Early Tentative Thoughts on the New Encyclical

by Jimmy Akin

in Benedict XVI

A reader writes:

The Pope recently came out with his position on capitalism. Can you
explain his position possibly better than what I have read in the papers?
Also, I am hearing secular talk on the radio wondering about Papal
infallibility and this economic view. On the surface what he has said
appears to me to be even further left of Obama! To me that would be worse
for the poor not better!

What the reader is querying about is the new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, that Pope Benedict released yesterday.

Actually, the document does not ever use the word "capitalism" or "socialism"–which seems to be by design. The pope is not trying to comment on particular economic systems but on general principles. Within that framework, he actually has good things to say about the market. This is not an anti-market encyclical, so beware of the oversimplifications that the mainstream media is going to offer.

Thus far I have read through the encyclical once, but I need to go back and do further reading and digesting.

Because of the pressing news cycle (even stepped on as the encyclical release was by the Michael Jackson funeral), though, here are a few early thoughts:

1) Do not put weight on anything you read in the newspaper or on secular talk radio regarding the encyclical. The mainstream media simply does not "get" religion, and they are too incompetent on matters of religion to report accurately anything that the pope says or does. Sorry, but it's the truth.

2) In particular (and this will be an even greater temptation on talk radio), there is a tendency on the part of the MSM to read everything in terms of a liberal/conservative dichotomy. This political, polarized reading should not be imposed on the encyclical. When you read it, it quickly becomes clear that it does not fit neatly into either a liberal or a conservative box. It says things that are challenging no matter what one's political persuasion is.

3) Consequently, it is not possible from the encyclical to simply compare the pope's views to Obama's and say which is in what direction from the other. This is a complex, multi-axis matrix, not something that can be reduced to a simple left/right spectrum.

4) Because of the complexity, it would be possible to pick an item–or several items–out of the encyclical and take them out of context and say, "The pope sounds to the left of anything Obama has proposed so far." It would be equally possible to do the reverse and say, "The pope sounds to the right of anything Obama has proposed so far."

5) Either of the above would be a mistake. One reason is the multi-axis nature of the document. Another is that the pope includes important qualifiers that have to be given their full weight. If you lop off the qualifiers then you distort the picture.

6) Yet another reason is that, as the pope points out in the encyclical, the Church does not have specific, technical solutions to propose. Figuring those out are the task of the laity, and it is precisely in this area where most politics is generated. In other words, "left" and "right" are often agreed upon the goals that need to be achieved (full employment, combatting poverty, helping families thrive, making sure children are educated, etc.). The point of dispute is how these things are to be done, and that is the point that the Church tries to leave to the laity.

7) It therefore simply is not productive to engage in pope/president political comparisons. So don't.

8) That being said, there are points in the encyclical where, at least in general terms, the pope seems to go beyond his stated intention not to offer technical solutions and to make proposals that at least point in the direction of particular solutions. There is a blurry line here between theory and application, and pastoral concern for human well-being will always present churchmen with a temptation to cross that blurry line and at least recommend particular applications that seem right to them.

9) When that happens we need to take seriously what they say, particularly in the case of the pope, the Vicar of Christ. At the same time, we must not put greater weight on what they say than what they themselves do, and thus we must remember that they are not teaching infallibly. In releasing the new encyclical, Benedict XVI does not even remotely come close to using the kind of language that popes use when signalling that they are speaking infallibly. There simply is no attempt on the part of Benedict XVI to engage his charism of infallibility here, and so anything the reader has heard on talk radio regarding the encyclical calling infallibility into question is just nonsense. See point #1, above.

