Skip to comments.Excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI New Encyclical "CARITAS IN VERITATE" (CHARITY AND TRUTH)
Posted on 07/07/2009 5:26:31 AM PDT by stfassisi
Excerpt...17. A vocation is a call that requires a free and responsible answer. Integral human development presupposes the responsible freedom of the individual and of peoples: no structure can guarantee this development over and above human responsibility. The types of messianism which give promises but create illusions always build their case on a denial of the transcendent dimension of development, in the conviction that it lies entirely at their disposal. This false security becomes a weakness, because it involves reducing man to subservience, to a mere means for development, while the humility of those who accept a vocation is transformed into true autonomy, because it sets them free. Paul VI was in no doubt that obstacles and forms of conditioning hold up development, but he was also certain that each one remains, whatever be these influences affecting him, the principal agent of his own success or failure. This freedom concerns the type of development we are considering, but it also affects situations of underdevelopment which are not due to chance or historical necessity, but are attributable to human responsibility. This is why the peoples in hunger are making a dramatic appeal to the peoples blessed with abundance. This too is a vocation, a call addressed by free subjects to other free subjects in favour of an assumption of shared responsibility. Paul VI had a keen sense of the importance of economic structures and institutions, but he had an equally clear sense of their nature as instruments of human freedom. Only when it is free can development be integrally human; only in a climate of responsible freedom can it grow in a satisfactory manner.
Excerpt....Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty. The economic development that Paul VI hoped to see was meant to produce real growth, of benefit to everyone and genuinely sustainable. It is true that growth has taken place, and it continues to be a positive factor that has lifted billions of people out of misery recently it has given many countries the possibility of becoming effective players in international politics. Yet it must be acknowledged that this same economic growth has been and continues to be weighed down by malfunctions and dramatic problems, highlighted even further by the current crisis. This presents us with choices that cannot be postponed concerning nothing less than the destiny of man, who, moreover, cannot prescind from his nature. The technical forces in play, the global interrelations, the damaging effects on the real economy of badly managed and largely speculative financial dealing, large-scale migration of peoples, often provoked by some particular circumstance and then given insufficient attention, the unregulated exploitation of the earth's resources: all this leads us today to reflect on the measures that would be necessary to provide a solution to problems that are not only new in comparison to those addressed by Pope Paul VI, but also, and above all, of decisive impact upon the present and future good of humanity.
Excerpt...The mobility of labour, associated with a climate of deregulation, is an important phenomenon with certain positive aspects, because it can stimulate wealth production and cultural exchange. Nevertheless, uncertainty over working conditions caused by mobility and deregulation, when it becomes endemic, tends to create new forms of psychological instability, giving rise to difficulty in forging coherent life-plans, including that of marriage. This leads to situations of human decline, to say nothing of the waste of social resources. In comparison with the casualties of industrial society in the past, unemployment today provokes new forms of economic marginalization, and the current crisis can only make this situation worse. Being out of work or dependent on public or private assistance for a prolonged period undermines the freedom and creativity of the person and his family and social relationships, causing great psychological and spiritual suffering.
Excerpt...28. One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples. It is an aspect which has acquired increasing prominence in recent times, obliging us to broaden our concept of poverty and underdevelopment to include questions connected with the acceptance of life, especially in cases where it is impeded in a variety of ways.
Not only does the situation of poverty still provoke high rates of infant mortality in many regions, but some parts of the world still experience practices of demographic control, on the part of governments that often promote contraception and even go so far as to impose abortion. In economically developed countries, legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other States as if it were a form of cultural progress.
Some non-governmental Organizations work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned. Moreover, there is reason to suspect that development aid is sometimes linked to specific health-care policies which de facto involve the imposition of strong birth control measures. Further grounds for concern are laws permitting euthanasia as well as pressure from lobby groups, nationally and internationally, in favour of its juridical recognition.
Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual
Excerpt...When the State promotes, teaches, or actually imposes forms of practical atheism, it deprives its citizens of the moral and spiritual strength that is indispensable for attaining integral human development and it impedes them from moving forward with renewed dynamism as they strive to offer a more generous human response to divine love. In the context of cultural, commercial or political relations, it also sometimes happens that economically developed or emerging countries export this reductive vision of the person and his destiny to poor countries. This is the damage that superdevelopment causes to authentic development when it is accompanied by moral underdevelopment.
30. In this context, the theme of integral human development takes on an even broader range of meanings: the correlation between its multiple elements requires a commitment to foster the interaction of the different levels of human knowledge in order to promote the authentic development of peoples. Often it is thought that development, or the socio-economic measures that go with it, merely require to be implemented through joint action. This joint action, however, needs to be given direction, because all social action involves a doctrine. In view of the complexity of the issues, it is obvious that the various disciplines have to work together through an orderly interdisciplinary exchange. Charity does not exclude knowledge, but rather requires, promotes, and animates it from within. Knowledge is never purely the work of the intellect. It can certainly be reduced to calculation and experiment, but if it aspires to be wisdom capable of directing man in the light of his first beginnings and his final ends, it must be seasoned with the salt of charity. Deeds without knowledge are blind, and knowledge without love is sterile. Indeed, the individual who is animated by true charity labours skilfully to discover the causes of misery, to find the means to combat it, to overcome it resolutely. Faced with the phenomena that lie before us, charity in truth requires first of all that we know and understand, acknowledging and respecting the specific competence of every level of knowledge. Charity is not an added extra, like an appendix to work already concluded in each of the various disciplines: it engages them in dialogue from the very beginning. The demands of love do not contradict those of reason. Human knowledge is insufficient and the conclusions of science cannot indicate by themselves the path towards integral human development.
Excerpt...36. Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.
The Church has always held that economic action is not to be regarded as something opposed to society. In and of itself, the market is not, and must not become, the place where the strong subdue the weak. Society does not have to protect itself from the market, as if the development of the latter were ipso facto to entail the death of authentically human relations. Admittedly, the market can be a negative force, not because it is so by nature, but because a certain ideology can make it so. It must be remembered that the market does not exist in the pure state. It is shaped by the cultural configurations which define it and give it direction. Economy and finance, as instruments, can be used badly when those at the helm are motivated by purely selfish ends. Instruments that are good in themselves can thereby be transformed into harmful ones. But it is man's darkened reason that produces these consequences, not the instrument per se. Therefore it is not the instrument that must be called to account, but individuals, their moral conscience and their personal and social responsibility.
The Church's social doctrine holds that authentically human social relationships of friendship, solidarity and reciprocity can also be conducted within economic activity, and not only outside it or after it. The economic sphere is neither ethically neutral, nor inherently inhuman and opposed to society. It is part and parcel of human activity and precisely because it is human, it must be structured and governed in an ethical manner.
Excerpt...What is needed, therefore, is a market that permits the free operation, in conditions of equal opportunity, of enterprises in pursuit of different institutional ends. Alongside profit-oriented private enterprise and the various types of public enterprise, there must be room for commercial entities based on mutualist principles and pursuing social ends to take root and express themselves. It is from their reciprocal encounter in the marketplace that one may expect hybrid forms of commercial behaviour to emerge, and hence an attentiveness to ways of civilizing the economy. Charity in truth, in this case, requires that shape and structure be given to those types of economic initiative which, without rejecting profit, aim at a higher goal than the mere logic of the exchange of equivalents, of profit as an end in itself.
