Caritas in Veritate 25, By the Numbers

Monday, July 26, AD 2010

My co-blogger Tim recently highlighted the following statement from Pope Benedict’s latest social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate:

The global market has stimulated first and foremost, on the part of rich countries, a search for areas in which to outsource production at low cost with a view to reducing the prices of many goods, increasing purchasing power and thus accelerating the rate of development in terms of greater availability of consumer goods for the domestic market. Consequently, the market has prompted new forms of competition between States as they seek to attract foreign businesses to set up production centres, by means of a variety of instruments, including favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market. These processes have led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity associated with the traditional forms of the social State. Systems of social security can lose the capacity to carry out their task, both in emerging countries and in those that were among the earliest to develop, as well as in poor countries. Here budgetary policies, with cuts in social spending often made under pressure from international financial institutions, can leave citizens powerless in the face of old and new risks; such powerlessness is increased by the lack of effective protection on the part of workers’ associations.

Now in this passage, the Pope makes a number of factual and causal claims. First, he claims that the global market has led countries to “attempt to attract foreign businesses” by adopting “favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market.” Second, the Pope claims that these reforms (i.e. adopting “favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market”) have led to “a downsizing of social security systems” and “cuts in social spending.”

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0 Responses to Caritas in Veritate 25, By the Numbers

  • I believe in one social encyclical by JP II (can’t recall which one) it was noted that social teaching was subject to correction as historical, sociological etc.understanding advanced. Perhaps this is a case where evolving economic understanding would correct prudential assessments.

  • That’s a great post. It needs to be stressed really forcefully that the Pope’s comments in an encyclical like Caritas vary in nature quite dramatically, and many of his statements are simply the opinion of a wise but limited individual.

    Two other aspects of the document struck me as showing unusually clearly that the document drew from distinct, and to some extent opposed, sources. (1) On the one hand, the Pope suggests that globalization and its progeny have the danger of suppressing the distinct characters of separate peoples. On the other, he seems to laud the ability of people, labor, goods, and ideas to move freely around and mix, to the potential betterment of all. Well, you can’t have the latter without the former, so which is it?

    (2) In a like vein, the Pope makes it entirely clear that stronger world governance is needed, “with teeth”, and that the UN should take steps in dealing with the dramatic poverty caused by the 2008 crisis in short order – months to a year timeframe – steps that would in fact require such “teeth” as the UN does not possess. On the other hand, the Pope makes it clear that any world organization for governing must be organized with subsidiarity as a founding principle. But the UN, and especially the UN aspects that are the strongest in terms of “teeth”, exhibit nothing whatsoever in the nature of subsidiarity, and indeed the ruling class of bureaucrats in NY and Geneva, (and in Brussels and the Hague) are quite adamantly opposed to subsidiarity whenever they come up against it. So, again, which is it?

  • Pingback: Caritas in Veritate 25, By the Numbers II « The American Catholic

Set Me Free (From Ideologies) Part 2

Wednesday, April 28, AD 2010

 

To follow up on my first installment of “Set Me Free (From Ideologies), I am going to draw again from the rich well of Pope Benedict’s powerful encyclical Caritas In Veritate.  In this case it would seem that in paragraph #25 the Pope is sounding kinda liberal if we would attempt to fit the views expressed into one or another of our American political ideologies.

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7 Responses to Set Me Free (From Ideologies) Part 2

  • It seems a greater threat to social security are underfunded public pensions including Social Security itself which all seem at risk of collapsing. Perhaps someone can comment on this.

  • We’d all do well to remember that we’re Catholic first & American second. We’re in the mess we’re in because we’ve reversed the order for the last 50 yrs.

  • “The repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum[60], for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honoured today even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level.”

    For me the key phrase is NEW forms.

    I believe the old social welfare state is a failure.

    I believe the old union model is a corrupt failure.

    And I think John Paul II made this point pretty clearly in Centesimus Annus.

    The new forms are worker ownership, or possibly even community/worker ownership of businesses. Most of them are jointly owned by workers and investors.

    The way forward, I believe, is localism and distributism. And in some places it is taking place already with good material results – but it is being guided by secular liberals who have no use for the moral teachings of the Church, by radical campus intellectuals and hippies who believe in the materialist community but reject the spiritual community in favor of atheism or spiritual anarchy.

    It is simply an empirical fact that welfare-statism doesn’t bring an end to poverty. Instead it creates the conditions and the precedents for a secular bureaucracy to further meddle in Christian families, in the education of children, even growing food on one’s own property.

    The dichotomy in politics and morality is not individualism vs. collectivism. Or rather, that is A dichotomy but not the decisive one. It is materialism vs. spirituality. The materialist community has an idea of “justice” that is based on economics and cares nothing for the corruption and pollution of souls. The spiritual community sometimes neglects the details of the material – but with the guidance of the Papal encyclicals there is no excuse for that negligence.

    The vital question is whether or not we ought to accept a full implementation of “material” or economic justice, brought to us by secular liberal hedonists who let the soul rot, who poison it with filth and perversion, or,

    whether we ought to reject it and continue to show those who understand a spiritual reality, who believe in God and especially Christ, that they also have to focus their attention on the material community.

    I opt for the latter. I want nothing from the secular liberal hedonists, from the communist revolutionaries, from the sexual perverts who staff Western governments and the United Nations. They’ve rejected God and they’ll never accept him.

    It’s easier to get good Christians to see the areas they’ve been neglecting than it is to get materialists to see the truth and reality of God and all that follows from him.

    And if you think I’ve gone off topic, you’re wrong, because its secular, atheistic, materialists who manage and administer the welfare bureaucracies of the West, whether they call themselves Democrats, Socialists, or Christian Democrats, or Labour, or whatever.

  • THERE IS NO SUCH ORGANIZATION AS THE AMERICAN CATHOLIC. YOU ARE A ROMAN CATHOLIC WHO JUST HAPPENS TO LIVE IN AMERICA. I REMEMBER ON MY FIRST COMMUNION DAY AND THE NUNS SAYING REMEMBER, YOU ARE A ROMAN CATHOLIC, A ROMAN CATHOLIC.

  • to gb- what I would say is what my favorite professor once said- “the best gift we can give America is our Catholic faith”- I don’t see my citizenship in the U.S. to be a detriment to my faith- America is my homeland, and America needs Catholicism to fulfill her potential as a truly great and lasting nation. We have religious liberty here in our country- that’s all we need- that means the onus is literally “on us”- I have seen first-hand as a candidate that the Catholic community is for the most part so divided up and rendered passive in the political arena- when I see how effective the pro-Israel Jewish community has been in getting organized and mobilizing and lobbying all sectors of our American society in getting their vision and agenda into play- all of this with such a small percentage of the population! And Catholics act as if there is no unifying social doctrine, and fall headlong into the same ideological traps that catch everyone else- and it makes me sick.

    It doesn’t have to be this way- we are our own worst enemy I’m convinced of that- my primary targets are politically-active Catholics who publicly identify themselves as die-hard liberals or conservatives- these folks are the ones who do the most damage- they make it impossible for the whole body of believers to unite under the direction of the entire social doctrine- they want to make every Catholic a narrow liberal or conservative- a Kennedy or a Hannity- and that is something I disagree with vehemently. I will continue to post my complaints- soon I will detail my fallout experience from my participation in an elite Catholic Democrats listserve- that is quite a story to be told another day- I am bent on taking on all loud and proud liberal and conservative Catholic political animals- for I am convinced that the way forward is one that must release the hold that ideologies have over our collective Catholic and American heads.

  • Joe H.- as always so intense and direct in your views- I don’t find your passion for disconnecting from States and Government in the Church’s actual documents such as the above Encyclical. I do think that we should go in every good direction all at once- translation- create more fair trade producer-consumer networks- drawing upon the Catholic Relief Services model, and also the worker-owned business models, and such as you describe above. But I don’t think that abandoning the Government, Trade Unions, and Multinational Corporations to the current corrupt slate of big-wigs is the best solution. I really don’t think our system is rotten, I do think we have really rotten apples floating to the top- which is why I can’t relate to anyone who celebrates a Reagan or an Obama presidency.

    I do believe that Catholics have not yet begun to fight- from my own little campaign experience I saw how wide-open the door is for solid Catholic candidates if only the Catholic community was even a little bit organized to be of some service to her own. As it is we have two types of Catholic activists- the typical political liberal and the typical political conservative- they both seem to have one overriding passion- they hate like satan the Republican or Democratic party- and all that party stands for- pretty much across the board. This reality is something that is causing me to seriously consider dropping my formal affiliation as a Democrat to become an Indy with “Common Good” as my tag- there is just too much baggage associated with the two major parties- it is like a pavlov dog response for most political animals- Catholic or otherwise. What I know is that I am going to stay close to the Church’s actual teaching documents, and Hierarchical speeches/letters and commentary- I have found that the prudential judgments on socio-economic matters coming from the Catholic Hierarchy is truly awesome- it would figure that those who are charged with coming up with the principles that underpin the social doctrine would do well in helping to apply those principles to real life circumstances. I don’t think this is clericalism because I am open to other prudential points-of-view- I just don’t find many ideologically-transcendent points-of-view around town- so I’m sticking close to Mama Church- in my family when mama talks and gives counsel to the kids they better listen up because my wife and I are on the same page- I imagine that it works that way with Christ and His Church as well.

  • “I don’t think that abandoning the Government, Trade Unions, and Multinational Corporations to the current corrupt slate of big-wigs is the best solution”

    They aren’t ours to abandon. But they are ours to reject. We need to get our resources together, make our own proposals to banks and private investors, and build our own local economies. Some have tried, many have failed, few have succeeded – more will succeed if more people rally to the cause.

    Like you, I’m an independent. I don’t care about the Republicans. I don’t care about the Democrats. I’ll vote for the pro-life candidate. Otherwise change comes from us, not from Obama, not from a bureaucracy, not from a social worker.

    “I really don’t think our system is rotten”

    I suppose we’ll have to disagree on that.

Speculating on Gomez

Tuesday, April 6, AD 2010

First of all, I need to introduce myself: my name is Michael Denton and I’m from what Tito calls the People’s Republic of Cajunland and what I call paradise: South Louisiana. As for my qualifications: well, like most other bloggers, I really have no idea what I’m talking about. If that’s a problem for you…well, then you probably don’t need to be reading blogs.

Anyway, today we heard the anticipated news that Los Angeles will soon see Cardinal Mahoney replaced with San Antonio’s Archbishop Jose Gomez. To read all about it, I suggest you head over to Rocco Palmo‘s site, as he is one of the few bloggers who actually does know what he’s talking about. In sum, Abp. Gomez is from the “conservative” order of Opus Dei and could be very different from his predecessor, who built a monstrous cathedral (not in a good way) and is known for hosting a Conference that annually provides Youtube clips for Catholics wishing to show others just how bad liturgical abuse can be. I don’t know if that’s very interesting though. While the liturgical element is certainly important, as the “Spirit of Vatican II” types are losing their foremost defender, I think we knew beforehand that Benedict was going install a replacement very different from Mahoney in liturgical views.

