I read David Brooks’ June 25 column, “Fracking and the Franciscans,” with great disappointment. As a lifelong Democrat, I look forward to Brooks’ columns (and those of Kathleen Parker) for their ability to present “the best case” for many Republican positions I disagree with.
Even though I expected Brooks to support Republican opposition to Francis’ encyclical, I was nevertheless deeply disappointed by the shallowness of his analysis.
Brooks’ summary of the encyclical would lead one to believe one of its major themes was fracking. But fracking — which is still in its scientific discernment stage — is a massive distraction from Francis’ main theme: Climate change is not just an economic and political issue, but also a pre-eminently moral and theological one.
When I read the full encyclical, I found several other major themes: massive environmental devastation; global capitalism supplanting the national state; and the increasing marginalization of the poor (e.g. the recent Tribune series on indigenous Nicaraguan peoples), to name a few.
Fracking was, at best, a subtopic, and its use was a way to avoid engaging the core challenges presented for dialogue by Pope Francis. Brooks chose the unhelpful path of merely echoing the Republican response to complex issues involved in climate change: denial. Instead of more clarity, he gave us mental Prozac. Or, better, a sleeping pill.