10) Because the document is not proposing anything infallibly, it is in principle open to revision in the future. This is particularly so because by its very subject matter it is an intervention of a prudential nature, seeking to apply general principles to a particular set of socio-economic problems in the world today. In describing documents of this nature, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (then-headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), wrote:

When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies. Bishops and their advisors have not always taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of a question. But it would be contrary to the truth, if, proceeding from some particular cases, one were to conclude that the Church's Magisterium can be habitually mistaken in its prudential judgments, or that it does not enjoy divine assistance in the integral exercise of its mission. In fact, the theologian, who cannot pursue his discipline well without a certain competence in history, is aware of the filtering which occurs with the passage of time. This is not to be understood in the sense of a relativization of the tenets of the faith. The theologian knows that some judgments of the Magisterium could be justified at the time in which they were made, because while the pronouncements contained true assertions and others which were not sure, both types were inextricably connected. Only time has permitted discernment and, after deeper study, the attainment of true doctrinal progress (Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian 24).

11) It is quite likely that a person reading the encyclical will find himself challenged at various points, no matter what his native political instincts are. This is part of the pope's intention. He wants to challenge everybody and shake them out of the uncritical political orbits that people find themselves sliding into. One should therefore avoid two mistakes in reading the document: (a) One should not casually dismiss things that seem to conflict with one's previous views; this is the Vicar of Christ talking, and we need to take what he says seriously. (b) One should not simply seize on things that seem to confirm one's prior views and absolutize them; there is a very substantial element of nuance to what the pope says, he is deliberately leaving room for legitimate diversity of opinion even as he makes certain proposals, and he is not attempting to engage his infallibility and thus is deliberately leaving much of what he says open to future revision.

12) The most constructive course is not to rush to conclusions regarding the encyclical but to read it, meditate on it, take a willing, open perspective, and allow oneself to be challenged by what it has to say, regardless of where one is coming from.

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David B. July 8, 2009 at 8:17 am

For early tentative thoughts,” this is helpful, intelligent, and clear commentary. Thanks, Jimmy.

BillyHW July 8, 2009 at 9:35 am

Does anyone know if an English translation is available?

SDG July 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

BillyHW, see the link at the end of Jimmy’s post. :-)

BillyHW July 8, 2009 at 10:10 am

Oh I saw the link.

JohnD July 8, 2009 at 11:58 am

I’m just starting to read, but I’m glad that I found several instances of the word “subsidiarity” upon a search.

Robert Miole July 8, 2009 at 12:15 pm

@BillyHW: Don’t worry, I got the joke :)

Leo July 8, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Apt title. Perhaps we should just read the fine encyclical, and perhaps pray a little, before rushing to comment.

ctdkite July 8, 2009 at 1:46 pm

While points 9 and 10 are correct, they could be construed as reason to dismiss or ignore those parts of the encyclical with which a person disagrees, particularly if they appear to the reader as mere proposals. We have to remember that it is an encyclical and, while not infallible, is a part of the magisterium and due a certain deference. Moreover, we must resist the temptation to parcel out parts of the encyclical, lest we become cafeteria Catholics.

BillyHW July 8, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Apt title. Perhaps we should just read the fine encyclical, and perhaps pray a little, before rushing to comment.
But you’ve just rushed to declare it was fine.

Thomasz July 8, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Mr Aiken, I would like to call your programme but I am afraid. Your host always imitates peoples foreign accents and it would be embarrassing for me :(.

Jimmy Akin July 8, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Thomasz, why don’t you call this Thursday. I’m on for two hours, and I’ll let him know in advance what your preference is.

Sharon July 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I am a regular listener to the programme and the only accent of late that Patrick has attempted to imitate is the broad Australian one. He sometimes greets Spanish speaking people in Spanish because, I imagine, he has a Spanish speaking wife and understands some Spanish and wishes to make Spanish speaking people feel welcome. He sometimes says a few words in French to Canadians because he was born in Canada and probably wishes to make the French speaking Canadians feel welcome. I have not picked up that any people are made to feel uncomfortable by Patrick doing this. I have to add though – his ‘Aussie accent’ is more New Zealand than Aussie. lol

Anthony Rowe July 8, 2009 at 3:48 pm

my problem is that I am a conservative in america surrounded by liberals trying to take my money so that they can fund their immoral behavior and I have this knee jerk reaction to anyone who talks about initiating social change that involves me and my money parting company.