More important is how they’re similar.

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36 Responses to Speculating on Gomez

  • Just a note. Opus Dei is not a Religious order. Its a Personal Prelature with the priest being incardinated in it.

  • A second note. The Church does recognize the right of the state to regulate immigration. Gomez recognizes this and sees that there must be some penalty for violating immigration laws (though he does not recommend deportation.)

  • Yes, I think a critical distinction needs to be made between those who advocate “open boarders” and those who simply believe in treating immigrants with dignity and respect.

    I really hope that Gomez puts an end to liturgical abuse, to sacrilege, to ceremonies that are more pagan than Christian, as well.

  • Welcome soon to be second year law student! Your first year of legal hell is almost up!

  • I look forward, with very guarded hope, to Archbishop Gomez’s ascension to the throne of Mahoneyland, er, I mean, the Archdiocese of L.A. I had occasion to write him some time ago regarding a concern I had with actions and attitudes here in the Diocese of “All Borders are heinous injustices.”

    That said, I think we do the Catechism (where the full foundation of Church teaching is to be found) serious disservice when we reduce it word-searching. “See, see here! It says immigrant!”

    A nation or people may be called to account for how outsiders within their borders are treated. I think we sometimes take that notion and run straight to the place from which we so often hear Card. Mahoney and others villify the nation for our “inhumane” treatment of Latino (and that’s all anyone really cares about here) immigrants.

    If you want to see migrants (brought to the country legally, often by the government, to work in the “jobs our citizens won’t do” category, go to Saudi Arabia and see how they treat the Filipinos and other island (and some Asian) “third country nationals.” They are normally corraled in living areas near where they work and transported to/from their work areas with little or no ceremony. If they venture into Saudi cities on their free time, they do so with virtually no expectation of good treatment by any authorities. Any rights or dignity thewy might be afforded will be owing only to their demonstrated adherance to Islamic “faith.”

    Unless it truly is unacceptable to have and enforce borders (and if so, I missed that article in the Catechism), we need to accept that the licitness of borders and the control thereof has something to say about the illicitness of those who make of themselves a commodity, by placing themselves in the shadows of the society against whom they trespass. (The trespass of those who hire them does nothing to eliminate the alien’s trespass against the society as a whole.)

    We Catholics seem satisfied with absurd notions that we (the USA) are responsible for the family situations of those who make themselves prisoners or fugitives in our land. To say so is to say that laws against and prison sentences for murder are unjust because of the family separation they impose.

  • I cannot imagine any Archbishop who is given the archdiocese of L.A.who will not work from what is organic. I do believe we are going to experience new wine. I read an article which stated Gomez like past Bishops of American Catholic immigrants also has a main concern to teach authentic Catholicism to the Hispanics. This is not unusual if you look at the Irish and Italian immigrants and their needs in past centuries. I read where he gave a talk on taking the Word of God out to the world and a Hispanic women approach him and said she would start a bible study. What a novel idea a Bishop through preaching converted a person from old ways to the new way.
    I was on the L.A. Times blog and boy the secular world is upset that attention is being given to Hispanics, our culture does need to be re-evangelized.

  • The pro-amnesty position of Cdl Mahony is NOT the “Church’s teaching” on immigration.

  • While I think one can make an open borders argument based on Catholic teaching, I didn’t make the argument nor did Benedict (perhaps Mahoney did; it wouldn’t surprise me). Without getting too deep into Church teaching on immigration (which would merit more research on my part & another post), my understanding is that the bishops’ problems with current US immigration policy is twofold

    1) That the US is unfairly limiting immigration. The US can support more immigration and take them in legally but is refusing to do so. While this can be interpreted as “open borders” it doesn’t have to be; only that the borders should be more wide open.

    2) That the US is committing an injustice by treating illegal immigrants like sub-human beings-allowing below minimum wage, denying health care, making citizenship difficult, etc. I think the current condition that the immigrant finds himself is the greater concern of the bishops as it shows a lack of respect for the dignity of the human person, which does not stop once once sets foot over the arbitrary imaginary line we call the US/Mexican border.

    Now, I don’t know nearly enough to say what the solution is, especially with the rightful balancing of a country’s need to secure its border and enforce its laws, other than deportation is not the answer (for ethical & financial reasons). But I don’t think it’s unfair to at a minimum point out that illegal immigrants are facing injustice and more effort should be spent finding solutions rather than on nativist rhetoric.

  • illegal immigrants are facing injustice

    They broke the law to enter the country. Naturally that doesn’t remotely justify treating them inhumanely (though I would strongly suggest that the actual treatment of illegal immigrants in this country is far from inhumane), but let’s not lose sight of what the real issue is, nor should we engage in baseless rhetoric about “nativist rhetoric” when those opposed to amnesty have far loftier and reasonable justifications for their position.

  • ” … the “Spirit of Vatican II” types are losing their foremost defender …”

    Hardly. The archbishop is a JPII man, and rather autocratic to boot.

    Spelling, spelling, spelling … sheesh.

  • I think if one argues that illegal immigrants should have their status legalized with the simple penalty of community service, then one in effect has open borders. Its a get out of jail card with no real penalty.

    I also think that if one considers it sub-human treatment to deny citizenship for one illegally here then there is no point in discussion. Emotion wins.

  • In my parish, St. John the Evangelist in Goshen, NY, the first major pedophile scandal materialized in the early nineties. The priest in question, “Father Ed” had been molesting boys in their early teens. To say that the parishioners were traumatized by this would be an understatement. They were devastated. Then something wondrous happened….

    Father Ed was eventually replaced by Father Trevor Nichols. Father Trevor had been an Anglican in merrie old England when he converted to Catholicism. On becoming a Catholic was transferred to Saint John’s – WITH HIS WIFE AND TWO DAUGHTERS! A married priest! WITH TWO KIDS!

    You want to hear the punch line? Our little parish did not implode. The sun did not fall from the sky. Huge cracks did not appear in the earth’s surface. In fact, it was nice having them. They were – and are to this day – deeply beloved by the people of St. John’s.

    Allowing priests to marry would transform the Catholic Church. Having Father Trevor, his wife Marian and their two lovely daughters in our midst certainly transformed the people of St. John’s.

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan

  • “Allowing priests to marry would transform the Catholic Church.”

    It certainly has done wonders for the Episcopal Church, assuming that the term wonder encompasses extinction.

  • Tom Degan,

    What does your proposal for disobeying Church discipline have to do with Archbishop Gomez moving to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles?

  • Todd,

    How many bishops are there at this point who weren’t selected by John Paul II? If that constitutes a disproof of being a “Spirit of Vatican II” type in your mind, then it’s already extinct. Whatever one wants to call Mahony, it must be admitted that he represents a type of diocesan leadership that conservative Catholics will be very glad to see go, in regards to liturgy, dealing with the scandals, politics, vocations, religious education, and a host of other issues. And whatever his other faults, progressive Catholics have often found themselves in his corner — as when he squared off against Mother Angelica. Of course, he’s not the darling that Archbishop Weakland was… But we know how that one worked out in the end.

    Tom,

    It’s certainly a good thing that your parish got a faithful new priest — and there are some very good priests who are converts from Anglicanism, some of whom are married. (Father Longnecker springs to mind.) However, one cannot really see that it was only because he was married that he proved to be a good priest for your parish. There are, of course, a great many celibate priests (some of them also converts from Anglicanism) who also do not molest teenage boys. The vast, vast majority, in fact. That yours happened to be married does not mean that the Church needs to change its general discipline in the Western Church.

  • Darwin, I don’t see things with an enemy-of-my-enemy mindset.

    Speaking as the liberal you know me to be, I find Cardinal Mahony’s leadership style distasteful, and this isn’t (or shouldn’t be) news to St Bloggers who have stalked me over the years. If you pressed me, I could probably name about a half-dozen things I dislike about the man’s legacy.

    My preference in bishops (a qualified hero) would be guys like Ken Untener and Michael Kenny, both of whom I’ve met and heard speak, not only for what they had to say, but more: how they lived their lives as bishops in witness to the gospel. But it’s probably little surprise I’m more of a sell-the-mansion, reach-out-to-the-poor kind of guy anyway.

    This liberal is happy that his kind of autocrat is leaving. I know Archbishop Gomez even less than I know the cardinal. He seems to be more energetic, and maybe he’s less of an autocrat. If so, good for LA. If not, I’ll probably be happy when he retires, too.

    Interesting that you should mention vocations, because two of the Right’s favorite punching bags over the years, Mahony and Trautmann, are both doing pretty well when it comes to clergy. Far from the bottom of the heap, as it were.

  • “So while conservatives rejoice at the sufferings the liberals must endure at the loss of their liturgical dancers, it would be wise to remember that Benedict wants some change from the right as well.”

    True. But I do think it is problematic that define support for immigration reform as just on the left and opposition to it just on the right. That does not seem to mirtor the actual poltial reality

  • The world not being a polarity, people are certainly not required to like those who are more on their end than not — but it can’t really be denied that much of Mahony’s influence especially in the last 15 years of his episcopacy has been much more towards the progressive side of the Catholic spectrum than otherwise.

    Also, franky, I’m perplexed as to how you can say that Mahony has been doing well as regards vocations. My native diocese (Los Angeles) has more than ten times as many Catholics as my adopted one (Austin) but a similar number of ordinations and seminarians. Plus, the most of vocations LA does manage are “imports” — that is, come to the diocese as seminarians but didn’t live there prior to entering seminary.

    That said, having met Cardinal Mahony on several occasions and heard him speak, I can assure you that he is in person a very nice guy. You would probably like him if you actually met him.

  • Todd,

    “St Bloggers who have stalked me over the years”

    And I suppose you never went around provoking people with your comments. No, you just tell the truth, and people get so mad that they have to stalk you. That it?

  • jh:

    Well, I think the right has deeper problems than the left on the issue. I don’t think you’re going to get much traction on a “Make them speak English” platform in a Democratic room while you’ll get some in a GOP room.

    That said, as the healthcare debate showed both sides have the concerns of the immigrant as very low priority so you’re right to point out that both have significant problems on this issue.

  • “He seems to be more energetic, and maybe he’s less of an autocrat.”

    When it comes to Church leadership, I’m not a fan of democracy.

  • MD,

    Don’t conflate politics with Catholicism.

    I volunteer and help the homeless and serve food to the hungry, but I am not a Democrat.

    Just sayin’!

    😉

  • MD,

    Actually you ask most first generation immigrants and they want their children to learn English. Only so far you can get in a culture if you don’t speak the dominant language. Can’t carry bilingual education to the college level.

