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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Theological Notebook: Benedict XVI Issues Social Justice Encyclical with Global/Economics Focus 
7th-Jul-2009 07:23 pm
Benedict XVI wind
The big theological news of the day – or the last several days – is really the new social justice encyclical that Pope Benedict has published. While my areas of academic interest and competence are more in the historical and artistic kind of things I mentioned in my last entry, I have to sit up and take notice of something this significant. Already I had some involved conversation about it with Dan at the library tonight, and so I thought I would start to keep more formal track of what's being said, as well as trying to get around to digesting the thing itself. It's very economics-oriented, which I find even less professionally and personally appealing as a subject that ethics, I'm afraid.

Included here I have the following items from The New York Times, the Associated Press, Catholic News Service, and the Vatican website:
Pope Urges New World Economic Order
Pope proposes new financial order guided by ethics
Pope says moral values must be part of economic recovery, development
In new encyclical, pope calls for sharing earth's resources equitably
Economist: UN could create economic body with teeth, as pope suggested
Encyclical breaks new ground on social issues, commentators say
Caritas in veritate (On Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth: the new encyclical in English translation)

Pope Urges New World Economic Order
By RACHEL DONADIO for The New York Times
Published: July 7, 2009

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday called for a radical rethinking of the global economy, criticizing a growing divide between rich and poor and urging the establishment of a “true world political authority” to oversee the economy and work for the “common good.”

He criticized the current economic system, “where the pernicious effects of sin are evident,” and urged financiers in particular to “rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity.”

He also called for “greater social responsibility” on the part of business. “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 wrote in his new encyclical, which the Vatican released on Tuesday.

More than two years in the making, “Caritas in Veritate,” or “Charity in Truth,” is Benedict’s third encyclical since he became pope in 2005. Filled with terms like “globalization,” “market economy,” “outsourcing,” “labor unions” and “alternative energy,” it is not surprising that the Italian media reported that the Vatican was having difficulty translating the 144-page document into Latin.

Reportedly delayed to take into consideration the financial crisis, it was released by the Vatican on the eve of the Group of 8 industrialized nations summit meeting, which opens in Italy on Wednesday, and before Benedict is expected to receive President Obama at the Vatican on Friday.

“It’s not an encyclical done for the crisis,” Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace, said at a news conference on Tuesday. Still, he added, “if the encyclical had come out before the crisis, you would have said it was prophetic.”

In the encyclical, Benedict wrote that “financiers must rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity, so as not to abuse the sophisticated instruments which can serve to betray the interests of savers.”

In many ways, the document is a puzzling cross between an anti-globalization tract and a government white paper, another signal that the Vatican does not comfortably fit into traditional political categories of right and left.

“There are paragraphs that sound like Ayn Rand, next to paragraphs that sound like ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ That’s quite intentional,” Vincent J. Miller, a theologian at the University of Dayton, a Catholic institution in Ohio, said by telephone.

“He’ll wax poetically about the virtuous capitalist, but then he’ll give you this very clear analysis of the ways in which global capital and the shareholder system cause managers to focus on short-term good at the expense of the community, of workers, of the environment.”

Indeed, sometimes Benedict sounds like an old-school European socialist, lamenting the decline of the social welfare state and praising the “importance” of labor unions to protect workers. Without stable work, he noted, people lose hope and tend not to get married and have children.

But he also wrote, “The so-called outsourcing of production can weaken the company’s sense of responsibility towards the stakeholders — namely the workers, the suppliers, the consumers, the natural environment and broader society — in favor of the shareholders.” And he argued that it was “erroneous to hold that the market economy has an inbuilt need for a quota of poverty and underdevelopment in order to function at its best.”

Benedict also called for a reform of the United Nations so there could be a unified “global political body” that allowed the less powerful of the earth to have a voice, and he called on rich nations to help less fortunate ones.

“In the search for solutions to the current economic crisis, development aid for poor countries must be considered a valid means of creating wealth for all,” he wrote.

John Sniegocki, a professor of Christian ethics at Xavier University in Cincinnati, said one of the most controversial elements of the encyclical, at least for some Americans, would be the call for international institutions to play a role in regulating the economy.

