Saturday, July 11, 2009

Reflections on New Encyclical

The weather is just too nice - ergo, I just don't have the time to read the encyclical just yet.

A round up on CWR.

J. Brian Benestad
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.

Reflections from Fr. Fessio.
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 December 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) and it must be open to life (28). 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.

George Neumayr:

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.


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