'CARITAS IN VERITATE'

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TERESA BENEDETTA
00lunedì 6 luglio 2009 06.09



This thread consolidates all reportage and commentary, as well as background information and other related material pertaining to Benedict XVI's third encyclical, CARITAS IN VERITATE.



7/7/09

The English text of the encylical may be found on

www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate...
TERESA BENEDETTA
00lunedì 6 luglio 2009 06.11



Posting previous posts in this forum on Encyclical #3


Yet another alert on Encyclical #3.... It will come when it will come!


Pope's social encyclical
may finally come out on June 29





Vatican City, May 19, 2009 (CNA) - The first social encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, which will probably be called Veritas in caritate (Truth in Charity), appears as if it will see the light of day on June 29, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, a source from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace informed CNA.

The encyclical "has finally been completed by the Holy Father and should be published by the end of June," the source told CNA.

The same source also said that originally, Pope Benedict planned to publish his first social encyclical in 2007 to mark the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's memorable social encyclical Populorum Progressio, but the document "got delayed for several reasons."

According to the Justice and Peace source, the Pope wanted to publish his second encyclical Spe Salvi because he thought it was more important to release it first.

"But then the current global financial crisis required, last year, a thorough revision of many of the Pope's proposals for global justice," the source said.

The last social encyclical, Centesimus annus, was published by Pope John Paul II in May 1991.



TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.13


Not news, really, since the previous report on the social encyclical - in Andrea Tornielli's piece about coming Curial changes two days ago - said it would be dated June 29, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and will probably be released on that day or shortly thereafter.



Pope’s encyclical ‘almost ready’

Issue of 28 May 2009


Pope Benedict XVI has completed his long-awaited encyclical on social issues and the text is now being translated into several languages, according to a Vatican official.

The new document – Caritas in Veritate (“Love in truth”) – is about 100 pages long, the official said.

Originally planned for 2007 to mark the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s landmark social encyclical Populorum Progressio, the new papal document suffered a succession of delays as the current global economic crisis unfolded.

“The new social encyclical … can be an instrument to help politics recover its function: that of designing the architectural structures of our social life in the way of justice, freedom, truth and solidarity,” Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Justice and Peace council, told Vatican Radio earlier.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.15



Eve of an encyclical:
A German Catholic jurist advocates
repudiating catpitalism
and getting back to Marx!
What will Benedict XVI say?






ROME, June 5, 2009 – The socio-seconomic encyclical that has been in development for some time is known to begin with the Latin words 'Caritas in veritate' (Love in truth).

It is expected to be signed by the Pope on June 29, and released at the beginning of summer. It underwent various revisions, all of which left Benedict XVI dissatisfied until recently.

Unlike the encyclical on hope, written by the Pope himself from the first line to the last, and unlike the encyclical on charity, the first half of which was also written entirely by the Pope, many minds and many hands have worked on Caritas in Veritate.

In any case, Benedict XVI will leave his mark on it, already visible in the words of the title, which indissolubly link charity and truth.

There is a great deal of curiosity about what kind of mark this will be. Because little is known about Joseph Ratzinger's thought in matters of economics. Out of his vast body of writings, there is only one dedicated expressly to this topic - a lecture given in English in 1985, entitled "Market economy and ethics."

In that lecture, Ratzinger maintained that an economy without any ethical or religious foundation is destined for collapse. Now that there actually has been a collapse, more detailed analyses and proposals are expected from Benedict XVI.

A few months ago, responding to a question from a priest of Rome, the Pope said:

It is the Church's duty to denounce the fundamental errors that have now been revealed in the collapse of the major American banks. Human greed is a form of idolatry that is against the true God, and is a falsification of the image of God with another god, Mammon.

We must denounce this courageously, but also concretely, because grand moralizations are not helpful if they are not supported by a familiarity with reality, which helps us to understand what can be done concretely.

The Church has never simply denounced evils, it also shows the paths that lead to justice, to charity, to the conversion of hearts. In the economy as well, justice is established only if there are just persons. And these persons are assembled through the conversion of hearts.


It was February 26, 2009, and the encyclical [the post-crisis revision of it] was being re-drafted. The Pope's words only serve to heighten the curiosity.

It has become even more pressing since the publication in May
of a bombshell article by a German scholar whom Ratzinger has always read with interest and esteem.

The scholar is Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, of the same generation as the pope, a Catholic philosopher and a preeminent political scientist.

In a pivotal 1967 essay, he presented what was later called the "Böckenförde paradox": the thesis according to which "the secularized liberal state lives by presuppositions that it cannot guarantee."

On January 19, 2004, then-cardinal Raztinger and philosopher Jürgen Habermas used this thesis as the starting point for a debate in Munich on the theme "Ethics, religion, and the liberal state."

So, in an article for Süddeutsche Zeitung, also published in Italy in May by the journal of the Sacred Heart fathers in Bologna, Il Regno – and presented in its entirety here -
chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1338746?eng=y
Böckenförde applied his "paradox" to capitalism as well, but in much more devastating terms.

In his judgment, the principles on which the capitalist economic system is founded can no longer stand. Its current collapse is definitive, and has revealed the inhuman foundations of this system. The economy must therefore be rebuilt from the ground up, not on principles of egoism, but of solidarity.

It is up to the states, and European countries in the first place, to take control of the economy. And it is up to the Church, with its social doctrine, to accept the testimony of Marx, who saw correctly.

Böckenförde's anti-capitalist "manifesto" brought reaction, in Italy, from the Catholic economists most trusted by the Church, when interviewed by Il Foglio: Luigi Campiglio, vice president of the Catholic University of Milan; Dario Antiseri, a philosopher and follower of the liberal economic school of Vienna; Flavio Felice, a professor at the Pontifical Lateran University and president of the Tocqueville-Acton study center; Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, a banker and economic commentator for L'Osservatore Romano.

In particular, Antiseri objects that "restoring Marx today is like continuing to be Ptolemaic after Copernicus and Newton"; that "individualism is the opposite of collectivism, not of solidarism, and this is possible only if there is the creation of wealth to be shared, as takes place in capitalist societies"; and finally that Benedict XVI cannot be expected to distance himself from Centesimus Annus by John Paul II and from Rerum Novarum by Leo XII, with its "lucid and impassioned defense of private property."

Flavio Felice contests Böckenförde's unrealistic vision of an "angelic economy" as an alternative to a capitalism that is identified with pure lust for gain. And regarding the salvific control of the state over the economy, he points out that the encyclical Centesimus Annus by John Paul II, in paragraph 25, warns against precisely this danger:

When people think they possess the secret of a perfect social organization which makes evil impossible, they also think that they can use any means, including violence and deceit, in order to bring that organization into being. Politics then becomes a 'secular religion' which operates under the illusion of creating paradise in this world.


Ettore Gotti Tedeschi observes that Böckenförde lashes out against a capitalism of Protestant origin, dominated by man's egoism and inability to do good. But he does not realize that there is a capitalism in keeping with Catholic doctrine, which the popes from Leo XIII to John Paul II have denounced for its errors while appreciating its basic validity, linked to private property and freedom of investment and commerce.

In an article in Il Sole 24 Ore – Europe's most widely circulated financial newspaper – Gotti Tedeschi maintained that the current global turbulence does not arise from excessive greed or the lack of rules.

These have aggravated the crisis, but did not cause it. The real cause was the reduction of the birth rate, and therefore of the human capital that alone was capable of ensuring the necessary growth in production.

The frontal attack that Böckenförde brings against capitalism must in any case come to terms with the answer that Centesimus Annus, in paragraph 42, gives to the question of whether capitalism is a system that corresponds to "true economic and civil progress."

The answer of the encyclical is the following:

If by 'capitalism' is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a business economy, market economy or simply free economy.


In his article, the German scholar asks the social doctrine of the Church to awaken from its "Sleeping Beauty slumber" and apply itself to a "radical refutation" of capitalism, made obligatory by its current "evident collapse."

After the publication of Caritas in Veritate, it will therefore be interesting how Böckenförde comments on it.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.18




Pope addresses 'Centesimus Annus' Foundation
Translated from




Here is a translation of the address delivered by the Holy Father at noon Saturday (June 13) at the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace to the members of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation - at which he confirmed the imminent publication of his third encyclical, the so-called 'social encyclical'.


Venerated brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Distinguished dear friends:


Than you for your visit on the occasion of your annual meeting. I greet everyone with affection and I am thankful for all you do, with proven generosity, in the service of the Church.

I greet and thank Count Lorenzo Rossi di Montelera, your President who interpreted your sentiments with great sensitivity, while describing the major lines of the Foundation's activities. And I thank those who, in various languages. presented me with their affirmations of common devotion.

Our meeting today has a meaning and special value in the light of the situation which all mankind is now living.

Indeed, the financial and economic crisis which has struck the industrialized nations, as well as emerging adn developing nations, obviously shows how certain economic-financial paradigms which have been dominant in recent years must be rethought.

Therefore your Foundation has done well to confront, in the international convention held yesterday, the subject of inquiring into and identifying the values and rules that the economic world must live by in order to set in place a new model of development that is more attentive to the demands of solidarity and more respectful of human dignity.

I am happy to learn that you examined, in particular, the interdependence of institutions, society and the market, starting from the reflection, according to the encyclical Centesimus Annus of my venerated predecessor John Paul II, that the market economy (capitalism) - understood as 'the economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector" (No, 42) - can be recognized as a way to economic and civilian progress only if it is oriented to the common good (cfr No. 41).

This vision, however, must also be accompanied by another reflection according to which freedom in the economic sector must be "circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it in the service of human freedom in its totality" - responsible freedom 'the core of which is ethical and religious" (No. 42).

Quite opportunely, the Encyclical says: "Just as the person fully realizes himself in the free gift of self, so too ownership morally justifies itself in the creation, at the proper time and in the proper way, of opportunities for work and human growth for all" (No. 43)

I hope that the inquiries developed through your work, inspired by the eternal principles of the Gospel, may elaborate a vision of modern economy that respects the needs and the rights of the weak.

As you know, my Encyclical dedicated precisely to the vast subject of the economy and labor will be published soon: it will highlight what we Christians consider to be those objectives to pursue and the values to promote and defend tirelessly, in order to realize human coexistence that is truly free and fraternal.

I similarly note with pleasure what you have been doing in behalf of PISAI (Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica), to whose ends, which you share, I attribute great value for an ever more fruitful inter-religious dialog.

Dear friends, thank you once again for your visit. I assure each of you remembrance in my prayers, while I bless you all from my heart.



The Holy Father with children of Foundation members.


Note on the Foundation:


Founded on June 5, 1993, Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice” (CAPP) is a lay-led, pontifical organization, characterized by a special
relationship with its founder, Pope John Paul II. It is made up of business people, academics, and professionals.

Pope Benedict XVI has continued the tradition of yearly meetings with them, as a vehicle for lay education and evangelization of Catholic social doctrine, as contained in John Paul II's 1991 social encyclical Centesimus Annus.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.24



One of the many articles on which I have been catching up after two days away from the Web! John Allen provides an informative background.


Economic encyclical expands
on Church's 'best-kept secret'


Jun. 22, 2009


As the old joke goes, you could lay all the economists in the world end to end, and they would never reach a conclusion. Yet beginning in the late 19th century, one pope after another has ventured into this notoriously contentious and uncertain field, producing a sprawling body of economic analysis that forms the core of what's known as "Catholic social teaching."

Pope Benedict XVI will bring this tradition into the 21st century with his long-awaited new social encyclical, Veritas in Caritate (Truth in Charity), set for release before his summer break begins July 13. Benedict recently described it as a meditation on "the vast theme of the economy and work."

While Veritas in Caritate is addressed to the world, it could have special resonance in America, where some may be tempted to read it as a blueprint for the Church's relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama -- especially since the economy is one area where Catholic teaching and the Democratic Party platform aren't always at loggerheads.

Since Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum in 1891, which addressed the rise of industrial capitalism, social encyclicals have tended to coincide with moments of global upheaval.

Pius XI's Quadragesimo Anno in 1931 came during the Great Depression; Paul VI's Populorum Progressio in 1967 reflected the ferment of decolonization; and John Paul II's third and final encyclical on the economy, 1991's Centesimus Annus, followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Benedict's new encyclical continues this legacy, as its release has been delayed for almost two years in order to reflect on the present global economic meltdown.

The working class and the poor

Catholic teaching on economic justice often carries direct implications for politics, and in political terms it's been largely cheered by the left, but viewed with ambivalence on the right.

Pope John XXIII's 1961 encyclical Mater et Magistra offers a classic example. Issued at the height of the Cold War, it condemned both East and West for diverting resources that could be used for the poor into the arms race.

In reply, American Catholic writer Garry Wills, then still in his conservative phase, coined the immortal protest, "Mater si, Magistra no!" Similar consternation followed Paul VI's explicit call for higher taxes in wealthy nations to fund international aid programs in Populorum Progressio.

At the heart of Catholic social teaching is solidarity with the working class and the poor. Leo XIII set the tone, charging that in the era of robber-baron capitalism, "A small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than slavery itself." Pius XI was equally acerbic in condemning an "international imperialism of money."

To be sure, all modern popes have defended the right to private property, condemned communism and socialism, and embraced a principle of "subsidiarity" limiting the power of the state.

Yet there's also deep skepticism that the invisible hand of a market economy will necessarily be benign, and a clear accent on the common good over individual profit. As John Paul II put it in 1987's Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, private property carries a "social mortgage."

As a result, popes have supported labor unions, called for antipoverty efforts such as debt relief, and endorsed a host of positive rights for workers, such as a just wage, health care, decent working conditions and pensions.

Anyone surprised by the seemingly progressive thrust of all this should recall that in the beginning, popes weren't trying to be avant-garde. They took a dim view of free markets for the same reason they were suspicious of religious freedom and a free press -- because they saw economic liberalism as part of a broader Enlightenment-inspired attack on tradition.

Both capitalism and communism seemed "twin rocks of shipwreck," as Pius XI put it, meaning allegedly scientific attempts to construct a social order without traditional moral or spiritual wisdom.

In its early stages, papal social teaching seemed nostalgic for the medieval era, in which church-sponsored craft guilds buffered relations between labor and capital. The guild system provided the template for various attempts to find a Catholic third way between capitalism and communism, including such now-obscure theories as solidarism, distributism and corporatism.

John Paul's Centesimus Annus in 1991 was an important turning point, because it effectively brought this quest for a third way to a close. After the implosion of Soviet-style socialism, the late Pope endorsed a market economy as the best way to foster "free human creativity in the economic sector."

Even Centesimus Annus, however, hardly extols laissez-faire capitalism. John Paul insisted that the economy must be governed by a "strong juridical framework," the heart of which must be "ethical and religious."

Mixed reviews

In wider Catholic conversation, this social teaching plays to mixed reviews. Admirers describe it as the Church's "best-kept secret," wishing it were better known and more widely accepted. To critics, it's a classic example of clergymen exceeding their competence.

In 2004's The Church and the Market, Thomas Woods charged that papal social teaching sometimes ignores economic reality, with "calamitous" impact on the very people it's trying to help.

Critics also typically distinguish between the values expressed in social teaching, such as human dignity and solidarity, and the specific economic policies popes have either advocated or opposed. The latter, they argue, are not matters of faith or morals, and hence open to legitimate dissent. Philosopher Étienne Gilson's famous quip is oft-cited: "Piety is no substitute for technique."

Be that as it may, there's little reason to believe that Benedict XVI will depart from the broad approach sketched by his predecessors.

Two years ago, for example, Benedict wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which held the rotating presidency of the G8 at the time, to insist that measures to help poor nations -- including debt relief, "broad and unconditional access" to markets in wealthy countries, and combating diseases such as AIDS and malaria -- represent a "grave and unconditional moral responsibility."

Well before Benedict's election to the papacy, his basic economic philosophy seemed clear. In a 1988 essay, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger argued that capitalism is little better than Nazism or communism, because all three worship false idols (profit, the Volk and the state, respectively).

A degree of economic populism may be hard-wired into the Pope's DNA. His great-uncle, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, helped found a 19th-century political party, the Bauerbund, representing poor farmers against large industrial concerns.

Although Veritas in Caritate will be Benedict's first comprehensive social encyclical, he's repeatedly addressed social themes elsewhere, often striking three inter-related notes:

•Concern for social justice must not replace individual charity;
•Preaching the Gospel is essential to building a better world, because a world without God is destined to be inhuman;
•Systemic reform, though urgent, will not succeed without individual conversion.

Veritas in Caritate continues to push for government efforts to assist the poor, it could strengthen the hand of Catholics in the United States eager for collaboration with the Obama administration. If nothing else, almost anything Benedict says on the economy may help the pro-Obama camp by giving American Catholics something to ponder other than abortion.

A key question

Veritas in Caritate will also be the first social encyclical clearly conceived in the era of globalization, and experts will be anxious to see whether Benedict picks up what many regard as a key unanswered question in Catholic social teaching: What would a "strong juridical framework" for the economy look like in a 21st-century world?

Jesuit Fr. John Coleman has observed that a broad swath of governance today is not performed by national governments, but by intergovernmental bodies such as the World Trade Organization, or by private agencies such as Standard and Poor's (which regulates the $5 trillion bond market).

The power of nation-states is also limited by the rise of multinational corporations such as the banking conglomerate HSBC, with assets of $2.5 billion, greater than the GNP of all but five nations. Because Catholic social doctrine has little to say about these actors, Coleman believes it remains "much too vague and moralistic."

Experts hope that the global economic crisis that first erupted in mid-2007, which raised precisely the question of regulation in sectors such as banking and capital markets, may prompt the Pope to offer some new thinking along these lines.

Veritas in Caritate is expected to be dated June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. It's the 40th anniversary of Ad Petri Cathedram, the first encyclical of Pope John XXIII, the subtitle of which was "truth, unity and peace in a spirit of charity" -- seemingly echoed in Benedict's title, "Truth in Charity."


TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.26




SOCIAL ENCYCLICAL OUT
ON JULY 7-8 ?



Both Corriere della Sera and Repubblica today report that Benedict XVI's encyclical Caritas in Veritate will be released on July 7 or 8. This would make it in time for the G8 summit of the world's most industrialized nations.

But Repubblica also makes much of the allegation that the Vatican's Latin experts have not yet delivered the Latin translation to the printers because they have been having a hard time translating new economic terms for which Latin does not have the words.

[One would think the Vatican could hire any number of Latin experts living in Rome to help out. The Vatican itself has an agency for Latinitas which has been compiling and updating a dictionary of 'neologisms' in Latin for contemporary words such as 'blue jeans' and scientific terminology which the ancient Romans had no idea of!]





Paolo Rodari has advance information in some detail about the contents of the encyclical but does not set a specific release date other than that it will come out before the Pope goes on vacation on July 13.



'There is a crisis -
and it must be fought
with charity and truth'

by PAOLO RODARI
Translated from

June 27, 2009


On Monday, June 29, feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Benedict XVI will sign his third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate - three and a half years after Deus caritas est (December 25, 2005) and one and a half years after Spe salvi.The text will be released shortly thereafter, probably by July 10.

This newspaper, from conversations with those who assisted in its preparation in one way or another, can anticipate the essential points of a text whose purpose was clearly stated by the Pontiff himself during the audience with the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontefice Foundation last June 13.

With this encyclical, he told them, he seeks to "highlight what we Christians consider the objectives to pursue and the values to promote and defend tirelessly, in order to realize human coexistence that is truly free and fraternal."

The following is Rodari's summary of the 'essential points' in the encyclical. Though he does not present them as direct quotations, they evidently use language from the encyclical itself:

How can these objectives and values be pursued?

Only with 'charity and truth', the principal propulsive force for the true development of every person and of all mankind. Indeed, everything comes from God's love. And we also know that charity can only shine and be authentic in truth, the light which gives meaning and value to charity.

This light is, at the same time, that of reason and faith, through which human intelligence can arrive at the natural and supernatural truth of charity, and what it means in terms of giving, of reciprocal acceptance and of communion.

The social doctrine of the Church revolves around this principle of 'love in truth'. Indeed, this social doctrine is the announcement of the truth of Christ's love to society at large.

This doctrine preaches a service of love but always in truth, which preserves and expresses the liberating power of love in the ever-new events in man's history. This truth is at the same time the truth of faith and the truth of reason, with the distinction and synergy of these two cognitive areas.

Development, social wellbeing, an adequate solution to the serious problems that afflict humanity - all have need of this truth. Without it, without mutual trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action falls prey to private interests and the logic of power, with disaggregating effects for society, particularly one that has become globalized, when it finds itself in crisis as it does today.

Only through love, illuminated by the light of reason and faith, will it be possible to pursue development objectives endowed with a more human and humanizing value.

Love in truth demands justice: «ubi societas, ibi ius» - where there is society, there is law. I cannot give of what is mine to another without giving him what is justly due him. But it must be said that love goes beyond justice and completes it in the logic of giving and forgiving.

The 'city of man' is not promoted only through relationships based on rights and duties, but even more, and first of all, by relationships of giving freely, of mercy and of communion. Thus, justice and love require working effectively for the common good .

Already in 1967, with the encyclical Populorum progressio, Paul VI illuminated the subject of the development of peoples with the light of truth and the power of Christ's love.

Now, Benedict XVI, with Caritas in veritate, pays homage to Papa Montini by taking up his teachings on integral human development in his own way and actualizing it to the present.

Paul VI taught this: the authentic development of man concerns integrally the individual in all his dimensions. In Populorum progressio, he pointed out that authentic development is above all, a calling, a vocation.

Since vocation is a call that requires a response, integral human development presupposes responsible freedom of the individual and of peoples: No structure can guarantee such a development outside of human responsibility itself, responsibility that can recognize in the idea of development as vocation the centrality of love in truth.

Even today, as in the time of Populorum progressio, love in truth urgently demands facing with courage and without delay the great problems of injustice in the development of peoples.

Indeed, the economic development that Paul VI wished for is one that produces real growth which extends to everybody and is concretely sustainable.

But it must be acknowledged that at a distance of 40 years, economic development has been and continues to be weighed down by gross distortions and dramatic differences.

Today, the new responsibilities called forth by the present world scenario must be taken up with realism and confidence, recognizing that they require profound cultural renewal and a rediscovery of basic values upon which to build a better future.

The current world crisis obliges a reprogramming of the path of development, setting up new rules, and finding new forms of commitment that focus on positive experiences and reject the negative.

Crisis can become an occasion for discernment and new planning: it requires broadening reason so that it is capable of recognizing and orienting the new dynamics deriving from the explosion of plenetary interconnectedness now known as globalization. This in itself must be seen as a great opportunity.

Development today is multifaceted, and the causes of underdevelopment are multiple. But the scandal of painfully obvious development inequalities continues, even as many areas of the planet have become highly evolved.

It must be said that it is not enough to progress economically and technologically: indeed, coming out of economic backwardness, although positive, does not resolve the complex issue of human development.

What then is at the center of true development? It is openness to life. If personal and social sensibility towards the acceptance of new life is lost, then even other forms of acceptance that are useful for life will dry up.

Even the right to religious freedom is linked closely to development. God is the guarantor for true human development. Moreover, development that hinges on the absoluteness of technology and a Promethean vision of man ends up by nullifying development itself and enslaving man.

Human freedom is freedom only when it responds to the fascination of technology with decisions that are the fruit of moral responsibility. And economic development is impossible without human networks, without economic workers and political men who are sincerely aware of the call to the common good and live to carry it out.

In many countries, hunger reaps too many victims. To give food to the hungry is a categorical imperative for the Church. The structural causes of hunger in the world must be eliminated and the agricultural development of poor countries must be promoted.

Then there must be a fraternal consciousness that considers food and water as universal rights for everyone. It is evident that the solution for the global crisis today must include fraternal support for the development of the poorer countries.

The role and the power of states - limited today in the face of the global economic and financial crisis - should be re-evaluated so that states are in a position to face such a challenge.