“One of the things he’s saying is that the global economy is escaping the power of individual states to regulate it,” Mr. Sniegocki said. He said the encyclical also contained elements “very critical” of how the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank “have required cuts in social spending in the third world.”

Michael Novak, a philosopher and theologian at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, a conservative research organization, said he thought that the encyclical was stronger on principles than policy suggestions. He said he was particularly uncomfortable with the idea of a strong international institution to regulate the global economy.

“I like limited government. I would much prefer to have many limited governments than one overriding authority,” Mr. Novak said by telephone.

Benedict, arguably the most environmentally conscious pope in history, wrote, “One of the greatest challenges facing the economy is to achieve the most efficient use — not abuse — of natural resources, based on a realization that the notion of ‘efficiency’ is not value-free.”

Rachel Donadio reported from Vatican City, and Laurie Goodstein from New York.


Pope proposes new financial order guided by ethics
Jul 7, 4:37 PM (ET)

By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI called Tuesday for a new world financial order guided by ethics and the search for the common good, denouncing the profit-at-all-cost mentality blamed for bringing about the global financial meltdown.

In the third encyclical of his pontificate, Benedict pressed for reform of the United Nations and international economic and financial institutions to give poorer countries more of a say in international policy.

"There is urgent need (for) a true world political authority" that can manage the global economy, guarantee the environment is protected, ensure world peace and bring about food security for the poor, he wrote.

The document "Charity in Truth," was in the works for two years, and its publication was repeatedly delayed to incorporate the fallout from the crisis. It was released a day before leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations meet to coordinate efforts to deal with the global meltdown, signaling a clear Vatican bid to prod leaders for a financially responsible future and what it considers a more socially just society.

"The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly - not any ethics, but an ethics which is people centered," Benedict wrote.

The German-born Benedict, 82, has spoken out frequently about the impact of the crisis on the poor, particularly in Africa, which he visited earlier this year. But the 144-page encyclical, one of the most authoritative documents a pope can issue, marked a new level of church teaching by linking the Vatican's long-standing social doctrine on caring for the poor with current events.

While acknowledging that the globalized economy has "lifted billions of people out of misery," Benedict accused the unbridled growth of recent years of causing unprecedented problems as well, citing mass migration flows, environmental degradation and a complete loss of trust in the world market.

He urged wealthier countries to increase development aid to poor countries to help eliminate world hunger, saying peace and security depended on it. He specified that aid should go to agricultural development to improve infrastructure, irrigation systems, transport and sharing of agricultural technology.

At the same time, he demanded that industrialized nations reduce their energy consumption, both to better care for the environment and to let the poorer have access to energy resources.

"One of the greatest challenges facing the economy is to achieve the most efficient use - not abuse - of natural resources, based on a realization that the notion of 'efficiency' is not value-free," he wrote.

Benedict said that the drive to outsource work to the cheapest bidder had endangered the rights of workers, and he demanded that workers be allowed to organize in unions to protect their rights and guarantee steady, decent employment.

Benedict called for a whole new financial order - "a profoundly new way of understanding business enterprise" - that respects the dignity of workers and looks out for the common good by prioritizing ethics and social responsibility over dividend returns.

The Rev. Drew Christiansen, editor of the Jesuit monthly America and a leading social ethicist, said he was most intrigued by the pope's call for a new sector of society to work alongside government, market and civil society: for-profit entities that work for the common good, which Christiansen suggested could include "fair trade" product makers and micro-finance institutions.

"I am not sure these enterprises yet constitute a sector of economic life," Christiansen wrote on his blog. "But they are harbingers of a different, conscientious kind of economics that would not repeat the mistakes of the last 30 years."

Kirk Hanson, a business ethics professor at Santa Clara University, said that while the encyclical went into some detail about the rights of workers and the duties of the state in protecting those rights, there was precious little about how an actual CEO leader should go about business.

"It's almost as if the church has so little trust in business leaders that it speaks to the political leaders urging regulation and the consumers urging voting with their buying power," said Hanson, who chaired hearings leading up to a similar U.S. Catholic bishops' statement on capitalism and social justice in the 1980s.

Benedict has written two previous encyclicals in his four years as pope: "God is Love" in 2006 and "Saved by Hope" in 2007.

The pope's focus on world finance raised questions about the state of the Vatican's own books.