Excerpt...oday's international economic scene, marked by grave deviations and failures, requires a profoundly new way of understanding business enterprise. Old models are disappearing, but promising new ones are taking shape on the horizon. Without doubt, one of the greatest risks for businesses is that they are almost exclusively answerable to their investors, thereby limiting their social value. Owing to their growth in scale and the need for more and more capital, it is becoming increasingly rare for business enterprises to be in the hands of a stable director who feels responsible in the long term, not just the short term, for the life and the results of his company, and it is becoming increasingly rare for businesses to depend on a single territory. Moreover, the so-called outsourcing of production can weaken the company's sense of responsibility towards the stakeholders namely the workers, the suppliers, the consumers, the natural environment and broader society in favour of the shareholders, who are not tied to a specific geographical area and who therefore enjoy extraordinary mobility. Today's international capital market offers great freedom of action. Yet there is also increasing awareness of the need for greater social responsibility on the part of business. Even if the ethical considerations that currently inform debate on the social responsibility of the corporate world are not all acceptable from the perspective of the Church's social doctrine, there is nevertheless a growing conviction that business management cannot concern itself only with the interests of the proprietors, but must also assume responsibility for all the other stakeholders who contribute to the life of the business: the workers, the clients, the suppliers of various elements of production, the community of reference. In recent years a new cosmopolitan class of managers has emerged, who are often answerable only to the shareholders generally consisting of anonymous funds which de facto determine their remuneration. By contrast, though, many far-sighted managers today are becoming increasingly aware of the profound links between their enterprise and the territory or territories in which it operates. Paul VI invited people to give serious attention to the damage that can be caused to one's home country by the transfer abroad of capital purely for personal advantage. John Paul II taught that investment always has moral, as well as economic significance. All this it should be stressed is still valid today, despite the fact that the capital market has been significantly liberalized, and modern technological thinking can suggest that investment is merely a technical act, not a human and ethical one. There is no reason to deny that a certain amount of capital can do good, if invested abroad rather than at home. Yet the requirements of justice must be safeguarded, with due consideration for the way in which the capital was generated and the harm to individuals that will result if it is not used where it was produced. What should be avoided is a speculative use of financial resources that yields to the temptation of seeking only short-term profit, without regard for the long-term sustainability of the enterprise, its benefit to the real economy and attention to the advancement, in suitable and appropriate ways, of further economic initiatives in countries in need of development. It is true that the export of investments and skills can benefit the populations of the receiving country. Labour and technical knowledge are a universal good. Yet it is not right to export these things merely for the sake of obtaining advantageous conditions, or worse, for purposes of exploitation, without making a real contribution to local society by helping to bring about a robust productive and social system, an essential factor for stable development.
41. In the context of this discussion, it is helpful to observe that business enterprise involves a wide range of values, becoming wider all the time. The continuing hegemony of the binary model of market-plus-State has accustomed us to think only in terms of the private business leader of a capitalistic bent on the one hand, and the State director on the other. In reality, business has to be understood in an articulated way. There are a number of reasons, of a meta-economic kind, for saying this. Business activity has a human significance, prior to its professional one. It is present in all work, understood as a personal action, an actus personae, which is why every worker should have the chance to make his contribution knowing that in some way he is working for himself'. With good reason, Paul VI taught that everyone who works is a creator. It is in response to the needs and the dignity of the worker, as well as the needs of society, that there exist various types of business enterprise, over and above the simple distinction between private and public. Each of them requires and expresses a specific business capacity. In order to construct an economy that will soon be in a position to serve the national and global common good, it is appropriate to take account of this broader significance of business activity. It favours cross-fertilization between different types of business activity, with shifting of competences from the non-profit world to the profit world and vice versa, from the public world to that of civil society, from advanced economies to developing countries.
Excerpt...44. The notion of rights and duties in development must also take account of the problems associated with population growth. This is a very important aspect of authentic development, since it concerns the inalienable values of life and the family. To consider population increase as the primary cause of underdevelopment is mistaken, even from an economic point of view. Suffice it to consider, on the one hand, the significant reduction in infant mortality and the rise in average life expectancy found in economically developed countries, and on the other hand, the signs of crisis observable in societies that are registering an alarming decline in their birth rate. Due attention must obviously be given to responsible procreation, which among other things has a positive contribution to make to integral human development. The Church, in her concern for man's authentic development, urges him to have full respect for human values in the exercise of his sexuality. It cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment, nor can sex education be reduced to technical instruction aimed solely at protecting the interested parties from possible disease or the risk of procreation. This would be to impoverish and disregard the deeper meaning of sexuality, a meaning which needs to be acknowledged and responsibly appropriated not only by individuals but also by the community. It is irresponsible to view sexuality merely as a source of pleasure, and likewise to regulate it through strategies of mandatory birth control. In either case materialistic ideas and policies are at work, and individuals are ultimately subjected to various forms of violence. Against such policies, there is a need to defend the primary competence of the family in the area of sexuality, as opposed to the State and its restrictive policies, and to ensure that parents are suitably prepared to undertake their responsibilities.
Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource. Populous nations have been able to emerge from poverty thanks not least to the size of their population and the talents of their people. On the other hand, formerly prosperous nations are presently passing through a phase of uncertainty and in some cases decline, precisely because of their falling birth rates; this has become a crucial problem for highly affluent societies. The decline in births, falling at times beneath the so-called replacement level, also puts a strain on social welfare systems, increases their cost, eats into savings and hence the financial resources needed for investment, reduces the availability of qualified labourers, and narrows the brain pool upon which nations can draw for their needs. Furthermore, smaller and at times miniscule families run the risk of impoverishing social relations, and failing to ensure effective forms of solidarity. These situations are symptomatic of scant confidence in the future and moral weariness. It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character.
Excerpt...Nature expresses a design of love and truth. It is prior to us, and it has been given to us by God as the setting for our life. Nature speaks to us of the Creator (cf. Rom 1:20) and his love for humanity. It is destined to be recapitulated in Christ at the end of time (cf. Eph 1:9-10; Col 1:19-20). Thus it too is a vocation. Nature is at our disposal not as a heap of scattered refuse, but as a gift of the Creator who has given it an inbuilt order, enabling man to draw from it the principles needed in order to till it and keep it (Gen 2:15). But it should also be stressed that it is contrary to authentic development to view nature as something more important than the human person. This position leads to attitudes of neo-paganism or a new pantheism human salvation cannot come from nature alone, understood in a purely naturalistic sense. This having been said, it is also necessary to reject the opposite position, which aims at total technical dominion over nature, because the natural environment is more than raw material to be manipulated at our pleasure; it is a wondrous work of the Creator containing a grammar which sets forth ends and criteria for its wise use, not its reckless exploitation. Today much harm is done to development precisely as a result of these distorted notions. Reducing nature merely to a collection of contingent data ends up doing violence to the environment and even encouraging activity that fails to respect human nature itself. Our nature, constituted not only by matter but also by spirit, and as such, endowed with transcendent meaning and aspirations, is also normative for culture. Human beings interpret and shape the natural environment through culture, which in turn is given direction by the responsible use of freedom, in accordance with the dictates of the moral law. Consequently, projects for integral human development cannot ignore coming generations, but need to be marked by solidarity and inter-generational justice, while taking into account a variety of contexts: ecological, juridical, economic, political and cultural.
Excerpt...n order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society.
52. Truth, and the love which it reveals, cannot be produced: they can only be received as a gift. Their ultimate source is not, and cannot be, mankind, but only God, who is himself Truth and Love. This principle is extremely important for society and for development, since neither can be a purely human product; the vocation to development on the part of individuals and peoples is not based simply on human choice, but is an intrinsic part of a plan that is prior to us and constitutes for all of us a duty to be freely accepted. That which is prior to us and constitutes us subsistent Love and Truth shows us what goodness is, and in what our true happiness consists. It shows us the road to true development.
Excerpt...55. The Christian revelation of the unity of the human race presupposes a metaphysical interpretation of the humanum in which relationality is an essential element. Other cultures and religions teach brotherhood and peace and are therefore of enormous importance to integral human development. Some religious and cultural attitudes, however, do not fully embrace the principle of love and truth and therefore end up retarding or even obstructing authentic human development. There are certain religious cultures in the world today that do not oblige men and women to live in communion but rather cut them off from one other in a search for individual well-being, limited to the gratification of psychological desires. Furthermore, a certain proliferation of different religious paths, attracting small groups or even single individuals, together with religious syncretism, can give rise to separation and disengagement. One possible negative effect of the process of globalization is the tendency to favour this kind of syncretism by encouraging forms of religion that, instead of bringing people together, alienate them from one another and distance them from reality. At the same time, some religious and cultural traditions persist which ossify society in rigid social groupings, in magical beliefs that fail to respect the dignity of the person, and in attitudes of subjugation to occult powers. In these contexts, love and truth have difficulty asserting themselves, and authentic development is impeded.