Even the participation of citizens in political life and the activities of labor unions should also be re-evaluated so as not to forget that the first form of 'capital' to be safeguarded must be man himself, the individual in his entirety.

In this sense, all the sciences, including theology and metaphysics, should interact and work together in the service of man.

Therefore, all this requires a new reflection on the meaning of economics and its ends - in short, a profound and far-sighted revision of development models.

Recognizing the plurivalent meaning of terms like 'entrepreneurship' and 'political authority', and the fact that economics requires an ethic in order to function properly, this profound re-evaluation should lead to the proper appreciation of reciprocal supportiveness, the recovery of gratuitous giving, and the recognition that the market economy must be oriented ultimately towards the common good.

It is necessary to think in terms of new lifestyles that help to safeguard life and the environment. Duties towards the environment are linked to duties towards the person as an individual and in relation to others.

Moreover, it is evident that the development of peoples cannot but depend on the recognition that mankind is one single family that must work together in communion, one in relation to the other and to God.

A particular manifestation of love - and the guiding criterion for the fraternal collaboration of believers and non-believers - is the principle of subsidiarity. [Subsidiarity is an organizing principle, adopted universally from Catholic social teaching, according to which matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority, and that higher authority must intervene only if these smaller authorities are insufficient or incapable.]

It is a principle appropriate for regulating globalization, especially if it is linked to the principle of solidarity (fraternal supportiveness).

In the face of these issues, in order to work for equitable international commerce and for a sharing of energy resources, there is need for a true world authority which regulated by law, which abides consistently with the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, be subordinate to the realization of the common good, and committed to the promotion of authentic and integral human development inspired by the values of love in truth.

This development must include spiritual growth, other than the merely material, because the human person is both things together - body and soul.



So, judging by Rodari's account, Benedict XVI does not reject the market economy, or capitalism - as some quarters have speculated - but considers it seriously flawed in its present form by its dissociation from basic social values and ethics, and from the idea of the common good and integral human development as its true objectives.

P.S. It turns out John Allen blogs on
ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/fighting-hunger-beefing-unions-part-pope%E2%80%99s-new-social-en...
about Corriere della Sera's own 'preview' today of the encyclical using direct quotations (much of it used by Rodari as indirect quotations. Rodari's account is more cohesive and flowing, while touching all the points that Corriere does.






While I was occupied translating the above, there's a third story out now on the encyclical:


Rushing the encyclical to print
in time for the G8 summit





The G8 summit was originally to be held at the resort town of La Maddalena in Sardinia, but it was decided to hold it in L'Aquila as a gesture of solidarity with the victims of the Holy Week earthquake. Italy has the presidency of the G8 in 2009. Leaders of the world's richest countries will hold their meetings in the same Finance Guard Training School campus where Benedict XVI thanked law and order personnel, health care workers, and volunteers for their rescue and assistance work in behalf of the earthquake victims, and where the funeral Mass was said on Good Friday for those who died in the quake..



ROME, June 27 (Translated from ASCA) - The intention is that the first copies should be ready to put on the desks of the leaders of the developed world who are meeting at L'Aquila for the their biannual summit meeting from July 8-10.

Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, Caritas in veritate, is undergoing final touches before it goes to print.

The Pontiff is to sign the document on June 29, feast of Saints Peter and Paul, but it will not be presented until it can be printed in all eight official languages of the Vatican (now including Chinese and Arabic).

Publication dates mentioned are July 4, 6 or 7, on the very eve of the G8 summit which is expected to rewrite the rules of global finance and economy in response to the present worldwide crisis. The Vatican press office itself has not given a publication date out of prudence.

The preparaion of this encyclical on a very complex subject has lasted years. It was originally intended to come out on the 4t0h anniversary of Paul VI's encyclical Populorum progressio in 2007.

Besides the Curial dicastery that has sectoral responsibility on the subject, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (whose prefect, Cardinal Rafaele Martino has reached retirement age and will actually retire as soon as the encyclical is published), the Pope has consulted economists, academics and other experts like the Archbishop of Munich, Mons, Reinhold Marx; the 'third-sector' expert Steffano Zamagni; and banker Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who was been the editorialist for L'Osservatore Romano on economic and financial affairs.

A major factor in the delay, however, was the sudden eruption last year of the current financial and economic crisis which required not just simple 'updating' of the contents but a re-analysis that would take the new situation into account appropriately.

Papa Ratzinger has said that the encyclical is dedicated to 'the vast subject of the economy and labor'.

The financial-economic crisis "which has struck the industrialized nations, nations emerging economically, and developing nations alike", the Pope said, "obviously shows that it is necessary to rethink certain economic-financial paradigms that have become dominant in recent years".

This demsnds, he said, that attention should be focused on "the values and the rules to which the economic world must adhere in order to put in place a new model of development that is more in line with the demands of solidarity and more respectful of human dignity."

In this, he said, it is necessary that the world powers and the major multinational enterprises face up to "the challenge of a sustainable and ethical economy".



TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.27





At the Angelus today,
Benedict XVI announces
he has signed Encyclical #3




Right after the Angelus prayer today (a holiday appearance by the Pope on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, patrons of Rome), the Holy Father said this (translated from the Italian):


My third encyclical which is entitled Caritas in veritate will be published soon. Taking up the social themes contained in Populorum progressio, written by the Servant of God Paul VI in 1967, this document - which carries today's date, June 29, solemnity of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul - aims to analyze in depth some aspects of development that are integral to our time, in the light of love in truth.

I entrust to your prayers this additional contribution that the Church offers mankind in its commitment to sustainable progress in full respect of human dignity and the real demands of everyone.



Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words before leading the Angelus prayers at St. Peter's Square at noon today:


Dear brothers and sisters!

Today we solemnly celebrate the holy Apostles Peter and Pail, special patrons of the Church of Rome: Peter, the fisherman from Galilee, who 'first among all confessed faith in Christ... and constituted the first (Christian) community with the just men of Israel"; Paul, ex-persecutor of Christians "who illuminated the depths of mystery ... the teacher and doctor of the Church who announced salvation to all men" (cfr Preface of today's Mass).

In one of his homilies to the community of Rome, Pope St. Leo the Great said: "These are your fathers and true pastors, who established you so that you may become part of the Kingdom of heaven" (Sermo I,
Nat. App Petri et Pauli, c I, PL 54,422).

On the occasion of this feast, I wish to address a warm and special greeting, along with my fervent wishes, to the diocesan community of Rome that Divine Providence has entrusted to my care as successor of the Apostle Peter.

It is a greeting I gladly extend to all the residents of our metropolis, and to the pilgrims and tourists who are visiting us these days, which also coincide with the closing of the Pauline Year.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord bless and protect you through the intercession of Saints Peter and Paul! As your Pastor, I call on you to remain faithful to the Christian calling and not to conform yourselves to the mentality of this world - as the Apostle of the Gentiles wrote precisely to the Christians of Rome - but let yourself be transformed and renewed by the Gospel so that you may follow that which is truly good and pleasing to God (cfr Rm 12,2).

I constantly pray so that Rome may keep its Christian calling alive, not only to conserve unaltered its immense spiritual and cultural patrimony, but also in order that its inhabitants may translate the beauty of the faith they have received in concrete ways of thinking and acting, thus offering to those who come to our city for various reasons, a climate rich in humanity and evangelical values.

Thus, with the words of St. Peter - I invite you, dear brothers and sisters who are disciples of Christ, to be 'living stones' solidly around him who is "the living stone, rejected by men, but chosen adn precious before God" (cfr 1 Pt 2,4).

Today's solemnity also has a universal character: it expresses teh unity and catholicity of the Church. That is why, every year. on this date, the new Metropolitan Archbishops come to Rome to receive the pallium, symbol of their communion with the Successor of Peter.

I renew my greeting to my brothers in the Episcopate for whom I performed the gesture [of imposing the pallium] at the Basilica this morning, and to the faithful who accompanied them here.

I also renew my heartfelt greeting to the delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople who, as every year, have come to Rome for the celebration of Saints Peter and Paul.

May the common veneration for these martyrs be a token of ever more fuller and deeply felt communion among Christians in every part of the world. For this, let us invoke the intercession of Mary, Mother of the only Church of Christ, with our recital of the Angelus.



Pope has signed new encyclical



VATICAN CITY, June 29 (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI signed his latest encyclical Monday, a text on ways to make globalization more attentive to meeting the needs of the poor amid the worldwide financial crisis.

The document, entitled "Charity in Truth," is expected to be published soon.

The Pope has said his third encyclical will outline the goals and values that the faithful must defend to ensure solidarity among all peoples.

Benedict has frequently spoken out on the financial crisis, urging leaders to ensure the world's poor don't end up bearing the brunt of the downturn even though they are not responsible for it. He has said the downturn shows the need to rethink the whole global financial system.

The Pontiff announced he had signed the document Monday, a major Catholic feast day, after celebrating a Mass during which he told new archbishops they must be models for the faithful, guiding them and protecting them as shepherds care for their flock.

Thirty-four new archbishops, including the new archbishop of New York, Monsignor Timothy Dolan, received the pallium, a band of white wool decorated with black crosses that is a sign of pastoral authority and a symbol of the archbishops' bond with the pope.

Benedict said the archbishops should be like Christ "who as a good shepherd carried on his back humanity — the lost sheep — to bring them home."

Benedict has been working on Caritas in veritate, as the encyclical is known in Latin, since 2007 ,but held back on issuing it so that he could update it to reflect the global economic crisis.



An encyclical is the most authoritative document a Pope can issue. Benedict has written two in his four years as Pope: "God is Love" in 2006 and "Saved by Hope" in 2007.





Here is the take of the Times of London on the timing of the encyclical release. The timing worked out the way it did because of various delays but one must say it has turned out to be providential:


Pope holds back encyclical
on markets and morality
to hit the G8 summit

by Richard Owen in Rome and
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent



The Pope has held back publication of a key statement on markets and morality in an attempt to force the issue onto the G8 agenda.

Pope Benedict XVI signed the document today but the text, which focuses on globalisation, poverty and the financial crisis and is one of the most important to come out of the Holy See in the past decade, will be published 48 hours before the meeting of world leaders at L'Aquila in Italy - a week-long delay.

Caritas in veritate, Love or charity in truth, will outline the ethical values that the faithful must "tirelessly defend" to ensure "true freedom and solidarity", the Pope said recently.

He said that the global downturn demonstrated the need to "rethink economic and financial paradigms that have been dominant in recent years."

The encyclical - the most authoritative document a Pope can issue - analyses the destructive effect on society of the pursuit of commercial or private interests without "social responsibility" or "conscience and honesty".

It proposes an international agreement on globalisation based on "the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity" and "the values of charity and truth".

The Pope has been working on the encyclical for two years, but delayed it in order to bring it up to date and reflect the global economic crisis. Its publication has been further delayed by translation problems into Latin, according to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Although Pope Benedict has encouraged a return to Latin in the liturgy, there is a dwindling number of experts able to find Latin equivalents for terms such as "market value" and "tax haven".

Benedict has written two previous encyclicals in his four years as Pope, Deus caritas est (God is Love) in 2006 and Spe salvi (Saved by Hope) in 2007.

This encyclical will be the first written with the help of Google. Theologians have done months of research on the internet to ensure that the new document, likely to be among the most important and influential of the present papacy, is up to date with its economics as well as its theology.

The long-awaited encyclical also summarises the Church’s 120-year history of social teaching and outlines new theories for the present situation.

While not backtracking on the basic Catholic teaching that man should have the freedom to create wealth, the encyclical is likely to argue forcefully that this should be used towards the service of all.




And here's an Economics-101 background that may come in useful when the encyclical does come out:


Economic heresies of the left
by Michael Novak

June 29, 2009


What exactly is in Benedict XVI’s new encyclical on the economy and labor issues is not yet known. Catholic leftists and progressives, though, are already trembling with excitement. Three glaring errors have already appeared in these heavily panting anticipations.

An accurate presentation of real existing capitalism requires at least three modest affirmations:

1) Markets work well only within a system of law, and only according to well-marked-out rules of the game; unregulated markets are a figment of imagination.

2) In actual capitalist practice, the love of creativity, invention, and groundbreaking enterprise are far more powerful than motives of greed.

3) The fundamental systemic motive infusing the spirit of capitalism is the imperative to liberate the world’s poor from the premodern ubiquity of grinding poverty. This motive lay at the heart of Adam Smith’s important victory over Thomas Malthus concerning the coming affluence — rather than starvation — of the poor.

Since the origins of modern capitalism around 1780, more than two-thirds of the world’s population has moved out of poverty. In China and India alone, more than 500 million have been raised out of poverty just in the last forty years.

In almost every nation the average life expectancy has risen dramatically, causing populations to expand accordingly. Health in almost every dimension has been improved, and literacy has been carried to remote places it never reached before.

Whatever the motives of individuals, the system has improved the plight of the poor as none ever has before. The contemporary left systematically refuses to face these undeniable facts.

Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., one of our most reliable leftist bellwethers, has recently opined that Benedict XVI’s new encyclical will cry out for more regulation, rather than unregulated markets. Further, the pope will denounce greed and cry out for more attention to the urgent need to aid the world’s poor.

Reese thinks these are anti-capitalist positions. That is ridiculous. They lie at the heart of why capitalism has worked as well as it has to liberate the poor — first in the United States and Europe, then in one continent after another, as it is now doing in almost all areas of Asia.

Fr. Reese says that the Pope will blame the greed of U.S. bankers for the current global financial crisis. While many institutions, including banks, failed in their basic duties, government action was the principal villain in the 2009 debacle.

It was the federal government that forced banks to make sub-prime loans to poor families (who were known to be unable to pay their mortgages on a regular basis). It threatened banks that did not invest in poisonous packages of mortgages, vitiated by the bad ones.

The federal government even guaranteed the work of two huge quasi-government mortgage companies — Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac — that wrote more than half of all mortgages during the fateful years. Of course, when the house of cards fell, government was not there to make good on its guarantees — or even to accept responsibility for its own heavy-handed actions.

For at least ten years before the disaster finally occurred, my colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute had been warning of the government abuses that were heading toward this calamity. Partisans of big government refused to listen.

For moralists, it is essential to see how often (not always) government itself sins grievously against the common good, out of a lust for power and domination over others. Furthermore, government often (not always) generates foolish and destructive regulations, and often dispenses justice that winks rather than justice that is blind.

Government is more frequently the agent of injuring the common good than the ordinary lawful actions of free citizens. During the twentieth century, governments too often destroyed the common good of their citizens for years to come.

In the United States, the existing code of federal regulations for businesses is enormous. Title 12 covering “Banks and Banking” runs to 4,786 pages; Title 15 on “commerce and Foreign Trade” is 1,941 pages; Title 16 on “Commercial Practices,” 1,600 pages; Title 17 on the “Securities and Exchange Commission,” 2,708 pages; and Title 31 on “Money and Finance: Treasury,” 1,917 pages.

The total number of pages in this code is 12,592. Laid out end to end, the volumes of the code extend for 2.35 miles. If you count the pages in feet (30 inches per linear foot is the standard measure) the code runs for six linear miles.

An unregulated market indeed! The real world of American capitalism is more like Gulliver bound down by thousands of threads. Many of the regulations are out of date, obsolete, costly, destructive, and — in their actual effects — counter to the very intentions that gave them birth. But regulation there is, and regulation there must be. Without rules, American capitalism cannot function.

As for greed, Max Weber pointed out that greed is present in every age and every system of human history. Yet greed was rather more socially central in ancient times than today, and played a much more decisive role. And nowadays, greed flourishes most wherever government power is concentrated.

By contrast, in enterprise societies such as the United States, it is possible to become rich — even very rich — by methods that focus on innovation rather than greed.

The great universities of the Middle West and Far West, were founded expressly to give spur to new inventions in mining, agriculture, and other technical fields. Texas A & M, Iowa State, Wisconsin State, Oklahoma State, and scores of others have been the hothouses of ideas in agriculture, engineering and electronics, geology, mining and drilling—ideas rendered practical by the makers of many fortunes. They have mightily served the common good of Americans and the entire human race.

As John Paul II wisely commented in Centesimus Annus, practical knowledge is the main cause of wealth today. Ideas rather than great landholdings are the main form of wealth in our time. As both Caesar and Cicero long ago observed, although it seems as though community ownership ought to serve the common good best, in practice private property does. The right to private property has long been justified by virtue of its superior service to the common good.

And in the United States, scores of entrepreneurs are ready to risk losing everything they have in order to create something new, create something that will make life better for their fellow men. Henry Ford failed repeatedly in several businesses before he finally made the Ford Motor Company the great model for business that it once was.

(It was the first establishment in history to pay its laborers a handsome wage of five dollars per day. At the time, ordinary lawyers averaged about $1500 per year. Ford’s motives, of course, were not altruistic; he wanted his workers to purchase the cars they helped build.)

As Oscar Handlin once noted, almost every industrialist who built a new railroad North and South in the United States in the nineteenth century prospered. Nearly every tycoon who tried to build an East–West railroad lost money. What spurred men to keep trying had less to do with greed that with the sheer romance of conquering the deserts and the Rockies. The element of romance in business is simply not grasped by dialectical materialists.

In brief, nearly all the leftish critiques of American and other forms of capitalism are empirically false. They do not fit the actual facts. But these three — greed, unregulated markets, and the idea that capitalism makes the poor of the world worse off — are especially tiresome, and very far from reality.

Will all those good Catholic leftists who announce their own enthusiastic preference for the poor actually help to liberate the poor, even by a little? Will their anti-capitalist policies help alleviate poverty? The historical record offers very little evidence for that contention.

And yet wherever a healthy, inventive capitalism goes, the poor soon rise by the millions out of poverty, come to better physical health, and advance into higher education.

You can look up the record.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.29




And finally, a publication date
for 'Caritas in veritate'




Vatican City, July 1 (dpa) - Pope Benedict XVI's latest encyclical, a document on how the global economy should take into account the needs of the poor, is to be published on July 7, the Vatican said Wednesday. Entitled Caritas in veritate, in English, Charity in Truth, the text - compiled with the input of several experts - was given final approval when Benedict signed it on Monday.

The encyclical's publication on the eve of the July 8-10 Group of Eight summit, in L'Aquila, Italy, is widely seen as a message by the pontiff to leaders of the world's most advanced nations.

The Vatican has said Benedict had been working on the encyclical since 2007, but held back on issuing it so that he could update it to reflect the global economic crisis.

Traditionally, encyclicals are the most authoritative documents a pope can issue. Benedict has written two in his four years as Pope: God is Love in 2006 and Saved by Hope in 2007.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.30




An economic consultant talks
about the 'social encyclical'

by GIACOMO GALEAZZI
Translated from

July 1, 2009


"The Pope had to update the encyclical to reflect the world crisis".

Two of the persons who had most contributed to the material for the Pope's third encyclical Caritas in veritatesaid that was the primary reason for the delays, corrections and adjustments made to the text.

"The draft was almost in final form nine months ago," said the economist Stefano Zamagni, professor of political economy and consultant to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, "and just when it was ready to go to press, came the bank failures in the United States. Om September 15, 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, the Pope decided that it was not possible to have a document that did not take these developments into account. In juridical terms, the Pontiff wanted a 'supplemental investigation' that would adequately reflect the global financial meltdown."

"It could not have been otherwise," Zamagni adds, "because the premise for the encyclical was globalization, which is tightly linked to the crisis we now have".

As for other economic influences on the text, Zamagni clarified the 'inspiration' attributed to Giulio Tremonti by the media.
[Tremonti is the current Italian minister for economy and finance, a staunch political and economic federalist who is an opponent of globalization and an advocate of tax cuts to stimulate the economy. He has written several books on taxation and international commerce.]

"The Tremontian term 'mercatismo' [which Tremonti uses to refer to the 'free market ideology'] does not appear in the encyclical," Zamagni says, "insofar as it is synonymous to an anarchic free market".

He said the various experts consulted had differing opinions on the optimal post-crisis position. "Some wanted the encyclical to hew closely to the crisis, but I argued against it, since three years from now, after the storm has passed, it will be water under the bridge. So it would not pay for an encyclical that will be read for decades to be so tightly bound to one episode."

Thus, he said, in the encyclical, "the crisis is cited as a remarkable example of greed raised to a moral system, but there is no specific chapter on the crisis - rather, it turns up as a recurring example for certain points." In all, he says, the pages referring to the crisis are no more than 2% of the total.

"In some passages, the crisis provides the background and paradigm for the argumentation, as when it points out that if the market economy loses its orientation for the common good. then it degenerates and leads to unemployment and neo-colonial conditions. In these and similar scenarios, the crisis proves and reinforces the basic assumptions of the encyclical."

Zamagni adds that "there is an ample paragraph devoted to the structural problem of environmental damage".

He acknowledges that most people are interested in whatever 'concrete proposals' the encyclical makes. He says that for the first time, the idea of 'non-profit' turns up in a social encyclical, and that there is open praise for the February 19 unanimous adoption by the European Parliament of a pluralistic concept of the social economy as one that can take many forms, not merely capitalist".

The encyclical, he says, is more favorable to the Italian notion of a 'civilian economy' against the Anglo-Saxon concept of a political economy - since the former "adds the principle of reciprocity to the economic discourse, alongside the classic principles of exchange and redistribution."

Thus, he said, "donations that have economic value should factor into businesses, families and organizations" and "instead of being reduced to a commodity, the person as worker must be central, and if he does not do what he is supposed to do, he must be corrected as one disciplines a child so that he may learn and grow from his error."

Also speaking about the encyclical was Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which is the Vatican agency sectorally responsible for contributing to the draft.

"There were a number of changes made starting last March in order to take the current crisis into account," he said. He met with the Pope on May 19 to discuss the changes.

Further adjustments were made to the propositive parts, he said, "but more than practical solutions, the text focuses on underscoring the fundamental principles of the Church's social doctrine."

"In other words," says the cardinal, "there are concrete references to economic realities, but it urges solutions that would promote global peace, human rights, subsidiarity, globalized humanism of labor, and commitment to charity."





I am counting on the Holy Father to provide us with an encyclical that will be as pleasurably readable as the first two ones! Social doctrine and economic abstractions are usually soporific and rather mind-numbing to slog through, in any form, like the 'preview' given above which, of course, reflects nothing of the Pope's expository style and language....


TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.33




Giuliano Ferrara's Il Foglio has satisfied my curiosity as to the language that Benedict XVI would employ for an encyclical that deals with economics, among other things. In its issue yesterday, the newspaper gave full play on Page 1 to the Italian text of two paragraphs from the encyclical, which it published without commentary, and is translated here.

A small preview of
'Caritas in veritate'

Translated from

July 4, 2009






...

34. Love in truth confronts man with the stupendous experience of giving.

Gratuitousness is present in life in many forms, often not recognized because of a vision of existence that is merely production-oriented or utilitarian.

The human being is made for giving, which expresses and realizes his dimension of transcendence.

Sometimes, modern man is erroneously convinced of being the only author of himself, of his life and of society. This is a presumption that results from the selfish closing-up in oneself, which derives - to use an expression of faith - from original sin.

The wisdom of the Church has always proposed keeping sight of original sin even in the interpretation of social facts and in the building of society: "To ignore that man has a wounded nature, inclined to evil, is a cause of serious errors in the fields of education, politics, social action and customs". (85)

Added for some time now to the list of the fields in which the pernicious effects of sin are manifested is that of the economy. We have evident proof of this even in these times.

The conviction of being self-sufficient and to have succeeded in eliminating the evil that is present in history just by his own actions has led man to identify happiness and salvation with immanent forms of material wellbeing and social action.

Likewise, the conviction of the need for autonomy in the economy, which should not accept 'influences' of a moral character, has pushed man to abuse the economic instrument in a way that has been ultimately destructive.

In the long run, these convictions have led to economic, social and political systems which have suppressed the freedom of the individual and of social bodies, and precisely because of this, are not capable of assuring the justice that they promise.

As I stated in the encyclical Spe salvi, this is how Christian hope is taken out of history (86), whereas it is a powerful social resource in the service of integral human development that is sought in freedom and justice.