The Vatican was implicated in the 1980s collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, in which the Vatican's bank was the major shareholder, and it agreed to pay $250 million to Ambrosiano's creditors, while denying any wrongdoing.

At the start of the meltdown in October, a top Vatican bank official assured that its deposits were safe and had no liquidity problems, saying the bank had stayed away from derivatives, the financial instruments blamed in part for the crisis.

Other officials have said 80 percent of the Vatican's investments are in low-yield government bonds and 20 percent in stocks and that the Vatican does not invest in companies that produce arms or contraceptives.

The Vatican in its annual financial statement issued Saturday said it ran a deficit in 2008 for the second straight year, posting a euro900,000 ($1.28 million) loss, compared with a loss of euro9.06 million a year earlier.


Pope says moral values must be part of economic recovery, development
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ethical values are needed to overcome the current global economic crisis as well as to eradicate hunger and promote the real development of all the world's peoples, Pope Benedict XVI said in his new encyclical.

The document, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), was dated June 29 and released at the Vatican July 7.

The truth that God is the creator of human life, that every life is sacred, that the earth was given to humanity to use and protect and that God has a plan for each person must be respected in development programs and in economic recovery efforts if they are to have real and lasting benefits, the pope said.

Charity, or love, is not an option for Christians, he said, and "practicing charity in truth helps people understand that adhering to the values of Christianity is not merely useful, but essential for building a good society and for true integral development," he wrote.

In addressing the global economic crisis and the enduring poverty of the world's poorest countries, he said, "the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity."

The global dimension of the financial crisis is an expression of the moral failure of greedy financiers and investors, of the lack of oversight by national governments and of a lack of understanding that the global economy required internationally recognized global control, Pope Benedict said.

"In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth," the pope wrote.

"To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority," he said.

Pope Benedict insisted that the idea of the world's richest nations scaling back development aid while focusing on their own economic recovery overlooked the long-term economic benefits of solidarity and not simply the human and Christian moral obligation to help the poor.

"In the search for solutions to the current economic crisis, development aid for poor countries must be considered a valid means of creating wealth for all," the pope said.

The economic growth of poorer countries and their citizens' demands for consumer goods actually benefit producers in the world's wealthier nations, he said.

The pope said that "more economically developed nations should do all they can to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid," respecting the obligations they made to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals aimed at significantly reducing poverty by 2015.

Pope Benedict said food and water are the "universal rights of all human beings without distinction or discrimination" and are part of the basic right to life.

He also said that being pro-life means being pro-development, especially given the connection between poverty and infant mortality, and that the only way to promote the true development of people is to promote a culture in which every human life is welcomed and valued.

"The acceptance of life strengthens moral fiber and makes people capable of mutual help," he said.

He said the environment, life, sexuality, marriage and social relations are inextricably united.

If society does not respect human life from its conception to its natural end, "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," he said.

Development programs and offers of aid that encourage coercive population-control methods and the promotion of abortion do not have the good of people at heart and limit the recipients' motivation to become actors in their own development and progress, the pope said.

In addition, he said, an anti-life mentality in the world's richest countries is related to the lack of concern for the poor.

"How can we be surprised by the indifference shown toward situations of human degradation when such indifference extends even to our attitude toward what is and is not human?" the pope asked.

"While the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human," he said.

Pope Benedict also emphasized church teaching that making money and being wealthy are not sins, but that the way the money is made and the way it is used can be.

The encyclical condemned corruption, the exploitation of workers, the destruction of the environment, the continuing practice of wealthy nations imposing such high tariffs on imports that they shut poor countries out of the international marketplace and, especially, an "excessive zeal" for enforcing patents, especially on medications that could save the lives of thousands of poor people if they were available at a reasonable cost.

Pope Benedict called for "a profoundly new way of understanding business," which recognizes that investors are not a company's only stakeholders, no matter how the business is structured and financed.

Employees, those who produce the raw materials, people who live in the communities where the company is based, where its products originate and where its products are sold all have a stake in the business, the pope said.

He also said that investing always has a moral as well as an economic significance.

"What should be avoided is a speculative use of financial resources that yields to the temptation of seeking only short-term profit without regard for the long-term sustainability of the enterprise, its benefit to the real economy and attention to the advancement -- in suitable and appropriate ways -- of further economic initiatives in countries in need of development," he said.