    Its compassionate liberals that will keep immigrants down by keeping them in a linguistic ghetto.

  • When it comes to Church leadership, I’m not a fan of democracy.

    You’re so right. Fascism makes for a better, tighter, more unified, ecclesiology.

  • “Speaking as the liberal you know me to be, I find Cardinal Mahony’s leadership style distasteful, and this isn’t (or shouldn’t be) news to St Bloggers who have stalked me over the years.”

    Stalked? Todd, you are the one who keeps showing up here in the comboxes.

  • Donald, there’s a significant and logical difference between my visiting your site and selectively posting on topics of interest, and your practice of responding to practically every one of my posts here. Though to be fair, you pretty much post anywhere you disagree with one of your visitors.

    You do have a colleague here who sees fit to mention my federal voting record, even on threads in which politics is not in the tag.

    That said, you’ve left alone my comments on Cardinal Mahony, so I’ll take that as evidence you mostly align with me in disliking the man, and perhaps even for not totally different reasons. On that point, I’ll conclude my remarks here and stalk…I mean visit another thread later.

  • You do have a colleague here who sees fit to mention my federal voting record, even on threads in which politics is not in the tag.

    When you claim to be a “Catholic” and yet vote for the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history, I have to bring that up so people understand that you’re just a Catholic-In-Name-Only.

    Hence innocent Catholic’s won’t be strayed from their faith because of your lies, innuendo’s, and false interpretations of Catholicism.

    We aim to evangelize Catholics here at TAC and will disallow you from misleading them.

  • Todd has become increasingly angry and bitter in the last couple years (and seems to take undue opportunity to needle conservative Catholics), and I think it shows very poor judgement (including moral judgement) to think that Obama was worthy of a vote in the last election, but I don’t think that it is correct or appropriate to label Todd a “Catholic-in-name-only” for that reason.

  • “Donald, there’s a significant and logical difference between my visiting your site and selectively posting on topics of interest, and your practice of responding to practically every one of my posts here.”

    When anyone posts in one of my threads Todd I will normally respond eventually, although time constraints and laziness on my part sometimes prevent me from doing so. Additionally if someone else in the thread has made the point I was going to make I normally don’t bother.

    “Though to be fair, you pretty much post anywhere you disagree with one of your visitors.”

    Not really, but a bit of hyperbole goes with commenting in comboxes. Usually I won’t post in other threads unless I have a strong interest in the topic or my name comes up.

    “On that point, I’ll conclude my remarks here and stalk…I mean visit another thread later.”

    Feel free to stalk…I mean visit here, as much as you wish. I agree with you on little, although we share a similar distaste of Cardinal Mahoney, but you conduct yourself within the bounds of blog decorum and I have no problem with your visits whatever our sparring, something we of course have been doing since the Welborn Open Book days. (How swiftly time passes!)

  • I agree with Darwin that I would not call Todd a Catholic In Name Only. Beyond a distaste for attempting to judge the sincerity of someone else’s religious committment, I do not think it accurate in his case. I might call him, because of his vote, a Pro-lifer In Name Only, but I do not know if Todd claims to be part of the pro-life movement.

  • How can a Catholic who know’s his faith vote for the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history?

  • Darwin and Don,

    Words matter and I believe that you two are correct. After sleeping on it I should not have labeled Todd as a “Catholic-In-Name-Only”.

    A much more precise label would have been more accurate, but not charitable to say the least.

    I won’t refer to him this way again.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • DRM,
    How exactly is it that one becomes a pro-lifer in name only without meriting at the same moment the appellation “Catholic in Name Only?”

    Pro-abortion baptised Christians come in only one flavor, regardless of the “denomination” they choose to attend services in; protestant.

  • Actually Kevin some of the most fervent pro-lifers I know are protestants. I have a personal distaste for passing on the religious committment of others, and I do not like going beyond what I think the evidence shows me.

  • Kevin:

    I think you mean that once you dissent from the Church’s teachings you cease to be Catholic and become a Protestant.

    That said, I think Donald was right to point out that the way you wrote it could be interpreted very negatively by our Protestant brethren who do a lot for the service of life.

3 Responses to Set Me Free (From Ideologies) Part 1

  • Just a word of caution on the authority of the Compendium. Even the Compendium itself recognizes that some of what is in it does not partake of infallibility:

    “In studying this Compendium, it is good to keep in mind that the citations of Magisterial texts are taken from documents of differing authority. Alongside council documents and encyclicals there are also papal addresses and documents drafted by offices of the Holy See. As one knows, but it seems to bear repeating, the reader should be aware that different levels of teaching authority are involved.”

    Also Catholic Social teaching as you point out, does not fit any particular political position. Fortunately, CST also notes that it does not propose any particular political solutions. That is in fact left to the prudential judgment of the laity (yes it is up to the use of prudence – the practical application of moral norm to a specific problems.) Thus CST also notes that Catholics in good faith can disagree on particular solutions. To say otherwise is in fact to act contrary to Catholic Social Teaching itself.
    Now it seems you are not doing so but you do head near the shoals of Ultramontanism (as some other Catholic blogs do) by thinking that by reading the Compendium you will come up with a specific solutions. You won’t. Specific moral principles to apply – yes. Particular solutions that all are called to adhere to as good Catholics – no.
    I agree that one has to avoid ideologies that reduce the truth to sound bites. But there is a distinction between ideologies and ideas. Long, hard, cold thought out ideas that have internal coherence and which can provide specific political solutions. These ideas which form from the understanding of history, politics etc. have internal validity as expressions of human reason and if solidly based are a valid means of approaching problems of the world today. Even you admit to some with your FDR approach. This is okay.
    Its okay to have internally consistent ideas that propose solutions to political problems as long as one is open to new understanding as the study of history, politics, etc. develop. Even the Church (in one of JPII’s social encyclicals which is lost on me now) admits this much. That some of what is in CST is based on current understanding of history, economics etc. and can develop as these disciplines and as human understanding itself develops (see my first admonition above about differing degrees of authority.)
    So the bottom line is, I don’t have a problems with Conservative/Liberal etc. But let all come forth with solid, reasoned arguments and not the raw emotionalism that Charity in Truty decries. Let the best current understanding of social problems be presented with solid economic, historical etc. understanding. Then let Catholic laypersons with solid ideas (and not ideologies) make solid, prudential decisions.

  • Appreciate the insights Phillip- I suppose my goal is not to replace a brother/sister’s ideology with another one- but to get every serious Catholic who makes a big show of being a out and proud “conservative” or “liberal” and so forth- to think again- not to convert to another ideology, but to just leave off the self-labeling when saying you are Catholic- a Christian disciple- should suffice. I recall cringing at Sen. Brownback after receiving Father Pavone’s personal endorsement for President, going around saying that he was the “true Conservative”. Is that a good public witness for Christ, given that Christ is giving us a social doctrine that doesn’t lend itself easily to ideological adherences? Personally, I don’t see how an honest reading of all the social doctrine materials can lead me to voluntarily accept the imprisonment of any merely political ideology. I have tendencies toward the FDR Democratic party mold, but I recognize the fallibility of such to address all issues for all time- I won’t suggest that it wasn’t surprising that so much of the Catholic Church faithful were inclined to the FDR-Dem party – even in the Hierarchy- given the connections people were seeing between the social teachings and the political visions offered at the time. Of course times change, and appeals to FDR are not what I am much concerned with.

    I believe we are living in a bit of a new Barbarian Age- more subtle than before, very high-tech, but also very deadly to bodies and souls- I see the Barbarian movement in the establishment Left and Right- with abortion killing millions and a serious lack of global solidarity leading to unnecessary military conflicts and unjust economic situations. America is part of the problem and part of the solution- I’m focused on getting my nation to get out of the business of being part of the problem.

    As for the Compendium- I realize that differing levels of teaching authority are in play- but the fact that they are now given new circulation in the Compendium which is a concise rendering of the entire corpus of our social doctrine should be cause for new appreciation for all of it’s contents. At minimum what is in there must be taken deeply into our developing consciences- to say that only the most explicit detail of a particular principle of social teaching is worth reading would be a major error in prudential judgment. I figure if the Magisterium or Church leader puts something down on paper for our consumption, we should attempt to take time to consume it, let it work through our minds and imaginations, so that when we set about proposing specifics on major issues, or vision statements- we will have the benefit of all of the Church’s vast wisdom. I think that too many Catholics abuse the notion of prudential judgment to simply short-circuit the papal words that don’t mix well with their chosen ideological adherences- I’m not making a personal accusation to you Phillip or anyone in particular- but I am suspicious of everyone who clings too closely to something like what Brownback said “I am the true Conservative” I’m very suspicious of true believers in political ideologies.

  • Thanks for your reply. Will respond more fully after Easter. Quick reply is that I appreciate and look forward to your insights also.

Sweatshop Economics Must Not Continue

Thursday, February 4, AD 2010

I don’t believe any good Catholic would say they are happy with the situation of so many sweatshops operating in China et al.  The problem is what to do (or not do) about it.  I am giving my students a research project premised on a single sentence- “How can I avoid buying sweatshop products?”.  We are simultaneously studying the good Pope Benedict XVI’s “Caritas In Veritate”- specifically paragraphs #21, 22, 25, 27, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 44, 48, 49, 51, 60, 63, 64, 65, 75, and 76. You can follow along at home!

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49 Responses to Sweatshop Economics Must Not Continue

  • No doubt the conditions in so-called sweatshops are often horrible. You won’t improve the lot of anyone in the developing world, however, buy declining to buy products produced in sweatshops, or by trying to get them shut down. Jobs with low pay and poor conditions exist because the people who work there don’t have any better options, and you generally don’t help a person by taking away his best option, however awful in an absolute sense.

    In my post yesterday, I noted that global poverty and inequality has declined significantly over recent decades. It’s not clear that that would have happened absent sweatshops, a fact that should be borne in mind.

  • Assuming free choice is involved, Blackladder is correct. In other words, there is an important difference between sweatshop labor resulting from laborers selecting the best of unattractive options versus laborers who have no other legal option because they are slaves, and slave labor does exist in some parts of the world. Historical economists who have studied the sweatshops of newly industrialized Great Britain now pretty much all agree that as bad as those environments were they actually provided the workers with a superior standard of living than their other options, which were often simple starvation. Widespread starvation has been a normal condition throughout world history until very recently. Hobbes was wrong in many things, but his description of life as nasty, brutish, and short was spot on correct for most people throughout the world well into the 20th century. Many things have contributed to economic progress, but probably the most important are free markets protected by the rule of law. I certainly agree that there can be necessary and appropriate regulation of markets, but many well-intended regulations advanced by social reformers have produced adverse unintended consequences that dwarf the social affliction they were designed to remedy.
    The botton line is that not buying goods from companies that employ workers in sweatshop conditions may help wealthier workers in developed nations and may even make one feel good, but it probably hurts those who are already the most vulnerable.

