on the right has begun in earnest.
I just finished reading several articles that either sought to refute the Holy Father or undermine the authority of papal encyclicals. One article in particular did not so much seek to refute what Pope Francis promulgated (the author was apparently working off a translation of the leaked draft), but, by his less-than-attentive or charitable reading of it. Hence, he refuted his very dubious interpretation of what the Holy Father wrote, in draft no less.
I would hope that anyone who considers himself or herself Catholic in any meaningful sense would agree that a dogmatic declaration made by an ecumenical council is binding on his/her conscience. It is with that hope that I seek to draw attention to this from Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which, in my view, supercedes any discussion about the relative doctrinal authority of papal encyclicals, which is quite high:
This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking (par 26)Without a doubt in his encyclical letter Laudato Si', Pope Francis will make manifest his mind and will on the matter of ecology. I suppose it is up to us to determine whether we acknowledge it with reverence and sincerely adhere to it, or whether, caving in to certain ideological preconceptions, we will refuse to acknowledge his mind and will with reverence and avoid adhering to what he teaches.
Judging from the vehement reactions of some very public Catholics and Catholic publications, it seems to me that the promulgation of Laudato Si' may well lead to the worst public dissent in the Catholic Church since Bl Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae. In addition to Luman Gentium, something Bl Pope Pius XII wrote in section 20 of Humani generis comes to mind.