- - -

Editor's Note: "Caritas in Veritate" can be found in Origins, the CNS Documentary Service, Vol. 39, No. 9. Print and electronic versions of this issue of Origins can be ordered by calling 202-541-3290.

The English version can be found online at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate_en.html.

The Spanish version can be found online at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate_sp.html.


In new encyclical, pope calls for sharing earth's resources equitably
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI dedicated a portion of his new social encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), to the urgent duty to share the earth's resources equitably and safeguard the environment for future generations.

He criticized states, organizations and companies that hoard nonrenewable fossil fuels.

Not only does the stockpiling of natural resources hinder the development of poorer nations, but it "gives rise to exploitation and frequent conflicts between and within nations," he said.

"The international community has an urgent duty to find institutional means of regulating the exploitation of nonrenewable resources, involving poor countries in the process, in order to plan together for the future," he said.

Energy resources must be redistributed justly around the world, not left to "whoever is first to claim the spoils, or whoever is able to prevail over the rest," he said.

By achieving greater energy efficiency, using alternate forms of energy, and cutting fossil fuel use, industrialized countries should be able to free up enough energy resources for poorer nations to use toward development, he said.

There is enough room on this earth for everyone, the pope said, including for future generations to live with dignity, but that cannot come about with reckless exploitation. The earth's natural resources must be managed and used wisely and equitably for authentic human development for today and future generations, he said.

Individuals living in cultures that are "prone to hedonism and consumerism" must change their mentality and adopt new lifestyles, the pope said, so that "the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments."

Most importantly, he said, the decisive factor in protecting the environment "is the overall moral tenor of society."

If society does not respect human life from its conception to its natural end, "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," he said.

A society will have great difficulty in promoting the environment when its very own laws, policies and educational systems do not even respect and protect its own members, he said.

The environment, life, sexuality, marriage and social relations are inextricably united, he said, noting "the book of nature is one and indivisible."

People have the duty to safeguard all of creation -- human life and the natural world -- and "it would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling the others," he said.

- - -

Editor's Note: "Caritas in Veritate" can be found in Origins, the CNS Documentary Service, Vol. 39, No. 9. Print and electronic versions of this issue of Origins can be ordered by calling 202-541-3290.

The English version can be found online at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate_en.html.

The Spanish version can be found online at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate_sp.html.


Economist: UN could create economic body with teeth, as pope suggested
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's call for an international authority with "real teeth" to guide the global economy could be realized with the creation of a U.N. "socio-economic security council" to stand alongside the current Security Council dedicated to peacekeeping, said an economist who advises the Vatican.

Stefano Zamagni, a professor of economic policies at the University of Bologna, Italy, and a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, spoke July 7 at the Vatican press conference held to present Pope Benedict's encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth.")

Pope Benedict wrote that the current financial crisis demonstrated just how little control national governments have over the process of globalization and the interdependence of the world's economy.

The pope called for the reform of the United Nations, as well as of international bodies involved in economics and finance. The reform, he said, should help ensure that the world's poorer countries have a voice in economic decisions impacting everyone. The reform should aim to revive ailing economies, protect the environment, provide food security and promote peace more effectively, he said.

Zamagni said the fact that the pope spoke about the need to include a wide range of voices in decision-making and to uphold the principle of subsidiarity -- that decisions on local matters should be made at the local level -- made it clear that he is not proposing "a kind of superstate," but wants internationally recognized institutions to have the power to intervene when lives are at stake.

The United Nations, he said, has "a security council for military affairs. Why don't we have one for socio-economic affairs? If we did, the crisis of 2007-2008, which saw the price of grains triple despite an increased supply," might have been resolved more quickly.

The increase in grain prices triggered food emergencies throughout the world's poorer countries and has been identified as one of the first signs of what became the global financial crisis.

Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi of Trieste, Italy, who served as secretary of the justice and peace council until July 4, said the Vatican did not have a concrete plan to propose for the reorganization, and it was not the Vatican's place to design a new system; it simply was encouraging U.N. member states to get serious about reforming the institution.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the former Vatican observer at the United Nations, said every pope since Pope John XXIII had called for a reform of the United Nations to make it more efficient and more effective.

