Thursday, July 8, 2010

Caritas in Veritate: Charity, Hungry Nations of the World, and the Catholic Church

It's been several months (January 31, 2010) since I posted about Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth). As I wrote then, my opinions and observations are my own. I do my best to make sure that they're in line with Catholic teaching. Still, bear in mind that I speak with the authority of some guy with a blog.

I see that my next bit of Caritas in Veritate to read and study is section 10.

"The hungry nations of the world cry out to the peoples blessed with abundance."

The tenth section of Caritas in Veritate starts with a reference to the four-decade-old (plus a few years) Populorum Progressio, Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the Development of Peoples (March 26, 1967). A few paragraphs in, that document reads:
"...The hungry nations of the world cry out to the peoples blessed with abundance...."
(Populorum Progressio)
This, from the "conservative" Catholic Church? I've discussed the Church's failure to fit neatly into contemporary political niches before. (November 3, 2008)

Anyway, the section ends with:
"...The correct viewpoint, then, is that of the Tradition of the apostolic faith[13], a patrimony both ancient and new, outside of which Populorum Progressio would be a document without roots — and issues concerning development would be reduced to merely sociological data."
(Caritas in Veritate, section 10)
Terms like "Tradition" have a particular meaning, in the context of Catholic teaching - I've put links to definitions and discussions of our 'odd' words in one of this blog's pages.

That's a Really Long Paragraph

I'd be a little more concerned that the Catholic Church was okay with 'liberation theology,' after reading those passages: if I hadn't done my research earlier. (March 1, 2010)

Section 11 is an example, I think, of why so many people don't read documents produced by the Catholic Church. It's one paragraph: that's just over 500 words long. It's a moderately intimidating acreage of words.

I'd have written "verbiage," but that can mean "overabundance of words." (Princeton's WordNet) I wouldn't say that there are 'too many words.' I've read passages - in and out of academia - where the author apparently tried to simulate erudition with protracted passages of polysyllabic discourse.

I can sling words pretty well, but think a bumper sticker said it best: eschew obfuscation.

Not 'In the Spirit of Vatican II'

Here in America, liturgical weirdness done "in the spirit of Vatican II" encouraged folks who hadn't read the actual documents to think that the Vatican had lost its collective mind. Or turned to heresies.

They were wrong - but there are many American Catholics who seem convinced that the 'real' Catholic Church was 'pre-Vatican II.' I've discussed that 180-proof 'spirit of Vatican II' before. (April 25, 2010, May 7, 2010)

That's important to remember, since Populorum Progressio was written just after Vatican II, and was part of the Church's attempt to put the second Vatican council's ideas into action. The council's ideas. Not what some groovy guru felt the council should have meant.

Here's what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Caritas in Veritate:
"...I too wish to recall here the importance of the Second Vatican Council for Paul VI's Encyclical and for the whole of the subsequent social Magisterium of the Popes. The Council probed more deeply what had always belonged to the truth of the faith, namely that the Church, being at God's service, is at the service of the world in terms of love and truth. Paul VI set out from this vision in order to convey two important truths. The first is that the whole Church, in all her being and acting - when she proclaims, when she celebrates, when she performs works of charity - is engaged in promoting integral human development...."
(Caritas in Veritate, section 11)
Okay, I think I followed that. The Church, among other things, should do works of charity: and by doing so promote "integral human development."

Let's look at Pope Paul VI's second point, as discussed by Pope Benedict XVI:
"...The second truth is that authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension[16]. Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space. Enclosed within history, it runs the risk of being reduced to the mere accumulation of wealth; humanity thus loses the courage to be at the service of higher goods, at the service of the great and disinterested initiatives called forth by universal charity...."
(Caritas in Veritate, section 11)
I think the "without the perspective of eternal life" idea is important. Without the 'big picture,' I think that material well-being starts looking like Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 - and what follows in that chapter.

There's a wealth of detail, explaining why this is so, but I think the rest of section 11 might be boiled down to the idea that even well-intentioned efforts to help people will cause trouble, if we leave God out of the equation.

As the section concludes:
"...Only through an encounter with God are we able to see in the other something more than just another creature[17], to recognize the divine image in the other, thus truly coming to discover him or her and to mature in a love that 'becomes concern and care for the other.'[18]"
(Caritas in Veritate, section 11)

Links to other posts about my study of Caritas in Veritate:

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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.