bklyn catholic July 8, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Actually Anthony Rowe – you are a conservative in America surrounded by liberals – and other conservatives – trying to take money you’ve earned so they can fund immoral or at least incredibly wasteful behavior and policies. Of course, I don’t know of a time in America when that wasn’t the case. (Of course, it is also true that both conservatives and liberals have taken money we’ve all earned for very useful measures also. I have this knee-jerk reaction to ideological absolutism. I’ve certainly met good people – no one prominent, just good people – on both sides of the debate.)
From Jimmy’s synopsis, it sounds like people on either end of our ideological spectrum and all those in-between have a lot to consider openly in this encyclical. I look forward to reading it later tonight.

The Masked Chicken July 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm

There are, obviously, many areas to comment on. Two areas concern me, for the moment.
The first is that the encyclical makes a direct connection between faith and charity. Faith is the informative aspect connected to charity and charity is the motivational aspect of faith. As the encyclical says:
Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth. In this way, 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. This 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 existence.
Charity says in a situation: we must. Faith says: this is how. If the truth is not a truth contained within the Faith, then it will prostitute charity, turning charity into a mere sentiment. If the charity is not a charity which strives to find itself within the Faith, then the truth it operates from will always lead to a less than a human charity. Charity calls on Faith to inform it. This is the correct order of things if humanity is to make progress.
Unfortunately, many people have a faith which is defective in that it is a mere human faith. As such, it can neither inform or be informed by charity. There is, hidden in this text, an urgent plea for people to find the faith which is the Catholic Faith. The closer it is to the Catholic Faith, the closer it is to a truth that fully informs a human and divine charity. Faith has been corrupted in modern times by a defective sense of charity (people sleeping together before marriage somehow think they are not sinning because it feels “loving”). In this document, it is shown how charity has, likewise, been corrupted in modern times by a defect in faith (truth). This has led to a false sense of truth that does not correspond to anything supportive of human growth.
Nowhere is this shown more than in the sciences, both the human sciences of economics, sociology, and biology as well as the impersonal sciences. The encyclical says:
The excessive segmentation of knowledge[80], the rejection of metaphysics by the human sciences[81], the difficulties encountered by dialogue between science and theology are damaging not only to the development of knowledge, but also to the development of peoples, because these things make it harder to see the integral good of man in its various dimensions. The “broadening [of] our concept of reason and its application”[82] is indispensable if we are to succeed in adequately weighing all the elements involved in the question of development and in the solution of socio-economic problems.
I suspect this aspect of the encyclical, while true, will have very little play in a world that excludes, ab initio [from the beginning], any sort of metaphysics in how it does science. Scientists used to be natural philosophers and as such had at least a rudimentary interest in metaphysics. Now, with the linking of an impersonal economic drive for funding coupled with the desire to speak to people who have different faith beliefs, science has more or less decided to exclude theology and the theological consequences of science from mention. Unfortunately, this is a stance being supported by the “scientific” method which people are taught in beginning science classes. Revelation has no place, so they say, in science. This is to exclude a portion of truth, however. As this happens, more and more, science becomes more and more divorced from a true concern for humanity. I fear for the future as I see more and more scientists (and medical doctors) become concerned for a quality of life defined entirely arbitrarily by expedience.
It was once said that every scientist should read Frankenstein least they make monsters in the lab. Today, it is more imperative that every scientist read Scripture, least they, themselves, become monsters in charge of the lab. Are there no longer cautionary tales for science? In seeking truth, they are losing sight of Truth.
Much more to say, later. Notice how I, cleverly, ignored all of the economic aspects of the encyclical. I will let people with better understanding of these things make comments. On these things, I am content to listen.
The Chicken

Eileen R July 8, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Sharon, as a Canadian, I’d feel terribly embarassed if an American started saying French phases to me. I’m sure most English canadians would feel the same.

