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By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, Oct 08, 2020

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

How much longer can sensible Catholics maintain that Pope Francis is merely trying to develop— rather than to change— the teachings of the Catholic Church?

With the release of Fratelli Tutti this week we have seen a pattern of media coverage that is now familiar. First there are headlines suggesting that the Pope has written something new and radical. Then the more sober analysis, arguing that this new papal statement is in line with Catholic traditions. The analysts who issue such reassurances are always arguing uphill— not only because the original media headlines leave a lasting impression, but because the papal text itself contains so much evidence of the Pope’s wish to promote change.

Yes, there is solid, traditional Catholic teaching to be found in this encyclical. But there are also troubling passages in which Pope Francis appears clearly to be repudiating the statements and writings of his predecessors. Moreover, the most significant statements are floating on such an enormous sea of verbiage— amid 43,000 words of puzzling, speculative, and irrelevant commentary— that even the most determined reader must wonder what message the Pope really does want to convey.  …

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