Cardinal Martino told journalists that "Caritas in Veritate" marked a further step in the church's recognition of its obligation to promote the salvation and well-being of all people and its efforts to "guarantee Christianity has the 'right of citizenship' in building human society."

Catholic social teaching, he said, uses the unchanging principles of the Gospel and applies them to the ever-changing situation in which peoples and societies find themselves.

"The church does not have technical solutions to propose, as 'Caritas in Veritate' itself reminds us, but it has the obligation to enlighten human history with the light of truth and with the warmth of the love of Jesus Christ," he said.

"This is not an encyclical on the economic crisis," he said, but because it speaks of the various forces involved in promoting or retarding development, it had to address the crisis.

"In a year or two, the crisis will be over, but the points of the encyclical will still be valid," Cardinal Martino said.

Cardinal Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which promotes and coordinates Catholic charitable giving, said the social doctrine of the church is not a political program because the church is not interested in creating "a theocracy where the valid principles of faith" are imposed on believers and nonbelievers alike.

"Instead, the social doctrine commits Christians, first of all, to incarnate their faith" in the way they live and act in the political, social and economic spheres, he said.

Archbishop Crepaldi said the central message of the pope's encyclical is that people have a vocation, a call from God, to act righteously in the economy and at work, in their families and communities and to work for the common good in all those areas.

"If goods are only goods, if the economy is just the economy, if being together means only living alongside each other, if work is just production and progress is only growth," he said, then there is nothing that inspires people to accept each other as brothers and sisters and help the weakest members of the human family.


Encyclical breaks new ground on social issues, commentators say

By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), breaks new ground on such topics as microfinancing, intellectual property rights, globalization and the concept of putting one's wealth at the service of the poor, according to Catholic scholars and church leaders.

In interviews with Catholic News Service and in statements about the encyclical released July 7 at the Vatican, commentators said the more than 30,000-word document takes on a variety of issues not previously addressed in such a comprehensive way.

"I was surprised ... at how wide-ranging it is," said Kirk Hanson, a business ethics professor at Santa Clara University in California and executive director of the Jesuit-run university's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. "It's not just an updating of 'Populorum Progressio'" ("The Progress of Peoples"), the 1967 social encyclical by Pope Paul VI, he added.

Hanson said he also was struck by Pope Benedict's concept of "gratuitousness" or "giftedness," which reminds people "not to consider wealth ours alone" and asks the wealthy to "be ready to put (their money) in service for the good of others."

The encyclical is "a plea for the wealthiest on the planet to put their wealth toward the development of peoples," he said. "In many ways, (Microsoft founder and philanthropist) Bill Gates would be the poster child for this document."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated billions of dollars for health and development programs worldwide, as well as for education and housing programs in the United States.

Terrence W. Tilley, who chairs the theology department at Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York and is immediate past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, said one unique aspect of the encyclical is Pope Benedict's "vision that all flows from the love of God."

"It's unusual as a theological reflection on social justice," he said. "But that's what holds it all together."

Tilley said the encyclical makes a "pedagogical attempt to get people out of the mindset that charity is just giving money to those poor people over there." The pope rejects such a "dismissive attitude," he said.

The Fordham professor also said he was "delighted to see the strength with which (Pope Benedict) supports labor organizations." But the pope also stresses "the responsibility of both management ... and labor to take care of and be responsible to other than their own constituencies," he added.

Tilley said that although the document is "full of principles it really attempts to get in touch with empirical realities."

Bishop Michael P. Driscoll of Boise, Idaho, said that aspect of the encyclical will be particularly helpful in these "difficult times for the poor in Idaho or anywhere around the world."

"The Holy Father, who has seen the terrible toll these times have taken, has given us a new vision on which to build a just economy, where all can thrive, not merely the rich and powerful," he said. "We cannot achieve true prosperity unless it is built upon a foundation of justice and care for all, including the poor."

In a different part of the country, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit said people in southeast Michigan "are living through profound changes in the social and economic fabric of our community."

"All of us citizens, and especially our leaders, need to make wise and farsighted decisions in order to lay the foundation for the better future we want to hand on to succeeding generations," he said. "The Holy Father's new encyclical, as the latest application of the church's social teaching, offers an important resource for us in the great project we are engaged in.