  • Your overall aim here is clearly good, and I think people are certainly right to want to see conditions in third world factories get better. Two things that might be worth keeping in mind:

    1) Often in an effort to “keep from buying from sweatshops” people simply avoid all products made in third world countries. They assume that if a shirt was made in Indonesia, it must have been made under inhuman conditions. In most cases, however, they have no way of knowing, so what they end of doing is simply punishing Indonesians in general, rather punishing bad factories and buying from good ones. (On the flip side, such movements are seldom wide-spread enough to have any real effect, so I suppose one could argue that their attempt to boycott the third world isn’t hurting anyone that much.)

    2) The video if factually incorrect that globalization has lowered wages in poor countries overall. It may be correct that wages have fallen in Mexico since NAFTA, but Mexico was manufacturing products for the US long before then. Since the early ’90s, Mexico has in turn seen low end manufacturing jobs move farther south to Nicaragua, Hunduras, Colombia, etc. and across the Pacific to China, Indonesia and Vietnam. (Further, Mexico is actually a market for goods made in Asia and elsewhere; it’s not just in the US that cheap shirts made in China are being sold, but in Mexico too.) Overall wages have increased, not decreased in globalization. The problem is just that they are often increasing from very, very low levels.

  • I can only accept the “sweatshop” concept if there was a clear line of progress leading from a peoples acceptance of harsh, low paying work into middle-class opportunities for themselves and most definitely their children. This seems to be the way it worked here in the U.S. as workers used their political and other freedoms to advance collectively- drawing upon unions and other political tools including muckraking journalism. Of course, success brings a new set of challenges/temptations, and we didn’t find the right calibration of corporate and labor powers in our own system.

    But without these type of freedoms in repressive nations, and with corporations using their power advantage to say – hey if you unionize, if you start collective bargaining power plays- we just leave you an empty factory and move to where the workers can just suck on it coutesy of the police state apparatus. If this is the current situation- and the proof of this for me is how everyone ended up in China- the land of one-child limits and no religious freedom- not so easy for muckraking journalists to just poke around either to provide a true narrative of the average Chinese life. I have many reasons to be suspicious of an American economy so warmly connected to the biggest and meanest psuedo-Communist dictatorship around. Can’t be good

  • I can only accept the “sweatshop” concept if there was a clear line of progress leading from a peoples acceptance of harsh, low paying work into middle-class opportunities for themselves and most definitely their children.

    I think this is precisely what we have been seeing over the last few decades. Here, for example, is a description of the effect of a Nike factory in Vietnam:

    Ten years ago, when Nike was established in Vietnam, the workers had to walk to the factories, often for many miles. After three years on Nike wages, they could afford bicycles. Another three years later, they could afford scooters, so they all take the scooters to work (and if you go there, beware; they haven´t really decided on which side of the road to drive). Today, the first workers can afford to buy a car.

    Since 1990, when the Vietnamese communists began to liberalise the economy, exports of coffee, rice, clothes and footwear have surged, the economy has doubled, and poverty has been halved. Nike and Coca-Cola triumphed where American bombs failed. They have made Vietnam capitalist.

    I asked the young Nike worker Tsi-Chi what her hopes were for her son´s future. A generation ago, she would have had to put him to work on the farm from an early age. But Tsi-Chi told me she wants to give him a good education, so that he can become a doctor. That´s one of the most impressive developments since Vietnam´s economy was opened up. In ten years 2.2 million children have gone from child labour to education. It would be extremely interesting to hear an antiglobalist explain to Tsi-Chi why it is important for Westerners to boycott Nike, so that she loses her job, and has to go back into farming, and has to send her son to work.

  • Without some big regulatory change- which seems to be the Magisterium’s intent behind calling repeatedly for a global economy that has a just juridical framework- I still think we can make strides by doing business through the global Catholic Church via CRS and diocesan/parish contacts operating fair trade cooperative relationships bypassing the big box network on as many individual products as possible. Just like I would prefer a Catholic non-profit health insurance option to a completely Government-only one. There is a Catholic difference to every field- from education, to medicine and pharmaceuticals (think birth control, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia), to economics/business – this Pope is very clear about warning us away from any single ideological view or overeliance on technical solutions that ignore the humanity involved at every turn of every economic transaction. Check out the Pope’s call for a new synthesis of Christian humanism applied to the development of economies that include holistic considerations that interrelate- he would also include ecological and promotion of healthy families at the core. Working in sweatshops for 12 hour shifts over 6 or 7 days certainly isn’t suitable for someone in a Catholic family- we can’t leave people with this option or nothing at all- it ain’t right folks- gotta come up with something better than apologetics for shopping Walmart- reminds me of the old argument against ending slavery- the slaves would be worse off and the economy would be destroyed- well no one says we can create a perfect world, but we are charged with creating civilizations of love- I don’t see a sweatshop standing in that kind of civilization so I’m not going to accept rationalizations- doesn’t fit into my understanding of our Catholic social doctrine

  • Working in sweatshops for 12 hour shifts over 6 or 7 days certainly isn’t suitable for someone in a Catholic family- we can’t leave people with this option or nothing at al

    I’m all for giving people better options (and if people did have better options than working at sweatshops there would be no sweatshops – you wouldn’t need a law for that). Trying to shut down sweatshops, though, isn’t giving people a better option. It’s taking an option away, and in particular it’s taking away an option that people judge to be better than the available alternatives.

    reminds me of the old argument against ending slavery- the slaves would be worse off and the economy would be destroyed

    It seems to me that the main problem with this argument was that it was false. Abolishing slavery didn’t destroy the economy and ex-slaves were better off than they were before. That’s not the case for sweatshops.

  • I would recommend a book titled “The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Marketplace” by John Medialle, a professor at Univ of Dallas.

    I have read it four times and I’m still unpacking it.

    http://tinyurl.com/yeljrdz

    He writes that until you have equity, you will never have equilibrium. Labor must come before capital and that is one of the main tenets of Catholic Social Teaching. The bottom line to ending sweatshops is worker ownership of the means of production, which is the main tenant of Distributism as advanced by GK Chesterton and Hellaire Belloc.

  • I’m interested in the NIke factory in Vietnam example- I wonder how it worked that the workers went from destitution to being able to afford cars- did that happen while no positive changes took place at work- like a healthy increase in wages, better working conditions and so forth which would actually take the factory out of the sweatshop category? Is this typical? Does the Vietnamese government do a better job of protecting their people who work for foreign companies than the Chinese? I had thought that the whole reason for going to these kind of countries was the fact that the government would be on the side of the companies to help keep the workers in line so they wouldn’t press for higher wages and more investment in safe working environments? I wouldn’t submit that every factory in every poor country is necessarily a sweatshop, but it would seem that the purpose of locating half a world away from a pure business profit motive is the cheap labor- and the promise that that cheap labor would remain so- otherwise why not stay in the U.S. and save on a lot headaches and travel expenses?

    The trick for me would be to follow the American way and see a shift to domestic markets in every nation so that you don’t have a system where most production in the world is geared for sale in relatively few countries- like American consumers should not be the main source of income for the third world workers to fight over for perpetuity. Has the open trade system had enough time to bring about a better system- fitting in with the CAtholic social teaching theme of the universal destination of goods/resources?

    I think that having international bodies like the WTO representing the interests of multinational corporations needs a strong element of human rights protectors- so that workers are competing with their basic rights as humans and workers respected by all participating trading partners- this would seem fair and necessary given our fallen nature and the fact that the love of money is the root of many evils- or so says the Bible.

  • I had thought that the whole reason for going to these kind of countries was the fact that the government would be on the side of the companies to help keep the workers in line so they wouldn’t press for higher wages and more investment in safe working environments?

    The point of going to developing countries is that labor is cheaper. Labor is cheaper, however, not because the government will come in and bust heads if people demand higher wages, but because the average wages in the countries are so low. Wages in multinational owned factories may be low by American standards, but they can be several times the prevailing wage for other sources of employment.

  • The modern term is “developing country,” not “third world.”

    reminds me of the old argument against ending slavery- the slaves would be worse off and the economy would be destroyed

    If the slaves would be worse off, there would’ve been no problem with giving them the choice to be free. If they thought they’d be worse off, they’d volunteer to be enslaved. I’m all for ensuring that factory workers overseas have choices. Closing sweatshops restrict the freedom to choice though.

    American consumers should not be the main source of income for the third world workers to fight over for perpetuity.

    Why not? If Latin American farmers were limited to domestic markets and not of the millions of Starbucks customers in the US, those farmers would not be able to afford to send their kids to school.

  • I had thought that the whole reason for going to these kind of countries was the fact that the government would be on the side of the companies to help keep the workers in line so they wouldn’t press for higher wages and more investment in safe working environments? I wouldn’t submit that every factory in every poor country is necessarily a sweatshop, but it would seem that the purpose of locating half a world away from a pure business profit motive is the cheap labor- and the promise that that cheap labor would remain so- otherwise why not stay in the U.S. and save on a lot headaches and travel expenses?

    I work fairly directly with the operations group which deals with our Chinese manufacturers are work, so I can explain some of the details here. (This is dealing with consumer electronics, so we’re talking pretty advanced factories, not sweatshops, but the logistics are similar.)

    One thing many people don’t realize is how incredibly cheap it is to ship things to the US from China, so long as you have the six weeks to send it across in bulk via cargo ship. For instance, when we bring in a container load (about 2,500) of laptop computers by sea, all packed up in their retail packaging ready to go onto a store shelf, the shipping cost from Shanghai to the distribution center in the US is about $5/laptop.

    With shipping so cheap, even a very small difference in the cost of manufacturing becomes worth while — especially because the profits made by each company along the supply chain are often very small.

    Most of the factories that make product for US companies in China are not actually owned by the US company — they’re owned by a local company which makes products to order, which the US company then buys. The US companies do this because it saves them start-up costs, and the difficulties of dealing with local government. (In many developing nations, local government basically runs of bribes and shakedown schemes — such as claiming the deed to your factory is forged and threatening to confiscate if you don’t buy a new one — and US companies typically don’t want to deal with it for legal reasons.)

    These locally owned factories will compete for business with each other, and manufacture for multiple US brands. So the HP, Sony, Dell and Toshiba laptops you see in Best Buy may actually have been made in the same factory. The different factories also compete with each other for labor. Building a high quality factory takes a lot of capital, but turning the capital into a good return requires a high output with few mistakes. More experienced workers tend to make product faster and with fewer mistakes — so if a new factory wants to get up to speed quickly their best approach is to poach workers from another factory with an offer of higher wages. All of the factories end up hiring and training new workers as well, but it helps to have a certain critical mass of experienced workers to provide on-the-line training and such. So wages do tend to rise over time through competition between the manufacturers.

