Caritas in Veritate (Charity In Truth) is here. Tons of posts from First Thoughts at First Things. Joseph Bottum has a series of posts on this:
Some other posts at First Things:
It is as if Benedict is bringing back into play the long-neglected lessons of St. Augustine to Catholic Social Thought—re-presenting, as it were, The City of God—that is, the City of that caritas which the Divine Persons gratuitously pour into the human heart, that it might cast the burning desire for human unity into the kindling of hundreds of millions of parched hearts.
Without eternal perspectives and without the sense of our individual immortal value—the great Tocqueville reminded us—the sheer materialism and dreck of democracy and capitalism would wear us down to mean and petty creatures. Materialism radically undercuts our human rights. Simply to survive—let alone flourish—democracy and capitalism need soul.
Joe Carter on the news coverage:
Perhaps the next encyclical could be released as a reality show instead of a text document. At least then maybe Americans would give it their attention.
I love it because aside from the messages that are pleasing to the “progressives” and the other messages that are pleasing to the “conservatives,” and beyond the rush for all comers in the Catholic family to define the thing and break it down for their targeted audiences, the essential message of Caritas in Veritate is that God loves us, and that God’s expansive, unconditional love is the ever-ancient, ever-new means by which we humans, we created creatures so beloved of Him that He deigned to become one of us, may fully develop as beings of body, of mind and of spirit.
“Each person finds his good by adherence to God’s plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free.”
– Introduction, Caritas in Veritate
There is also rather more in the encyclical about the redistribution of wealth than about wealth-creation — a sure sign of Justice and Peace default positions at work. And another Justice and Peace favorite — the creation of a “world political authority” to ensure integral human development — is revisited, with no more insight into how such an authority would operate than is typically found in such curial fideism about the inherent superiority of transnational governance. (It is one of the enduring mysteries of the Catholic Church why the Roman Curia places such faith in this fantasy of a “world public authority,” given the Holy See’s experience in battling for life, religious freedom, and elementary decency at the United Nations. But that is how they think at Justice and Peace, where evidence, experience, and the canons of Christian realism sometimes seem of little account.)
If those burrowed into the intellectual and institutional woodwork at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace imagine Caritas in Veritate as reversing the rout they believe they suffered with Centesimus Annus, and if they further imagine Caritas in Veritate setting Catholic social doctrine on a completely new, Populorum Progressio–defined course (as one Justice and Peace consultor has already said), they are likely to be disappointed. The incoherence of the Justice and Peace sections of the new encyclical is so deep, and the language in some cases so impenetrable, that what the defenders of Populorum Progresio may think to be a new sounding of the trumpet is far more like the warbling of an untuned piccolo. Benedict XVI, a truly gentle soul, may have thought it necessary to include in his encyclical these multiple off-notes, in order to maintain the peace within his curial household. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear will concentrate their attention, in reading Caritas in Veritate, on those parts of the encyclical that are clearly Benedictine, including the Pope’s trademark defense of the necessary conjunction of faith and reason and his extension of John Paul II’s signature theme — that all social issues, including political and economic questions, are ultimately questions of the nature of the human person.
John Schwenkler wants to start a reading group.
Catholic World Report round table
Nathan P. Origer at Post Right:
The modern-day soi-disant Catholics — the Bill O’Reillys, Sean Hannitys, and Newt Gingriches, not to mention the Pelosis and Kennedys, who exist in a dimension so distant from our own as to require, one should think, theological-breathing apparatuses — may not heed this, but there are those of us — Catholic, but also Orthodox, Protestant, non-Christian, irreligious — who will appreciate the veritatis splendor in Pope Benedict’s proclamation and continue to build and to sustain local cultures and societies that place duty to God, family, and community before the idolization of stuff, that focus on economies (Kunstler: “Community is economy.”), rather than some silly abstraction called “the economy” that has more to do with the Gross Domestic Product than domestic productivity.
I am not Catholic, and so my interest in this encyclical is not that of a believer or adherent of the faith. However, I enormously value Catholic social and moral thought, without having any religious belief in it and while generally tending to a libertarian view of many of these social issues – without it, in other words, exercising a voice of authority apart from its inherent reasoning. I have always welcomed that these encyclicals are addressed not just to the faithful, but to “all people of good will.” They seek to bridge a divide that is sometimes bridgeable and sometimes not, between arguments based solely upon public reason and arguments that rely for their acceptance upon specifically religious beliefs and views. I can see from a fast reading that there are many judgments made in both those categories with which I would profoundly disagree, but I can also see that my understanding of these questions is deepened by the Catholic Church’s offering of argumentation from a specifically religious viewpoint projected into the public square of reason and debate.
I am, as ever, grateful to live in a society in which I am free to dispute all these religious view points, reject them, ridicule them, heap scorn upon them; one of the remarkable – and not in a good way – features of the UN and its emerging approach to human rights, including free expression, is the gradual embrace of norms that would make all that subject to sanction. We live in a moment in which the discourse of human rights, at least at the UN and its organs, is weirdly split between two worlds – an ever more finely attuned secular progressive view of rights, on the one hand, and rights as merely a language for global communalism. The two are both strong at this point in time, but the momentum, so far as I can see, lies not with human rights as secular liberalism, but instead with their reinterpretation as multiculturalism, the management by elites of communal global claims, the most important at this time in history being Muslim religious claims and their status and place in the global public square(s).
UPDATE: We’ll use Schwenkler as a guide here. First he Shorters George Weigel:
“The only parts of the Pope’s new encyclical that really matter are the ones that line up neatly with the Republican Party’s political agenda; all the rest is incomprehensible and quite possibly stupid.”
Schwenkler on Novak
Schwenkler again on whether Catholics are obliged to follow
UPDATE #2: Ross Douthat in NYT
UPDATE #3: Schwenkler has his chapters up:
UPDATE #4: Schwenkler on Chapter Five