Barbara July 9, 2009 at 6:14 am

I’m a little confused. I thought that anything that the Pope (or a general council) said to the universal church, on matters of faith or morals, enjoyed the status of being infallible (free from error). Which should not be confused with the idea that the matter is closed, or that there won’t be more to say on the matter at a later point in time, which would be the case if it a statement was declared ex cathedra.

Mary July 9, 2009 at 8:34 am

“anything that the Pope (or a general council) said to the universal church, on matters of faith or morals,” is ex cathedra. That’s what ex cathedra/I> means
However, matters of governance and economics are not matters of faith and morals so we can argue over whether the Pope has hit on the right way to apply faith and morals to government and economic systems.
Just as the Pope can declare that the sick are entitled to care, but can not prescribe a treatment. He can not even say you must do
something (since history has long shown that some treatments are worse than doing nothing).

Mary July 9, 2009 at 8:35 am


The Masked Chicken July 9, 2009 at 9:51 am

Dear Barbara,
You wrote:
I’m a little confused. I thought that anything that the Pope (or a general council) said to the universal church, on matters of faith or morals, enjoyed the status of being infallible (free from error).
Mary, who wrote after you, is correct, but not complete. Most aspects of governance and economics are left to the governors, who, when they act according to the dictates of good reason (i.e., the natural law), are to be obeyed. Some aspects of governance, such as what to do in the face of an unjust law and economics, such as whether or not credit cards are really instances of usury, fall under the subset of questions of faith and morals within governance and economics. Even in Scripture, such as in Proverbs, there are statements about using scales that are not moral.
Likewise, Mary wrote:
He can not even say you must do something [a particular medical treatment] (since history has long shown that some treatments are worse than doing nothing).
That depends. He can say that one must hydrate and feed a vegetative person, for example, which is a form of ordinary care. He cannot say that one must always give penicillin for an infection since some people are allergic to penicillin. Just as in the case of economics and governance, some aspects of medical care do fall under Faith and morals (one cannot, morally, prescribe an abortion). Most fall under prudential judgment.
As far as infallibility, Vatican Council I had this to say [Session 4, July 18, 1870]:
Chapter 3 Part 2:
# Wherefore we teach and declare that,
* by divine ordinance,
* the Roman church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other church, and that
* this jurisdictional power of the Roman pontiff is both
o episcopal and
o immediate.
* Both clergy and faithful,
o of whatever rite and dignity,
o both singly and collectively,
* are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this
o not only in matters concerning faith and morals,
o but also in those which regard the discipline and government
of the church throughout the world. [emphasis, mine]
Chapter 4. On the infallible teaching authority of the Roman pontiff
1. That apostolic primacy which the Roman pontiff possesses as successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, includes also the supreme power of teaching.
* This holy see has always maintained this,
* the constant custom of the church demonstrates it, and
* the ecumenical councils, particularly those in which East and West met in the union of faith and charity, have declared it.
we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that
* when the Roman pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA,
o that is, when,
1. in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians,
2. in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority,
3. he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church,
* he possesses,
o by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter,
* that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals.
* Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable.

Infallible = unable to fail.
Inerrant = unable to err
Impeccable = unable to sin.
An infallible statement contains all three of these. What does it take to be an infallible statement:
1. The pope must speak
2. Ex Cathedra [ from the Chair of Peter]
3. In the exercise of his office as Shepard of Christians
4. By an act of authority
5. Defines [makes a definite statement about] a doctrine concerning faith and morals
6. To be held by the whole Church
His statements are not binding outside of faith and morals, but there are certain non-infallible statements to which religious assent must be given by Catholics. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say:
892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful “are to adhere to it with religious assent”422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.
This applies to the new encyclical, bearing in mind the provisions of Canon Law which allow for qualified experts to voice facts/opinions which may be needed to be heard by the Hierarchy to more fully inform the Church in these non-infallible areas.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken July 9, 2009 at 9:53 am