Hope encourages reason and gives it the power to orient the will. (87)
It is already present in faith, or rather, it is aroused in faith.

Love in truth feeds on hope, and at the same time, manifests it. As an absolutely gratuitous gift from God, it comes into our life as something that is not owed to us - it transcends every law of justice.

A gift by its nature surpasses merit - its rule is excess. It precedes us in our very spirit as a sign of the presence of God in us and of his expectations from us.

Truth, which like love is a gift, is greater than us, as St. Augustine teaches.(84)

Even the truth about ourselves, of our personal consciousness, if first of all something 'given'.

In every cognitive process, indeed, truth is not produced by us but is is always found, or better yet, received.

Like love, it "is not born from thinking and wishing, but in some way, it is imposed on the human being". (88)

Because it is a gift received by all, love in truth is a force that constitutes the community, and unifies men according to modalities in which there are neither barriers nor limits.

The community of men can be constituted by us ourselves, but it can never be, with only our own powers, a community that is fully fraternal nor one that goes beyond every limit, namely, to become a truly universal community: the unity of the human species, a fraternal communion beyond every division, is born from the con-vocation of the word God-Love.

In facing this decisive question, we must specify, on the one hand, that the logic of giving does not exclude justice and is not juxtaposed to it afterwards and from the outside; and on the other hand, that economic, social and political development requires, if it is to be authentically human, that we make room for the principle of gratuitousness as an expression of fraternity.

35. The market, if there is reciprocal and generalized trust, is the economic institution that allows an encounter among persons as economic operators who use contract as a rule for their relationships and who exchange fungible [freely interchangeable] goods and services among them to satisfy their needs and desires.

The market is subject to the principles of so-called commutative justice which regulates precisely the relationship of giving and receiving among equal subjects.

But the social doctrine of the Church has never stopped calling attention to distributive justice and social justice in this very market economy, not only because it is part of a vaster social and political network but also because of the fabric of relationships within which it is realized.

Indeed, the market, if left only to the principle of equivalency of values exchanged, does not produce that social cohesion which it needs in order to function well.

Without internal forms of solidarity and reciprocal trust, the market cannot fully carry out its own economic function. Today, it is this trust which is lacking, and the loss of trust is a serious loss.

Opportunely, Paul VI in Populorum progressio underscored the fact that the economic system itself would take advantage of generalized practices of justice since the first to benefit from the development of poor nations would be the rich ones. (90)

It is not just a question of correcting dysfunctions through aid. The poor are not to be considered as a 'burden'(91), but rather as a resource, even from a point of view that is strictly economic.

Nonetheless, the viewpoint of those who think that the market economy structurally needs a quota of poverty and underdevelopment in order to function best must be considered erroneous.

It is in the interest of the market to promote emancipation, but to truly do this, it cannot count on itself alone, because it is not capable of producing by itself something that goes beyond its own possibilities.

It should draw from the moral energies of other subjects who are capable of generating such energies.


....




Footnotes:

85 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 407; cfr JOHN PAUL II, GIOVANNI PAOLO II, Lett. enc. Centesimus annus, 25: Lc., 822-824.

86 Cfr n. 17: AAS 99 (2007), 1000.

87 Cfr Ibid., 23: L c.,1004-1005.

88 St. Augustine explains in detailed manner this teaching in the dialog on free will (De libero arbitrio II 3,8,27 sgg.). He indicates the existence within the human soul of an 'internal sense'. This sense consists of an act which takes place outside of the normal functioning of reason, an act that is not reflected upon and is almost instinctive, for which reason, considering its transient and fallible nature, admits the existence of something above it that is eternal, absolutely true and certain. The name that St. Augustine gives to this truth is sometimes God (Confessions 10,24,35; 12,25,35; De libero arbitrio li 3,8,27), and more often Christ (De magistra 11,38; Confessions 7,18,24; 11,2,4).

89 BENEDICT XVI, Lett. enc. Deus caritas est, 3: l.c., 219.

90 Cfr n. 49: Le., 281.

91 JOHN PAUL II, Lett. enc. Centesimus annus, 28: Le., 827-828.





Naturally, the Holy Father does not disappoint! His language is as clear and forthright as ever - and the presentation in these two paragraphs is familiar to anyone who follows his writings - a linear, easy-to-follow, philosophical and pedagogical exposition of his thoughts. I cannot wait for Tuesday.....





Initial print order
for 'Caritas in veritate':
150,000 in Italian



VATICAN CITY, (translated from Apcom) - There will be 150,000 copies of the first edition of Benedict XVI's Caritas in veritate which will officially be released on Tuesday, July 7.

Papa Ratzinger's third encyclical will be 141 pages long, divided into 6 chapters.

It will be distributed initially in eight languages: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Latin.



What will be the Vatican's
official English translation
of 'Caritas in veritate'?



The Pope's American publisher isn't sure, so it says it is prepared for both possibilities:
'Love in Truth' or 'Charity in Truth':






Ignatius Press plans to publish the Holy Father's new encyclical in three formats: print, e-book, and audio. Above is one of the banners we are using to promote these formats; it links to a simple web page from which you can pre-order the print book now. The e-book and audio book formats will be available shortly after the encyclical's release.

You can follow the link of this banner to find out more and to sign up to be notified about the availability of the encyclical and other Ignatius e-books and audio books available for download.

(You'll notice that the English title of the encyclical given in the banner is "Love in Truth". When you follow the link, the title on the descriptive page is "Charity in Truth". No, that's no mistake. We've created two different covers. There is still some discussion about which way the title will be translated in the official version of the document. We'll find out soon. Meanwhile, we're prepared for either scenario!)



I read somewhere recently that there had been a debate over whether the encyclical should be called Veritas in caritate or Caritas in veritate as it was always reported. It seems some theologians prefer the former formulation but Benedict XVI held out for his original choice....

And as for what the official English translation will be, I would hope it is 'Love in truth'. 'Love' is a more embracing (comprehensive) term, and it does not have the 'social work' connotation that the word 'charity' has in English.

Also, contrary to the wishful thinking of some Catholic 'leftists', the Pope does not seem to be advocate getting rid of the market economy or capitalism! This, even as their hero Obama is not-so-stealthily expanding government control of enterprise in the United States.

It's surprising that Obama's rah-rah boys at L'Osservatore Romano do not see what he is doing for what it is - perilously like Mussolini's fascist one-party take-over of Italian society! They, of all people, should recognize the signs.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.34




Vatican printing 530,000
for the first edition in Italian
of 'Caritas in veritate' -
not counting free supplements
in the Catholic media




VATICAN CITY, July 6 (Translated from ZENIT) - Benedict XVI's third encylical, to be released tomorrow, is copyrighted by the Vatican publishing house LEV, which owns the rights to all of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's written and spoken words.

LEV has initially printed 500,000 copies of the encyclical in a softcover Italian translation (unit price 2 euros) and another 30,000
hardbound.

It has an initial printing in other languages - Latin, English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Polish - of 50,000 to be made available at the 3 LEV bookstores in Rome.

The encyclical will be published in other countries by the national bishops' conferences under arrrangement with local publishers.

LEV has also authorized the magazines Famiglia Cristiana [belonging to the publishing house Edizioni San Paolo] and Tracce [organ of Communione e Liberazione] to publish their own editions.

Another Italian publishing house, Cantagalli, will market an edition with a commentary by Mons. Giampaolo Crepaldi, outgoing secretary of the Pontifical Councilf or Justice and Peace, recently named Archbishop of Trieste.

Likewise, LEV will team up with yet another local publisher AVE to publish an edition annotated by various economic and financial experts.

Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference, as well as diocesan weekly magazines throughout Italy, will also publish the full text of the encyclical.

Finally, L'Osservatore Romano announced that its Wednesday (July 9) issue will come with a booklet containing the text of the encyclical.





And from ZENIT's English service, a related story:

The Pope talks, people listen
by Edward Pentin



ROME, July 3 (ZENIT.org) - Benedict XVI's views on the current financial crisis, included in his first social encyclical -- which will be released July 7 -- could possibly become a bestseller in the United States if a recent survey carried out by the Knights of Columbus holds true.

The Knights' poll of a broad sample of Americans in March this year showed that 57% of U.S. citizens were eagerly wanting to hear Benedict XVI discuss "the short ightedness of personal greed and selfishness" that is thought to be the main cause of the current crisis.

A further 55% wanted to hear him explain how a society can be built "where spiritual values play an important role."

Also interesting is that an earlier survey carried out by the Knights in February showed widespread public discontent with business ethics: 76% of Americans polled believed that corporate America's moral compass is pointed in the wrong direction, and 90% of respondents, and 90% of executives, see career advancement and personal gain as primary factors that corporate executives take into account when making business decisions.

Moreover, nearly two-thirds believed that religious beliefs should significantly influence executive's business decisions, and over two-thirds of executives agree.

The encyclical, which Benedict XVI signed Monday, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, comes just days after the financier Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in jail for defrauding thousands of investors of billions of dollars. It will also appear on the eve of the Group of Eight summit of world leaders in Italy, July 8-10.

"What our poll shows is that the American public sees something very seriously wrong and sees ethics as part of the solution," says Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus. "Since the country is overwhelmingly Christian in the sense that most Americans are baptized Christians, and one out of four are Catholic, the view of the Pope on these matters is going to be very important in the United States."

Anderson, who was visiting Rome this week, believes that the Pope is one of the few world figures who can speak out on these ethical questions with authenticity, and do so without favoring either the political left or right.

"We have to give Benedict XVI his own space and not try to claim it from one side," says Anderson, who is urging the public to read the encyclical with an open mind. "I think a Christian ought to approach an encyclical from a standpoint of how am I going to be changed, not whether or not it affirms a position on something."

And although he predicts the Holy Father will underline the necessity of an ethical foundation to sustaining the free market system, he does not expect the Pope to enter into technical aspects or specific policy.

"What he's going to say is that a Christian, if he understands his two commandments of love of God and love of neighbor, can no longer ask Cain's question: Am I my brother's keeper? He understands he has a responsibility to his brother and understands who his brother is. Benedict has said time and again: We're part of a human family, therefore we need to have a certain solidarity. [...] If you have that general ethical disposition, you're going to make decisions in a context that are going to be far better than if you don't."

The supreme knight, who was once a special assistant to Ronald Reagan, is surprised that despite more than 90% of Americans believing there is a kind of unethical foundation to the current crisis, "nobody wants to talk about it," thereby leaving a vacuum which the government is presently filling. It's therefore time, he says, for corporate leaders to "fess up to some ethical responsibility."

Not only would that "resonate very well" with the American public, he believes, but it would also help preserve the sustainability of the free market which is currently in "real jeopardy."

The Pope has already given clues about the content of the encyclical, saying the current global economic crisis proves that the rules and values that have dominated the economy in past years need to be replaced by a concept that is "respectful of the needs and rights of the weakest."

He also took the opportunity at his weekly general audience July 1st to "stress the importance of ethical and moral values in politics."

But this theme of establishing an ethical foundation is an idea the Holy Father has had for some time. In a prescient speech he gave in Rome in 1985, he said it is "becoming an increasingly obvious fact of economic history that the development of economic systems which concentrate on the common good depends on a determinate ethical system, which in turn can be born and sustained only by strong religious convictions."

Conversely, he warned, "it has also become obvious that the decline of such discipline can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse."

"An economic policy that is ordered not only to the good of the group -- indeed, not only to the common good of a determinate state -- but to the common good of the family of man demands a maximum of ethical discipline and thus a maximum of religious strength," he said then.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 05.35





The global economic, social and financial
context for the Pope's third encyclical

Translated from
the Italian service of


July 6, 2009


The eve of the release of Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, Caritas in veritate, finds the leaders of the industrialized world converging in the Abruzzo for the start of this week's G8 summit under the presidency of Italy.

It is a timely coincidence that further emphasizes the societal issues confronted by the Holy Father in the encyclical. Luis Badilla looks at the global background that forms the context for the encyclical.


On the eve of the December 2008 Doha Conference [in the United Arab Emirates] on development funding promoted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace published, with the approval of the Vatican Secretary of State, a Note intended as 'a contribution to the dialog".

The note highlighted the principal characteristics of the economic, social and financial moment in history against which Benedict XVI's new encyclical must be read.


The global crisis today

The global financial crisis originated from the collapse of the sub-prime credit market in the United States. This followed a rise in agricultural and energy prices in the first months of 2008. The collapse of credit thus became dramatic on many levels, with negative consequences: it meant, above all, that funding for development was relegated to the background.


National sovereignty
Are we facing the necessity for a simple change - or of a true and proper re-establishment of the system of economic and financial international institutions?

Many quarters, public and private, national and international, have called for a new Bretton Woods-style conference. [This was the 1944 United Nations conference held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to set up mechanisms that would regulate the international financial and monetary system following World War II. It led to the creation of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) [coommonly known as the World Bank], the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).]

The crisis has undoubtedly highlighted the urgency for identifying new forms of international coordination on monetary, financial and commercial affairs.

It is evident today that national sovereignty alone is inadequate. Even the richest nations acknowledge that it is no longer possible to achieve national objectives relying solely on internal politics: that international agreements and rules, set and overseen by international institutions, are absolutely necessary.

In this, nations must guard against a chain reaction of reciprocal protectionism - rather, they should reinforce cooperative actions promoting transparency and vigilance in the financial system.

Nations must consider solutions involving 'shared sovereignty' as the history of European integration has shown, starting from concrete problems [such as the 'common market' in Europe), within a vision of peace and prosperity that is rooted in shared values.


Rich nations and poor nations

The financial nexi that connect the developed countries with the poorest countries present at least two paradoxical elements. The first is that in the global system, it is the 'poor' nations who finance the 'rich' nations - the latter are the beneficiaries of resources, both from the flight of private capital from the poorer nations, or from government decisions by the poorer nations to place their official reserves into 'safe' financial instruments in the highly evolved economies or in offshore banks.

The second paradox is that the resettlement of migrants - the least 'liberalized' component of the processes of globalization - requires an investment of resources that, at the macro level, already far surpasses the level of available aid for development.

In simple terms, it is as if the poor from the undeveloped 'South' of the globe are actually helping to finance the rich 'North', even as workers from the 'South' must emigrate to work in the North in order to be able to send back money to support their families left in the South.


Regulating the financial market

The present crisis ripened in a context when the temporal horizon for financial operators to make decisions had become extremely brief, and in which trust - the essential ingredient for 'credit - rested more on the mechanisms of the market rather than on fiduciary relationships among business partners.

It was not by chance that this trust fell through in the very compartment that was considered 'safe' by definition - interbank relationships.

But without this trust, everything is blocked, including the possibility of normal functioning by private enterprise, who suddenyl found that sources of credit had dried up or become very stringent.

The financial crisis indeed has among its consequences the prospect of an even worsening financial climate. All of which leads all the players involved to take 'protective' measures that can only make this worsening more likely, and with predictable cumulative effect.

The crisis suddenly meant a loss of that faith that had always been placed in the market, and the incapacity of the market to respond with amechanism that was supposed to be self-regulatory and therefore, ultimately still able to generate development for all.


Trust, transparency and rules

But financial markets cannot operate without trust. And without transparency or rules, there can be no trust. The proper functioning of the market requires the State to play an important role, and wherever necessary, the international community as well, in establishing and enforcing rules of transparency and prudence.

But it must be remembered that no regulatory intervention can 'guarantee' it can be effective, without a well-formed moral conscience and day-to-day awareness of responsibility by the very operators of the market, especially the entrepreneurs and the major financial players.

Today's rules, having been designed from yesterday's experience, will not necessarily protect the system from the risks of tomorrow. Thus, even if there exist good structures and good regulations, these alone do not suffice because man can never be changed or 'redeemed' simply from the outside.

One has to to reach man's most profound moral being. There must be real education in the exercise of responsibilities for the good of all, by all subjects, at all levels: financial operators, families, enterprises, financial institutions, public authorities, civilian society.


The role of civilian society in financing development

Financing development involves both public aid to development as well as the role of all the persons, enterprises and organizations affected. Civilian society does not only carry out an important active role in development work itself, but in the financing of such development.

It does so, first of all, by voluntary contributions, person to person, as in the resettlement of emigrants, or relatively simple organizational forms (e.g., adoption from afar).

Then there are the resources mobilized by business enterprises in the exercise of their social responsibility. And finally, often very prominent, the contributions of major foundations.

The very adoption of responsible behavior in matters of consumption and investment constitutes an important resource for development. Disseminating such responsible behavior, from the viewpoint of its material effects, can make the difference in the functioning of particular markets.

But their importance resides above all in the fact that they express a concrete participation by individuals - as consumers, as investors of family savings, or as decision-makers in industry - in the opportunity to rescue the poor from their poverty.


Means and ends

A last, important warning: One must be careful not to confuse the means (financial resources) with the end, namely development. It is not enough to make available a prescribed amount of development funding to automatically achieve development.

Development is not so much the 'result' that one finds at the end, but the path that is traced day by day through the concrete choices made by the multiple actors involved - donor and recipient governments, non-governmental organizations, local communities.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 7 luglio 2009 17.10




The English text of the encylical may be found on

www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate...



The Vatican has released pictures taken when the Holy Father signed the encyclical Caritas in Veritate on June 29. Looking on is Archbishop James Harvey, prefect of the Pontifical Household.






A display of the initial editions of CV.



The LEV commercial edition of the Italian translation.



NB: Two years ago today, the Holy Father's Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, was released.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00venerdì 10 luglio 2009 00.03




Because of its subject matter, Caritas in veritate (CV as some news agencies have abbreviated it) is not easy to synthesize, as indeed most encylicals are. Much more so in this case, where the Pope had to interweave theology, philosophy and a spiritual approach to pragmatic day-to-day considerations that have to do with the arcane complex workings of finance and economics in today's global society.

Of all the initial reports I have seen so far, I think this one by dpa is an excellent first reading that avoides the usual platitudes and goes directly to what I think is the center of the entire discourse: people as the primary object of development.



Pope Benedict critiques
the global economy
in new encyclical




Vatican City, July 7 (dpa) - In an encyclical published Tuesday on the eve of a Group of Eight summit, Pope Benedict XVI has urged governments to place the needs of people first as they grapple with the current economic crisis.

"The primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his and her integrity," the pontiff wrote in the document, published as a 144-page booklet.

He also calls for a reform of the United Nations and of economic institutions and international finance "so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth."

Poorer nations in particular, "must be given an effective voice in shared decision making," according to the German-born pontiff.

Benedict notes how, under the guise of intellectual property rights, rich nations often display an excessive zeal to "protect knowledge," with the effect that the poor are deprived of access to costly medicines and other forms of advanced health care products and treatments.

Entitled Caritas in veritate, in English, Charity in Truth, the text - compiled with the input of several experts - was given final approval when the Pope signed it last week.

Traditionally, encyclicals are the most authoritative documents a pope can issue. The Vatican has said Benedict had been working on the encyclical since 2007, but held back on issuing it so that he could update it to reflect the global economic crisis.

And in the text of Charity in Truth, the 82-year-old pontiff deals with some of the finer points of global trade, financial speculation on the investment markets, food security and intellectual property rights.

Stressing what he sees as the injustices of globalized, transnational capitalism, Benedict pinpoints the practice of "outsourcing," whereby companies obtain product components or services from suppliers located in areas with lower labour costs.

Such business arrangements "can weaken the company's sense of responsibility," towards "the workers, the suppliers, the consumers, the natural environment."

Instead, those who benefit are company shareholders "who are not tied to a specific geographical area," the pontiff writes, stressing that businesses have to show "greater social responsibility."

While recognizing that development based on economic growth has brought benefits, this process continues to be "weighed down by malfunctions and dramatic problems."

Among the chief evils of the global economy, the pontiff includes "badly managed and largely speculative financial dealing," the forces that propel "large scale migration of people," and the "unregulated exploitation of the earth's resources."

Benedict notes that, in rich countries, parts of society are succumbing to poverty, while in poor nations some elites enjoy the benefits of "super-development of a wasteful and consumerist kind."

Whilst the current global crisis has had a devastating impact on millions of people, it also offers an opportunity "to replan our journey, set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment," according to Benedict.

Benedict has written three encyclicals in his four years as Pope including Deus caritas est (God is Love) in 2006 and Spe salvi (Saved by Hope) in 2007.

Leaders from the Group of Eight - the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia - on Wednesday are scheduled to begin three days of talks in the central Italian city of L'Aquila in Rome.





First thoughts:

What the initial 'summaries' have failed to emphasize enough is that Benedict VXI devotes two of the encyclical's five chapters to a discussion of Paul VI's Populorum progressio and how his predecessor "illuminated the great theme of development of peoples with the splendor of truth and the gentle light of Christ's charity".

In the Introduction, Benedict XVI is very explicit about honoring Paul VI in this respect:


At a distance of over forty years from the Encyclical's publication, I intend to pay tribute and to honour the memory of the great Pope Paul VI, revisiting his teachings on integral human development and taking my place within the path that they marked out, so as to apply them to the present moment.

This continual application to contemporary circumstances began with the Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, with which the Servant of God Pope John Paul II chose to mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Populorum Progressio.

Until that time, only Rerum Novarum (Pope Leo XIII's had been commemorated in this way. Now that a further twenty years have passed, I express my conviction that Populorum Progressio deserves to be considered “the Rerum Novarum of the present age”, shedding light upon humanity's journey towards unity.



I found this a memorable synthesis of the encyclical itself:

Caritas in veritate is the principle around which the Church's social doctrine turns, a principle that takes on practical form in the criteria that govern moral action.... in particular, justice and the common good. (No. 6)

...Only in charity, illumined by the light of reason and faith, is it possible to pursue development goals that possess a more humane and humanizing value.

The sharing of goods and resources, from which authentic development proceeds, is not guaranteed by merely technical progress and relationships of utility, but by the potential of love that overcomes evil with good (cf Rom 12:21), opening up the path towards reciprocity of consciences and liberties.
(No. 9)


There will be no lack of commentators, expert or otherwise, who will critique the Pope's analysis of globalization and the current structures of finance and economy, but if they are secular, they will most likely ignore the Pope's conclusion that reiterates the basic message of his Pontificate to mankind - the primacy of God in everything and to all men, and the universal reciprocal practice of love as its best expression:


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)...

At the conclusion of the Pauline Year, I gladly express this hope in the Apostle's own words, taken from the Letter to the Romans: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honour” (Rom 12:9-10).

May the Virgin Mary — proclaimed Mater Ecclesiae by Paul VI and honoured by Christians as Speculum Iustitiae and Regina Pacis — protect us and obtain for us, through her heavenly intercession, the strength, hope and joy necessary to continue to dedicate ourselves with generosity to the task of bringing about the “development of the whole man and of all men”[159]. No, 79)



TERESA BENEDETTA
00venerdì 10 luglio 2009 00.04




Having been away from the Net for the past several hours, the commentaries on Caritas in veritate (CIV) have piled up, in English as in Italian. To set priorities, I have decided to concentrate for the time being on the commentaries that stress the spiritual, philosophical and moral premises of the encyclical rather than the economic nuts-and-bolts of it.

For instance, I applaud CNA's first account of the encyclical which rightly underscored Benedict XVI's homage to Paul VI and his Populorum Progressio:



Pope defines real social development,
drawing on Paul VI




Vatican City, Jul 7, 2009 CNA).- Today Pope Benedict XVI delivered his encyclical Caritas in veritate, drawing heavily on Pope Paul VI's vision of real human development, which insists upon progress in the moral and spiritual realms, in addition to the material.

Paul VI's teaching on development, Benedict XVI wrote, is the “new Rerum Novarum of the present age.”

“Charity in truth,” Pope Benedict said as he began his encyclical, “is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity.”

It is precisely this gift of charity in truth that Jesus Christ bore witness to “by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection,” he noted.

Moreover, Benedict explained, “Charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine.”

