In this satirical video, a Pope Francis lookalike prepares for the ecological fight of his life.
Photo by Benhur Arcayan via Wikimedia Commons
Pope Francis is a complicated man—our current pontiff is a pizza-loving advocate for the poor, an honorary Harlem Globetrotter, and a champion of the environment. Now, the Catholic Church’s supreme overlord is also a kickboxing action hero in a “trailer” for his just-leaked climate encyclical letter, a 192-page document outlining new church positions on climate change. The tongue-in-cheek video, made by Brazilian environmental group Observatorio do Clima, shows the papal crusader fighting evil supervillain oil executives for the very fate of planet Earth. A pope look-alike spouts action catchphrases (“time to take out the trash”), swings his papal ferula like a ninja sword, and trains in an old fighting gym with the holy boxing coach, one Jesus Christ.
So why the dramatic portrayal? You probably don’t remember action-hero treatment for other news-making Catholic religious documents—Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae for example, was frankly more of a comedy of errors, and John XIII’s classic Pacem in Terris, despite a cinematic Cold War backdrop, never qualified him for Schwarzenegger status.
But this current encyclical is a different story, and with it, Pope Francis is taking on the fossil fuel industry and some of the world’s most powerful interests. The climate encyclical has been praised by scientists, but has also accrued the ire of many traditional Catholics, oil industry shills, and anti-science dullards who argue that major crises of biblical proportions are no place for the head of one of the world’s largest faiths. The letter was originally set for release this Thursday, but Italian magazine L’Espresso released it without permission earlier today. And while the real Pope might not literally be out there kicking ass and taking names, this satirical trailer, (despite a few, uh…creative embellishments), isn’t actually that far off from the stakes we’re up against in the fight to stave off global disaster.