"In particular, it will give us guidance, 'signposts' as it were, about how to build a society that is grounded in the foundational truths about the human person, wisdom for a future that advances the true dignity and real progress of every individual," Archbishop Vigneron added.

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington said the encyclical is "very welcome and particularly timely as our political and economic leaders struggle to address the devastating global economic crisis."

The document also notes that "responsibility does not stop at a nation's borders nor does it fall solely to political leaders," the archbishop said. "Universal human truths about human dignity transcend geographic, economic and political boundaries."

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the encyclical provides helpful guidance for finding answers to the social, economic and moral questions of the contemporary world in a search for truth.

The document offers sound reflections on the vocation of human development as well as on the moral principles on which a global economy must be based, he added.

"This encyclical offers a powerful warning to the modern world -- especially the West," said Steve Schneck, director of the Life Cycle Institute at The Catholic University of America in Washington. "It speaks to the dangers of commerce, popular culture and technology unhinged from a vision for the common good informed by charity."

Vincent Miller, associate professor of theology at Georgetown University in Washington, said Pope Benedict "rejects the dominant vision of economics as abstract, technological efficiency" and "calls for a revisioning of economics as an essentially moral undertaking."

"His complex thought does not fit easily into our political map, but there is no doubt that Benedict is much more critical of contemporary economics than any political party in our country," added Miller, who was recently named to the Gudorf chair in Catholic theology and culture at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

Andrew Abela, an associate professor of marketing who chairs the department of business and marketing at Catholic University, said the pope's main message is "that spiritual development is essential to development, and that 'even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God's love.'"

"I hope this core message is not drowned out in the politicizing of this encyclical that will inevitably happen," he added.

Abela said he was "intrigued by the pope putting forward the example" of Economy of Communion, a project launched in 1991 by Focolare movement founder Chiara Lubich that brings together more than 700 companies worldwide committed to pursuing a "higher goal" than just profit.

"I think that the Economy of Communion has the potential to revolutionize the relationship between workers and employers in positive ways," he added.

Officials of International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity, an international alliance of Catholic development agencies known by the acronym CIDSE, hailed the encyclical as helpful to their work, saying that it might convince wealthier countries to "make up for broken promises" to the developing world.

"Political leadership in resolving the (global economic) crisis is lacking and developing countries continue to suffer the direst consequences," said Bernd Nilles, secretary-general of the organization based in Brussels, Belgium. "It's time for true reform and solidarity in the fight against global poverty."

"Economic processes should serve justice, one of the two dimensions of true human development set out by the pope," said Rene Grotenhuis, president of CIDSE and director of Dutch Cordaid. "Every economic decision has moral consequences."
Comments 
8th-Jul-2009 08:01 am (UTC) - real teeth
thanks for sharing-I have been planning on reading the Pope's social justice encyclical since I heard about it last week on PBS Bill Moyer's Journal-peace
9th-Jul-2009 04:44 pm (UTC) - Re: real teeth
Glad to help!
8th-Jul-2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks for all the articles, handily collected in one place, Mike!

It will be interesting to watch the more politically conservative Catholics question Benedict's points without sounding like the cafeteria Catholics they seem to loathe. Didn't William F. Buckley, Jr. take umbrage at previous popes' criticisms of capitalism? I'm sure there are plenty of other Catholic conservatives who can take up the mantle now.
9th-Jul-2009 05:11 pm (UTC)
As always, I'm pleased if these things I do for my convenience end up being equally convenient for others.

Yes, the silly and self-serving use of that "cafeteria Catholicism" accusation always irks. One gifted scholar of Catholic spirituality wisely pointed out that everyone in Catholicism is a "cafeteria Catholic" – and necessarily so. There is just too much diversity of theology and spirituality within orthodox Catholicism for any one person (and much less any one "party") to exemplify all that is within Catholicism. We have 33 "Doctors of the Church," whose teachings are held to provide such exemplification of what the Church holds, and they disagree with one another all across the board. They don't differ in creedal matters, of course, but those who are incapable of seeing the possibilities of diversity in orthodoxy are a dangerous lot.