In today's world, the Pope said that he sees charity being “misconstrued and emptied of meaning” and that this puts it at risk of being “misinterpreted, detached from ethical living and, in any event, undervalued.”

Areas where this distortion of charity often takes place are: “the social, juridical, cultural, political and economic fields — the contexts, in other words, that are most exposed to this danger — it is easily dismissed as irrelevant for interpreting and giving direction to moral responsibility.”

The remedy to this distortion of charity is to infuse it with truth, the Pope said. “In this way, he added, “not only do we do a service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living.”

Truth, he observed, also “frees charity from the constraints of an emotionalism,” enables men and women “to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions” and “opens and unites our minds in the lógos of love.”

Returning to a theme that he preached on just before his election as Pope, the Holy Father pointed out that in the current social and cultural context, “where there is a widespread tendency to relativize truth, practising charity in truth helps people to understand that adhering to the values of Christianity is not merely useful but essential for building a good society and for true integral human development.”

“A Christianity of charity without truth,” the Pontiff warned, “would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance. In other words, there would no longer be any real place for God in the world.”

Even worse, “without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalized society at difficult times like the present,” Benedict XVI wrote.

The Church sees her fidelity to the truth as being faithful to man, the Pope noted, saying that fidelity to the truth is the only “guarantee of freedom” and of “the possibility of integral human development.”

“For this reason the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly and recognizes it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce.

"Her social doctrine is a particular dimension of this proclamation: it is a service to the truth which sets us free. Open to the truth, from whichever branch of knowledge it comes, the Church's social doctrine receives it, assembles into a unity the fragments in which it is often found, and mediates it within the constantly changing life-patterns of the society of peoples and nations.”

Pope Benedict also touched on the common good, writing that seeking it is a “requirement of justice and charity.” Taking a stand for the common good involves both caring for and participating in the “complex of institutions that give structure to the life of society, juridically, civilly, politically and culturally, making it the pólis, or 'city,'” he said.

The Holy Father then turned to the history of the Church's body of teaching on social life by noting that it has been over forty years since “the great Pope Paul VI” first penned Populorum Progressio, which unfolded the meaning of “integral human development.”

On the 20th anniversary of Populorum Progressio, Pope John Paul II marked the commemorated the teaching by issuing the encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, he recalled. Until that time, only Pope Leo XIII's work, Rerum Novarum, had been commemorated in that way.

“Now that a further twenty years have passed,” Benedict XVI wrote, “I express my conviction that Populorum Progressio deserves to be considered 'the Rerum Novarum of the present age,' shedding light upon humanity's journey towards unity.”

Summing up society's current situation, Benedict described offering love in truth as a “great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized.”

“The risk for our time,” he alerted, “is that the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and minds that would give rise to truly human development.”

When Pope Paul VI promulgated his message on integral social development, he was conveying two important truths: “the Church in all her being and acting...is engaged in promoting integral human development” and that “authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension.”

In other words, Pope Benedict explained, “Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space.”

As he proposed the notion of development in “human and Christian terms,” Pope Paul VI unflinchingly put forth Christian charity as the principal force at the service of development, the Pope recalled.

“Motivated by the wish to make Christ's love fully visible to contemporary men and women, Paul VI addressed important ethical questions robustly, without yielding to the cultural weaknesses of his time.”

Even in the 1960s, the German Pontiff noted that Paul VI was already warning against the “technocratic ideology so prevalent today.” Entrusting the “entire process of development to technology alone” was identified as a “great danger” because “it would lack direction,” he had said.

“Technology, viewed in itself, is ambivalent,” the Benedict wrote, saying that while “some today would be inclined to entrust the entire process of development to technology, on the other hand we are witnessing an upsurge of ideologies that deny "in toto" the very value of development, viewing it as radically anti-human and merely a source of degradation.”

“This leads to a rejection, not only of the distorted and unjust way in which progress is sometimes directed, but also of scientific discoveries themselves, which, if well used, could serve as an opportunity of growth for all.”

The Holy Father brought his section on Paul VI's teachings to a close by reflecting on what a world without development means.

“The idea of a world without development indicates a lack of trust in man and in God. It is therefore a serious mistake to undervalue human capacity to exercise control over the deviations of development or to overlook the fact that man is constitutionally oriented towards 'being more.' Idealizing technical progress, or contemplating the utopia of a return to humanity's original natural state, are two contrasting ways of detaching progress from its moral evaluation and hence from our responsibility.”


Initial reactions from some European bishops has been very positive - well, how could it be otherwise? The following is translated from what has been reported so far by

the news agency of the Italian bishops conference:



From Mons. Reinhold Marx, Archbishop of Munich-Freising,
president of the Social Commission of the German bishops conference (DBK):


Benedict XVI's new encyclical is 'a moral exclamation point', he said at a news conference in Munich, saying he was 'delighted' by its contents.

"An encyclical is not a scientific text, even if it must be scientifically founded in its statements, nor a sermon, nor a political program, but an orientation that is binding at the doctrinal level for the formation of policy, society and the economy," Marx said.

"The Pope has given us this orientation at the right moment - an orientation that we should all now translate to concrete terms, as I myself must do, in my capacity as president of the DBK's social commission."

"In this new encyclical", he went on, "The Pope hopes that the world may go beyond the market economy as it is, towards a new calibration of the global economy that involves the State, the market and civilian society together. This is one of the principal challenges of the 21st century, and to this end, the Pope offers many remarkable starting points".

"The Pope makes it clear that the market need not be a space devoid of morality, that it needs rules and an ordered system which cannot function properly without moral norms".

He said he was surprised at the Pope's initiative in bringing up the possibility of "new forms for the market economy, even new forms of business enterprise."

Marx emphasized the encyclical's central reference to the 'fundamental principle of love' to help resolve social problems 'in a more humane and equitable way' - love not as "a sentiment and an experience' but as the 'fundamental readiness to meet one's neighbor halfway, to the active consciousness that we all belong to one human family".

Finally, Mons. Marx praised "the encouraging view of the world underlying the encyclical, which shows that Benedict XVI has great trust in the individual".


From Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris
and president of the French bishops' conference:



"It is a formidable message of hope addressed to Catholics and all men of goodwill who are interested in reflecting on the fundamental questions raised by the Christian faith".

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois said this was his personal impression from a first reading of the Pope's new encyclical.

In a note published on the French bishops' site, he said: "Mankind has the mission and the means to manage the world in which we live... It can transform it... it can make justice and love prosper in human relations as well as in the social and economic fields" and this, he said, was the encyclical's message of hope.

He said there were two points he considered particularly significant in the document: the statement that "no field of human activity can escape moral responsibility" and the 'reflection on globalization and what it means for development".

Despite the multitude and richness of the themes treated therein, the cardinal concludes, "this encyclical is unified by its general perspective on responsibility in economic and social activities, (whose) ultimate and definitive criterion is... service to man".


Mons. Robert Zollitsch, Archbishop of Freiburg
and President of the German bishops conference:


"It is a definitive contribution to the present debate on globalization and social justice", Mons. Zollitsch said, "and even the timing of its publication - on the eve of the G8 summit in L'Aquila - underscores the urgency of its purpose."

"The Pope is not addressing only the leaders of the most important industrialized nations one earth so that they may courageously face the present challenges without neglecting the necessary ethical bases, but he encourages all men of good will to consider themselves protagonists and not victims in current developments. Everyone should change their mentality."

The Archbishop of Freiburg called the new encyclical "a great work which takes into account the fundamental premises towards human evolution and globalization to the measure of man."

He also said it represents "a significant step forward" in the elaboration of the Church's social doctrine, even if the Pope's intention was "not to rovide actual political or economic prescriptions".

Rather, he said, Benedict XVI has "redirected attention anew to a fundamental dimension of development that has been forgotten: that it must be unitary and integral, oriented by the principles of justice and the common good which are expressions of love in charity".

He said the encyclical "does not only make precise analyses of the signs of the time but indicates the criteria necessary in order to promote justice that is sustainable for all the world, through a path to the future characterized by the common good".

"The Pope", he continued, "offers many starting points for reflection that we hope may be heeded by the main actors in our society, in politics and the economy, and which we as bishops can make known and act upon within the Church as well as outside it."

"We are grateful that this encyclical can enrich the formation of public opinion, and we thank the Holy Father for his reflections and indications," eh concluded.


From the Belgian bishops' conference

"Truth and love are at the center of the Pontifical text. It is truth that allows a lucid look at society today, and it is love which impels us to action".

Shortly after Benedict XVI's third encyclical was released today, the press office of teh Belgian bishops' conference issued a first comment:

"In this first social encyclical of the 21st century, the Pope calls for a new reflection on the sense of the economy, of its ends, for an ethical review of the development model, reminding mankind that a globalized economy which develops beyond the pale of moral values is destined for impasse."

"Without falling into the trap of partisan politics," the bishops' statement continues, "the Church does not aspire to serve savage capitalism, it does not propose any technical solutions nor does it wish to encroach on decisions of State, but it has a mission of truth to carry out in favor of a society that is built to the measure of man and of his dignity."

Finally, they noted, "the Pope affirms that there cannot be full development and a universal common good without the spiritual and moral wellbeing of persons considered in their integrity of body and soul."


From the Irish bishops' conference:

The Irish bishops in a note issued today welcomed Benedict XVI's new encyclical.

They said that "it brings to light the inseparable link between love and truth", citing a passage that says "without truth, love degenerates to sentimentalism - love becomes an empty shell to be filled arbitrarily".

Thus, they said, "Christians should be every ready to proclaim this love to mankind. The social doctrine of the Church derives from the dynamic of love given and received in our relationship with God and our neighbor."

On what the encyclical says about globalization: "In a globalized society, our concept of the common good should be extended also to relations between nations" which means, the bishops said, "we must all share goods and resources and not just technological progress. We must make sure that in the market of globalized labor, competitiveness will not work against those who are poorer and weaker."

The Irish bishops also underscored the encyclical's "defense of creation, the right to food and water, and the right to life".


But one must take note, too, instant commentaries such as this one, whose writer chooses to end otherwise sober 'first thoughts' with a rather flippant line.

The Pope on the world economy:
Prophets, not profits

By Jeff Israely

Tuesday, Jul. 07, 2009


Ever wondered what God makes of the current global economic crisis? We'll never know, of course, but the man the Roman Catholic Church deems the Almighty's "pastor in chief" has finally weighed in with his own take:

Pope Benedict XVI offers neither stock tips nor bailout plans in Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), but the long-awaited third encyclical of his papacy is a wide-ranging commentary on the sources of our economic woes and a holy blueprint for recovery based on something greater than the once mighty dollar.

"The economic sphere is neither ethically neutral, nor inherently inhuman and opposed to society," the 82-year-old Pontiff writes in the encyclical released Tuesday. "It is part and parcel of human activity and precisely because it is human, it must be structured and governed in an ethical manner."

But aside from weighing in on the issue of regulating financial markets, his proposals appear to be based largely on fostering in economic actors a sense of obligation to serve the greater good rather than just shareholders and the bottom line.

The Pope states up front that he isn't offering "technical" responses but wants to avoid a simply "sentimental" interpretation of economic rights and wrongs.

A theologian by training but an avid student of history and ideas, Benedict attempts to offer some serious philosophical depth — driven by his vision of revealed Christian truth — to the catchphrase ethical capitalism.

Indeed, according to Stefano Zamagni, an economics professor who was a consultant on the encyclical, Benedict believes that capitalism as such is now effectively "obsolete" and must be replaced by a new form of market economy whose driving force is not the maximization of profits.

"Capitalism is an old idea, where the market was supposedly morally neutral ... where efficiency becomes an ethos," said Zamagni during the presentation of the document in the Vatican press office on Tuesday. "This encyclical aims to overcome a dichotomy that characterized the 20th century between the economic and social spheres. If we can instead incorporate the idea of the social element into the economy, the market itself becomes a force for civility."

Benedict denounces the modern corporate business model, taking on the global Wall Street and its super bonuses, which lead to financial speculation and labor outsourcing.

"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," he writes.

"Profit is useful if it serves as a means toward an end. 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."

Benedict acknowledges the acceleration of globalization since the last major encyclical [Isn't Israely pointedly ignoring here John pauyl II's two social encyclicals????] dedicated to what is called the church's "social doctrine," Pope Paul VI's Populorum Progressio in 1967.

But this too, the Pope says, is inherently neither good nor bad. "We should not be victims of [globalization], but rather its protagonists, acting in the light of reason, guided by charity and truth."

The encyclical, which follows two others in this papacy on the concepts of Christian love and hope, was initially scheduled for release last year, but the Pope thought it wise to publish what is in effect a "post–Lehman Brothers" version.

There are frequent references to the global financial crisis, though Cardinal Renato Martino, who shepherded the encyclical, declared Tuesday that if it had come out in early 2008, "it would have been prophetic."

Its release comes on the eve of the Group of Eight summit in nearby L'Aquila, Italy, where church officials hope its message will reach the world leaders gathered to discuss ways out of the economic crisis.

In one of the more provocative passages, the Pope says the global recession requires not only a reform of the U.N. and international economic institutions but also the "urgent need of a true world political authority ... universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights."

While critics, particularly in the U.S., are likely to shun such an idea as a utopian sort of "world government," some world leaders, like French President Nicolas Sarkozy, have been advocating since late last year for comprehensive and binding global regulation of financial markets.

The 144-page document — an encyclical is considered Catholicism's highest teaching authority — expands well beyond strict economic theory, touching on abortion, euthanasia, immigration and the environment.

In each case, the Pope provides an economic reading of why Church teaching on these issues is not only holy but also helpful for improving human material conditions.

In the final section, titled "The Development of Peoples and Technology," the Pope challenges the modern gospel of progress for progress's sake. And as elsewhere in the document, he calls on individuals to take responsibility to do the right thing as both a moral and a socioeconomic imperative.

"True development does not consist primarily in 'doing.' The key to development is a mind capable of thinking in technological terms and grasping the fully human meaning of human activities," he writes.

"Even when we work through satellites or through remote electronic impulses, our actions always remain human, an expression of our responsible freedom. Technology is highly attractive because it draws us out of our physical limitations and broadens our horizon. But human freedom is authentic only when it responds to the fascination of technology with decisions that are the fruit of moral responsibility."

Even more than loose credit, Benedict clearly blames loose morals for our economic ills.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00venerdì 10 luglio 2009 00.05




Some surprising reactions
to 'Caritas in veritate'



I find George Weigel's instant commentary on the encyclical strange - and obviously biased, from its very title. It seems to be more a defense - uncalled for and unnecessary - of John Paul II's Centesimus annus and an open denunciation of Paul VI's Populorum progressio - which amounts to a denunciation of Benedict XVI's Caritas in veritatis which so explicitly pays homage to Populorum progressio - in the course of which Weigel scapegoats the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, accusing it of having tried to strong-arm John Paul II into writing things the Council wanted him to write, and now apparently having succeeded in getting Benedict XVI to join their bias for Paul VI's Populorum progressio.

I must object that Mr. Weigel, whom I have always found objective and fair-minded before this, now appears to make the Pope's encyclical the battleground for his differences (and, he implies, John Paul II's differences) with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. In any case, it does not make for a flattering picture of Benedict XVI or of this encyclical - and I think it is flagrantly wrong and unfair to 'instrumentalize' the encyclical for such purposes.

It is almost as if Weigel had allowed his hostility towards Justice and Peace to take over his judgment in this matter. And to portray encyclicals by different Popes as somehow 'competitive' with each other is just not right! Every encyclical is supposed to be part of the continuum of the Church's universal Magisterium, not a self-assertive ego trip by the Pope who wrote it.




'Caritas in Veritate'
in gold and red:
The revenge of Justice and Peace
(or so they may think)

by George Weigel

July 7, 2009


In the often unpredictable world of the Vatican, it was as certain as anything could be in mid-1990 that there would be a 1991 papal encyclical to commemorate the centenary of Rerum Novarum — the 1891 letter of Leo XIII that is rightly regarded as the Magna Carta of modern Catholic social doctrine.

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which imagines itself the curial keeper of the flame of authentic Catholic social teaching, prepared a draft, which was duly sent to Pope John Paul II — who had already had a bad experience with the conventionally gauchiste and not-very-original thinking at Justice and Peace during the preparation of the 1987 social encyclical, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis.

John Paul shared the proposed draft with colleagues in whose judgment he reposed trust; one prominent intellectual who had long been in conversation with the Pope told him that the draft was unacceptable, in that it simply did not reflect the way the global economy of the post–Cold War world worked.

So John Paul dumped the Justice and Peace draft and crafted an encyclical that was a fitting commemoration of Rerum Novarum. For Centesimus Annus not only summarized deftly the intellectual structure of Catholic social doctrine since Leo XIII; it proposed a bold trajectory for the further development of this unique body of thought, emphasizing the priority of culture in the threefold free society (free economy, democratic polity, vibrant public moral culture).

By stressing human creativity as the source of the wealth of nations, Centesimus Annus also displayed a far more empirically acute reading of the economic signs of the times than was evident in the default positions at Justice and Peace.

Moreover, Centesimus Annus jettisoned the idea of a “Catholic third way” that was somehow “between” or “beyond” or “above” capitalism and socialism — a favorite dream of Catholics ranging from G. K. Chesterton to John A. Ryan and Ivan Illich.

The encyclical rightly, if gingerly, suggests that thug-governments in the Third World have more to do with poverty and hunger than a lack of international development aid; recognizes that catastrophically low birth rates are creating serious global economic problems (although this point may not be as well developed as it was in previous essays from Joseph Ratzinger); sharply criticizes international aid programs tied to mandatory contraception and the provision of “reproductive health services” (the U.N. euphemism for abortion-on-demand); and neatly ties religious freedom to economic development.

All of this is welcome, and all of it is manifestly Benedict XVI, in continuity with John Paul II and his extension of the line of papal argument inspired by Rerum Novarum in Centesimus Annus, Evangelium Vitae (the 1995 encyclical on the life issues), and Ecclesia in Europa (the 2003 apostolic exhortation on the future of Europe).

But then there are those passages to be marked in red — the passages that reflect Justice and Peace ideas and approaches that Benedict evidently believed he had to try and accommodate.

Some of these are simply incomprehensible, as when the encyclical states that defeating Third World poverty and underdevelopment requires a “necessary openness, in a world context, to forms of economic activity marked by quotas of gratuitousness and communion.” This may mean something interesting; it may mean something naïve or dumb. But, on its face, it is virtually impossible to know what it means.

The encyclical includes a lengthy discussion of “gift” (hence “gratuitousness”), which, again, might be an interesting attempt to apply to economic activity certain facets of John Paul II’s Christian personalism and the teaching of Vatican II, in Gaudium et Spes 24, on the moral imperative of making our lives the gift to others that life itself is to us.

But the language in these sections of Caritas in Veritate is so clotted and muddled as to suggest the possibility that what may be intended as a new conceptual starting point for Catholic social doctrine is, in fact, a confused sentimentality of precisely the sort the encyclical deplores among those who detach charity from truth. [Are we talking of the same encyclical here? Paragraphs 34 and 35 - which were the ones devoted to the idea of 'gift' were far from muddled!]

There is also rather more in the encyclical about the redistribution of wealth than about wealth-creation — a sure sign of Justice and Peace default positions at work.

And another Justice and Peace favorite — the creation of a “world political authority” to ensure integral human development — is revisited, with no more insight into how such an authority would operate than is typically found in such curial fideism about the inherent superiority of transnational governance.

(It is one of the enduring mysteries of the Catholic Church why the Roman Curia places such faith in this fantasy of a “world public authority,” given the Holy See’s experience in battling for life, religious freedom, and elementary decency at the United Nations.

But that is how they think at Justice and Peace, where evidence, experience, and the canons of Christian realism sometimes seem of little account.)

[But it is not just the Council for Justice and Peace. John Paul II himself, like Paul VI before him and Benedict XVI after him, all put their faith in the United Nations - not because they see it as an effective solution to what besets the world, but because, as Benedict XVI pointed out recently, it is the only international forum so far where, at least in the General Assembly, the smallest nation-state has totally equal footing as the largest and most powerful nations. The Vatican takes its observer status in the UN seriously because it gives it a chance to make itself heard and on the record in international councils.]

If those burrowed into the intellectual and institutional woodwork at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace imagine Caritas in Veritate as reversing the rout they believe they suffered with Centesimus Annus, and if they further imagine Caritas in Veritate setting Catholic social doctrine on a completely new, Populorum Progressio–defined course (as one Justice and Peace consultor has already said), they are likely to be disappointed.

)Here, Weigel's contempt for Justice and Peace takes over completely, and he makes it appear as if Benedict XVI were involved in a battle of encyclicals in which he, Benedict XVI, is on the wrong side!]

The incoherence of the Justice and Peace sections of the new encyclical is so deep, and the language in some cases so impenetrable, that what the defenders of Populorum Progresio may think to be a new sounding of the trumpet is far more like the warbling of an untuned piccolo.

Benedict XVI, a truly gentle soul, may have thought it necessary to include in his encyclical these multiple off-notes, in order to maintain the peace within his curial household.

[Would someone like Benedict XVI compromise un any way an encyclical going out under his name just to 'keep peace in the Curial household'? That's almost insulting to him. First of all, although he must solicit contributions from all those 'sectorally involved, he is under no obligation to use anything he does not agree with.]

Those with eyes to see and ears to hear will concentrate their attention, in reading Caritas in Veritate, on those parts of the encyclical that are clearly Benedictine, including the Pope’s trademark defense of the necessary conjunction of faith and reason and his extension of John Paul II’s signature theme — that all social issues, including political and economic questions, are ultimately questions of the nature of the human person.

[Is there perhaps a strong element of resentment in Weigel's 'review' that Benedict XVI used Populorum progressio as his touchstone, ratehr than Centesimus annus? And Jsutice and Peace is a convenient stalking horse to vent against because he cannot do it against Benedict XVI himself?

Also, most uncharacteristic of Weigel, he simply ignores the spiritual, theological and philosophical presentation of the encyclical to vent against Justice and Peace!]




And the first commentary by someone who had written a couple of pieces in anticipation of the encyclical also turns out to be a bit of a dud!:


The Pope of Caritapolis
by Michael Novak

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Three encyclicals already with Caritas in their title. [Actually. only two. Spe salvi does not have caritas in its title, obviously. NJovak must be thinking of Benedict's post-synodal Exhortation, Sacramentum caritatis.]

It looks like the Pope is bidding fair to become “the Pope of Caritapolis,” who sees the whole world — in all its cultural, political, and cultural dimensions — as to be best grasped within the long history of “The City of God” — the City of God’s Caritas in this world.

By caritas, the Pope means a distinctive form of the love that humans experience — not eros, nor amor, nor affection, nor commitment in choice (dilectio), nor friendship, nor all those other forms of love that humans know and cherish, each in its own way.

Caritas is the love proper only to God, among the Persons of the Divine Communion for One Another, All one in perfect Communion.

The Trinitarian Creator made us to share in this inner life and caritas of God, a love beyond our capacities. Our love is to give the ancient world of “eternal cycles of return” a fresh and real history of responsibility, of daring, of potential progress and of threatening degradation. It is a love that obliges us to take responsibility for its fate, under a kind Providence.

This is the drama of human history, the story of Caritapolis, as the Catholic people see it. We do not often display the whole story out in public, preferring a story sparser and less romantic to match the flatness of our own times. But cherish it deep in our hearts, we do.

Now our most learned among Popes has published the fullest and most theological account of Catholic Social Thought, from its starting place right in the bosom of the Communion of Persons that furnishes us our experience of God — and also of our own nature.

The most holy, the noblest, the best, the most godlike things about us is our human capacity to learn personhood in responsible self-government (taking up personal responsibility for our own eternal fate) and to share in communion with other persons, and most of all with the unseen God.

It is as if Benedict is bringing back into play the long-neglected lessons of St. Augustine to Catholic Social Thought — re-presenting, as it were, The City of God — that is, the City of that caritas which the Divine Persons gratuitously pour into the human heart, that it might cast the burning desire for human unity into the kindling of hundreds of millions of parched hearts.