For this reason, while it may be true that development needs the religions and cultures of different peoples, it is equally true that adequate discernment is needed. Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal. Discernment is needed regarding the contribution of cultures and religions, especially on the part of those who wield political power, if the social community is to be built up in a spirit of respect for the common good. Such discernment has to be based on the criterion of charity and truth. Since the development of persons and peoples is at stake, this discernment will have to take account of the need for emancipation and inclusivity, in the context of a truly universal human community. The whole man and all men is also the criterion for evaluating cultures and religions. Christianity, the religion of the God who has a human face, contains this very criterion within itself.
Excerpt...In many cases, poverty results from a violation of the dignity of human work, either because work opportunities are limited (through unemployment or underemployment), or because a low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family. For this reason, on 1 May 2000 on the occasion of the Jubilee of Workers, my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II issued an appeal for a global coalition in favour of decent work', supporting the strategy of the International Labour Organization. In this way, he gave a strong moral impetus to this objective, seeing it as an aspiration of families in every country of the world. What is meant by the word decency in regard to work? It means work that expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community; work that enables the worker to be respected and free from any form of discrimination; work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for their children, without the children themselves being forced into labour; work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard; work that leaves enough room for rediscovering one's roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living.
Excerpt... Finance, therefore through the renewed structures and operating methods that have to be designed after its misuse, which wreaked such havoc on the real economy now needs to go back to being an instrument directed towards improved wealth creation and development. Insofar as they are instruments, the entire economy and finance, not just certain sectors, must be used in an ethical way so as to create suitable conditions for human development and for the development of peoples. It is certainly useful, and in some circumstances imperative, to launch financial initiatives in which the humanitarian dimension predominates. However, this must not obscure the fact that the entire financial system has to be aimed at sustaining true development. Above all, the intention to do good must not be considered incompatible with the effective capacity to produce goods. Financiers must rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity, so as not to abuse the sophisticated instruments which can serve to betray the interests of savers. Right intention, transparency, and the search for positive results are mutually compatible and must never be detached from one another. If love is wise, it can find ways of working in accordance with provident and just expediency, as is illustrated in a significant way by much of the experience of credit unions.
Both the regulation of the financial sector, so as to safeguard weaker parties and discourage scandalous speculation, and experimentation with new forms of finance, designed to support development projects, are positive experiences that should be further explored and encouraged, highlighting the responsibility of the investor. Furthermore, the experience of micro-finance, which has its roots in the thinking and activity of the civil humanists I am thinking especially of the birth of pawnbroking should be strengthened and fine-tuned. This is all the more necessary in these days when financial difficulties can become severe for many of the more vulnerable sectors of the population, who should be protected from the risk of usury and from despair. The weakest members of society should be helped to defend themselves against usury, just as poor peoples should be helped to derive real benefit from micro-credit, in order to discourage the exploitation that is possible in these two areas. Since rich countries are also experiencing new forms of poverty, micro-finance can give practical assistance by launching new initiatives and opening up new sectors for the benefit of the weaker elements in society, even at a time of general economic downturn.
Excerpt...79. Development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us. For this reason, even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God's love. Development requires attention to the spiritual life, a serious consideration of the experiences of trust in God, spiritual fellowship in Christ, reliance upon God's providence and mercy, love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace. All this is essential if hearts of stone are to be transformed into hearts of flesh (Ezek 36:26), rendering life on earth divine and thus more worthy of humanity. All this is of man, because man is the subject of his own existence; and at the same time it is of God, because God is at the beginning and end of all that is good, all that leads to salvation: the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's (1 Cor 3:22-23). Christians long for the entire human family to call upon God as Our Father! In union with the only-begotten Son, may all people learn to pray to the Father and to ask him, in the words that Jesus himself taught us, for the grace to glorify him by living according to his will, to receive the daily bread that we need, to be understanding and generous towards our debtors, not to be tempted beyond our limits, and to be delivered from evil (cf. Mt 6:9-13).