Also, note: this thread is about the new encyclical, not about its status, which falls under the actions of the Ordinary Magesterium.
The Chicken

Tim Brandenburg July 9, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Thanks for pointing out that portion from the Catechism. I have always thought there was something wrong with the “it’s not infallible so we can just ignore it” argument. We see that from both the left (abortion is OK because there hasn’t been an infallible statement on it, woman can be priests because there hasn’t been an infallible statement, etc.) and the right (i.e. all this social doctrine stuff is crap, unchecked capitalism is the will of God and redistribution of wealth is ungodly communism).
It’s odd that I haven’t heard this before, because I do lurk about quite a bit (mostly here and on Mark Shea’s blog).

Mary Kay July 10, 2009 at 8:12 am

Tim, during one of the “Lent fights,” there was quite a long thread on various levels of Church teaching and the importance of obeying Church teaching at whatever level. Over the weekend, I might find it.
Jimmy, as usual, a voice of clarity. I’d like to put your first point: Do not put weight on anything you read in the newspaper or on secular talk radio regarding the encyclical. The mainstream media simply does not “get” religion, and they are too incompetent on matters of religion to report accurately anything that the pope says or does. on every single MSM piece on religion.
Ahem, I don’t know about the etiquette of this, but I decided to dive into this blogging thing with a round-up commentary (as of yesterday) on the encyclical.

SteveL July 10, 2009 at 10:33 am

I’m slow. Does all of the above regarding Papal teaching mean that as a Catholic I must believe and practice what is spoken of in this Encyclical?

phoenix insurance July 10, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I am not sure hardly anyone in this country truly understands religion anymore.

Okita July 10, 2009 at 9:36 pm

What’s wrong with being to the “left” of Obama? If you haven’t noticed Obama is, in effect, a neoconservative. His policies relating to war and the economy are to the right of Bush. I’d call him a neo-fascist. Everyone is to the left of Obama.

SDG July 11, 2009 at 5:40 am

Okita is a good name for a troll.

David July 11, 2009 at 6:39 am

About Obama: I’m afraid those who say he’s a leftist don’t know much about politics. Maybe such people should have a look at the Political Compass website:
About the encyclical letter CARITAS IN VERITATE: the Church has always condemned unbridled free private enterprise as this 1947 magazine article reminds us:

bill912 July 11, 2009 at 6:58 am

You mean Obama is to the left of leftists?

SDG July 11, 2009 at 8:30 am

“Maybe such people should have a look at the Political Compass website”

Ha! That’s a good one.
You can see how objective and unprejudiced the chartmakers are by their inclusion of that crack about Jesus being a community organizer and Pilate being a governor. (They don’t include the retort about Pilate voting “present” on the biggest decision of his life.)
When the chart organizers calibrate their “compass” — when we can see what sort of person on the “universal political spectrum” is supposed to occupy the territory near the corners and the side midpoints of the square, who is “south” of Ralph Nader and Brian Moore, and where, say, Ahmadinejad, Stalin, Max Stirner, Ted Kaczynski, Kim Jong Il and other figures rate on the spectrum — then at least we’ll know what the charters are talking about. Whether it’s persuasive is another question.

Mary Kay July 11, 2009 at 9:19 am

SteveL, first you have to know what the encyclical says. Even those well-versed in encyclical reading are still digesting this one. So read, and re-read the encyclical and as much orthodox commentary as you can find.
If there are any sections that you have difficulty with, take your question to someone who can answer it. If no one locally, you can always go to an apologetics site, such as http://www.catholic.com or here to Jimmy’s blog.
With the exception of the last one, I’ve posted a round up of solid commentary on the encyclical found my clicking on my name.

Mary July 11, 2009 at 10:10 am

He can say that one must hydrate and feed a vegetative person, for example, which is a form of ordinary care.
Er, no. Because sometimes the vegatative person can’t digest the food, and the waste products cause more damage than the lack of food, and sometimes the vegatative person will die anyway within hours, and the only effect of feeding and hydrating them will be possibly to cause some pain if they aren’t as vegatative as they seem.
He can say that one can not withhold food and water in order to kill.