Without eternal perspectives and without the sense of our individual immortal value — the great Tocqueville reminded us — the sheer materialism and dreck of democracy and capitalism would wear us down to mean and petty creatures. Materialism radically undercuts our human rights. Simply to survive — let alone flourish — democracy and capitalism need soul.

For Catholics, all social energy flows from the inner life of the Trinity. Everything is gift. We signal our gratitude by developing our own talents to the fullness, by becoming free, responsible, initiative-showing, creative agents of a better world, and by aspiring to that full communion of all human beings whose vocation is written into the structure of human history.

And we say “thank you.” What most distinguishes the Jewish and Christian believer from the secular materialist is the frequency and the authenticity in which the believer responds to everyday events with deeply felt gratitude. Everything we look upon is gift.

Thus, it is no surprise when empirical research shows that people who are believers give more of their time and resources to the needy than do unbelievers, and people who cherish limited government (conservatives) give more than welfare-state liberals.

The truth is, though, that both liberals and conservatives belong, in their quarreling fashions, to one same national community and one same human community.

What Benedict XVI has not spelled out yet is another forgotten lesson from St. Augustine: the ever-corrupting role of sin in the City of Man. Augustine points out how difficult it is even for the wisest and most detached humans to discover the truth among lies — and how even husbands and wives in the closest of human bonds misunderstand each other so often. The Father of Lies seems to own so much of the real world.

What are the most practical ways of defeating him? The Catholic tradition — even the wise Pope Benedict — still seems to put too much stress upon caritas, virtue, justice, and good intentions, and not nearly enough on methods for defeating human sin in all its devious and persistent forms. [But what methods are there except what Christ showed????? Love and abandonment to God in prayer!]

Even the Pope’s understandable nostalgia for the European welfare-state [????? Where and how has he ever expressed this????] too much scants the self-interests, self-deceptions, and false presuppositions that are bringing that system to a crisis of its own making.

This was a crisis John Paul II saw rather more clearly in paragraph 48 of Centesimus Annus.


[The essay seems unfinished! Not to mention that the last points Novak brings up seem to be unwarranted nit-picking.]



FIRST THINGS editor Joseph Bottum does the obvious and sensible thing, however, and points out that one should read Benedict XVI's Introduction and consider the entire encyclical in that light!


First Thoughts on Caritas in Veritate
by Joseph Bottum

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


The surprise of the encyclical is the praise of Paul VI, whose Populorum Progressio deserves to be considered ‘the Rerum Novarum of the present age,’ shedding light upon humanity’s journey towards unity.”

Love in truth, says Benedict, “is a great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized. The risk for our time is that the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and minds that would give rise to truly human development.”

Here we find the Pope’s great worry: At precisely the moment for the world’s great evangelization and the great manifestation of love, the devices by which the world has been prepared — economic and technological — are excluding the charity and denying the truth that “judge and direct” human development.

“The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim ‘to interfere in any way in the politics of States,’” the encyclical notes. “She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation.”

The introduction, these first nine paragraphs, have to be taken as the key to reading the encyclical. George Weigel notes the way the bulk of the encyclical exhibits various fragments of Catholics’ differing views of social virtues, but keeping in mind the introduction to the encyclical — remembering that it is not throat-clearing but the key to understanding what follows — may allow the reader to see the Pope’s over-arching intention.



FIRST THINGS associate editor David Goldman, who also writes as Spengler, is a finance analyst-economist by profession, so he speaks knowledgeably about these matters. I am a bit perplexed, however, by his first reaction to the encycllical.

He obviously agrees with its urgent call for ethics in the marketplace and with much of the economic analysis contained in it - but after offering an overview of how the market economy has actually increased the wealth across the Third World over the past three decades, he says the economics of the encyclical applies only to Africa, not to Asia and Latin America.



An African encyclical
by David P. Goldman

Tuesday, July 7, 2009, 10:59 AM

A few days before the appearance of the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, the following news item appeared:

July 3 (Bloomberg) — Developing countries’ share of worldwide equity value climbed to a record as the fastest-growing economies lured investors amid the first global recession since World War II.

The 22 nations classified as “emerging” by index provider MSCI Inc. comprised 24 percent of world market capitalization, up from 18 percent at the start of this year, the highest proportion since Bloomberg began compiling the data in 2003. China shares surpassed $3 trillion yesterday for the first time since August, from $1.8 trillion at the end of 2008.

The increase signals growing confidence in developing countries as equity investors, spurred by interest-rate cuts and stimulus plans, redeploy cash after the worst U.S. losses since the Great Depression. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 35 percent, beating a 2.9 percent advance in the MSCI World Index Index of developed economies and lifting the value of stocks to $8.6 trillion from $5.1 trillion in 2008.


In fact, the creation of wealth in the developing world is the most spectacular economic success story in world history. Nothing like this ever occurred before.

Of course, as the encyclical observes, “The world’s wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase . . . The development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side.”

Fair enough. But the issue is not so much inequality as the position of the poorest. Even under a Rawlsian sort of ethics, if the poorest accrue the most benefits, the system is doing the right thing. If we take life expectancy as a crude measure of welfare in the poorest countries, a remarkable result pops out.

According to the United Nations, the least-developed countries’ life expectancy at birth rose from forty-seven years in 1980, when Ronald Reagan became US President, to fifty-nine years today, and is expected to gradually rise to seventy years by mid-century. India’s life expectancy has risen from fifty-four years to sixty-seven years.

What holds the global numbers down is the fall in life expectancy in Africa, from 55.3 years in 1980 to 51.6 years today. That is not the result of capitalism but of AIDS. AIDS derives from moral and cultural problems, but it has a devastating economic impact. No amount of foreign aid, market regulation, and so forth will compensate for this crater in the African population.

If one goes to East or South Asia, home to half the world’s population, the sense of optimism and well-being is palpable. People who grew up with mud floors, outdoor toilets, and a bicycle now have electricity, plumbing, and motor transport. In China’s interior, in Burma, and in parts of northern Thailand and Laos, rural poverty remains extreme, but the jump in living standards from one generation to the next is without precedent.

Brazil, Latin America’s most populous country, is flush with money largely as a byproduct of the Asian boom: its exports of soy, iron ore and beef to China will keep it rich for some time to come. Heartbreaking and enraging disparities of wealth between the Brazilian elite and the favela-dwellers of the cities or and the rural poor are everywhere—but Brazil is doing much better.

The facts seem clear: The Reagan revolution that set in motion a quarter-century boom in the United States inspired the rest of the world to adopt American-style methods. This has led to the greatest boom in wealth in history among countries that a generation ago were more visible in UNICEF commercials than in financial markets.

Despite enormous wealth disparities and abuses, more people have benefited than by any other trend in any era of history.

Except, of course in Africa, which is worse off, for reasons that have nothing to do with economics. AIDS, corruption, and war have held the continent back while the rest of the world has surged ahead.


The lesson I would draw from the available data is somewhat different than the one in the encyclical.

Markets work reasonably well if people are moral (e.g., do not engage in behavior that leads to pandemic disease). If people fail to have children, by adopting a hedonistic model of life and sexuality, economies fail, as I wrote in “Demographics and Depression” in the May 2009 issue.

If the Biblical injunction is ignored to maintain honest courts and to decide cases without favor to rich or poor, economies fail. Markets need morality to function. No amount of regulation can replace morality. Markets can’t be better than the people who participate in them. [So in what way is his conclusion different from the Pope's?]
]
Call this an African encyclical. Its description of economic developments applies to Africa, but not to East or South Asia, nor for that matter to most of Latin America.[????]

As a non-Catholic, I find far more persuasive than Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1985 statement on morality and markets:

It is becoming an increasingly obvious fact of economic history that the development of economic systems which concentrate on the common good depends on a determinate ethical system, which in turn can be born and sustained only by strong religious convictions. Conversely, it has also become obvious that the decline of such discipline can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse.

An economic policy that is ordered not only to the good of the group – indeed, not only to the common good of a determinate state – but to the common good of the family of man demands a maximum of ethical discipline and thus a maximum of religious strength.


I had written about that Ratzinger address last year.

It is very different to emphasize how much markets depend on the morality of the participants, and the religion whence this morality derives, and quite another to argue that morality can be imposed upon the market mechanism by various kinds of tinkering and the creation of supranational agencies.

[I don't think the Holy Father meant at all that morality can be imposed by the market mechanism itself or some supranational agency - the Catholic idea of 'conversion' always begins from the heart of the individual. He does want ethical standards built into the market mechanism and a supranational agency to see that such standards are kept by appropriate regulation.

Whether this can be done in practice is, of course, another matter, because such a 'built-in' morality mechanism would require the near-unanimous political will of those who now guide the destinies of the world by their sheer economic and political domination - and none of them have shown any such inclination so far.]


TERESA BENEDETTA
00venerdì 10 luglio 2009 00.06




Hope and realism
Editorial
by Giovanni Maria Vian
Translated from
the 7/8/09 issue of




Realism and hope, notwithstanding the world economic crisis.

That is Benedict XVI's third encyclical in the briefest synthesis, or better, as a summary approximation to a text that is as important and rich as the time it took to elaborate it.

Continuing a tradition of papal documents begun in 1891 by the famous Rerum novarum of Leo XIII and developed vigorously in 1931 by the two encyclicals of Pius XI following the great economic and financial depression which took place two years earlier: Quadragesimo anno, and the almost unknown Nova impendet on the gravity of the crisis and on the folly of the arms race, which at the time, showed acute perception of a problem that is still present.
And finally, to the social teachings of John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II.

Caritas in veritate takes its place in this series, underscoring, even in this, the continuity between tradition before adn after Vatican II.

Referring to the preceding encyclicals, particularly the last two Montini encyclicals that Paul VI himself recalled, some 40 days before he died, as specially expressive of his pontificate: Populorum progressio, a continuous reference, almost the subtext, for this Benedictian document; and Humanae vitae, from which Caritas in veritate specifically picks up its social significance - as it happened 40 years ago in the Third World in the face of a storm of criticism, even from within the Church, ithat arose in the rich societies against the Pauline encyclical.

Supporting the entire structure of Caritas in veritate - addressed unusually not only to Catholics but also 'to all men of good will' - is the relationship between the two terms of the title. They are linked so powerfully that they give rise to the possibility of the integral development of the human being and of mankind - which is indeed assured only by 'charity in truth', that is, by the love of Christ. As the Introduction clearly shows.

Within this theological framework, the encyclical designs an attentive and up-to-date summa socialis which belies, if proof were still needed, the image of a Pope who is nothing but a theologian isolated in his rooms, and instead confirms how attentive Benedict XVI is, as a theologian and as pastor, to contemporary reality in all its aspects.

What stands out from the text at first glance is its attention to the phenomena of globalization and technocracy - which in themselves are neutral, but subject to degeneration, on account of, 'in the terms of faith', as the Pope says, original sin.

A closer look however makes clear the trust expressed by the Pope in the possibility pf a truly human development, that which Paul VI already described as inherent in the design of divine providence, which is, in some ways, a sign of the progressive journey of the city of man towards the city of God.

Benedict XVI's attitude cannot be described as pessimistic a priori [But who has said that????] as some would have it, but neither is it one of ingenuous and irresponsible optimism, because it is based on typically Catholic confidence in reason that is open to the presence of the divine.

Thus the economic and technological spheres are part of human activity that should not be demonized, but not left to themselves either, because they should be linked to the common good, and thus, governed from an ethical point of view.

To give just one example, the sheer phenomenon of globalization does not by itself make all men brothers, and it is evident that rules are necessary for its proper orientation.

If therefore the economic dimension can be - or rather, must be - human, if the historical moment is propitious for abandoning ideologies which in the past century, for instance, left only ruin behind, then truly, the time has come to profit from the opportunity offered by the world crisis to emerge from it together - believers along with all men and women of good will.

As the Pope has written this encyclical for everyone that we might live as one family under the Creator's loving regard.



Personally, I found this editorial in Il Foglio - the insight sounds like it was written by editor Giuliano Ferrara himself, although the newspaper's editorials are generally unsigned - unusually perceptive regarding the design and ultimate thrust of the encyclical.


Technology, the ultimate ideology -
and the defense of the human being
in Benedict XVI's new encyclical

Editorial
Translated from

July 8, 2009

- The self-referential absolutism of a technology that is no longer the instrument of progress but has become a new ideology - the last one - of globalization.

- Bio-ethics as "the primary and crucial field for the cultural battle between the absolutism of technology and human responsiblity".

- The social question which has now become radically coincident with "the anthropogical question in the sense that it implies not only the very manner of conception itself, but also of manipulating life, which is more and more left to human hands by the new biotechnologies".

- The 'technological mindset' which identifies the true as that which coincides with the possible, and in so doing, betrays the noble and appropriate uses of technology itself.

In the sixth and final chapter of the encyclical Carita in veritate, Benedict XVI concetrates and lays out the themes of the defense of the human being, endangered by the 'present culture of total disenchantmment which believes it has revealed every mystery because it has now reached to the very roots of life".

This papal appeal that immediately precedes thr conclusion of the encyclical, in relation to which it almost serves as a summation, is very important and revelatory.

No one can be surprised about the indifference towards the poor of the earth and towards the 'human situations of degradation', the Pope says, if he understands that the same indifference characterizes the attitude of 'a conscience that has become incapable of recognizing the human'.

The eugenetic planning of births, the affirmation of a mens eutanisica, research using human embryos as laboratory specimens, 'the possiblity of human cloning and hybridization' - these are all immense injustices among other more 'common' uinjustices. And they represent a negation of freedom.

Because "human freedom is properly so only when it responds to the fascination of technology with decisions which are the fruit of moral responsibility".

Benedict XVI's social encyclical is a great call to secular rationality, a secularism that is denied by the new religion of technoscience.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00venerdì 10 luglio 2009 00.08




Fr. Fessio proves himself a true student of Benedict XVI in his first commentary on Caritas in veritate. Thank you, Fr. Fessio, for eschewing the prevalent commonplace that this encyclical was to be read as a technocratic discourse, a prescription for the world's economic ills or a blanket denunciation of the flawed economic and financial institutions of our time. In short, for seeing without distraction that the encyclical is exactly about what its title says - charity in truth, charity and truth.



Pope advocates charity and truth
as the framework for social justice

By Father Joseph Fessio, SJ



NAPLES, Florida, JULY 7, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has something for everyone in Caritas in Veritate -- from praising profit (nO. 21) to defending the environment (nO. 48).

But in these cases, as in all the others, he calls for a discernment and a purification by faith and reason (nO. 56) that should temper immoderate and one-sided enthusiasms.

Once again, Pope Benedict shows himself to be a theologian of synthesis and fundamental principles. In the titles of his three encyclicals he has used only five nouns: God, Love, Hope, Salvation, and Truth -- the most fundamental of realities.

And in the opening greeting of this encyclical he succinctly describes the contents: "on integral human development in charity and truth."

Note that from this very greeting Pope Benedict has changed the whole framework of the debate on "the social question." This was expected to be -- and is -- his encyclical on "social justice." And indeed "justice" and "rights" find their proper place in a larger synthesis.

But the priority is established from the outset, the foundation is laid, with "charity" and "truth." "Charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine" (2).

"Without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power" (5).

Another fundamental principle, and a central theme of this pontificate, is the continuity of the Church and her teaching. Surprisingly, the central ecclesiastical text from the past is Pope Paul VI's Populorum Progressio, and Pope Benedict makes it clear that we do not have "two typologies of social doctrine, one pre-conciliar and one post-conciliar, differing from one another: On the contrary, there is a single teaching, consistent and at the same time ever new" (12).

This principle of continuity was expressed centrally in Benedict's first address as Pope on April 20, 2005, and again to the Roman curial cardinals on Dec. 22 of that year.

Within this fundamental material context of charity and truth, and the fundamental formal context of the continuity of the Church's teaching, Pope Benedict situates the centerpiece of the Church's social teaching: "integral human development." And by "integral" he means "it has to promote the good of every man and of the whole man" (18, quoting Paul VI).

Among the important dimensions of this wholeness, he notes that integral human development must be open to the transcendent (11: "authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension. Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space.") and it must be open to life (28: "Openness to life is at the center of true development").

The inclusiveness of this integration is emphatically and perhaps surprisingly exemplified in paragraph 39. There, the Pope states that the "logic of the market and the logic of the state," i.e., free economic exchange with political oversight and restraint, are not enough to secure human flourishing.

There must also be "solidarity in relations between citizens, participation and adherence, actions of gratuitousness" or, as he says in summary, "increasing openness, in a world context, to forms of economic activity marked by quotas of gratuitousness and communion."

Pope Benedict insists on a "third economic factor" in addition to the market and the state: gratuitousness.

Here is a radiant example of the fundamental, synthetic, and discerning character of Pope Benedict's formulation of the Church's social teaching, one which for me is worth the whole encyclical for its clarity, depth, and common sense:

If there is lack of respect for the right to life and 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 system and laws do not help them to respect themselves".(51)


There are times when one is especially proud of the blessing of the Catholic faith. This is one of them.





I must say that waking up in the morning yesterday, it was not easy to read Chapters 3-6 of the encyclical - with its analysis of what has been wrong with human 'development' programs and the systems for attempting this in the modern world - after Chapters 1 and 2 with which Benedict XVI underpinned the entire encyclical, and which were as compelling in their way as DCE and Spe salvi.

In part, there was also the surprise novelty of Benedict's open homage to the thinking of Paul VI in Populorum progressio - which is more than a notch above the dutiful summary of Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum that begins John Paul II's own social encyclical, Centesimus Annus.

So it wasn't easy going when it was time to read through the 'technocratic' part of the encyclical - my brain kept saying one does not have to be a technocrat to see what's wrong with a global market economy whose top and bottom line is financial profit and material gain for whoever wins out in a dog-eat-dog world!

Of course, I appreciated the philosophical incursions into the concept of 'gratuitousness' and even of 'solidarity' [a word that I truly dislike as one of those heavyhanded words that has lost any emotive meaning - I hear it or read it and I feel 'BLAH!', and I cringe that the Pope has no choice but to use it often. I therefore try to translate as often as I can into the more 'comprehensible' word 'brotherhood' or 'brotherly togetherness'. For one, is there any English adjective that corresponds to the noun 'solidarity'? 'Solid with' is awkward and forced. Italian uses 'solidale' as the adjective but when you look that up, it means "being together in a brotherly way'].

But most of all, I appreciated the Pope's 'audacity' of suggesting to a materialistic world that it should factor in these concepts into the eocnomic system. Of course, he is the Pope, and of course, he would hold up high standards one would consider unrealistic in the material world. (Sorry, Holiness, I am much too cynical to be as well-disposed to everyone as you are.)

But it was rather depressing to read the initial pre-cooked, pre-digested commentaries that looked at the encyclical primarily as a politico-economic tract, as though the Pope were going to state some groundbreaking economic theory like a Malthus or a Keynes.

He is the Pope, for heaven's sake - he preaches the Word of God. However profound or simple, intellectual or pedestrian, the doctrine of the Church is expressed, in the end, it can only be consistent with what Christ taught and did.

And that is why I am very appreciative of the commentators who have not lost sight of this.





Here's one of the most original commentaries in the Italian media:


The Pope and
the 'tables of the law'
on economic ethics

by Domenico Rosati
Translated from

July 8, 2009


Those who expected that Benedict XVI's social encyclical would be an act of irruption onto the current economic crsis, or a tirade against the pathologies of liberalism, could only have been disappointed with Caritas in veritate.

One will search it in vain for those searing expressions that have marked the social magisterium of his predecessors. For instance, the denunciation of the 'less than servile condition' of laborers ( Leo XIII), or of the 'imperialism of money' (Pius XI), decrying nuclear weapons as 'alienum a razione' (John XXIII), the menace of the 'rage of the poor' (Paul VI), the identification of 'structures of sin' in today's society (John Paul II).

The very images of the subterranean financial tremors that have in recent months shattered a planetary equilibrium which had been considered firm and solid, figure as a background for the document, which advocates "integral human development in charity and in truth", and better still, and the encyclical title has it, according to the principle of 'charity in truth'.

Tne entire encylical is fashioned from the interweaving of these two threads, with a homogeneous tension that characterizes it from beginning to end.

It is this constitutive elememt that specifically distibguishes this encyclical from previous expressions of the social dostrine of the Church.

Rather than starting from an analysis of the historical context - which is ny no means ignored but is treated as a given - the encyclical involves us right away in an elaboration that does not avoid a critical consideration actual of problems, but frames everything in the precise theological context that is characteristic of Papa Ratzinger's thinking.


"Truth." he writes, "needs to be sought, found and expressed within the 'economy' of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be be understood, confirmed, and practised in the light of truth".

In this way, he said, "we do service to charity enlightened by truth, but we will also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living."

This, he points out, "is a matter of no small account today, in a social and cultural context which relativizes truth, often paying little heed to it and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its exsitence".

It would be similarly misleading to maintain that such a premise makes the entire document into little more than sedative.

The accent on truth, up to the sentence that says, "Without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even udnderstands who he is", does not get in the way of diagnosing the evils of the world, but rather makes such an analysis, in many aspects, even more critical and demanding.

In every sector - economic, social, political, work, the State, subsidiarity, the environment, bioethics, just to cite some of those analyzed - the concern that dominates is eminently ethical in discerning what is useful to man and what harms him.

But even ethics must be qualified, and this can only come from the truths which make charity authentic. The Pope's dicourse is aimed more at individual consciences than to world powers, even if the latter are certainly not left in peace.

Assiduously and often punctually, the encyclical notes their inadequacies (towards the poor of the world) and their dysfunctions (the selfish market).

But the Pope says 'new men', enlightened by truth, would be capable of making human coexistence better by the very consistrency of their testimony.

Of course, no summary can do justice to the encyclical's complex argumentation which merits a leisurely examination, particularly when it gets into the modalities of economic and entrepreneurial life free (or freed from) the nagging worry of aggressive competition.

To what degree, for instance, could a discreet re-evaluation of the role of the State respond to certain decidedly 'anti' manifestations, even among Catholics, against the American free-market model?

And in what way would such a compact configuration of Catholic ethics lend itself to a necessary confrontation in a global and pluralistic society, if one starts, as Barack Obama suggests, "from the bias that even the other side is acting in good faith"?

Some answers are already found in the Magisterium of the Church. If the duty of every man to search for truth is inherent in human nature, "then when I respect the other, I respect in him his capacity for truth".

Benedict XVI modulated his own approach in direct reference to Paul VI's Populorum progressio which he cites frequently, But the Pauline text itself refers back to John XXIII's Pacem in terris which says that even before the intervention of divine grace, human nature itself is capable of giving rise simultaneously to the concepts of universal rights and the inviolability of persons; and that therefore, there exists a human platform of values which represents common ground for all men of good will.

And it is to this common ground - the common good - to which Caritas in veritate is devoted, which could well open up a fruitful debate in all of society.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00venerdì 10 luglio 2009 00.09






The leaders meeting at L'Aquila obviously had their final statements ready before they came together. Since the G8 summit opened yesterday, they have already issued a number of statements, the full texts of which may be seen on the G8 summit official site
www.g8italia2009.it/G8/Home/Summit/G8-G8_Layout_locale-1199882116809_...

Yesterday, the major statement was their 40-page detailed Declaration on Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future; and today, their statements included a Joint Declaration on Promoting the Global Agenda and a Declaration on Energy and Climate.


Above, Page 1 of the July 8 general declaration, and below, Page 1 of the July 9 declaration on the global agenda.


Why does it matter for this Forum? Because the Holy Father has laid his moral authority on the line to speak up for the poorer nations - if only in writing - to this summit where they are not represented, and because his new encyclical Caritas in veritate touches specifically on many issues that the G8 declarations also address with the noblest of intentions.

A Vatican observer who has read through the G8 declarations has interesting observations, but the most important seems to be that they say nothing about why they have so far failed to meet the commitments they made in 2000 towards development aid for poorer nations as well as the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

In repeated statements, even before the new encyclical, Benedict XVI has called on the developed nations to fulfill these commitments.