The ongoing economic events which suddenly surfaced last September point to the truth of this statement.
I will read the entire encyclical this afternoon hopefully. From the excerpts, though, I can make two observations. First, this is the work of a genius, a patristic genius. This letter will likely rank far above the more pedestrian encyclicals of +Paul VI and especially of +JPII and may even be compared in substance if not in style with On Wealth and Poverty. Second, I predict we’ll see all sorts of exploding heads from among the devotees of the so called “Christian Right”, probably even here on FR to the extent any non Latins or Orthodox read the encyclical.
After reading statements such as
they will brand him the head of the Catholic Socialist Church. :)
I, too, haven’t read the entire encyclical, but the religious right has never been characterized by off-the-cliff free market extremism. To be sure, many of us at FR went through a libertarian phase, — I did, — but typically the attraction of libertarianism fades precisely when the political right wing becomes primarily Christian in its outlook.
The exploding heads have started already. Frankly, the reaction here on FR says far, far more about the mindset and “Christianity” of many of the posters on this site than it does about the theology of the Pope. A few of us have noted and warned against this sort of twisted, politized reaction to what The Church teaches before. It was like hollering down a well!
He is indeed worthy of the office.
Just reading the excerts above and coming to the last two paragraphs I recall again why I have enjoyed reading his works.
FR as a whole is not Christian Right, and Christian Right is not Catholic Christian Right. I think, given the Americasn experience in particular, we should be leary of world political authorities, and the posts on that thread reflect that unease.
On the other hand, your warnings were mostly about the non-negotiability of pro-life political agenda. Where is any softening on that in the encyclical?
Is not this encyclical--and the reactions thereto--really a test of the First Commandment? And a question of what are our first and foundational principles and ultimate loyalties?
I treasure Martin Luther's explanation of the commandment
We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
Any Catholic social teaching, one you like and one you might dislike, is always an elaboration on the First Commandment. This encyclical, I am sure, is no exception.
All I can say is that if the Pope has in mind some kind of economic world order based on principles similar to marxism/socialism/communism in terms of redistribution of weatlh, etc. then he is profoundly ignorant of how best to raise the poor out of their sad conditions.
It's because I do care about the poor that I say this, with all due repect to the intentions of the Pope himself.
My warnings were about the uncanonical and even heretical positions politics have gotten some of the Latin bishops into and how very ready so many of the Latin Rite laity were to follow them into that spiritual shipwreck. The reaction we are seeing to the Pope's encyclical here on FR reflect the same tendency among the right here to view religion through the lens of politics; in other words, if what The Church teaches doesn't square with a very parochial American mindset and the life philosophy of an increasingly narrow segment of society, then it is not teaching The Truth as The Church has always taught it, but rather a sort of demonized philosophy, socialism or communism. Alex, the Pope is teaching The Truth and that Truth it is hoped will cause a metanoia which in turn with transform society in the “City of God” as he says. This isn't about politics, its about theosis. What those intermeddling hierarchs were up to wasn't theosis, certainly not the heresiarch Martino; it was pure politics.
I've read all that's been posted here and I seriously tried to be non-judgemental of him as a man. Perhaps I failed.
The policies he is espousing won't work. We would ultimately end up with a world population no better off than those in North Korea or the poorest parts of China and India who used to be socialist.
I respect him as a man of God and as a scholar. He has, however, not done his homework sufficiently in worldly things to see that there is a way that God's world works down here and he is mistaken about the economic and wealth-creating part.
Creation of wealth, in and of itself, is neither good nor evil. It is simply necessary just as collecting food and water is necessary. Wealth is potential energy. Without wealth you can't give any money away to those who don't have it. Controlling that wealth in a centralized government leads to a whole world of corruption and waste. That is clear from history. Nobody's goals are reached, especially the poor and powerless. Millions die.
