If Pope Francis continues to sound relevant to Catholic and non-Catholic alike, and is able to see off the still powerful conservative forces in the Church before he steps down or dies - a big if as he is 78 after all - then he could act as a catalyst for social change and help the World find a way to deal with the challenges it faces from global warming to growing inequality.
Neither Friends of the Earth nor Pope Francis are anti-business. Laudato si isn't calling for an end to capitalism; for everything to re-nationalised. But, as the encyclical says 'The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces.' Amen to that and ditto in the case of inequality.
Climate change is a threat not just to the environment, but to people. And it's the poorest people who are most exposed. Tens of millions have been lifted out of poverty in the last 15 years, but more than one billion people still live in absolute poverty on less than $1.25 a day. Climate change also presents a growing danger to Britain. Flooding is the greatest threat to the UK from climate change, with up to 3.6 million people at risk by the middle of the century. The 2007 floods in Britain were a powerful reminder that, even in developed countries, climate change is national security issue. I agree with Pope Francis.
Whether as populist-opportunist or pastor bonis, what remains clear to us is that Francis already grasped this development early on in his pontificate when few would have argued with the idea that Jesus can be far more effectively sold today through web clicks and profile page ratings - a notion which aptly coincides with the current requirement to package a more hip holiness for mass consumption.