The Pope's encyclical
and the G8 declarations

by Giorgio Bernardelli
Translated from



On the one hand, a long reflection on the roots of the present financial crisis, with the ethics of globalization in the center.

On the other hand, a detailed document, signed by the leaders of the eight most industrialized nations on earth, with a series of interesting ideas that have to do with development in Africa, climate change, the worldwide food emergency, and itnernational rules for economy and finance.

Benedict XVI's encyclical Caritas in veritate and the L'Aquila Declaration of the G8 Leaders were published barely 24 hours apart.

Reading them together, one cannot overlook the fact that in certain points, the two documents are saying the same thing. Of course, the viewpoints are different, and the Pope obviously does not get into the details of any necessary political measures to be taken.

But there are some basic ideas that are common to both: the need for a truly inclusive globalization of the economy; the urgency of facing the ecologic challenge; the need to do much more for Africa; the idea that the need to provide food for everybody should be at the top of the international agenda.

Does it mean that the leaders of the world's richest nations are finally starting to see the light? It's not advisable to be too enthusiastic. Because there is another similarity between the two documents: they both refer to previous 'position papers'.

Benedict XVI cites Paul VI's Populorum progressio and all other declarations by the Magisterium that in order to be truly sustainable, globalization should be equitable.

The G8 declaration, on the other hand, cites a long series of agreements and previous positions taken on hunger, development, the Millennium Development Goals. To say that this time, unlike in the past, we should take these positions seriously! [So what were they meant to be in the past? Mere paper sops?]

Good intentions are always...good, naturally. But there is a question that is never posed at these summits: Why have the leaders failed to fulfill commitments that they have signed up for and underscored with high-sounding words? Can one blame it on bad faith on the part of these governments or on accidental factors?

That is where Caritas in veritate differs, and we dare say, it is far more interesting compared to the G8 declarations.

Because it tries to appeal to reason. And shows that, ultimately, states and leaders have to choose whether justice is really a key principle that governs their political and economic decisions, or whether they will continue to look at the world's major problems as nothing more than 'a shopping list' of expenditures. When the shopping cart is full, and there is not enough money to pay for it, how do they determine what can be left behind for the time being?

Much has been written about the crisis. But the real crisis that this black 2009 has made obvious to everyone is a crisis in common sense. It is not remedied by asking every day, "When will we get out of this crisis?" Who is we: just us, or everyone? And we get out of the crisis into what? These are the direct questions that the Pope poses in his encyclical.

Only if we - and those who are in a position to make the decisions that can turn things around - keep in mind the basic principle of equitable justice for all as the expression of charity in truth can we hope that commitments made by the richest nations (including us in Italy) will not continue to be mere paper promises.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00venerdì 10 luglio 2009 03.53









In the BENEDICT news thread, I singled out Fr. Schall's contribution to the CWR round table on CIV, as well as to a smaller symposium on The Catholic Thing. Here are all the contributions to the CWR round table:


J. Brian Benestad
Professor of Theology
University of Scranton



In 1986 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued the Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation under the signature of its prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The Instruction says that Catholic social doctrine (CSD) had to emerge from the practice of the Christian faith.

“The Church’s social teaching is born of the encounter of the Gospel message and of its demands (summarized in the supreme commandment of love of God and neighbor in justice) with the problems emanating from the life of society” (no. 72).

CSD helps people to know what love and justice require in the various circumstances of life, knowledge that would escape many without instruction.

In his book on the morals of the Catholic Church St. Augustine had underscored the difficulty of carrying out the commandment to love’s one’s neighbor:"From this commandment are the duties pertaining to human society, about which it is difficult not to err."

In other words, it is easy for human beings to love one another badly both in personal encounters and in devising proposals for the common good of society.

Pope Benedict’s new encyclical builds on the earlier CDF Instruction by emphasizing that love has to be guided by truth: “‘Caritas in veritate’ is the principle around which the Church’s social doctrine turns.”

If society’s work for justice (“the minimum measure” of love) were guided by truth, argues the Pope, society would not permit abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage, the priority of rights over duties, and the exclusion of religion from the public square. Love of neighbor is not compatible with these practices.

The 1986 Instruction also sheds light on the different levels of teaching found in Caritas in Veritate. by distinguishing between permanently valid principles and “contingent judgments” in CSD (no. 72).

Unlike Pope Benedict’s two previous encyclicals this one contains a number of contingent judgments aimed at overcoming the current economic crisis, such as the argument for a “true world political authority.”

Drawing upon Pope Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio, Pope Benedict offers the world a vision of development that is richer and more complete than the common understanding.

He reminds us of Paul VI’s teaching that “life in Christ is the first and principal factor in development.” This means development should aim at the “greatest possible perfection” for every single person, in addition to overcoming poverty, disease, unemployment, ignorance, etc.

By way of conclusion, I would simply say that Caritas in Veritate is proposing a Christian humanism to improve the productivity, ethics, and dignity of the economic life of nations.

The practice of the virtues by all participants in modern economies, the Pope argues, is more important for a functioning market than any set of structures devised by policy makers.



Francis J. Beckwith
Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies
Resident Scholar in the Institute for the Studies of Religion
Baylor University



That theological anthropology is the proper starting point in discovering the good for which human beings were designed is the animating principle behind Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate (or “Charity in Truth”).

For without true knowledge of the human person, one cannot know how to properly direct one’s love (or “charity”) to one’s fellow human being.

As Benedict writes, “Without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalized society at difficult times like the present” (5).

For Benedict, who and what we are, the question of theological anthropology, is the key to a proper understanding of our relationship to one another, our economic progress and regress, the nature of the family and marriage, humanity’s stewardship for the environment, the rule of law, intergenerational justice, as well as our openness to human life at its outset, its end, and the time in between.

Yes, Caritas in Veritate mentions all these topics as well as several others. But the answer to the question of what constitutes integral human development — i.e., what are we and what is the good for us as individuals and as a whole? — is the unifying principle that connects them all.

The categories that dominate our public discourse in the United States — left, right, liberal, conservative, etc. — play no role in illuminating the message of Caritas in Veritate.

This is why it is a fool’s errand to attempt to artificially divide Catholic social teachings into its left and right wings, as if the Church’s rejection of economic libertarianism and proclamation of the principles of subsidiary and solidarity is a call to socialism or the government ownership of the means of production, or that the Church’s embracing of the exclusivity of male-female marriage and its defense of the sanctity of all human life from conception until natural death means that the Church does not believe in individual liberty.

This “binary model,” as Benedict calls it (41), unnaturally limits our vision of the multilayered and interdependent goods that lead to integral human development, and thus, results in true freedom for the individual to pursue the good.

According to the Pope, if we believe that our faith and all that it entails for theological anthropology and the good life is true, we can coherently claim that liberty, rightly understood, prohibits us from rejecting certain unassailable truths about ourselves without which liberty loses its point.

For the Church, the Sermon on the Mount cannot be separated from “Honor thy Father and Mother,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and “Thou shalt not steal.”

This is not a seamless garment. For it is not an artifice constructed by our wills. It is a living organism, made by God, whose parts work in concert for the benefit of the whole.

Thus, the “justice” in social justice refers to a rightly ordered polity, not to the outcomes and/or processes advocated by the ideologies of a Ludwig Von Mises or a Karl Marx. In Christian theology, you can gain the whole world and lose your own soul (Luke 9:25). To paraphrase St. Paul, that’s a stumbling block to the Austrians and foolishness to the Marxists.


Father Joseph Fessio, S.J.
Editor, Ignatius Press
Publisher, Catholic World Report

Pope Benedict has something for everyone in Caritas in Veritate — from praising profit (21) to defending the environment (48). But in these cases, as in all the others, he calls for a discernment and a purification by faith and reason (56) that should temper immoderate and one-sided enthusiasms.

Once again Pope Benedict shows himself to be a theologian of synthesis and fundamental principles. In the titles of his three encyclicals he has used only five nouns: God, Love, Hope, Salvation, and Truth — the most fundamental of realities.

And in the opening greeting of this encyclical he succinctly describes the contents: “on integral human development in charity and truth.”

Note that from this very greeting Pope Benedict has changed the whole framework of the debate on “the social question.” This was expected to be — and is — his encyclical on “social justice.” And indeed “justice” and “rights” find their proper place in a larger synthesis. But the priority is established from the outset, the foundation is laid, with “charity” and “truth.” ...

(Fr. Fessio's full article, first carried in Ignatius Insight, was in an earlier post.]


Richard Garnett
Professor of Law, Notre Dame University

It was predictable, but is nevertheless regrettable, that many pundits and partisans would respond to Caritas in Veritate not so much by engaging Pope Benedict’s profoundly Christian humanism but instead by hunting through the text for quotations they could deploy in support of their own pet policies.

(The Pope, for his part, urged “all people of good will” to “liberate [themselves] from ideologies, which often oversimplify reality in artificial ways.”)

Rather than reflecting carefully on the Pope’s central proposal, namely, that “fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom and of the possibility of integral human development,” commentators who might ordinarily roll their eyes at policy suggestions from the Bishop of Rome are happy to uproot from the encyclical’s inspiring, challenging vision a few talking points about environmental stewardship, trade unionism, or the redistribution of wealth.

Caritas in Veritate is not, however, merely a papal reflection on the current economic crisis or the implications of globalization. In keeping with the Catholic social teaching tradition, and with the work of his predecessor, the letter is about the person — about who we are and why it matters.

Beneath, and supporting, the various statements and suggestions regarding specific policy questions is the bedrock of Christian moral anthropology, of the good news about the dignity, vocation, and destiny of man.

To content oneself with harvesting talking points in support of this or that policy is to miss the point, and the promise, of the letter.

We cannot, however high-sounding our stated intentions, expect to achieve true human flourishing through a politics that does not care about or denies the truth — and there is a truth — about the person, namely, that by creating us in his image, God has “establish[ed] the transcendent dignity of men and women and feeds [our] innate yearning to ‘be more.’

Man is not a lost atom in a random universe: he is God’s creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul and whom he has always loved.” “And now,” the Pope is challenging us to ask, “what follows?”


Thomas S. Hibbs
Distinguished Professor of Ethics & Culture
Dean of the Honors College, Baylor University



“Democracy in good faith no longer has any essential reproach to make against the church. From now on it can hear the question the Church poses, that it alone poses, the question, Quid sit homo? — What is man?”

The French political philosopher Pierre Manent frames in quite dramatic terms the situation of the Church in the democratic era.

Amid the shallow media debates over whether the latest papal encyclical, Pope Bendict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate, leans left or right, there is a good chance that readers will miss the central philosophical claim of the document: “the social question has become a radically anthropological question” (italics in the original text).

By subordinating all economic systems to the question of the common good, understood as integral human flourishing, the document opposes reductionism, whether in theory or practice, in liberal or conservative forms.

There is a lot of talk already about the document’s dizzying capaciousness, the way it seems to want to discuss everything and embrace almost everything, even things that seem on the surface incompatible.

It is easy enough to affirm the Pope’s affirmation of both subsidiarity and globalism, but the document, largely because it does not say enough about the nature of the common good, leaves us guessing a bit as to the principles needed to spell out the relationship.

Further reflection about these matters would have to begin, not just from the question, “What is man?”, but also from the queries such as, “What does it mean for human persons to hold things in common?” and “What are the peculiar forms of social life in which human persons now hold — and can learn how better to hold — things in common?”

Even to raise these questions is to sense how distant we are from the world of contemporary political discourse, where the tendency is toward the privatization, not just of religion, but of questions concerning the good, individual and communal.

Indeed, a pressing question for a document such as Caritas in Veritate is this: why is it so easily ignored by the wider society, both by the media, political leaders, and ordinary citizens?

Catholics fawning over Obama will quickly retort that he has embraced Catholic social thought, especially in the form of Cardinal Bernardin’s “seamless garment.”

Aside from the fact that he ignores Bernardin’s insistence on the non-negotiable priority of the sanctity of human life, as well as Benedict’s claim that “openness to life is at the center of true development,” Obama seems to need instruction in the dictionary definition of “seamless.”

For Manent, democracy — increasingly defined by the pursuit of a freedom unfettered by any external restraint, authority, or law —“neither wants to nor can respond” to the questions raised above.

The Pope is not quite so despairing, but his own document gives us reason to think that its teaching will at best be distorted when not smugly dismissed.

Benedict makes, as some in the media have noticed, numerous references to the current economic crisis, but he also speaks of other crises, including the one arising from a Promethean spirit of technological mastery, the will to remake both human life and the natural environment according to our unrestrained desires.

Benedict astutely points to numerous signs of the fraying of the project of mastery. Our task, as sympathetic readers, is to communicate the teaching of Caritas in Veritate so that others can become better able to articulate the hopes and fears of our time, a time in which the very meaning of humanity is very in doubt.


Paul Kengor
Professor of Political Science
Grove City College, Pennsylvania



The truth will set you free, and the Truth is Jesus Christ. In this encyclical, the Holy Father is reminding us, exhorting us, to link charity to truth — to Christ. Doing so gives meaning not only to human charity but to human life and human development.

As the Holy Father states in his opening, this linking of charity to Truth, to God — not to emotionalism, not to politics, not to purely selfish impulses — ought to be “the principle driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity.”

Or, to the contrary, as the Holy Father states in his closing, “A humanism which excludes God is an inhuman humanism.”

The timing for this encyclical is crucial, as the global economy suffers, and, by extension, as charitable giving suffers. Of course, suffering didn’t prevent Jesus Christ from offering the ultimate expression of charity, one that was human as well as divine.

We who call ourselves Christians, or followers of Christ, need to emulate Christ and the cross he bore, during tough times as well as easy times.

Already, some are misinterpreting this encyclical in how it weighs the state versus the market. I personally see what I’ve always seen in the Church’s encyclicals: a healthy balance.

In section 38, Pope Benedict warns of seeking “profit as an end in itself.” This is hardly controversial. As Christians, we must have charity, as we must have faith, and we must be mindful of a charitable purpose in our lives, sharing our economic blessings in a way that serves human dignity and the human family — a recurring theme of Caritas in Veritate.

That is especially imperative in a modern society of unspeakable prosperity.

Charity needs to be coupled always to Christ. As the Holy Father says, it “needs Christians.” The message of this encyclical couldn’t be timelier.


George Neumayr
Editor, Catholic World Report


Woe to those who call good evil and evil good, says Holy Scripture. Modern political life largely revolves around this kind of lying. We witness daily the routine corruption of language in public life: a blizzard of noble-sounding words — among them, “hope,” “progress,” “development,” “the common good,” “rights,” “solidarity” — grossly disconnected from the God-determined realities to which they are supposed to refer.

In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI says in effect: Woe to those who call degradation “development,” selfishness “charity,” regress “progress,” and wrongs “rights.”

His encylical letter is a sustained debunking of modern liberalism’s most complacent claims and habitual abuse of words.

How, he asks for example, can the “developed” nations of the world profess to be charitable when they don’t even aspire to basic justice?

Treating human beings fairly — not aborting them, not killing them in old age or disability, not corrupting them in their youth, not exploiting them for science, etc. — is the “minimum measure” of charity, writes Pope Benedict, drawing upon Pope Paul VI’s phrase.

In his deluded sentimentality, modern man somehow thinks he can leapfrog over justice and get to charity. Not so. Are “social justice” liberals in the Church who support a right to abortion listening?

How, Pope Benedict also asks, can the modern world claim to respect nature when it doesn’t even respect human nature? How can it plausibly demand discipline and sacrifice for the “purity” of nature in future ages while encouraging impurities in human nature in the present one?

Modern life’s hedonism, he notes, cuts against its environmentalism: humans who degrade themselves will also degrade nature, no matter how many conservation bills are passed.

This is the age of rhetoric without results, a world elite that speaks of “empowering” the poor while impoverishing them, solving the “population problem” while creating a real one (underpopulation), and advancing “humanitarianism” while killing humans.

Caritas in Veritate upends their tired and destructive assumptions, drawing the world’s attention back to the organizing principle of all true charity and development: that man’s good can only be secured if we consult and obey the God who designed it.



Joseph Pearce
Writer-in-residence and
Associate Professor of Literature
Ave Maria University



Caritas in Veritate is food for the soul, nourishing us with the wisdom we need to make sense of the crazy, accelerating times in which we live.

With his usual profundity and eloquence, the Holy Father diagnoses the major crises afflicting our wayward world and prescribes the solutions.

Rooting his diagnosis and cure in the “charity in truth” which “is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine,” Pope Benedict analyzes a plethora of modern problems with the succinct brilliance to which we have become accustomed.

Commenting on the global financial crisis, the Holy Father is forthright in his condemnation of the destructive consequences of immoral investment practices and candid in his exposé of the naiveté of free market libertarians. He sees the crisis as “an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future.”

The Pope’s “new vision” is, however, inseparable from the timeless and magisterial vision of the Church down the ages, the marriage of the ever ancient and ever new, and Benedict, as always, builds his arguments on those of his illustrious forebears. And yet this ancient wisdom cuts through the cant of modernity with unerring incisiveness.

Thus, to take but a few salient examples, subsidiarity is seen as the solution to development in poor countries, openness to life is placed “at the center of true development,” and “the right to religious freedom” is seen as integral to authentic human growth.

In consequence, the economic imperialism of macro-corporations and international financial institutions is condemned as running rough-shod over the rights to subsidiarity in poor countries, the culture of death is seen as fostering the hedonism that leads to societal and ecological breakdown, and secular fundamentalism is stunting humanity’s growth through its efforts to exclude religion from the public sphere.

Toward the end of his breathtakingly brilliant encyclical, Pope Benedict tells us that true development “needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer.”

Having read Caritas in Veritate we should all raise our arms toward God to thank him for sending us such a sagacious Pontiff.


Tracey Rowland
Dean, John Paul II Institute
Melbourne, Australia



The intellectual center of this encyclical is that “A humanism which excludes God is an inhuman humanism.” It rests a notion of authentic human development upon the principle enshrined in Gaudium et Spes 22, that the human person only has self-understanding to the extent that he or she knows Christ and participates in the Trinitarian communion of love.

As the Pope says, “Life in Christ is the first and principle factor of development.”

The whole document is a plea to understand the limitations of a secularist notion of development. Behind secularism lies the error of Pelagius which in contemporary times takes the form of trust in education and institutions without reference to God or the interior dynamics of the human soul.

A purely secularist notion of development reduces the human person to a kind of economic machine somehow designed for the accumulation of wealth.

Such a truncated concept of development has fostered government policies hostile to the more spiritual elements of human life, including relationships of reciprocal self-giving in love.

Abortion is encouraged, couples are persecuted for having more than one child, and international aid is linked to the acceptance of contraceptives.

The questions covered in Humanae Vitae are thus not merely those of purely individual morality, but indicate a strong link between life ethics and social ethics. The concept which links the two is that of a “human ecology.”

Secularist notions of development also fail to comprehend the root cause of drug addiction and depression which is the malnutrition of the human soul, made for communion with God but imprisoned within a materialist universe.

When cultures no longer serve the deepest needs of human nature and actually narrow the spiritual horizons of people, people don’t know who they are and feel depressed.

The remedy for this pandemic in contemporary Western culture is to grasp the fact that truth is something which is given to us as a gift: “In every cognitive process, truth is not something that we produce, it is always found, or better, received. Truth, like love, ‘is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings’” (34).

Caritas in Veritate is a masterful synthesis of the Trinitarian anthropology of Gaudium et Spes and the subsequent insights of Paul VI and John Paul II, applied to the contemporary context. The core theological ideas were all present in Ratzinger’s essay on the notion of human dignity in Gaudium et Spes, written in the late 1960s.

At the more practical level this encyclical is exciting in that it calls for a reform of the United Nations and the economic institutions of international finance.

It is clear that the general tendency of such institutions to equate human development with the success of capitalism and democracy or material progress is utterly inadequate when measured against the Gospel’s standard.


James V. Schall, S.J
Professor of Government
Georgetown University


This new encyclical contains 79 substantial paragraphs, all numbered. It is 44 pages in manuscript format plus footnotes. It is quite readable, but it is also very carefully and intelligently written.

It is a “social” encyclical, that is, one that deliberately follows in the tradition of Catholic social thinking beginning with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum of 1891 through all subsequent popes.

Christian social doctrine professes to state how the understanding of man in the Christian view exists in the public order for the good of that order.

The Christian religion and other religions can offer their contribution to development only if God has a place in the public realm, specifically in regard to its cultural, social, economic, and particularly its political dimensions.

The Church’s social doctrine came into being in order to claim “citizenship status” for the Christian religion. Denying the right to profess one’s religion in public and the right to bring the truths of faith to bear upon public life has negative consequences for true development (#56).

This is not an argument that the Church should become a political entity. The encyclical recognizes the state as a natural and necessary human phenomenon. But to exclude in principle the duty to state and to live the faith in the public order means to reduce religion to a merely private and insignificant affair as if the proper understanding of what man is had nothing to do with how he is to live.

The document is addressed to “bishops, priests, men and women religious, the lay faithful, and all people of good will.” I presume it is also directed to those of “bad” will, just so they won’t feel discriminated against. I

ts subject matter is the “integral human development in charity and truth.” The word “development” goes back at least to Newman in theology.

But the word “development” is immediately taken from Paul VI’s 1969 encyclical, Populorum Progressio, which was famously devoted to the notion that the new word for social thought is “development.”

This word implies, no doubt, that there are both undeveloped and mis-developed things. We have babies who are fine but not yet developed. We have “monsters” who are improperly developed but who are fully grown. Here the word means every aspect of what it is to be human, including his soul, is what it should be.

Benedict XVI is, happily, incapable of dealing with something unless he deals with everything. Journalists will rapidly read this documents looking for items that are “news-worthy,” that is, ones that criticize business, the government, the media, or the Church. They will not concentrate on the overall scope of what Benedict is about here.

The encyclical is wide-ranging and seeks to say something about everything. It is known to be a document initially prepared by others from various disciplines and sectors of the Church and curia, but finally organized by the Pope, no mean feat. Benedict’s first two encyclicals were composed mostly by himself.

The difference is telling in reading this document. The document has a kind of “touch on everything” feeling about it. However, what it does consider at some depth, things such as business, profit, life, and the relation of politics to metaphysics and revelation, are very good.

Benedict sets this encyclical within a broader framework so that we can see the limited but important status that public life has. The whole document is concerned with our relation to each other, especially to the poor and weak.

It is stronger on what the rich owe to the poor than in what the poor must themselves do if they are to be not poor. The discussion of the other religions in their relation to issues of development is quite frank.

The Pope understands that many of their basic beliefs and attitudes are incompatible with a more developed human life. But this criticism is not taken to mean that allowing freedom of religion is not the basic human duty of the state.

This encyclical, moreover, does something that I have been concerned about for many years. It is very careful how it uses the term “rights.”

The Pope clearly spells how “rights” and “democracy” in their modern meanings can lead to a violation of human dignity if they are grounded in no standard or understanding of human nature, including fallen human nature.

But the great insight is that all reality is gift-oriented. The very title of the encyclical has to do with the fact that we cannot call “charity” something that is not rooted in the truth of what man is. The terms “mercy” or “compassion” have often lent themselves to a process whereby they overturned what was objectively true in the man.

The encyclical is finally cast in the context of the Trinity, of the relationships in which we are created. The person is not “rights”-oriented but duty- and gift-oriented.

The encyclical is a great document that puts things together, metaphysical things, natural law things, revelational things, political things, economic things; all things are seen in relation to each man’s relation to God, to his transcendent destiny which, as is stated in Spe Salvi, is already social.

Caritas in Veritate is thus a continuation of Deus Caritas Est, and Spe Salvi. Deus Caritas est. Deus Logos est. Deus Trinitas est.


Rev. Robert A. Sirico:
President and Co-Founder, Acton Institute


In the first social encyclical of his pontificate, Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”), Pope Benedict XVI insists on a close relationship between morality and the economy in order to promote a “holistic understanding and a new humanistic synthesis.”