Theocracies don't work. Socialism and other centralized economies don't work. A world of variations on the model of a Constitutional Republic with a (mostly) free market uniting them is the best solution that humans have so far come up with in this imperfect world.
There is room for politics in Christendom. Voting, after all, is a moral act, as is — the Pope reminded us — buying and selling. A bishop must not be silent on political issues. In order to condemn Martino fairly you had to point out where the politics obscured the larger truth in his teaching. That you did not do.
This can only work if morality is upheld.
This means no legal pornography,abortion etc.. excess wealth that leads to power over the poor for political purpose.
A democracy based upon freedom to whatever you want based upon a legal system that protects sin and calls it freedom has failed in less than 300 years
True, but you cannot legislate morality nor use a government to force people to be moral. Morality must be voluntary with the exception of the major crimes like murder, theft, etc.
A centralized global bureaucracy "with teeth" cannot maintain peace and prosperity (and charity) nearly as efficiently or effectively as local governments that allow for a wide variety of freedoms, customs and traditions (and personal generosity) within the larger secular law.
It is interesting you say that, because Benedict quoted extensively from +Paul VI.
And that is the huge fly in the ointment. While I have not finished the encyclical yet (plan on it soon), in skimming I see the same problem that exists in Distributism (not sure on the spelling).
For this to work, there needs to be a powerful body governed by moral men. Other wise, it will simply be used as a hammer against adversaries.
Many good points, but while he explicitly says this is not a Utopian thing, I fear that it is in the world we live in today. There were times when such a thing could have worked.
Great series of posts by you. Good to see our esteemed brothers from the Eastern Church here with us defending the Bishop of Rome and as you say, there will be those on both the right and the left, that will try to interpret this thru political lens. The Introduction of the Encylical, as with everything the Pope does, is interpreted thru the person of Christ
For example, Pope Benedict in his book In the Beginning: A Catholic understanding of the Story of Creation and Fall writes (pp.9-10):
For the Christian the Old Testament represents, in its totality, and advance towards CHrist; only when it attains to him does its real meaning, which was gradually hinted at, become clear. Thus every individual part derives its meaning from the whole, and the whole derives its meanings from its end-from Christ. Hence we only interpret an individual text theologically correctly [as the Fathers of the Church recognized and as the faith of the Church in every age has recognized] when we see it as a way that is leading us every forward, when we see in the text where this way is tending and what its inner direction is.
Everything the Pope writes is interpreted thru this hermaneutic principle, i.e Typology, which is the orthodox Apostolic Tradition handed down from the Fathers.
As for pushing Marxism, the book I cited from “heavily criticizes Marxist ideology, as does every book I have ever read by the Pope including such works as “Spirit of the Liturgy and “Principles of Catholic Theology”,
Also Kolokotronis with respect to the Church Fathers:
Pope Benedict and the and his book entitled Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones For a Fundamental Theology, the Pope in Chapter 2, entitled Scripture and Tradition, lays out the case for Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, as expressed in the Creeds of the Church, the Liturgy and writings of the Church Fathers, and how they are all important in building a foundation for orthodox doctrine. Now, with respect to the Church Fathers, Pope Benedict (pp. 148-151) makes some interesting points. First, The Canon of Holy Scripture can be traced back to them, or at least to the undivided Church of the first centuries, of which they were the representatives. It is through their [The Church Fathers] efforts that precisely those books that today we call New Testament were chosen from a multitude of other available literary texts and that the Greek version of the OT was joined to them, that it was interpreted in terms of them, and together became known as Holy Scripture The Pope continues and notes that a book was recognized as canonical if it was read in the Liturgy of the Church [public worship]. By Church, the Pope notes that it means that the numerous Eastern Churches had their own lists and customs, but in the end, all came to accept the same set of books. The Pope notes of the Gnostic texts, which aspired to become scripture but states that it was the anti-Gnostic Church Fathers whose writings against the Gnostics drew the line in the Church. In summary, the canon, as canon, would be inconceivable without the intellectual movement to which patristic theology bears witness.
