Pope’s Climate Change Encyclical to be Published by Melville House

Pope Francis: spiritual leader, humanitarian, tango enthusiast, and now, indie press author.

An unlikely resume, perhaps, but one made possible by independent publisher, Melville House, which today acquired the rights to the Pope’s encyclical, On Care for our Common Home. The encyclical, released by Pope Francis in May, addresses climate control, with a particular focus on the consequences for poorer nations if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. (It also invoked the wrath of conservative pols across the nation. Quoth Rick Santorum: “leave science to the scientists.”) Though Melville House has published other institutional texts (last year’s CIA torture report was a big hit), this marks the first time that the Vatican has joined forces with a secular publisher.

Naomi Oreskes, the Harvard professor tapped to write an introduction for the book, views the encyclical as potentially momentous for global environmental policy. “Historians looking back often recognize turning points, but ordinary people living through them rarely do. Sometimes, however, a book catalyzes thought into action. Uncle Tom’s Cabin did this, and so did Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Like those works, Pope Francis’s Encyclical is a call to action.”

Those ready to heed the call will not have long to wait. Melville’s rush edition of the encyclical will be available August 4 — perfectly timed to anticipate the Pope’s visit to the United States this September, when he will address both houses of congress, and is expected to broach the topic of climate control.

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