    Expansion out into new areas can provide a way to keep wages from rising too high, but this again runs into the problem of inexperienced workers being less productive. And once you have a lot of experienced workers, it becomes tempting for a competitor to build a factory and poach some of that expertise. If you’re the first factory into a new are, you get lower wages for a while, but then others move in and they creep up.

    The more established areas move into more high value types of factories — and there’s also a value to being near to rail lines and ports, so businesses can’t chase endlessly into the wilderness in search of lower labor costs, because they start to incur other costs that make up for it.

    Why do businesses bother sourcing in the developing world when wages are rising? Well, businesses are very willing to be temporary — and there’s not necessarily a huge investment for them when most of the factories are locally owned. Also, as those developing markets see their wages rise, they become customers as well as sources of labor. For instance: most cell phones are currently manufactured in China. But it’s not just a source of cheap labor. There are more than twice as many cell phone users in China as in the US.

  • The modern term is “developing country,” not “third world.”

    Exactly right. That term is quite Modern. It should be done away with.

  • While I can appreciate the intent of this post, Blackadder and others have done a great job explaining how among a continuum of choices sweatshops may not represent the least desirable choice given the circumstances.

    I would like to add that from our perspective, as Americans living in 2010 with possibly the most posh existence the world has ever known, this appears downright inhumane and barbaric. And on many levels it is. But poverty and prosperity are relative, in large measure.

    The sad reality is, from a perspective of solidarity, the most Catholic thing you can do is to continue to patronize goods from such third-world nations and simultaneously pray for the transformation of the culture from within.

    For further reading on wealth and poverty:

    http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?a=726

  • I laud the effort to ensure that workers, all over the world, are allowed to work in safe, clean, and humane conditions. IT will certainly not increase the cost of my XXL/X-Tall sweatshirt to reduce a shift in a factory to 8 hours, or to make the minimum work age 18 instead of 13.

    But we risk much, I think, when applying US standards of living as a measure of the humanity/inhumanity of a particular living/working condition, and the justice of any particular wage.

    Start in the US. I can live very well in Jonesboro, AR on a salary of $45,000/year; I can at least rent a house, pay my bills, and basically take care of my needs and the needs of a young family. Take that same $45,000 to New York City, and I am at or below subsistence level; I cannot drive, I cannot buy a lot, and I am much poorer than when I left home in AR.

    Same applies in Memphis, TN vs. Jonesboro; rents are lower in Jonesboro, and I can live better there than I can in Memphis.

    Now stretch it across the Pacific. In many countries, $45,000 would make me a rich man, or at least move me well into the upper middle class. This is why, I would think, remittances are so helpful to families in developing countries; the available capital moves the family into a different economic stratum.

    SO, while the work of organizations such as these is important in correcting the abuses that inevitably occur when people are involved (cuz we’re a greedy bunch when left to ourselves, sometimes), it doesn’t make sense to decry every instance of people being paid $0.47/hr as an egregious offense against humanity. How does making that $0.47/hr materially affect the living standard of that family? If that $0.47/hr were not available to that worker in Swaziland, what would their alternative be, and how would their standard of living change?

    It also doesn’t pass the smell test that standards of living would be forced *downward* by the arrival of a manufacturer supplying, say, Wal-Mart. Were people conscripted by force into the factory, and removed from better-paying positions in much nicer factories in order to slave for the Waltons? Doubtful. SO what’s the real story?

    As well-intentioned as I think folks like this start, I wonder if their agenda isn’t much more driven by a hatred of anything “corporate”. The factories they depict shuttered and empty didn’t get that way because an evil corporation decided to screw over a town and its citizens; they got that way because the manufacturer was forced, by competition, to decide between competition and extinction. Some of those companies *died*; they didn’t move to China. Once they died, though, Chinese manufacturers were able to make the case that they could offer similar quality for much less. Once China’s standard of living (and wages) started to rise, manufacturers looked for even lower-cost areas to move into; thus, Swaziland, Haiti and Bangladesh start to benefit from the rise in the standard of living in China (which, I would bet, imports a lot more Bangladeshi clothing than we do).

    I agree with P.Diddy’s closing comment, with one caveat: We *should* continue to purchase goods from developing countries, but in addition to *praying* for the transformation of the culture from within, we have to be willing to *work* for that same transformation, by holding businesses accountable for knowing the conditions under which their inventories are produced.

  • Thinking about this, I’d make two additional points:

    1) One of the major differences here, I think, is between different views of history. In a more progressive view of history, the primary reason that we no longer see the worst conditions of the Industrial Revolution in the US is the work of unions and the work of journalists exposing repressive corporate practices to public outrage. Now, I think those were in fact very minor factors, and that the primary reason we no longer see those conditions and those levels of pay is because companies simply can’t get workers to work that way any more as a result of economic development and competition for labor. These different views will lead to different conclusions as to what we should do now.

    2) The solution from a more economistic point of view is not necessarily just “do nothing”. US Companies choose which contract firms in developing countries to work with based on a number of factors, and if they do refuse to deal with firms which behave in inhuman ways (forcing female workers to take birth control; unsafe working conditions; etc.) they will drive local firms to improve conditions overall. There will probably continue to be much worse firms doing work for the local market, but if US firms use their purchasing power to drive incremental improvements (not the kind of “have US working conditions and pay or give the jobs back to US union workers” that domestic interests have in mind, but insisting on working with the better factories in the region) that will help drive conditions upwards faster. It will also tend to benefit not just the workers, but the products and the companies that make them in the long term.

  • The modern term is “developing country,” not “third world.”

    Exactly right. That term is quite Modern. It should be done away with.

    While we’re at it, let’s revive “negro,” “oriental,” and “groovy.”

  • You have forgotten “white trash” and “Honky” as long as you want to visit the old labels/terms.

    Dynamite article! Makes a person think about the choices that we make each day and the affect it has on the rest of the world and our local economy.

    I never shop at Walmart and haven’t for years. I would rather purchase meat from our local meat market and drugs from our small town Drug Store, etc. and Fresh produce from the farmer’s market or visit the growers themselves.

    “The Jungle” was largely responsible for changes in the meat industry. However, recently the changes in that industry are for the negative with most labor from Mexico or Latn America– and conditions (and pay) regressing –as well as safety for workers and eaters of said meat.

  • While we’re at it, let’s revive “negro,” “oriental,” and “groovy.”

    Far out.

  • I agree that having a global minimum wage would be a tough sell given all the factors that go into determining local living standards- but having all corporations participating in global trade being charged with legal responsibilities for basic human rights and decency which allow traditional families to take root and potentially flourish – for economic security is only one factor in determining that. That should be the goal- just like the video showed with dog and cat fur items being banned, so too, could member nations in trade pacts make certain contractual obligations legally binding without going overboard with insensible regulations and running into the reverse problem of giving too much power over to union bosses for example.

    The fact remains that Pope Benedict is directly calling for a “new humanistic synthesis” in the wake of the current global economic crisis. “The current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment, to build on positive experiences and to reject negative ones. The crisis thus becomes an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future.” #21 Caritas..

    This is what I am trying to do- scrap what hasn’t worked and try to retain some of the positives, but recognizing that there isn’t a pure ideological solution out there- which is why I’m attracted to more solidarity/subsidiarity economic relationships spring up between Catholics who happen to live in the developed/developing sectors of the global society. There is also an ecological concern which the Pope brings up that must be brought into the discussion at some point as well- I was thinking of that when it was brought up at how cheap it is to ship goods around the world- and I have read that the cargo ships use pretty poor quality fuel and are big polluters of the oceans- one doesn’t have to embrace the all-encompassing theory of man-created Climate Change to be aware of our stewardship duties in the “Care for God’s Creation” and how that affects humanity as well.

  • Re third world: Well, admittedly third world is an imperfect descriptor in that it really refers to unaligned nations during the Cold War. Back in the day economists used to refer to undeveloped countries or UDCs, but PC precursers soon claimed that the term was too harsh and demanded that it term be abandoned in favor of lesser developed countries (or LCDs), which proved to be understood as demeaning, which is why we now have developing countries — a term that makes no sense at all since all countries are developing in different ways and at different paces. But these days “feelings” trumps truth all the time. It is kind of funny in a pathetic sort of way.

  • “Wal-Mart has such a strong command over the retail market that it alone affects the wages of many workers and the fate of many factories around the world. In a recent series the LA Times described how Wal-Mart’s demands dictate lower wages, harder work, and longer hours, while eliminating jobs in factories from Honduras to China. No longer is this humongous corporation putting only America’s factories out of business, it has now turned to pitting factories in countries around the world against each other in an impossible race to the bottom.

    Wal-Mart was removed from KLD & Co.’s Domini 400 Social Index because of what it called ‘sweatshop conditions’ at its overseas vendors’ factories. KLD, which provides social research for institutional investors, said Wal-Mart hasn’t done enough to ensure that its vendors meet ‘adequate labor and human rights standards,’ according to a statement distributed by PR Newswire. KLD also cited charges that the company hasn’t been forthright about its involvement with a Chinese handbag manufacturer alleged to have subjected workers to 90-hour weeks, exceptionally low wages, and prison-like conditions. The Domini 400 is a benchmark index for measuring the effect of social screening on financial performance. (1/03)

    Some of the abuses in foreign factories that produce goods for Wal-Mart include:

    * Forced overtime

    * Locked bathrooms

    * Starvation wages

    * Pregnancy tests

    * Denial of access to health care

    * Workers fired and blacklisted if they try to defend their rights

    The National Labor Committee reported in September 1999 that the Kathie Lee clothing label (made for Wal-Mart by Caribbean Apparel, Santa Ana, El Salvador) conducted sweatshop conditions of forced overtime. Workers hours were Monday to Friday from 6:50 a.m. to 6:10 p.m., and Saturday from 6:50 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. There are occasional shifts to 9:40 p.m. It is common for the cutting and packing departments to work 20-hour shifts from 6:50 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Anyone unable or refusing to work the overtime hours will be suspended and fined, and upon repeat “offenses” they will be fired. This factory is in an American Free Trade Zone. (http://www.nlcnet.org/KATHLEE/elsalvinfo.html)”

    From Voice of American Workers trade article.

  • The modern term is “developing country,” not “third world.”

    Exactly right. That term is quite Modern. It should be done away with.

    While we’re at it, let’s revive “negro,” “oriental,” and “groovy.”

    The term “third world” has been used over the years by peoples from these countries, sometimes prefaced by the word “so-called.” Other terms used today among global social movements are “Two-Thirds World” and “Global South.”

    But the term “developing world” was rejected long, long ago.

  • Other terms used today among global social movements are “Two-Thirds World” and “Global South.”

    But the term “developing world” was rejected long, long ago.

    Rejected by whom, exactly?

    There is a certain silliness to trying to use a single term to cover countries as distant from each other and diverse as India, Honduras, Vietnam and Kenya. I’ve heard some writers differentiate between the “developing world” and the countries in the “bottom billion” where development seems to have “stuck”.