This new document is focused not on specific systems of economics but rather on areas of morality and the theological underpinnings of culture.

The background for this new encyclical is the global economic crisis that has taken place within a moral vacuum bare of truth and rampant with materialism. While the Pope does not offer any detailed analysis of the cause or solution to the crisis, he nonetheless urges that the crisis become “an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future” (no. 21).

Never employing either the word “greed” or “capitalism” in the over 30,000 word document (despite some media hype), the crisis itself he attributes to “badly managed and largely speculative financial dealing” without naming the specific institutions that made this possible.

The market, Benedict says, “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.”

Those who prophesied that this would be Benedict’s opportunity to “overthrow” capitalism, or that conservatives would be “shocked and disappointed,” must themselves be rather sad today.

While it is explicitly not the purpose of the document to offer strict structural models that nations should adopt (no. 9), the principle of subsidiarity — which prefers proximate and private action of the state — a preference for trade over government-to-government aid for developing countries, and a rightly understood globalization are all affirmed.

This is a complex and rich document that will require much study and thought in the years ahead. What is clear and non-negotiable from Benedict’s perspective is that to understand the challenges facing the world economy it is first necessary to understand the august nature of the human person who must always be at the center of economic decisions.

Caritas in Veritate enables us to see, at a new depth, the way in which the whole of the human reality must be taken into consideration in order to construct social institutions worthy of man.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00venerdì 10 luglio 2009 13.20




THE 'CIV' PHENOMENON


Just keeping up with the various 'first editions' and giveawey versions of Caritas in Veritate is a minor news beat in itself! I have to research whether papal encyclicals were ever in popular demand before Benedict XVI came along wtih Deus caritas est. I think not,


The give-away editions:

Left to right, with L'Osservatore Romano, with Famiglia Cristiana, and with L'Espresso. (This last surprised me - this magazine is sort of like the Italian version of TIME, and why a secular publication would be giving away the Pope's encyclical is historic in its own way!)


More commercial 'first editions:

Left to right, a LEV commerical edition (Italian), and two English editions.


Avvenire plugs its own giveaway (similar to the OR giveaway- which is the unadorned LEV text):



And Famiglia Cristiana, Italy's most widely-circulated magazine, promotes its CIV supplement.

This issue has a couple of excellent review articles of CIV - I hope I can translate them.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00venerdì 10 luglio 2009 13.26





The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.




Michael Novak

Just after Vatican Council II, Joseph Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) joined others in founding a school of thought called "Communio Theology." The inner life of the Revealed God is a Trinity, a Communion of Persons. So should be the inner life of every image of God, every human person.

Thus, the four main ideas in the new Encyclical Caritas in Veritate are communion, gift, caritas, and truth. Undoubtedly, this is the most theological, most specifically Catholic, of all social encyclicals since 1891. Its aim is to show the divine context of political economy and the drama of its upward-leaping tongues of fire: its inspiration, its aspiration.

As Abraham Lincoln pointed out, slavery in the United States could not be overcome by a Lockean fear or self-interest alone, but must be married to a larger and more generous grasp of the reality of the other. Progress and human development always depend upon an upward pull.

Benedict XVI sees political economy today caught in a worldwide updraft, whose possibilities we must read accurately. The world's peoples are becoming ever more pushed together, misunderstanding each other, rubbing against each other. They are called to be one. More and more often, they learn from each other ideas of human rights, protest, free association, free speech, justice, fairness.

The world, in short, groans for inner communion. And some of the most important secrets of human communion spring from the realities of Person and Communion in the free, gratuitous Creator of all. Persons, even in communion with one another, subsist in their uniqueness.

In the distinctively Catholic view of the cosmos, everything begins in the inner personal, communal life of the Godhead. This tallies with our own personal experience that the two most "divine" experiences in our lives, the two that are most God-like, are the kind of love that is perfect communion with another, and the sweet sense of self-control and personal responsibility in moments of great stress. ("Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.")

From this, the Catholic vision concludes that "Everything we look upon is gift." Creation itself flows from a superabundant gift.

A shopkeeper who moves into a neighborhood to bake fresh bread and sweets in the morning brings a great gift to one's life. Those who spend their lives bringing such goods to one another bear gifts, especially if their human manner in so doing is kind and considerate.

The Pope asks us to look at economic life in the light of gift-giving, even when it is conducted according to conventions of exchange and price. It is the human generosity of the thing – the human dimension of commerce – that should not be lost sight of, if the world is to remain (or to become) more human.


James V. Schall, S. J.

After reading Caritas in Veritate, I said to myself that the general Catholic and world population has no idea of the brilliance of this pope. Of course, I said that when I finished Spe Salvi, Deus Caritas Est, Jesus of Nazareth, and about a zillion other writings by Pope Ratzinger.

God must be amused that the brightest man of our time is the Pope of Rome.

Though I have always admired him, I have considered Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio to be the most nearly ideological of all papal social encyclicals. Caritas in Veritate, which commemorates Paul VI’s document forty years later, I must confess, regards it as one of the best.

Aside from not touching on labor union corruption or the potential totalitarian nature of the ecology movement, this latest encyclical is simply great. While noting obvious problems, it is amazingly positive about business, its potential, varieties, and openness to ethics.

The proposal about a better world international institution goes back to Robert Maynard Hutchins and Jacques Maritain, to the Hague Conventions, to the League of Nations, and even the Holy Roman Empire.

The Pope defines the need for authority at a higher level, but with sufficient restrictions to prevent it from being either a world government or a tyranny.

The American Founding Fathers probably were more concerned with the dangers of tyranny, as was Augustine. Our experience with how easy it is for international institutions to become ideological instruments needs great structural attention, especially if this international authority is armed to enforce itself.

But the heart of this encyclical is something else. It is a concise re-presentation of what a human person is in his relation to God, the earth, to another person, to the family, to what it is we are meant for, both in this world and in our eternal destiny.

Everything belongs together, but in a coherent order. Catholicism remains quietly committed to doing what can be morally and ethically done at every level, even in the worst situations.


Benedict is eloquent on the defects of modernity, but also on its potential. Like Spe Salvi, which I think is a greater document, it places man within this world in such a way that he is not imprisoned within it.

I particularly loved Benedict’s initial reminder that everything about us is gift-oriented. As he already indicated in Deus Caritas Est, every political and economic institution needs to be both just and open to what is more than justice.

The Trinitarian and relational understanding of being in this encyclical shows the relation between our head and our deeds. Thinking properly is a precondition to acting properly. Of course, Aquinas said this long ago, but it is nice to see it here. And this Pope is a God-oriented person. He knows that what lies behind all our aberrations is what we think of God.

The genius of this document appears in its very title. No “charity” exists without “truth,” All truth leads to putting love in our being and in our world, but in the right order.

“A Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance” (#4). It needed to be said.



Joseph Wood

After its beautiful opening paragraphs, the latest encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI can be difficult to read. Capable theologians and philosophers, as well as experts in business, economics, and government, may find points that are unclear or ill-reasoned.

The encyclical is striking in its address of a wide range of current policy concerns, from the financial crisis to bioethics. Its success in doing so varies. But it splendidly succeeds in reiterating some critically important themes of this pontificate.

Begin with the title, Caritas in Veritate. The first word returns to the Pope’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. Love is “the force that has its origin in God.” Here the focus is on love in truth, and what that love has to say about how we order our efforts to bring about true human development, or human flourishing in our full potential as the image of God.

The pope points to the sequence “Veritas in caritate,” or “truth in love” in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He then inverts the sequence to find his title and reminds us “charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed, and practiced in the light of truth.”

Over and over, the Pope speaks to us of the necessity of integral, true human development. In an age of thoroughly disintegrated personalities, lacking an understanding of divine love and thus incapable of integration in that love, as we see at every level of society and often celebrated in the media, this message of integrity is important.

Pope Benedict returns to his assault on relativism and his promotion of cultural dialogue (instead of traditional efforts at religious dialogue). He rejects “cultural eclecticism that is assumed uncritically [whereby] cultures are simply placed alongside one another and viewed as substantially equivalent and interchangeable. This easily yields to a cultural relativism that does not serve true intercultural dialogue.”

Likewise, he rejects the opposite danger of “cultural leveling and indiscriminate acceptance of types of conduct and life-styles.” Both these failures “have in common. . .the separation of culture and human nature.”

The Pope is thinking in decades and centuries of human development. But this could be an interesting point of discussion during his meeting next week with President Obama, who seems to seek leveling of outcomes as his primary goal at home and abroad, with the moral equivalence of different perspectives as the foundation for such leveling.

In almost all of the current social issues treated in the encyclical, there is an “on the one hand, on the other” sequence that suggests that any human trend or endeavor can be good or bad.

International tourism can promote economic development, or degradation. Using the earth’s resources can be good for development, or bad. Globalization is neither inherently good nor bad; same for technology; same for the consumer economy.

Is the Pope caught in the middle on all these issues, wringing his hands? No. What is common to all is that anything that is open to, and includes, God’s love in truth will aid integral development. Anything without that love destroys such development. This is the central message.

This “on the one hand, on the other” cadence at first resembles a typical speech by President Obama. The middle point of the just way forward, framed between two or more sides of unfairness, works out to be the President himself.

In the Pope’s view, the just, integral way forward is always the way of love in truth, the way that points to God. He decries the “types of messianism which give promises but create illusions,” for “these always build their case on a denial of the transcendent dimension of development, in the conviction that it lies entirely at their disposal.”

Finally, he highlights again the crucial marriage of faith and reason. The “one hand/other hand” approach does so implicitly by noting that reason without faith produces ineffective or counterproductive means towards development. He emphasizes explicitly that “reason always stands in need of being purified by faith,” while “religion always needs to be purified by reason.”

There are oddities in the text. I had never associated microfinance with pawnbroking, for example. But for whatever faults it has, Caritas in Veritate reprises the great themes of Pope Benedict XVI, and it is thus a gift to be used by all.

Joseph Wood is a former White House official who worked on foreign policy, including Vatican affairs.


Robert Royal

Charity is a much used word in the Catholic tradition. After 2000 years, you would think that virtually everything that could be said about it has been. But that would be to judge by mere human standards, and to underestimate the Holy Spirit – and Papa Ratzinger.

If there has been a more pointed and simultaneously expansive treatment of Christian love in the encyclical tradition of the last century or so than we find in the first few pages of Caritas in Veritate, I have not stumbled across it. As we have come to expect from this Pope, brilliant aperçus appear as he goes about his business, seemingly without effort:

•“Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality.”
•“Truth , in fact, is lógos which creates diá-logos, and hence communication and communion.”
•“Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom (cf. Jn 8:32) and of the possibility of integral human development.”
•“Only in charity, illumined by the light of reason and faith, is it possible to pursue development goals that possess a more humane and humanizing value.”

These few sentences light up so much of the landscape that Benedict wants to explore, that they come close to encapsulating, in themselves, this entire encyclical.

You do not need to be a literary critic, however, to notice a change in voice as the encyclical turns from charity to more strictly social concerns.

Indeed, it’s clear that there are several voices in that part of the text, sometimes working at cross purposes, sometimes almost impossible to decipher – very odd in a document by a man with such a powerful and synthesizing intellect (and unusual even for the typically dense language of an encyclical).

Professional Vatican watchers have already begun to parse out which passages may be traced to which of a number of more or less acknowledged consultants. It’s an important pastime, because anything that seems to be the voice of the Successor of Peter bears serious consideration.

But despite the sometimes irritating fits and starts, assertions, qualifications, doubtful formulas, and doubling back, perhaps ultimately all that is not so very important.

Because Benedict has put on the table a wide range of questions – wider than any other world figure possibly could – that will have to be worked through in the coming years. And just to raise certain questions already enriches the conversation on several current crises.

To be clear, it would be a great mistake to approach this encyclical in terms of left versus right, as has often been the reductive, politicized way of reading social encyclicals.

Though Benedict says that Populorum Progressio, a controversial encyclical written at an inopportune moment in the 1960s, is the “new Rerum Novarum,” his own encyclical is not at all ideological.

Don’t believe anyone who simply tells you the Pope has endorsed some political position. A Pope has to be the Pope of everyone, and he of all the public figures on the world stage must reflect the legitimate concerns of workers and employers, developed and developing nations, industries and environmentalists, and many others.

The Church is not some uber-school of business, sociology, economics, or political science And previous popes as well as this one are quick to point out that the Church has no technical solutions to propose.

It has some general principles – ultimately the overarching perspective that everything begins and ends in charity – that it seeks to introduce into every nook and cranny of the questions that emerge in our wayward pilgrimage through this life.

When you consider the alternatives – the cold perspective of scientific materialism, the sad narrowness of homo economicus, the grey pragmatism of modern politics, the weightless inconsequence of cultural relativism – even a Pope groping around for how to speak about love, God’s love, in every dimension of life, with an unshakeable faith that it’s there, waiting, why, it’s almost enough to give you hope.

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00sabato 11 luglio 2009 01.46




The Pope on 'Love in Truth':
Anyone seeking a repudiation
of the market economy
will be disappointed

By ROBERT A. SIRICO
President and Co-Founder, Acton Institute

July 10, 2009


In his much anticipated third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth), Pope Benedict XVI does not focus on specific systems of economics -- he is not attempting to shore up anyone's political agenda. He is rather concerned with morality and the theological foundation of culture.

The context is of course a global economic crisis -- a crisis that's taken place in a moral vacuum, where the love of truth has been abandoned in favor of a crude materialism. The Pope urges that this crisis become "an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future."

Yet his encyclical contains no talk of seeking a third way between markets and socialism. Words like greed and capitalism make no appearance here, despite press headlines following the publication of the encyclical earlier this week.

People seeking a blueprint for the political restructuring of the world economy won't find it here. But if they look to this document as a means for the moral reconstruction of the world's cultures and societies, which in turn influence economic events, they will find much to reflect upon.

Caritas in Veritate is an eloquent restatement of old truths casually dismissed in modern times. The Pope is pointing to a path neglected in all the talk of economic stimulus, namely a global embrace of truth-filled charity.

Benedict rightly attributes the crisis itself to "badly managed and largely speculative financial dealing." But he resists the current fashion of blaming all existing world problems on the market economy.

"The Church," he writes, "has always held that economic action is not to be regarded as something opposed to society." Further: "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."

The market is rather shaped by culture.

"Economy and finance . . . 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 Pope does not reject globalization: "Blind opposition would be a mistaken and prejudiced attitude, incapable of recognizing the positive aspects of the process, with the consequent risk of missing the chance to take advantage of its many opportunities for development."

He says that "the world-wide diffusions of prosperity should not . . . be held up by projects that are protectionist."

More, not less, trade is needed: "the principal form of assistance needed by developing countries is that of allowing and encouraging the gradual penetration of their products into international markets."

The encyclical doesn't attack capitalism or offer models for nations to adopt.

"The Church does not have technical solutions to offer," the Pope firmly states, "and does not claim 'to interfere in any way in the politics of States.' She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance . . ."

Benedict is profoundly aware that economic science has much to contribute to human betterment. The Church's role is not to dictate the path of research but to focus its goals.

"Economic science tells us that structural insecurity generates anti-productive attitudes wasteful of human resources. . . . Human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs."

He constantly returns to two practical applications of the principle of truth in charity.

First, this principle takes us beyond earthly demands of justice, defined by rights and duties, and introduces essential moral priorities of generosity, mercy and communion -- priorities which provide salvific and theological value.

Second, truth in charity is always focused on the common good, defined as an extension of the good of individuals who live in society and have broad social responsibilities.

As for issues of population, he can't be clearer: "To consider population increase as the primary cause of underdevelopment is mistaken, even from an economic point of view."

Several commentators have worried about his frequent calls for wealth redistribution. Benedict does see a role for the state here, but much of the needed redistribution is the result of every voluntary and mutually beneficial exchange. To understand such passages fully and accurately, we do well to put our political biases on the shelf.

This encyclical is a theological version of his predecessor's more philosophical effort to anchor the free economy's ethical foundation. Much of it stands squarely with a long tradition of writings of a certain "classical liberal" tradition, one centered on the moral foundation of economics, from St. Thomas Aquinas and his disciples, Frederic Bastiat in the 19th century, Wilhelm Roepke, and even the secular F.A. Hayek in the 20th century. It also clearly resonates with some European Christian democratic thought.

Caritas in Veritate is a reminder that we cannot understand ourselves as a human community if we do not understand ourselves as something more than the sum or our material parts; if we do not understand our capacity for sin; and if we do not understand the principle of communion rooted in the gratuitousness of God's grace.

Simply put, to this Pope's mind, there is no just or moral system without just and moral people
.




Another regular in the Acton stable had this earlier commentary on CIV:

Caritas in Veritate:
Why truth matters

by Samuel Gregg

July 8, 2009



Relativists beware. Whether you like it or not, truth matters – even in the economy. That’s the core message of Pope Benedict XVI’s new social encyclical Caritas in Veritate.

For 2000 years, the Catholic Church has hammered home a quartet of currently-unpopular ideas into the humus of human civilization
- that there is truth;
- that it is not simply of the scientific variety;
- that it is knowable through faith and reason; and
- that it is not whatever you want or “feel” it to be.

Throughout his entire life, Benedict XVI has underscored these themes, precisely because much of the world, including many Christians, has lost sight of their importance.

Perhaps Caritas in Veritate’s most important truth-claim about economic life is that the market economy cannot be based on just any value-system.

Against all relativists on the left and the right, Benedict maintains that market economies must be underpinned by commitments to particular basic moral goods and a certain vision of the human person if it is to serve rather than undermine humanity’s common good: “The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly — not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred” (CV no.45).

“Without internal forms of solidarity and mutual trust,” the Pope writes, “the market cannot completely fulfill its proper economic function” (CV no. 35).

This surely has been amply confirmed by the recent financial crisis. America’s subprime-mortgage market collapse was at least partly attributable to the fact that literally thousands of people lied on their mortgage application forms. [With the active encouragement of those in government who said everyone should buy a house even if they can't afford to pay for it - so deliberate deception and lies were the very self-destructing actions behind the collapse of the banks that lent all that money unsecured.]

Should we be surprised that mass violation of the moral prohibition against lying has devastating economic consequences?

“The economic sphere”, the Pope reminds us, “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” (CV no.36).

Contrary to the pre-encyclical hype of certain American commentators and the ever-unreliable British press, predictions of papal anathemas against “global capitalism” have – as usual – been found dead wrong.

In economic terms, the Pope describes as “erroneous” the tired notion that the developed countries’ wealth is predicated on poor nations’ poverty (CV no.35) that one hears customarily from the likes of Hugo Chavez and whatever’s left of the dwindling band of aging liberation theologians. That’s a pontifical body-blow to a central working assumption of many professional social justice “activists”.

Nor will they be happy with the Pope’s concerns about the ways in which foreign aid can produce situations of dependency (CV no.58), not to mention Benedict’s strictures against protectionism (CV no.42) as well as his stress that no amount of structural change can possibly compensate for people freely choosing the good: “Integral human development presupposes the responsible freedom of the individual and of peoples: no structure can guarantee this development over and above human responsibility” (CV no.17).

Nor does Benedict regard the market as morally problematic in itself. “In and of itself,” the Pope states, “the market is not... 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” (CV no.36). What matters, Benedict claims, is the moral culture in which markets exists.

At the heart of the economy are human beings. People whose minds are dominated by crassly hedonistic cultures will make crassly hedonistic economic choices.

“Therefore”, Benedict comments, “it is not the instrument that must be called to account, but individuals” (CV no.36).

The implications of truth for economic life do not, however, stop here. For Benedict, it is a lens through which to assess ideas such as “business ethics”, “ethical investing” and “corporate social responsibility.”

The notion that investment and business choices have a moral dimension is hardly new. What matters for Benedict is the understanding of morality underlying these schemes. Merely labeling an investment scheme as “ethical”, Benedict notes, hardly tells us whether it is moral (CV no.45).

A second major truth underscored by Benedict is the indispensability of a strong civil society for both undergirding and limiting the market and the state.

By this, he does not mean a plethora of government-funded NGOs, many of whom Benedict identifies as intent upon imposing some of the very worst aspects of Western lifestyle-libertarianism upon developing nations (CV no.28).

Certainly, Benedict believes, there is a need to re-evaluate (CV no.24) how the state regulates different parts of the economy. Ultimately, however, Benedict stresses that the virtue of solidarity, he argues, is about people concretely loving their neighbour; it “cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State” (CV no.38).

This is reminiscent of Alexis de Tocqueville’s attention to the manner in which the habit of free association both limits the size of government while also discouraging people from retreating into their own little bubbles.

The economist John Maynard Keynes is famous for many things, including the saying that “in the long run, we’re all dead.” The horizon of Benedict XVI’s perspective on economic life is rather different.

The Pope asks people to live their economic lives in the short, medium, and long-term as if living in the truth is eternally important, not to mention eternally relevant to their soul’s salvation.

That’s change we can all believe in.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00sabato 11 luglio 2009 14.49





Will this encyclical take root?
Only time will tell

By Dennis Sadowski



WASHINGTON, July 10 (CNS) -- Now that Pope Benedict XVI's long-awaited social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate ("Charity in Truth"), has been released, a key question arises: Will the pope's call to reform economic and social systems so they encompass broader moral values while focusing on human development be taken seriously by the world's decision-makers?

It just may happen, said several Catholic business leaders, social justice advocates and those involved with developing social policy.

Certainly, they concluded, there is no better time than the present -- as the world struggles to overcome its deepest economic recession in nearly 80 years -- to give ethical concerns greater consideration in policy decisions.

"This (the encyclical) is a message people are open to," said John Carr, executive director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "The idea that business as usual, that economics as usual, that economics divorced from ethics is the way forward has taken a huge hit.

"I think almost everybody understands that what we have here is not only an economic failure but a moral failure," Carr added.

Carr's analysis is one shared across a broad cross section of American political, academic and justice networks that have conducted countless studies into how the crisis developed. Segments of the business community, particularly the financial sector, might agree, but their observations have been guarded.

Overall, however, not many professionals will admit that their actions led to the massive financial failures in what author Chuck Collins described to Catholic News Service as "a bubble economy based on casino capitalism."

"We've moved to an extreme," explained Collins, a Catholic, who co-wrote The Moral Measure of the Economy, published in 2007 by Orbis Books. "You have a value of regard for life over a focus on consumption and material happiness," he said. "We've reached this kind of zenith of a value imbalance."

Collins said he expects that Pope Benedict's message, based on common values that people around the world hold, will lead to new regulations on business practices to prevent recent abuses in the financial markets from occurring again.

"Most people are hungry to live in a society that places values above individual greed and want to live in communities where human life and opportunity flourish," he said.

Catholic business owner Umberto P. Fedeli, president and CEO of the Fedeli Group, one of Ohio's largest insurance brokerage firms, was more outspoken in his comments. He said the business world can learn much from the recession that started in December 2007.

"If we treated people like we were our brother's keeper and we were more men and women for others, then we would have probably avoided a big part of this economic crisis, which has been an unfortunate moral crisis," Fedeli told CNS from his office in suburban Cleveland.

"I do business the way I want to be treated," said Fedeli, a lifelong Catholic. "You treat your associates like they're an extension of your family. You treat your customers and clients like they're your best friends. You treat your business partners and associates as a member of your extended family.

"If you do this, you wouldn't have to compromise."

Steve Hayes, senior partner and founder of the Human Capital Group Inc., a Nashville, Tenn., executive placement and leadership consulting firm, went a step further, saying that business leaders would do well to adopt Christ's example of being a servant leader.

"As a business leader, it's such a paradox because we're wired to put ourselves first and others second," he explained. "But Christ modeled that that's not the successful path.

"Until we as individuals and as leaders of families and employees and leaders of businesses really get what Christ is teaching us, I think we're always going to have the issues the Pope's talking about," Hayes said.