In our country I think it is those Catholic "liberals" and "conservatives" who top that list. I don't know about Buckley, specifically, on this matter, but conservatives in general have had to face (I hope!) a hard lesson in the last few years, as the "experiment" that began in the Reagan years has finally come to its predictable conclusion, and that we discover that the lessons of the 1880s and 1890s hold true: business cannot "regulate itself." At least, it cannot do so in light of ethical concerns.

I suppose that lots of folks still might argue that the "self-regulation" of our last few decades led to great profits for business and for people in general, in that business naturally set itself up for maximal profit. But I still think that few people would recognize or admit (if I am right in saying this) that all the economic "good times" of the last 30 years in fact never actually existed. Certainly we appeared to have a long period of prosperity, but given that that was built entirely on a national debt doubling trillions of dollars borrowed, wasn't all our seeming prosperity simply an illusion? I have the same "prosperity" in these last few years of student loan-living, but unlike America, I was actually going to be called on my debt, and therefore couldn't live the illusion, whereas it seems to me that the last generation in America has closed their eyes and assumed you could live this way without ever calling in the debt.

The Church's teaching on, and confrontation with, capitalism has simply not been as flamboyant as its confrontation with communism simply for the fact that communism was a much simpler and more blatant error. The fact that the Church recognizes that some form of private property and capitalism is the only workable economic system means that the Church's teaching is much more slowly produced, simply for the need for much greater nuance and wisdom. The conservatives who simply saw the Church as "on the side" of capitalism in a "blank check" sort of way, well, I think they're the ones who put capitalism in a potentially idolatrous position....
24th-Jul-2009 12:57 am (UTC)
This is such a great comment (sorry I'm so late to return to it). Just wanted to tell you that I appreciated it, and have quoted parts of it at least three times since you replied. Thanks. :)
24th-Jul-2009 12:57 am (UTC)
also, all the Catholic blogs I read have been virtually SILENT on the Pope's new encyclical. It's been v. disappointing. I expected SOME engagement, even if they disagreed.
24th-Jul-2009 03:59 am (UTC)
Eh, from what I've observed, that's par for the course for Catholic conservatives who fancy themselves the true or sole defenders of orthodoxy: they would never say the Pope was wrong on a point. That doesn't jibe with their supposed defense of Papal Infallibility, or, even moreso, the stance they take against any theologian arguing with a point of papal teaching they happen to wholeheartedly support, who they then can gleefully accuse of "dissent" or that "cafeteria Catholicism" we mentioned before. This lot prefers, instead, to exercise a sort of "pocket veto" of dissent: not saying the Pope is mistaken on a point so much as never bringing it up again, and doing their level best to ignore it. That's part of the peculiar flavour of the [American?] conservative Catholic side of the cafeteria. Those who would publicly change their positions to align with a Vatican teaching that was seen as politically "liberal," especially against some doctrinaire point of American conservatism, are few and far in between, from what I've seen, although I have seen it happen.

A recent article in The Economist quoted George Weigel as claiming to distinguish between those parts of the encyclical written by Benedict, and those by the "liberal" Justice and Peace office of the Curia, as though the Pope hadn't signed off on the whole of it, or as though Ratzinger was a theological amateur who would miss the sneaky stuff snuck in under his name! If that's true, that's just the sort of "picking and choosing" these guys have been protesting for years. It's so much more simple and honest (and open to love) to admit the slow workings of the development of doctrine in history, and to recognize one another as taking part in that, papal or lay, liberal or conservative (or some other, more sensible position), and to not rush the Holy Spirit into claiming some final position for the Church.
24th-Jul-2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I've seen a lot of Catholic conservatives struggle with the death penalty, and have seen several who used to be in favor of it change their minds.

I was raised by conservative/libertarian Catholics (who are now Orthodox), and I've become steadily more and more liberal over the years, though I'm not and may never be a registered member of either party. For me personally there are many contributing factors apart from my Catholicism, but certainly the more I learned about the legacy of Catholic social teaching, the more it seemed - not just unfulfilled, but really unaddressed by either of America's two major political parties. So when anyone on either side of the aisle claims that there is only one party a True Catholic can vote for, I tend to stop listening.
24th-Jul-2009 03:48 am (UTC)
Hey, no apologies necessary: I can hardly keep up with anyone's LJ, much less my own!
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