Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Caritas in Veritate

Today was the official publication date of the new Papal Encyclical entitled CARITAS IN VERITATE

It is well over a hundred pages in length. It has been more than two years in the gestation.

It is addressed to amongst others all people of goodwill “On Integral Human Development In Charity and In Truth”

It would therefore be fatuous to offer instant analysis and comment.

However that will no doubt stop some in the Press.

There is a tribute to the encyclical of Pope Paul VI of 1967: Populorum Progressio as well as the Encyclical of Pope John Paul II to mark the twentieth anniversary of Pope Paul`s encyclical: Sollicitudo Rei Socialis

It is worthwhile remembering that the reception accorded to Pope Paul`s Encyclical at the time of its publication was not one of universal praise Time Magazine was particularly “sniffy”:

“By contrast, there was little said about the dangers and evils of socialism or Communism, except for a mild warning that Christians should be wary of systems that are "based upon a materialistic and atheistic philosophy.” ...

Populorum Progressio shifts considerably to the left of previous papal encyclicals in its criticism of private property. ...

The radical tone of the encyclical and its blunt attack on capitalism were, understandably enough, endorsed with enthusiasm by Europe's Communist press.

France's L'Humanité declared that "the evils that the encyclical calls attention to" are those that "Marxists have been calling attention to for more than a century." In fact, parts of Populorum Progressio had the strident tone of an early 20th century Marxist polemic—which, to some readers, was precisely its flaw ...

Although Pope Paul had patently tried to give a Christian message relevant to the world's contemporary economic situation, his encyclical virtually ignored the fact that old-style laissez-faire capitalism is about as dead as Das Kapital. Quite clearly, the Pope's condemnation of capitalism was addressed to the unreconstructed variety that persists, for example, in Latin America. But it was surprising that he did not acknowledge the way in which business enterprise has developed into a creative, socially conscious component of the industrial West. The encyclical took insufficient account of other reali ties—that poverty and hunger have most successfully been attacked where private enterprise has been encouraged, and that even in sectors of the Communist world, the despised profit motive is now tacitly accepted as a necessary stimulus to productivity.

U.S. Jesuit Theologian John Courtney Murray eulogized the encyclical as a program for true and complete humanism. Humanistic it was, but its perspective was that of another time. More pertinent than what the encyclical said was what it did not say; lacking balance, it seems unlikely to supplant the judicious pronouncements of Paul's predecessor as a living statement of the church's concern for world justice.”

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