Hayes' 9-year-old company has worked to uphold the strictest ethical standards. His firm has expanded to four other cities in Florida, Georgia and Ohio and had revenues of $2.3 million in 2008, placing it among the top 25 percent of executive placement firms in the country. He attributed his success to adhering to ethical business principles and to following the "paradox of the cross."

"That's what the Pope is trying to challenge us to be, to not be me-centered, but to be other-centered," he said.

While Hayes and Fedeli have found success running their companies based on strong ethical practices, Carr acknowledged that the moral framework for a just society offered by Pope Benedict in the encyclical will not be easy to implement.

But that does not mean people should ever stop trying. Just ask Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, which for 38 years has promoted legislation and policies in Congress to ensure a more equitable world.

"(The encyclical) is not a call to religious conversion," Sister Simone, a Sister of Social Service, told CNS. "It's a call to economic reality. ... It's a very pragmatic, eyes-wide-open approach that gives it greater resonance in the public forum."

In the real world, the Pope's call to action can lead to needed steps that most people can agree upon, said author Collins, who also directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies.

He called for new measures to gauge human progress, much like the Dow Jones industrial average measures the ups and downs of the economy.

"We have to have indicators that actually measure the flourishing of human life and this should be as important as the Dow Jones," he said.

People of faith, led by the hope that God promises, can lead the way in such reforms, the USCCB's Carr said.

"The crisis has created a moment that could lead to conversion," he said. "And we're in the conversion business. We're in the persuasion business.

"It is a countercultural message. And guess what? The culture we got isn't working, so maybe we're onto something."

TERESA BENEDETTA
00sabato 11 luglio 2009 15.15


ZENIT has been posting a number of commentaries on CIV, and I haven't had time to look through what's been posted in languages other than English, but ther's more than enough to begin with.

I choose to begin with this because it starts with something obvious that most commentators have missed so far:



Encyclical connects
life ethics with social ethics

By Father Robert Barron


Father Barron is the Francis Cardinal George Chair of Faith and Culture at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. He is also the founder of Word on Fire Ministries and is currently producing a 10-part documentary series called The Catholicism Project.


SKOKIE, Illinois, JULY 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- I've just finished a first reading of Benedict XVI's new encyclical Caritas in Veritate. It is a dense and complex text, deeply in continuity with the mainstream of the Catholic social teaching tradition, but also fresh, filled with new ideas and proposals.

Let me highlight just a few of the major themes. Very much in line with his predecessor Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI insists on the tight connection between love and truth.

In a telling phrase, the Pope says that love without truth devolves into sentimentality, and truth without love becomes cold and calculating. The coming together of the two, which is the structuring logic of the Church's social teaching, is grounded in the God who is, simultaneously, Agape (love) and Logos (reason).

A real innovation of this letter is the connection that Benedict XVI makes between "social ethics" and "life ethics." He argues that Pope Paul VI's Populorum Progressio -- whose 40th anniversary Caritas in Veritate celebrates -- is best read in tandem with that Pope's controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae.

[Very few of the commentaries I've read so far picked up how crucial and fundamental this element is in the Pope's exposition of his theme - and I had actually set aside two items in Italian that saw this clearly in the initial flood of commentary - one of them from Sandro Magister, which I will translate to go with Fr. Barron's piece.]

The radical openness to life, which Paul VI defended in Humanae Vitae, should be the inspiration for the Church's social doctrine, which is intended to foster the full flourishing of communal life at all levels.

Benedict XVI makes this point even clearer when he comments that societies that de-emphasize life, even to the point of fostering artificial contraception and abortion, suffer quite practical economic hardships.


Another "novum" in this remarkable text is the Pope's insistence that, alongside of the contractual logic of the marketplace (one gives in order to receive), and the legal logic of the political realm (one gives because one is obliged to give), there must be the logic of sheer gratuity (one gives simply because it is good to do so). Without this third element, both the economic and political devolve into something less than fully human.

As many have already commented, Benedict XVI places special emphasis on the obligation to care for the environment. In fact, nowhere else in Catholic social teaching is there such an extended discussion of this issue.

He makes the helpful clarification that, as believers in creation, we must avoid both an idolization of nature and an exploitation of it. As created, the world is not divine, but it is a kind of sacrament of God; hence it shouldn't be seen as absolute, but it should be cared for in a spirit of stewardship.

What might prove most controversial in the encyclical is Benedict XVI's call for a kind of world government, a truly international political entity with the requisite power to preside over world political and economic affairs.

In saying so, he echoes Pope John XXIII's praise of the United Nations in Pacem in Terris. One might be forgiven for suspecting that this proposal, given political realities on the ground, might be a bit utopian.

A final note concerning style. I must say that much of Caritas in Veritate didn't "sound" like Benedict XVI. Joseph Ratzinger is a very gracious writer, and his style is marked by a deep Scriptural and patristic sensibility. I must say I found this literary and theological élan missing in large sections of this letter.

Nonetheless, there is much to learn from this wonderful text -- a worthy addition to the impressive collection of papal letters that constitute the social teaching of the Catholic Church.



A synthesis of old and new
By Matthew Bunson



Matthew Bunson, who has a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation, is a senior fellow at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. He is the author of more than 35 books, including We Have a Pope, Benedict XVI, The Encyclopedia of Catholic History, and Papal Wisdom, Words of Hope and Inspiration from Pope John Paul II.


FORT WAYNE, Indiana, JULY 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's encyclical Caritas in Veritate eloquently reiterates the coherence of Catholic social teaching, but it likewise makes manifest the essential links between truth and charity and the real world.

For the Holy Father, charity and truth are not abstract concepts, but must be seen for what they are, "the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity" (No. 1). In this concern, the Holy Father offers a remarkably bold reminder that human life must be at the center of that development.

Caritas in Veritate is splendidly faithful to all of the Church's social teachings on the human person's inviolable dignity as well as the transcendent value of natural moral norms.

By quoting from every social encyclical since Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum in 1891, the Pontiff refutes any misinterpretations of Catholic social teaching that there are two functional typologies, one pre-conciliar and one post-conciliar.

Rather, he quotes Pope John Paul II when he states firmly, "there is a single teaching, consistent and at the same time ever new" (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 3). Expressing that sense of newness,

Caritas in Veritate also offers considerable innovation in its prescription for the present global financial crises by highlighting the right to life in relation to genuine progress.

The Holy Father notes that economic development and humanitarian aid from the West are too often accompanied by the imposition of dehumanizing programs and exploitation of labor and natural resources, but they can also entail an obligation to embrace the same toxic reproductive and technological policies that are creating a demographic catastrophe in the first world.

Benedict XVI argues that not only does the culture of death inherently trample upon the dignity of the human person and responsible human freedom, it is bad economics because of the strains it places on social welfare systems and labor resources, not to mention the wider impoverishment of culture. The Pope writes, "Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource" (No. 28).

The encyclical makes the link "between life ethics and social ethics" (No. 15), especially in its tribute to the late Pope Paul VI's prophetic encyclicals Populorum Progressio (1967) and Humanae Vitae (1968).

In Populorum Progressio, Paul VI anticipated the problems that have attended globalization, and in "Humanae Vitae," he predicted with searing accuracy the long-term social effects of a contraceptive culture.

Reflecting on both of these earlier documents, Caritas in Veritate proclaims that true development must encompass the rights of all human persons, including the unborn.

In his elegant synthesis of Catholic social thought and Catholic moral teachings, Benedict XVI has given the world a profound assessment of authentic human development. Part of that is fostering the culture of life.

As Benedict XVI teaches, "Openness to life is at the center of true development. When a society moves toward the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good" (No. 28).

This is a significant moment in Catholic social teaching, and the encyclical will be the source of fruitful reflection for many years to come.



Actually, one of the presentors of the encylical last July 8 also emphasized the encyclical's emphasis on the essential basis that the right to life and religious freedom provide for development.


What's new about
the Pope's new encyclical




ROME, JULY 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Though Caritas in Veritate is in step with a long tradition of magisterial teachings on Catholic social doctrine, it also offers something new, says the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, just named the archbishop of Trieste, Italy, was one of those who presented Benedict XVI's third encyclical during a press conference Tuesday.

The prelate affirmed that "economy and work, family and community, natural law instilled in us and creation placed before us and for us, should be seen as a call," because social doctrine views development as a "vocation" that implies a "solidary taking up of the responsibility for the common good."

Archbishop Crepaldi highlighted that for the first time in a social encyclical, the right to life and to religious liberty are explicitly and clearly placed in relation to development.

"Procreation and sexuality, abortion and euthanasia, the manipulating of human identity and eugenic selection are evaluated as social problems of primary importance, which, if they are handled according to a logic of pure production, deform social sensitivity, undermining the sense of law, corroding the family and making it difficult to welcome the weak," he explained.

The encyclical affirms, the archbishop continued, that it is no longer possible "to implement development programs that are exclusively about economics-production, which do not systematically take into account as well the dignity of woman, of procreation, of the family, and the rights of the unborn."

Archbishop Crepaldi also reflected on another novelty of this social encyclical: focus on protecting the environment. He noted how this issue "should be freed from certain ideological drawbacks -- present in many versions of ecology -- that consist in neglecting the superior dignity of the human person and considering nature only in a materialist sense, produced by coincidence or necessity."

Another novelty is the encyclical's consideration of technology, which often leads to a mentality that could be called "technicity."

"The risk," the prelate said, "is that an exclusively technical mentality reduces everything to pure doing and is united to a nihilist and relativistic culture."

The Vatican official characterized Caritas in Veritate as a great cultural proposal at the service of authentic development, which encourages employing resources that are not only economic, but also immaterial and cultural, regarding attitudes and decisions.

In this context, he said, it demands a new perspective on man that only God who is Truth and Love can give.

The encyclical, Archbishop Crepaldi concluded, has the great merit of rising above outdated ideas and the oversimplification of complex problems. Attention is directed again to man, the object of truth and love and himself capable of loving and knowing the truth.

The Vatican official was asked why Caritas in Veritate was delayed in its publication. He answered that Centesimus Annus, the last social encyclical by Pope John Paul II, took five years to publish, while this encyclical required half that.

Also asked why the theme of peace was not included in-depth, the archbishop replied that it is an "encyclical not an encyclopedia."


Crotchet
00domenica 12 luglio 2009 22.41
Question
Thank you for all the interesting posts all over this web site, Teresa. May I ask if something can be done on this specific thread to simplify reading the posts? On my PC they appear as mile long sentences from left to right and I have to constantly scroll laterally to read the articles. It takes up so much time that I have decided to skip them, but I don't want to! Just asking. Probably only my PC. No problems with the other thread here. Thanks again.





Dear Crotchet -

I am sorry you are having problems with the line length, but I cannot figure out why - especially since, as you say, it only happens with this thread, and that's too bad because this is devoted to commentaries and discussions on CIV.

Ever since I realized early enough that the line length on a page is determined by the largest image width posted on that page, I have made it a point not to post any picture wider than 9 inches, and so I've never had that problem again.

[On those that had the problem - I remember it occured most annoyingly when I was doing the 'reconstruction' of the April 2005 news reports on the Conclave - I then went in and reduced any oversize photos, so the posts went back to having normal line lengths.]

I hope your glitch works otu soon. Meanwhile, I'll continue trying to figure out why.

TERESA


Crotchet
00martedì 14 luglio 2009 00.48
THANKS!!
Teresa, you must have whispered some magic words because this thread is perfect again, after four days. This is a relief and thank you very much. [SM=g9433]





Well, thank God (not me!) the glitch straightened itself out. Happy reading. Though I am so behind - it's hard to keep up with the commentaries. First, one has to read them to determine priorities, especially in translation....

TERESA


TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 14 luglio 2009 03.57



I would not forgive myself if I put off this translation any longer. I found it one of the most perceptive first reactions upon the release of CIV. It resonates with my own reception of Benedict XVI's message that the sacredness of life underpins every discussion one can have about development and progress.

It is a message that quite a few commentators have since written on - especially those who have previously shown with objective facts that declining birth rate is a brake to progress. The first three I posted earlier from ZENIT are in that class. I hope I can put together more articles soon.

Meanwhile, Magister's blog is a good way to start and a helpful exercise in correlation.



For Cardinal Martini,
Paul VI's 'Humanae Vitae' is a dead branch,
but Benedict XVI makes it flower again!

Translated from

July 7, 2009



In the encyclical Caritas in veritate released today, Benedict XVI dedicates an entire chapter to Populorum progressio, the great social encyclical from Paul VI, published in 1967.

And surprisingly - but not to those who follow the Pope's thinking - he also praised alongside it the other famous encyclical by Paul VI, Humanae vitae, saying it, too, is highly important for delineating the fully human meaning of the development that the Church proposes." [Italicized in the original text).

The encyclical Humanae Vitae, Benedict XVI explains in Paragraph 15 of Caritas in veritate, "indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new era of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II's encyclical Evangelioum Vitae.


"The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that 'a society lacks solid foundations, when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized'".

As a gloss to this passage in Caritas in veritate, it must be recalled that Paul VI himself was supremely convinced of the indissoluble link between Populorum progressio and Humanae Vitae. On June 18, 1978, the last year of his life, he brought it to light this way, in a homily which was almost like an accounting of his Pontificate:


We consider the defense of human life indispensable. The Second Vatican Council recalled with the most serious words that "God, patron of life, has entrusted to men the highest mission of protecting life" (Gaudium et Spes, 51).

And we, who consider absolute fidelity to the teachings of the Council as our assigned task, have made the defense of life - in all the forms in which it can be threatened, disturbed or outright suppressed - as the program of our Pontificate.

Let us recall the most significant points that attest to this intention. First of all, we underscored the duty to favor the technical and material promotion of peoples in the process of development, with the encyclical Populorum progressio on March 26, 1967.

But the defense of life should begin from the sources of human existence itself. This was one of the clear and grave teachings of the Council, which in the pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes. admonished that 'life, once conceived, should be protected with the maximum care; and abortion, like infanticide, is an abominable crime" (51).

All we did was to hand down this teaching when, 10 years later, we promulgated the encyclical Humanae Vitae. Inspired by the intangible Biblical and evangelical teachings, which validate the norms of natural law and the irrepressible dictates of conscience about respect for life, whose transmission is entrusted to responsible fatherhood and motherhood, that document has become today a renewed and more urgent reality in view of the wounds (vulnere) inflicted by public legislation on the indissoluble sanctity of the matrimonial bond and the untouchability of human life from the time it is in the mother's womb.

This is the reason for the repeated affirmations of the doctrine of the Catholic Church on the sad reality and truly painful effects of divorce adn abortion, as contained in the ordinary Magisterium as well as in specific documents of the competent congregation.

We express all this, impelled only by the supreme responsibility of being teacher and universal pastor, and for the good of the human race.



Another gloss: As we know, Humanae Vitae was publicly disputed by a great number of cardinals, bishops, religious, theologians and faithful, especially in the rich nations, while in the Third World, its social validity was acknowledged and appreciated.

That opulent front of rejection is still active today. Its latest kindling was the book Nocturnal conversations in Jerusalem by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.

[Magister then refers to his November 2008 article on Martini
Il Gesù del cardinale Martini non avrebbe mai scritto la “Humanae Vitae“
[Cardinal Martini's Jesus would never have written 'Humanae Vitae']
which I translated and posted in the Papa Ratzinger Forum
under the title

The latest broadside from the cardinal who presents himself as the 'ante-Pope'
freeforumzone.leonardo.it/discussione.aspx?idd=355175&p=23


Since Magister made Martini the premise of his title for this blog, it's only fair to present here what it was that Martini wrote about Humanae Vitae, as Magister presented it in his earlier article. I still cannot believe that a cardinal once thought to be a possible pope can think the way Martini does - and get away with it.

I suspect primarily because of his age, neither OR nor Avvenire have commented on Martini's book at all!


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In one chapter of the book, the explicit target is Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae on marriage and procreation. Martini accuses it of causing "serious damage" by prohibiting artificial contraception: "many people have withdrawn from the Church, and the Church from people."

Martini accuses Paul VI of deliberately concealing the truth, leaving it to theologians and pastors to fix things by adapting precepts to practice:

"I knew Paul VI well. With the encyclical, he wanted to express consideration for human life. He explained his intention to some of his friends by using a comparison: although one must not lie, sometimes it is not possible to do otherwise; it may be necessary to conceal the truth, or it may be unavoidable to tell a lie. It is up to the moralists to explain where sin begins, especially in the cases in which there is a higher duty than the transmission of life."

And in what way exactly was Paul VI 'concealing the truth' in Humanae Vitae? On the contrary, the document is a frank no-holds-barred statement of Catholic principle on the sanctity of life and God's intrinsic design for procreation.

Paul VI bucked a commission of advisers who recommended that articial contraception may be sanctioned - and I suppose that is because how can a Pope defend such a stand on the basis of Scripture and Tradition?

In effect, the cardinal continues, "after the encyclical Humanae Vitae, the Austrian and German bishops, and many other bishops, with their statements of concern followed a path along which we can continue today." [So, Paul VI should have accommodated the Austrians and Germans then rather than Catholic teaching????]

It is a stance that expresses "a new culture of tenderness and an approach to sexuality that is more free from prejudice." [It is also a willfully selfish and indlugent path which completely ignores natural birth control which only calls for a few days of 'sacrifice' each month for women of reproductive age!]

But after Paul VI came John Paul II, who "followed the path of rigorous application" of the prohibitions in the encyclical. "He didn't want there to be any doubts on this point. It seems that he even considered a declaration that would enjoy the privilege of papal infallibility."

And after John Paul II came Benedict XVI. Martini does not name him, and does not seem to have much confidence in him, but he hazards this prediction:

"Probably the Pope will not revoke the encyclical, but he might write one that would be its continuation. I am firmly convinced that the Church can point out a better way than it did with Humanae Vitae. Being able to admit one's mistakes and the limitations of one's previous viewpoints is a sign of greatness of soul and of confidence. The Church would regain credibility and competence."

That's Martini's view. But those who read only his latest book will learn nothing of the letter, much less the spirit, of that highly controversial encyclical. [Thank God we had much material for informative reading during the recent 40th anniversary of the encyclical.]

Much more instructive, from this point of view, is the address that Papa Ratzinger dedicated to Humanae Vitae on May 10 of this year. Illustrating its contents, he affirmed that "forty years after its publication this teaching not only expresses its unchanged truth but also reveals the farsightedness with which the problem is treated."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TERESA BENEDETTA
00martedì 14 luglio 2009 15.19



Let me just add here the last two posts on CIV that I thought should go on the main BENEIDTC XVI NEWS thread too.

This one takes a shot at the mindless ideological reflexes - and they are mindless because they are reflexive, robotic responses - with which political-minded people have reacted to the encyclical.



The audacity of the Pope
By ROSS DOUTHAT
Op-Ed Columnist

Published: July 12, 2009



Papal encyclicals are supposed to be written with one eye on two millenniums of Catholic teaching, and the other on eternity. But Americans, as a rule, have rather narrower horizons.

As soon as the media have finished scanning a Vatican document for references to sex, the debate begins in earnest: Is it good for the left, or for the right? For Democrats, or for Republicans?

This was true in the 1950s, when the young William F. Buckley Jr. famously feuded with liberals over how much respect he owed to papal pronouncements on economic matters.

It was true in the 1990s, when conservatives eagerly cited John Paul II’s condemnations of abortion and euthanasia, while liberals countered by noting his criticisms of the death penalty.

And it’s especially true today, when a document like Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”), the third encyclical of Benedict XVI’s papacy — whose release, last Tuesday, was slightly overshadowed by a celebrity funeral of some sort — can be wrangled over endlessly within hours of showing up online.

These arguments never seem to go anywhere. When a Pope criticizes legalized abortion, liberal Catholics nod and say that yes, they agree, it’s a terrible tragedy ... but of course they can’t impose their religious values on a secular society. [No, it's worse than that! They actually share the secular view of abortion as a fundamental human right!!

When a Pope endorses the redistribution of wealth, conservative Catholics stroke their chins and say that yes, they agree, society needs a safety net ... but of course they’re duty-bound to oppose the tyranny of big government.

And when the debate isn’t going their way, left and right both fall back on flaccid rhetoric about how the papal message “transcends politics,” and shouldn’t be turned to any partisan purpose.

Caritas in Veritate has been no exception. It’s a “social” encyclical, in the Church’s parlance, covering issues ranging from globalization and the environment to unions and the welfare state.

Inevitably, liberal Catholics spent the past week touting its relevance to the Democratic Party’s policy positions. (A representative blast e-mail: “Pope’s Encyclical on Global Economy Supports the Principles of the Employee Free Choice Act.”)

Just as inevitably, conservative Catholics hastened to explain that the encyclical “is not a political document” — to quote a statement co-authored by the House minority leader, John Boehner — and shouldn’t be read as “an endorsement of any political or economic agenda.”

Boehner is half right. The Pope is not a Democrat or a Republican, and his vision doesn’t fit the normal categories of American politics.

But Benedict’s encyclical is nothing if not political. Caritas in Veritate promotes a vision of economic solidarity rooted in moral conservatism. It links the dignity of labor to the sanctity of marriage. It praises the redistribution of wealth while emphasizing the importance of decentralized governance. It connects the despoiling of the environment to the mass destruction of human embryos.

This is not a message you’re likely to hear in Barack Obama’s next State of the Union, or in the Republican Party’s response. It represents a kind of left-right fusionism with little traction in American politics.

But that’s precisely what makes it so relevant and challenging — for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

We’re passing through the worst economic dislocation of the past 80 years. Our politics are polarized; our institutions gridlocked. The governing party is mistrusted, the minority party despised.

Yet there’s remarkably little radical thinking taking place. The Republican Party is retrenching, falling back on Reagan-era verities. His promises of post-partisan change notwithstanding, Barack Obama’s agenda looks like the same old Democratic laundry list, rewritten in a sleeker, Internet-era font.

[It may be sleek, but not sleek enough to hide its general outlines, for those who are not self-blinded to see. The audacity of power, one might call it, is fearsome, to say the least, and it threatens American soceity as we have known it. Obama's big government wants to step in and take over every aspect of individual life in a Fascist-like grap for power that does not care if its ambitious take-over programs are burying future generations in debt - and they've only been six months in power!]

This doesn’t mean that America needs a third party with Caritas in Veritate as its platform. The Church is not a think tank, and there’s room for wide disagreement about how to put its social teaching into practice.

But Catholics are obliged to take seriously the underlying provocation of the papal message — namely, that our present political alignments are not the only ones imaginable, and that truth may not be served by perfect ideological conformity.

So should all people of good will. For liberals and conservatives alike, Caritas in Veritate is an invitation to think anew about their alliances and litmus tests.

Why should being pro-environment preclude being pro-life? Why can’t Republicans worry about economic inequality, and Democrats consider devolving more power to localities and states? Does opposing the Iraq war mean that you have to endorse an anything-goes approach to bioethics? Does supporting free trade require supporting the death penalty?

[But all these imagined 'mutual exclusivities' are nothing but expressions of rigid ideology which governs every thought that ideologues make. One can argue that leftist ideologues in the United States are far more rabid about barking out their Pavlov-dog ideological reflexes than their counterparts on the right.]

These questions, and many others like them, are the kind that a healthy political system would allow voters and politicians to explore.

But for now, at least, you’re more likely to find them being raised in Benedict XVI’s Vatican than in Barack Obama’s Washington.

[About which few in the media are brave enough to say the emperor has no clothes - after all the blatantly shameless and widespread disregard for the Emperor-Messiah's own repeated promises of transparency and no lobbying and no new taxes and pie-in-the-sky for everyone.

What administration can have any moral authority when the President insists that Congress pass its bills as fast as they can to get it to his desk by his deadline, without even having a complete bill to present to the members before they vote on it, and whose major bills so far - the stimulus package, notoriously - were passed with most of the members of Congress matter-of-factly admitting they had not read the bill at all, or only parts of it?

I wonder if the Pope was aware of this blatantly immoral open secret in Washington which the media is not at all condemning, or at least protesting?]


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