Okita July 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

Liberals to the far left are really upset with Obama right now. Obama’s justice department recently wrote that marriage is between a man and a woman, and they compared gay marriage to a marriage between an uncle and niece.

Okita July 11, 2009 at 10:12 am

And Some of Obama’s economic polices are consistent with the far right. Many liberals are very upset with him because he’s catering to the big central banks, and he is blocking efforts to audit the private, run for profit federal reserve.

SDG July 11, 2009 at 10:40 am

“Liberals to the far left are really upset with Obama right now.”

I’m aware that certain activist groups, including gay activists and abortion activists, are unhappy with Obama’s slowness (some would say “realism”) on some issues.
OTOH, I don’t know of any American groups who are upset that the nationalization of large sectors of the American economy isn’t going faster. I’ve heard it said (I don’t know; I don’t really pay attention to politics) that concerns have been raised in Europe (and even China?) about the pace of American nationalization, and that Chavez joked on television that he and Castro might wind up to the right of “Comrade Obama.”

bill912 July 11, 2009 at 10:42 am

(Same Troll, Different Handle?)

Jeff Grace July 11, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I don’t know if you are familiar with our site, the Catholic World Report, but we have a “Round-Table” wherein J. Brian Benestad, Francis J. Beckwith, Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., Richard Garnett, Thomas S. Hibbs, Paul Kengor, George Neumayr, Joseph Pearce, Tracey Rowland, Father James V. Schall, and Rev. Robert A. Sirico share their thoughts on Caritas in Veritate. It’s located at:

The Masked Chicken July 11, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Dear Mary Catelli,
You wrote:
He can say that one can not withhold food and water in order to kill.
Yours is a better formulation than the way I wrote my answer. I would have to massively qualify my original statement to make it say the same thing (i.e., correct it to be more general).
Mary K,
Hey, when did you get a blog!
The Chicken

MelanieB July 11, 2009 at 3:26 pm

“Sharon, as a Canadian, I’d feel terribly embarassed if an American started saying French phases to me. I’m sure most English canadians would feel the same.”
Eileen R,
I think you misunderstand. Patrick isn’t American. He’s Canadian from Nova Scotia.

Mary Kay July 11, 2009 at 3:42 pm

TMC, a few days ago – I’m still figuring out how to do the basics :^)

Mr Mackie July 12, 2009 at 9:36 am

OIC. By “Charity” the pope means doing what’s best for humanity (roughly), and by “Truth” he means Catholicism (roughly). Now I see why there is a need to reconcile two different concepts like Charity and Truth.

Tim J. July 12, 2009 at 10:39 am

Wrong… charity and truth are considered together in order that they may clarify one another. There is not even a hint of trying to “reconcile” the two, as if they were, or could be, at odds.
But then, you haven’t actually read the encyclical, have you? Just dropped by to leave a bigoted “harrumph”.
Why not read it? Are you afraid it might make sense?

Josey Wales July 12, 2009 at 11:23 am

Here is my question. If Jimmy and many other pundits understandably have to read this encyclical twice to digest it, what are the chances that real business and political leaders in the real world who do not have much spare time…(not the Catholic academic, media or priestly world)…will read this encyclical even to the third section. These are busy people with a major problem on their hands of the world economy. Right now I would guess their tolerance for a general principles document that does take several readings is very low. The Pope handed Obama a copy. I’m betting he does not go beyond the detour section into the past social encyclicals and the appellation wherein Benedict called Paul VI “great”.
So…is this encyclical an internal Catholic experience and that mainly through our high schools as homework?
My point: Popes should shed the encyclical route which may be passe as a form that anyone reads and arrange meetings with the world’s leaders and both talk to them and listen to them. To hand a person an encyclical you just wrote means that you want him to listen to you but that you are not necessarily interested in you listening to him.

