Sunday, March 10, 2013

Best of Benedict #9

9) Caritas in Veritate - Charity in Truth, June 29th, 2009

This encyclical certainly was the most controversial of Pope Benedict's three.  Some felt that it had undue influence from the Roman Curia at large because at times, it has been suggested, the encyclical seems to lack the tone and topics that are considered the style of Pope Benedict.  

Much of the encyclical deals with the Church's social to help the poor, how laws ought to be prioritized, the dignity of workers, the respect for life, etc. etc.
What does strike me as odd is the specificity of some of the programs that Pope Benedict lays out in terms of how to help those in developing countries; this is not typically a hallmark of his other writings.  The fact that much of the encyclical contains more specific suggestions for implementing Catholic social teachings seems to be contradicted by the introduction to the encyclical itself, where we read, "The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim "to interfere" in any way in the politics of the States" (10).  Beyond this discrepancy, I see nothing controversial in the letter, and rather see it as Benedict situating authentic Catholic Social Teaching WITHIN and from the HEART of the Church, not something engaged in by Catholic guerillas in third world countries.  

The most controversial suggestions of the encyclical was a reference made to "globalization".  The Holy Father noted: "A sustained commitment is needed so as to promote a person-based and community-oriented cultural process of worldwide integration" (42).  Some of course read that and feared that the Holy Father was referring to some kind of one-world government, and thus added fuel to the fire of those who already saw the Church as the "Whore of Babylon" of the Book of Revelation.  As always, a careful reading of the context of the discussion reveals that such a simplistic understanding of what Pope Benedict was calling for simply misses the boat and is reductionist. 

1 comment:

  1. Your comment that those who read that the Pope wanted a global gov't, as a 'simple reading' is condescending. He actually states along with Cardinal Turkson, who was appointed head of Benedict's Peace and Justice committee, that gobal governance is needed because we have a global economy. Cardinal Turkson called for a one world bank, which an editorial in the Wall St. journal called dangerous. The Church needs to stay out of economics and do what they are called to do...teach the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I've read the encyclical and it wasn't received well because ultimately, it sounded socialistic and in lock step with a newly elected US President, which by the way Benedict happened to finish just in time to give to Obama when he visited. The US is the largest source of income for the Vatican and so mentioning redistribution of wealth, labor unions and global governance to Obama, I don't believe, was a coincidence. A majority of Cathoics voted for Obama and Obama was viewed as wonderful in many Catholic circles. Benedict mentions the UN needs sharper teeth. He specifically mentions the need for redistribution of wealth and subsidiarity. Which to me meant he wanted gov't to redistribute through the Church to the poor. Redistribution of wealth from the gov't is always wrong! Too many ways for corruption to take place on both sides and we now see the dangers of the Church relying on gov't money for their charities...the gov't tries to control. The other problem is the Church becomes dependent on gov't money and becomes silent on moral issues. Gov't money for the poor is not charity but welfare. Catholic Charities receiving 4 billion a year with 65% coming from gov't funding is a welfare program not a charity. When the Church keeps 10% it becomes a way to make money so they start doing things like handing out steril needles to drug addicts for $250,000 instead of building a half way house. There are too many comments that lead me to believe Benedict and the Church leaders are fine with socialism as long as they get money. Again, the Church should not comment on the economy but concentrate on what it's called to do, which is teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church has become corrupt through redistribution of wealth. Gov't grants, business grants and our tithe create a profitable non profit. All those sex abuse pay outs show the amount of wealth some diocese collect. LA has paid out $100 million so far. Again, the Pope and Cardinals need to concentrate on governing their own Church and ignore economics. God help us and give us a beautiful new Pope filled with a heart of love for God and His people.