Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Reactions to Deus et Caritas

Joseph Bottum of First Things pointed out this collection of reactions to the new encyclical.


Anonymous Smithin Wells said...

I found these selected passages of "Deus Caritas Est," Part II, fascinating for their political implications:

"26. It is true that the pursuit of justice must be a fundamental norm of the State and that the aim of a just social order is to guarantee to each person, according to the principle of subsidiarity, his share of the community's goods."

ME: What is a guaranteed just share of a community's goods?

"28. In order to define more accurately the relationship between the necessary commitment to justice and the ministry of charity, two fundamental situations need to be considered:
a)…Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics. The State must inevitably face the question of how justice can be achieved here and now. But this presupposes an even more radical question: what is justice?
… Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church's immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically."

ME: Once again, what is "his or her due"? Ratzinger leaves this wide open; neither limited nor expansive government are favored. The clergy, or the concerned layman's job, is to make sure that both reason and ethics are involved in calculating one's "due."

28a (cont.) "The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply."

ME: The Church cannot advocate, for instance, for either large or small government, only ethical considerations. But what ethical considerations should be the highest?

28b) …The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they cannot relinquish their participation “in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good.” [21] The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility.

ME: Once again, the emphasis on the "lay faithful" means that clergy are to avoid political endeavors. This likely means liberation-theology influenced priests, but it could also apply, in light of the last election cycle, to some N. American priests.

Some commentators, conservative and liberal alike, were surprised at Ratzinger's avoidance of hot-button issues. These passages, however, most certainly allude to applications of love that have been troubling Catholics of all stripes. They are underlying tensions to some of the hot-button issues.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 6:01:00 PM  

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