    But I’m not clear that there’s some sort of clearing house of “approved terminology for people who care” in charge of sorting out whether “developing world” is an acceptable term or not.

  • Well, admittedly third world is an imperfect descriptor in that it really refers to unaligned nations during the Cold War. Back in the day economists used to refer to undeveloped countries or UDCs, but PC precursers soon claimed that the term was too harsh and demanded that it term be abandoned in favor of lesser developed countries (or LCDs), which proved to be understood as demeaning, which is why we now have developing countries — a term that makes no sense at all since all countries are developing in different ways and at different paces. But these days “feelings” trumps truth all the time.

    Hard to call China “undeveloped.” “Lesser developed” sounds awkward. Pre-Tsvangirai Zimbabwe wasn’t “developing.” At any rate, I’ll use whatever the most commonly accepted term at the moment happens to be. I use “pro-life” and “pro-choice” instead of “anti-abortion” and “pro-abortion.” I use “illegal immigrants” instead of “undocumented immigrants.” “African-American” or “black” instead of “negro.” And “developing” instead of “third world.”

    I’ve noticed that “OECD” and “non-OECD” is getting popular. They don’t roll off the tongue well but they are more precise terms so that’s good.

  • Rejected by whom, exactly?

    By global social justice movements, as I said.

    “Developing world,” “bottom billion,” etc. are terms that assume the values and commitments of capitalist modernity. Continue to use them if those are your values and commitments.

  • There is a certain silliness to trying to use a single term to cover countries as distant from each other and diverse as India, Honduras, Vietnam and Kenya.

    Use of terms like “Global South” and “Two-Thirds World” are precisely NOT meant to “cover” the diversities of these countries, but as an expression of solidarity of the oppressed peoples of these countries. The terms do not unite the countries, but unite particular classes among the countries.

  • From THE CATHOLIC NEWS;

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Conversion to Christ gives people the strength to break the bonds of selfishness and work for justice in the world, Pope Benedict XVI said in his message for Lent 2010.

    “The Christian is moved to contribute to creating just societies where all receive what is necessary to live according to the dignity proper to the human person and where justice is enlivened by love,” the pope said in the message released Feb. 4 at the Vatican.”

  • I believe the discussion of terminology is a rabbit trail. I’m just sayin’.

    To return, I hope, to the main point of the article and prior discussion, though, it seems to me that there exists a basic divide in ways of looking at corporations vs. small businesses. And not-coincidentally, there seems to exist a certain almost snobbery about not doing business with the Wal-marts of the world. Having, as I do, four children (and now regretting that I don’t have more, as I stand on the threshold of my 50’s) gives me a slightly different perspective on the place of Wal-Mart in my local economy.

    I would *love* to be able to buy meat at my local butcher shop, and to patronize local farmers all the time. I would love to be able to buy only clothes manufactured in the United States. Unfortunately, I cannot raise a family of six and do that; it costs too much! And since my diet is varied, and I like lettuce in January, I have to buy it from somewhere warm enough to *produce* lettuce in January. And since I don’t want a slaughterhouse in my neighborhood, I have to have meat trucked in from Arkansas and Mississippi, where the animal farms are. As much as I would like to be able to feed and clothe my family from the local economy, I cannot!

    Simplistically, I blame the union movement for these developments; the reason I can’t buy a pair of shoes made in the US is that I cannot afford to pay the added costs loaded onto the shoes by the provision of generous union benefits, and shortened shifts. I have had to wait an extra month for a suit I ordered (at 6’9″, I have to have them made (in the US)), because the factory was negotiating a contract dispute with their **union**.

    See, long ago, unions stopped being about making working conditions humane and pay dignified, and started to be about how much they could negotiate being paid for how little work. Unions, IMHO, have become the proletariat mirror of the “evil corporations”, in that they jockey to see how *little* work can be done for the dollars spent. And so the manufacturers of my clothes and other goods move overseas in order to escape the burden, and millions of jobs disappear.

    So as nice as it would be to localize everything, it isn’t practical. And as nice as it would be to impose US wages and working conditions on every country around the world, it wouldn’t be fair to guys like me, who are trying to feed and clothe the next generation, to impose those costs in a feel-good attempt at one man’s view of “social justice”. We should, as Catholics, be about *improving everyone’s lot*, not about making everyone equally miserable. And we should be about raising everyone’s standard of living by providing opportunities for people, not by redistributing wealth and just handing it over to folks. We create far more problems in that way than we solve (see the welfare system in the US from the mid-sixties till the mid nineties for an example; nothing did more to destroy the Black community than that!)

    We *can* help our brtothers and sisters in need! But it would be wrong to take from others by force of law in order to do it!

  • The complete story is found at the link below:

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1000486.htm

  • There are many Catholics who have not intellectually reconciled themselves with the fact that we live in a fallen world. This manifests itself in a worldview which effectively seeks to make everyone equally miserable, ala, socialism.

    Among a number of excellent points Chip discusses is the fact that the Wal-marts of the world actually do more to help the poor of the world than the snobs who won’t shop there.

  • Chip,

    In this small town of 4000, our merchants do very well at competing with Walmart. We intentionally support them and the quality and care they provide. I do not think that makes us snobs, do you really?

    We are lucky to still have small town meat markets in the upper Midwest. The owner is more selective and responsible for the meats he chooses. Ground meats especially!

    It is far superior to the products processed through the meat-packing facilities. Also, the workers do not join unions as much in the meat-packing facilities for obvious reason. (Being many illegals, etc.) The wages are half of the wage paid for the same job in 1970. The conditions much worse. Speed-ups and injuries with knives, etc., See the Postville, Iowa story recently in the news. (And that was a Kosher plant.)

    The book, THE JUNGLE, helped change working conditions for the (largely immigrants) meat-packing workers NOT because Americans gave a whit about the conditions of the workers but because Americans did not want to eat sausage that might have a worker or rat ground up in it. (As brought out by the book.)

    I basically feel the same is true with products today; dog food kills my beloved Fluffy and I don’t want those Chinese products….most people don’t care about those workers but let Fluffy get sick and I care. That is my sense of Americans and myself included. I am trying to change. It isn’t easy!!!

    I do not live in California and need to purchase veggies too, but go to other grocery stores. (Just not Walmart.)

  • Snobbery might be a bit harsh, but it is a choice you consciously exercise. And you and others in town obviously hav ethe means to exercise that choice; if you did not, all the good intentions in the world would not keep you out of Wal-mart if you had to feed your family.

    It’s akin to neighborhood choice, I suppose. If I can afford a $450,000 house in Collierville, TN, why would I choose to move to my neighborhood in Bartlett, with average home prices in the low $200’s? And if I can afford to live *there*, why would I move to Raleigh, where the same house costs only $130,000? I make any of these choices because I have the means to make them. If I could afford to drive an Escalade instead of this 10-year-old Expedition, you bet I would be driving one; can’t right now, though, since I have tuition to pay and groceries to buy for all these little girls who still live at my house.

    If your townsfolk did not have the means to buy higher-quality, higher-priced meat from your local butcher, he would have two choices: Either lower his quality, thereby enabling a lower price, or to accept less profit on the items he sells. If the margin is low enough, he then goes out of business. If it works well for y’all, great!

    But who shops at Wal-mart in your town? I would guess it’s NOT the insensitive rich folks who just don’t care about the social justice implications of enabling a behemoth bad corporate actor like Walmart; I am betting it’s the folks who can’t afford to shop at your local butcher shop and other small retailers, but who would like a consistent quality of meats, vegetable, and other staples of life. We could kill off Walmart tomorrow; where would that leave the thousands employed by Wal-mart, and where would it leave the poorer folks to shop? I don’t know, but I bet they wouldn’t be buying the same quality meats you’re able to procure from your guy. (BTW, how much does a pound of ground chuck cost from your guy?)

    So…I apologize for the snobbery accusation. But it still sounds a bit “Let-them-eat-cake”-ish…

  • Chip,
    The small retailers, meat market, lumber yard, etc…were here long before Walmart. We hope to keep them in business. The prices are competetive. The people are friendly. No snobbery here as no one here is rich. Our Van is 1998 and just had a new engine in it. We do have some nice bike trails and not much traffic so that is an alternative in good weather. (Not now…we live 2 states north of you in Jonesboro.)
    The rich folks live in new sub-divisions far away from
    this old town along the Mississippi. And it costs to drive across the river to Walmart–30 minutes away. They surely do not miss our patronage as the parking lot is always full.

    We have worked for Walmart- in our family -in the past and used the 10% discount the employees are given.

    Is it snobbery to want to keep an old small town way of life and support our business’? We all struggle to find the best way to survive, small town America too.

  • “Labor is cheaper, however, not because the government will come in and bust heads if people demand higher wages”

    Well, sometimes that does happen. It’s not the least of the reasons why places like China are popular to do business.

  • And todays price for quality ground beef is 2.69. I am sure box stores have 80% ground much cheaper. Some of us need low-fat…me in particular. Not enough bike riding lately. Have a good day!

  • Well, sometimes that does happen. It’s not the least of the reasons why places like China are popular to do business.

    I have heard nasty stories about such things. I’m not sure it done by or the behest of the government though. Sounds to me like that at some foreign companies there is a general lack of regard for the workers’ dignity that is aggravated by the fact that they are managed by petty tyrants.

    That said, I’m not so sure that sort of a work environment is something Western corporations are looking for or appreciating. The draw to China for example is, as stated above, being able to reduce labor costs to stay competitive PLUS by providing jobs there that will produce expendable income for the workers, there will be a huge market of new consumers that can afford to buy the products they are making. Maybe that thinking it reeks of “anything for a buck”, but the reality is the existence of a great many lives are benefited or at least have the opportunity to be benefited.

  • If the quality is up to par, I’d rather buy from poorer foreigners than relatively richer locals. I think Catholic Social Teaching demands it.

  • We “poorer folks” shop at our local $ollar Store-8 blocks away. I did not know The Waltons needed our money so badly. I guess we should take pity on them? Who doesn’t sell imported products these days? And jobs are supported at by shopping at other stores too.

    Seriously, how do you resolve the conflict of a government like China (still Communist last I checked) that has a one-child policy and supports abortion? Did they change that?

    I understand that people need jobs everywhere and buying from China supports people there and supports an emerging middle class. That would be true in other developing countries that are not so repressive wouldn’t it?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy

  • I guess I would ask, first, Duke…how will NOT buying from companies that manufacture in China help to change China’s one-child policy? What will change oppressive regimes like that faster than anything is giving more people in those countries the economic means to decide that the government should not be making those kinds of decisions for them!

    The people working in factories in China making…well, some of everything are not the Chinese government. And they don’t *make* policy, they *live under* it. China’s changes over the last 30 years have come, not because people decried the status quo from outside China, but because exposure to Western democracy and economic prosperity stirred a desire in the hearts of Chinese folks to have something *different*.

