Saturday, July 18, 2009

Caritas in Veritate, Charity in Truth: 'Purposefully Vague'?

I grew up in America, immersed in one of America's subcultures. I know what the author of an article in The American Spectator probably means:
"...And when he writes about protecting the rights of workers and retaining mechanisms of wealth redistribution it is difficult to imagine he is referring to any action of the free market. But again, it is difficult to say because he is purposefully vague. What I keep thinking is that some of those mechanisms could be exactly the things preventing a nation from attaining greater prosperity...."
(The American Spectator)
I've run into similar perceptions of Caritas in Veritate, Charity in Truth, elsewhere. There's an element of truth - or, rather, accuracy - to the idea that Caritas in Veritate is "vague." It does not spell out exactly what steps each nation and each culture is supposed to do to achieve the encyclical letter's goals.

The Catholic Church doesn't try to micromanage nations like that. I doubt that many people, Catholics included, would want it that way.

Caritas in Veritate, what I've read of it so far, seems to be another document which discusses goals and principles which need attention. What I've read is vague only in the sense that it discusses issues and conditions which affect all people, one way or another

The Catholic Church Isn't an American Institution: Deal With It

Caritas in Veritate is not an American document, written by an American, for an American audience, detailing how to do things in an American way.

Don't get me wrong: there's nothing wrong with being an American, and I think this is a pretty good country to live in.

But the Catholic Church isn't American. It has branches in America, but it's literally the Catholic Church: the Universal Church. Its documents are written for everybody: for all cultures which exist today; and those which don't exist yet.

Catholics live in particular countries, and grow up in particular cultures. We're expected to be good citizens wherever we are.

In the 19 - almost 20, now - centuries that the Catholic Church has been around, empires have come and gone, cultures have changed, and nation-states have emerged as the world's dominant political force.

Through all this, the Catholic Church has been teaching the same message: that corny old 'love God, love your neighbor' stuff.

Vague? I suppose so, in a way: since Benedict XVI didn't tell America and Kenya and Indonesia, and all the other couple hundred nations and city-states in the world exactly how to practice charity in truth.

It would, I think, be odd if a document like Caritas in Veritate focused exclusively on the interests, institutions, limitations, and resources of one country.

As it is, it's up to us, at the regional and national level, to read what the Pope has to say and see how the principles can be applied in the cultures in which we live.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.