June 18, 2015 Last Updated 9:17 am

Vatican releases encyclical letter urging better stewardship of the environment, less inequality

Morning Brief: South Carolina manhunt on for young white male following shooting at historic Charleston church which leaves nine dead including a state senator

The Vatican today released its papal encyclical letter centeredon the environment. The letter, which has drawn criticism from conservatives even before its release, calls for “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.”

papa-francesco-800The letter, Laudato Si’, calls on rich nations to become better stewards of the environment.

“The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change,” the letter states.

The letter was leaked early by what many think were conservative forces within the Church opposed to the message of the letter – one that was wide ranging, and not solely concerning the environment.

“Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system, a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises after a slow, costly and only apparent recovery,” states the letter. “The financial crisis of 2007-08 provided an opportunity to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and new ways of regulating speculative financial practices and virtual wealth. But the response to the crisis did not include rethinking the outdated criteria which continue to rule the world.”

The news generated by the release of the letter was overshadowed in the U.S. by a church shooting in South Carolina, but has received strong coverage by most major media outlets. The New York Times, seemingly stubborn about its linking policy (they don’t like to link) failed to link to the actual document, forcing readers to scramble to find the letter on the Vatican’s website. (The paper instead provided three links to its own internal pages in a rather cynical attempt for additional page views.)

A Charleston church was the scene of a terrible crime last night. A white man, described as between 21 and 25, shot and killed nine people before fleeing. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a state senator, was among those killed in the shooting.

The church, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, is among the oldest churches with African-American congregations, known among its parishioners as Mother Emanuel. “It’s not just a church. It’s also a symbol … of black freedom,” The Washington Post quoted Robert Greene, from the University of South Carolina. “That’s why so many folks are so upset tonight, because it’s a church that represents so much about the rich history and tradition of African Americans in Charleston.”

Later: the shooter has been identified as Dylann Roof, 21. He is quoted by NBC as saying during the shooting “I have to do it. You rape our women and you are taking over our country. And you have to go.”

In other news… Donald Trump said he is running for President. His announcement, which one columnist said sounded “like it was plagiarized from an old drunk man mumbling to himself in a bar,” is likely to provide comedians with plenty of material during the summer and early fall (before he again decides its time to bow out of the race). Let’s hope he makes it to the first GOP date, scheduled for August 6 (on Fox News, of course).

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