    And to address your earlier question, Duke, of *course* it’s OK to preserve your town;s way of life, and to support the merchants who enable it. I wouldn’t drive 30 minutes through the country to Wal-mart either, if I had the option of using the gas money instead to pay just a little more, and shopping 5 minutes away. Again, though, your town’s economy allows for that (and is actually a strong counter-argument to the “evil Wal-mart kills small businesses” mantra). $2.69 ain’t bad for a pound of chuck; I think we are paying just a little less than that, but then, Memphis is the transportation hub of the known universe or something.

    And again, apologies for the “snobbery” comment; that was too strong. Parochialism might describe it better; it’s just that the conditions under which you live (rare, by percentage of population, I bet) are not the conditions under which most people live. And if I wanted to patronize meat boutiques in Memphis similar to your small-town merchants, I would get hammered. Those types of stores here cater to the hormone-free, organic, grass-fed crowd who feel they must buy products like that, and who make the economic decision to do so. I can’t afford to eat like that, unfortunately, at least, not until the 9-year-old is out of college…

  • Have any of you read the book “A Year Without Made in China” by Sara Bongiorni? I have been meaning to because the premise sounds interesting. Bongiorni, her husband and their two young kids attempted to go an entire year without buying ANYTHING made in China… and it proved to be a lot more difficult than they thought. From what I gather, they were pretty solidly middle-class financially, definitely not poor, yet even they found it next to impossible to avoid ‘made in China.’ For lower income people, I imagine it is impossible.

    Again, it’s another reflection of the fact that we live in a fallen world, and though we do the best we can to promote good and avoid evil, we will never achieve absolute, total non-cooperation with evil in this life.

  • Boycott American products! The US slaughters innocent Iraqis and Afghans, aids Israel in the slaughter of Palestinians, tortures and kills prisoners, isn’t democratic (see 2000 presidential election), pollutes like it owns the world, doesn’t provide its people with basic health care, and gives handouts to its wealthy bankers while its ethnic minorities are placed in slums where they don’t even receive a proper education. And remember, when you buy American, you’re paying for some American women’s abortion or a float at one of America’s many gay pride parades.

  • Chip,
    I understand the conditions in China. It makes me feel very conflicted, frankly.

    I’ll have to tell my family I’m going down to the meat “boutique” ..classier than what we call it. Meat markets -as we call them here- cater to deer hunters and farmers. No one cares about the organic, hormone free etc stuff around here too much. Organic chickens here are called free range and only means raised the way grandma used to. (Free to peck and scratch the way God intended.)

    Who knows what it will be like in another decade? Maybe the $ollar Store will again be a 5 & 10 cent Store like in the 1960’s. Cheaper products and competition going the way it is.

    Elaine,
    It would be a challenge to buy products from everywhere but China. I would rather WATCH someone else do that on a Reality Show and learn from them. Sounds like an interesting book to read. Maybe the library will have it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • I think your students (and anyone else interested in the sweatshop issue) might enjoy checking out http://www.teamsweat.org. Team Sweat is an international coalition that I founded to fight against Nike’s sweatshop abuses.

    I am a Catholic activist and former professional athlete and I have been fighting for 12 years on the front lines in solidarity (a key theme in Catholic Social Teaching) with the factory workers that produce for Nike.

    How did I get involved in this work? It all started as a research paper for a grad class I was taking while pursuing my masters degree in theology. The paper was titled:

    “Nike and Catholic Social Teaching: A Challenge to the Christian Mission at St. John’s University.”

    If you’re interested in reading it, drop me a line at [email protected].

    Peace, Jim Keady

  • Wow. The famous Jim Keady chimes in, albeit with a sales pitch.

  • I just checked out Jim Keady’s stuff- he’s the real deal folks- he has walked the walk, made real-life sacrifices, put in the time and mileage to find out the truth- and he’s Catholic- I’m going to pick this guy’s brain and heart to find out more- to take more responsibility for this issue of sweatshop labor- I want to take this thing far and beyond the normative ideological pissing contest- that means finding sources that have ground level information that is trustworthy. People who give up lucrative careers because something smells rotten in Greece- these type of guys grab my attention. I would recommend that the defenders of sweatshop economics take a look at Jim Keady’s stuff as well because this debate ain’t goin’ away just yet!

  • Blackladder claimed that “global poverty and inequality has declined significantly over recent decades,” a misleading statement based on using GDP to measure standard of living.

    More money flowing into an economy does not always translate to better living— in many “developping” countries, there are growing gaps between the rich and poor, and an unhealthy dependency on bigger economies (and corporations) for jobs and products (such as the US.) Self-sustainability, more options and consumer choice ease away poverty— not more money. The increase in money is often artificial, as any sweatshop laborer in LA will tell you (most of the money goes on increasing rent and product-prices, which remain high in developping areas due to lack of competition.)

    In short, boycotting sweatshops directly might not work, but reducing our reliance on them does. Otherwise, we are feeding into a global dependency.

25 Responses to Social Doctrine is Ours… Let's Take it Back!

  • I support the complete dissolution of the CCHD. The money could be used to help save Catholic schools from closing instead of funding socialist and anti-Catholic organizations that promote class warfare and hate.

  • In other words you disagree completely, Tito? 🙂

    Seriously, though: I happen to think that *everything* is redeemable/reformable, even CCHD. And as I argue, the idea — seeking to address poverty in a systemic & structural manner — is worth fighting for.

  • It’s worth fighting for, through Catholic organizations.

    I don’t like giving our money to anti-Catholic organizations that in the end would persecute us if given the chance.

  • I don’t either, which is why I support reforming CCHD, including ditching the ban on giving to Catholic entities.

  • I don’t know enough about addressing poverty through a systemic and structural manner, but I do trust our faith in doing what is needed in this area.

    The CCHD is completely incompetent and irrelevant to this task as much as the USCCB is (but that’s for another day).

    Let’s scuttle them altogether and come back with a new plan under a new committee in executing this. The CCHD is infested with self-avowed communists (Ralph McCloud) and leftist bishops that could give a damn about our faith unless it promotes social revolution (I am speaking in regards to Bishop Morin).

    Kick the bums out.

  • …promote class warfare and hate.

    Tito – you nailed it.

  • leftist bishops that could give a damn about our faith unless it promotes social revolution (I am speaking in regards to Bishop Morin).

    What are you referring to, Tito?

  • Chris,

    Bishop Roger Morin.

    His continued defense of the indefensible.

    After mountains of evidence showing that some of the programs funded by CCHD are anti-Catholic, he continues to deny that they aren’t.

    He lies through his teeth.

  • People who donate to the CCHD do so willingly, and partly because they know the campaign is about “human development.” (The other part if obedience to the envelope in their box.)

    Catholic catechesis is another fine opportunity to offer one’s material resources. And if such donations are made to students who are primarily poor, then that would be in keeping with the principle.

    However, the failure of Catholic schools is not a problem that can be fixed necessarily with money.

    The problems, real or perceived, of CCHD are also not going to be fixed by a drumbeat of insult, however couched in fact-checking rhetoric. People will give to the CCHD this weekend, and some will give more knowing others are on the warpath against it.

    Talking louder and more often does not seem to be convincing either bishops or CCHD leadership. Indeed, many high-profile conservative bishops have spoken in favor of CCHD.

    Giving to CCHD or not is a prudential issue. But it has the support of a large number of bishops. It would seem that CCHD’s most vehement detractors are practicing a variation of cafeteria Catholicism here. It is one thing to investigate the CCHD and its beneficiaries. Another to withhold one’s own money. Another to urge others not to donate. And entirely another to call a bishop a liar.

    Is this line of criticism effective or realistic?

  • “addressing poverty at a systemic & structural level is both necessary and thoroughly Catholic, ”

    I know the answer is not simple, but what does this mean? Does this mean Catholics are morally obligated to argue for government to redistribute wealth and provide social services?

    Is Catholic Social teaching a set of moral principles to inform politics or is it more than that?

  • Todd,

    It shines a light on a depraved process inside a decrepit organization.

    Because our bishops are beholden to no one and when they ignore charitable approaches to resolving the issue, they leave no room for discussion.

    Hence why I posted about it.

    Believe me, if my bishop would have listened to what I had to say and taken action I wouldn’t have posted this at all.

    And yes, this line of criticism is effective.

    Just because it makes you and others uncomfortable doesn’t make donating money to the CCHD right.

  • It strikes me that one of the additional sources of controversy surrounding “addressing poverty at a systemic & structural level” is that those with progressive and conservative dispositions will probably see what that would mean in very different ways.

    Painting in very broad strokes, conservatives tend to think that if people are given an education, opportunity, and a strong work ethic, that they will generally be able to improve things on their own, and at most will need direct help when they run into misfortunes.

    Progressives, on the other hand, often seem to think that people are already doing everything they could themselves be doing, and that what’s needed in order to improve their condition is for someone to come in and raise awareness so that the government will give them things or ordain that they will be paid more for the same work, etc.

    This doubtless results in a lot of difference over what a structural program that would assist those in poverty would actually look like. It also probably accounts for the fact that conservatives index more heavily towards liking direct aid for people currently in desperate circumstances — because they assume that once people in poverty have received some help to get back on their feet, that they’ll go and improve their overall condition themselves. I’ve often heard progressives dismiss such direct help as enabling poverty to continue — which probably makes sense if you assume that people are fundamentally incapable of improving their own conditions no matter what they do.

  • Tito, I wouldn’t interpret my stance here as discomfort. I’m a critic, and an unconventional one at that.

  • Echoing part of Darwin’s comment, I’d note — perhaps responding at least in part to Zach’s question — that “addressing poverty at a systemic & structural level” is not synonymous with calling for help from the government, let alone the feds. *Can* it mean that? Sure. Does it *have* to mean that? No.

    I subscribe to the theory that politics is downstream from culture… while there is certainly a feedback loop, culture is primary. So when I speak of addressing poverty at a systemic & structural level, I’m thinking first about efforts to change the culture of the local community, at the level of the local community. Darwin’s strokes are a bit overly broad for me (and he acknowledged their breadth)… I think there it’s thoroughly conservative to try to address the cultural underpinnings of poverty, and that’s what I’d like to see the CCHD do.

    Tito, the fact that Bishop Morin appears somewhat obtuse with regard to what CCHD funds in no way makes him a leftist who promotes social revolution.

  • CCHD is not reformable. It is not a person. It is a half-baked socialist idea that infiltrated the Church along with a great deal of other smoke from Hell.

    Human Development is a big theme, maybe the biggest, in the Pope’s most recent encyclical and it does not mean anything close to what CCHD does. CCHD is a dehumanizing and government-promoting endeavor masked with Catholic-sounding words that are used in a socialist context.