Second, in addition to the Bible, the Church Fathers were instrumental in formulating the important symbola of all Christendom [ie. the Creeds and Confessions of Faith] and Finally, in the ancient undivided Church, the reading of Sacred Scripture and the confession of faith [Creeds] were primarily Liturgical acts of the whole assembly gathered around the Risen Lord. Thus, the Pope notes, it was the ancient Church, and thus the Fathers, that created the fundamental forms of Christian Liturgy
The Pope concludes by stating that given these 3 points, theology will always be indebted to the Church Fathers and will have cause to return again and again to them. The Bible, as the Pope notes, comes to us by way of history. If we ignore history, we become entangled and thus remain bound to our own thinking and reflect only ourselves. Therefore, the Pope concludes that the Church Fathers are still essential and must not be seen as a matter of cataloguing in a museum dedicated to what has been. No, The Fathers are the common past of all Christians!. And in the rediscovery of the common possession lies the hope for the future of the Church, the task for herand our-present.
In summary Kolokotronis, you understand Pope Benedict better than many Catholics I deal with.
Pax et bonum
“It is interesting you say that, because Benedict quoted extensively from +Paul VI.”
The Pope is nothing if not a perfect gentleman and in any event, de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est!
Now, I do want to clarify one thing, I think we really don’t know Bishop Martino’s motives, and there is a growing consensus among Catholic Bishops to start enforcing Canon 815 in stricter terms, which of course only deals with Latin-Rite Catholics as Eastern Catholics in communion with Rome have their own Canons consistent with the various Eastern Traditions [Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinopile, etc]
“In summary Kolokotronis, you understand Pope Benedict better than many Catholics I deal with.”
Thank you for the kind words. When Pope Benedict was elected, an Orthodox hierarch commented to me that his teachings would be received with enthusiasm among the Orthodox because “he speaks our language.” He was not at all sure how Latins would react.
I agree. We also don't know Arius' motives in preaching his theology, though we are free to speculate, but we do know they provoked +Nicholas into slugging him. +Nicholas' motives on the other hand, are pretty obvious. :)
Yes, I am aware that St. Nicholas belted Arius! But lets be fair, Bishop Martino is not stating as Arius did, that “there was a time when He [The Father] was not yet a Father; Later he became So”, which of course was Arius’s interpretation of Proverbs Chapter 8 and particularly Proverbs 8: 22-31.
He could be an overzealus Bishop in terms of doing things for getting his name in the paper [again he could be] then again maybe not. Who knows?
I think it is fair to say that you don’t agree with his pastoral approach as a Bishop, which is fair. However, to accuse him of a heresy of the like of Arius I think is also unfair.
Anyway, good to see you back in the Catholic Threads
“Yes, I am aware that St. Nicholas belted Arius!”
I didn’t doubt for a moment that you were well aware of what I was talking about. That’s why I mentioned it, CT! :)
“Bishop Martino is not stating as Arius did, that there was a time when He [The Father] was not yet a Father; Later he became So, which of course was Ariuss interpretation of Proverbs Chapter 8 and particularly Proverbs 8: 22-31.”
Agreed. Arius denied the Orthodox understanding of The Trinity and the Nature of Christ. Martino ranks those Orthodox beliefs and their defense lower than his concept of anti-abortionism.
“He could be an overzealus Bishop in terms of doing things for getting his name in the paper [again he could be] then again maybe not. Who knows?”
I agree, though the Fathers taught that the desire to rule is the mother of all heresies. Given Martino’s apparent eagerness to insert himself into the affairs of another diocese, the wisdom of the Fathers might be right on the mark in this instance.
“However, to accuse him of a heresy of the like of Arius I think is also unfair.”
You misunderstand me. Martinoism isn’t Arianism by a long shot, given a few moments dispassionate thought its foolishess becomes apparent, but all heresy is a poisonous weed, especially when it is taught within the Church by one charged with the shepherding of the laity.
“Anyway, good to see you back in the Catholic Threads”