SDG July 12, 2009 at 6:20 pm

By “Charity” the pope means doing what’s best for humanity (roughly), and by “Truth” he means Catholicism (roughly).

Neither truthful nor charitable, alas.

Mary Kay July 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Josey, the headline to Carl Anderson’s commentary answers your question: It’s a moral document, not a political one.

Josey Wales July 12, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Mary Kay
Read section 67 on a world authority….
“67…there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago…..Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized….”
I for one cannot imagine universal recognition at all. The muslim world for example see Sharia gradually taking over as the world government either voluntarily or by demographics and the vote or by force depending on the school of thought… but all Islamic militants and non militants must agree that that is the goal of history…sharia.
That 16% of humanity alone would make the achievement of a world government very dangerous since if it were achieved, Islam would seek to use it’s structure as their next step in history and their faith would require them to do so since Allah wants sharia law over all the world.

Josey Wales July 12, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Mary Kay
Hmmmm…section 67:
“…there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good[147], and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized…”
Can you imagine universal recognition of a world authority by the US, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea. Of course not.

Mary Kay July 13, 2009 at 6:11 am

Josey Wales, thank you for providing such a clear example of cherry picking.
You are talking in terms of secular political power, example: Can you imagine universal recognition of a world authority by the US, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea.
What the pope is talking about is the UN being less political and more a “family of nations,” a family of treating others with love as brother or sister. Even the words brother and sister have been tossed around and used to fit an agenda rather than face value. But family is a closer idea than the political way you’ve taken it.
You have to read that paragraph in the context of the rest of the encyclical.

Josey Wales July 13, 2009 at 6:55 am

Mary Kay
Well let’s see the entire passage and see if it is clearly the UN he is talking about and as family and as love and as brother and sister…here it is…the caps will denote the breakaway into something separate from the UN since he notes that it will have to be regulated by law (since it does not yet exist):
67. 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. One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect[146] and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at a political, juridical and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity. 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, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. SUCH AN AUTHORITY WOULD NEED TO BE REGULATED BY LAW (presumes it does not exists..cannot be the UN), to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good[147], and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested
WITH THE EFFECTIVE POWER TO ENSURE SECURITY FOR ALL,{that can’t be the UN which has allowed Dafur to languish for years), regard for justice, and respect for rights[148]. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations. The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization[149]. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order, to the interconnection between moral and social spheres, and to the link between politics and the economic and civil spheres, as envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations.
Mary Kay, anyone can wish. What if I wrote a document that wished there was an international food bin with planes and worldwide airports so that wherever there was hunger, a 911 call would come in and that agency would fly the needed food to that part of the world and then agency truckers would take it to the exact spot. Or I wrote a document that there should be an international agency that distributes medical care the exact same way wherever it is needed.
Would I be a great encyclical writer if I imagined the utopian and expressed the utopian and then left the funding up to everyone else while I had a deficit this year at the Vatican also.
The last word is yours. I believe the document to be too general and utopian in parts for world leaders to even read it at least right now with world economic problems, with two rogue nations going nuclear with no regard to the UN, and with the UN in its “family” nature being heavy on the an anti-Israel tack.

Josey Wales July 13, 2009 at 7:28 am

Mary Kay
Go here and see the percent assessment down at the bottom for the UN budget….the US and Japan are paying for 41% of the budget with China 2.1% and Russia 1.1%….family don’t stiff you….wasn’t the tithe of OT days 10% regardless of wealth:

Josey Wales July 13, 2009 at 8:02 am

Mary Kay…..last ps
ps….Italy pays 30 million dollars more to the UN per year than Russia and China combined….combined…and Moscow has the most billionaires of any city and on our NY harbor for two weeks recently, a huge yatch of one of their oil men was anchored near Ellis Island and it had a 200K sailboat attached high on its sternward side and a helicopter. Now I’m done. We need an encyclical about countries who are on the grift which seems to be most of the UN. Utopia is a dream.

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