    A Catholic organization that is under the direction of the Church must be concerned with the salvation of souls before any other mission including feeding the poor. As a lay Catholic I am called to take care of all I come in contact with as I would Christ. The Church is not called to that to the same degree – the Church is called to save souls first. I can’t save a soul but I can feed a poor person – and I should be a good Cahtolic witness while I am at it.

    CCHD does none of these things. Time for it to die.

  • How is CCHD’s mission socialist, Knight? Why is it irreformable?

    Listen, the whole point of the post was to talk about the idea of development, not the way in which one organization has failed to promote human development worthily.

    I’d challenge your ecclesiology in the 3rd ‘graph, Knight… you are a part of the Church, of course, and as laymen we have a particular responsibility to carry out the mission of the Church, in a great many variety of ways. To refer to the Church as an entity separate from us is problematic… it leads to conclusions such as your charitable work is not the Church’s.

    I can’t stand the errors of CCHD more than anyone else, but I think it’s too soon to be talking the nuclear option.

  • It was set up on the Saul Alinksy radical model to fund non-Catholic social(ist) organizations.

    Why bother reforming it? We have many other better models to delivery Charity and Truth and stay true to Church teaching.

    Chris, we are members of the body of Christ, so yes, we are Church; however, a bishop can celebrate Mass and I cannot; a priest can hear confessions and I cannot. We are one church but we have different functions. It is time for Bishops to stick with pastoral care, administration of the Sacraments and informing our consciences in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Leave the community organizing to the proper ilk that are predisposed to that sort of thing.

  • “addressing poverty at a systemic & structural level is both necessary and thoroughly Catholic”

    I know the answer is not simple, but what does this mean? Does this mean Catholics are morally obligated to argue for government to redistribute wealth and provide social services?–Zach (12:54 pm)

    I’m suspicious of the true agenda of those who spout Leftist code phrases such as the one Zach identified. The basic moral instruction the Church should be giving to one and all is most proper and most effective way to address virtually all genuine “systemic and structural” poverty there is in the United States today.

    Envy (the practical motive of any leveller) and enabling destructively immoral behavior aren’t part of “the Church’s social teaching.”

  • AK has been swallowing talking points from too many sources. In one breath, he complains about “government-promoting endeavor” and in another “Saul Alinksy radical model (of) social(ist) organizations.”

    Yet again, we have an emphasis on charity to the exclusion of justice. Not to mention a seeming ignorance of Matthew 25.

    I don’t see CCHD going away any time soon. What happens to the Catholic Right is they’re stuck with it? Just another seasonal Angry Event.

  • Todd,

    I appreciate the criticism. It certainly helps in forming ideas. Please help me a little more. It seems that you think that ‘government-promoting endeavor’ and ‘Alinsky radical model’ are incompatible. Am I right? If so, why? I see them as one and the same dehumanizing force – please help me clarify your thoughts. I am not suggesting that you are wrong but I can’t see a reason to agree with you.

    Charity and Justice are also not mutually exclusive. I hope I did not suggest that. Charity, properly understood is Love. Justice is also Love, love of God and in that love our neighbor. I owe God justice by observing the precepts and commandments of His religion. I owe justice to my fellow man by the same mechanism.

    Charity can be taking care of the acute needs of the poor and Justice can be helping them solve the reason for their poverty. I am confident that faithful Catholics agree on that. Where we may disagree is on the means of how to achieve those noble goals. The Church doesn’t tell us how, and if she did she would not be infallible becuase the method is not a matter of faith or morals – the goal is.

    I am not in disagreement with the stated intention of CCHD. I am in disagreement with the means to that stated intention and also the evidence that in practice CCHD as worked to achieve the opposite ends.

  • ok, Knight, I’ll bite.

    Are you saying that the CCHD’s problem includes government? I can’t say I’ve followed the list of organization grants carefully, but I didn’t see any government agency on the list in my diocese.

    Our government is much more beholden to the excesses of capitalism and Big Bidness than socialism.

    I agree with you there are many dehumanizing forces in the world. They are much more often due to extremism that the particulars of philosophy. By themselves, socialism, federalism, capitalism, or most any other philosophy has good points rooted in what some people think to be a better way to live. The problem is when the philosophy becomes the idol and God is set aside.

  • Todd,

    It was not a debating snare. No need to bite. I think we are coming closer to some agreement.

    I don’t think CCHD gave any government agency money directly; however, many of the groups that received CCHD money also recieve government money. Unlike USCCB, the money from the government doesn’t come without strings (to be clear I think Catholic money should come with strings – strings that require witness to the Gospel). This effectively places our material charity in organizations with a secular-government slant, which renders the material charity devoid of true Charity.

    We also agree that our government is beholden to Big Bidness; however, we disagree that it is beholden to the excess of capitalism (I take you to mean free market capitalism). Greed is not inherant in capitalism; greed is inherent in fallen humans. The problem is we are taught to look at capitalism and socialism as oppsities, when in fact they are twin sisters. Socialism approaches economic and eventually total control from the angle of ‘social justice’ and ‘class struggle’. Capitalism approaches from the ‘market’ perspective. Both are lies.

    Socialism seeks to use social influence from the masses by promoting envy and coveting to wrest control from the ‘merchant class’ and capitalism seeks to use corporate consolidation (monopoly, duopoly) to wrest control from the ‘merhcant class’. The means both systems use is government coercion and the ends will be the same: Absolutism, either oligarchy or dictatorship. Keep in mind Russia’s errors would not have been possible without support from wealthy Western industrialists.

    In that case their is no room for charity or justice.

    We need to begin to approach our ‘systemic’ concerns from the perspective of true, authentic Charity (Caritas, which is Love) at the most reduced level: person to person and from there up and out respecting subsidiarity. This keeps Charity on the level of each of us loving our neigbor in Truth and also subsidiarity is more likely to promote Justice than consolidated power and decision making do.

    Authentic Human Development as expressed by the Church and most recently Papa Bene is only possible on the human level where in the institutions are subject to the human person rather than the human cog subject to the institutional machine.

    Like I said, we can fall into the quagmire of partisan and ideological rhetoric (I am very guilty of that) or we can transend and find authentic ways to promote the general welfare, the common good properly understood in light of Truth, since we have the same ends in mind: The Kingdom of Heaven. What we must remember is that we cannot seperate the means from the ends. We need to use His means to seek His ends becuase fallen human means and fallen human ends are hellish.

  • I’m for the nuclear option.

    I refuse to wait until my grandchildren get a corrective on CCHD.

    By then we’ll probably be the United Socialist States of America and that isn’t going to happen until they pull my gun away from my dead hands!

  • Chris,

    Thank you for the response – very helpful for me.

  • Pingback: Here and There « the other side of silence

Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-23-2009

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. I want to welcome Blackadder to American Catholic.  Yes, it’s belated, but needed nonetheless.  He has been an excellent addition to our fledgling website.  He’s written many exceptional posts over at Vox Nova and we are glad to have him here with us.  He also writes at the fine political group blog, Southern Appeal.

2. Meaningless word of the day, Ecumenism.

A close second, Interreligious Dialogue.

…which dovetails very well into my third pick…

Continue reading...

85 Responses to Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-23-2009

  • “Ecumenism” is a meaningless word? Tell that to the Vatican.

    “The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided. Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.”

    “Today, in many parts of the world, under the inspiring grace of the Holy Spirit, many efforts are being made in prayer, word and action to attain that fullness of unity which Jesus Christ desires. The Sacred Council exhorts all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism.”

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_unitatis-redintegratio_en.html

    “In the same way, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” recently published (1992), includes the ecumenical dimension as part of the basic teaching for all the faithful of the Church.”

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/general-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_19930325_directory_en.html

    This post is another fine representation of cafeteria Catholicism.

  • ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
    TO THE MEMBERS OF THE FOUNDATION
    FOR INTERRELIGIOUS AND INTERCULTURAL
    RESEARCH AND DIALOGUE

    Thursday, 1 February 2007

    Dear Friends,

    It is a joy for me, having been one of the founding members of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue, to meet you again and to welcome you today at the Vatican. I greet in particular His Royal Highness Prince Hassan of Jordan whom I have the pleasure to meet on this occasion.

    I thank H.E. Metropolitan Damaskinos of Andrianoupolis, your President, who has presented to me the first result of your work: a joint edition of the three Sacred Books of the three monotheistic religions in their original language and in chronological order. Indeed, this was the very first project we conceived of in creating the Foundation together, so as to “make a specific and positive contribution to the dialogue between cultures and religions”.

    As I have said on several occasions, in continuation with the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate and with my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, we, Jews, Christians and Muslims are called to develop the bonds that unite us.

    Indeed, it was this idea that led us to create this Foundation which aims to seek “the most essential and authentic message that the three monotheistic religions, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, can address to the world of the 21st century”, to give a new impetus to interreligious and intercultural dialogue by means of our common research and by highlighting and disseminating everything in our respective spiritual heritages that helps to strengthen fraternal ties between our communities of believers.

    Consequently, the Foundation had to work out an instrument of reference that would help us overcome misunderstandings and prejudices and offer a common platform for future work. Thus, you have produced this beautiful edition of the three books which are the source of our religious beliefs, creators of culture, that have made a deep mark on peoples and to which we are indebted today.

    The reinterpretation, and for some people, the discovery of the texts that so many people across the world venerate as sacred, demands mutual respect in trusting dialogue. Our contemporaries expect of us a message of harmony and peace and the practical expression of our common willingness to help them achieve their legitimate aspiration to live in justice and peace.

    They are entitled to expect of us a strong sign of renewed understanding and reinforced cooperation in accordance with the actual objective of the Foundation, which proposes to offer “to the world in this way a sign of hope and the promise of divine Blessings that always accompanies charitable action”.

    The Foundation’s work will contribute to a growing awareness of everything in the different cultures of our time which is in conformity with divine wisdom and serves human dignity, the better to discern and reject everything that usurps God’s name and deforms man’s humanity.

    Thus, we are invited to engage in a common task of reflection. This is a labour of reason for which I wholeheartedly appeal, with you, to be able to examine God’s mystery in the light of our respective religious traditions and wisdom so as to discern the values likely to illumine the men and women of all the peoples on earth, whatever their culture and religion.

    For this reason it is henceforth invaluable to have at our disposal a common reference point, thanks to the work you have done. Thus, we will be able to make headway in interreligious and intercultural dialogue which today is more necessary than ever: a true dialogue, respectful of differences, courageous, patient and persevering, which finds its strength in prayer and is nourished by the hope that dwells in all who believe in God and put their trust in him.

    Our respective religious traditions all insist on the sacred character of the life and dignity of the human person. We believe that God will bless our initiatives if they converge for the good of all his children and enable them to respect each other in brotherhood world-wide.

    Together with all people of good will, we aspire to peace. That is why I insist once again: interreligious and intercultural research and dialogue are not an option but a vital need for our time.

    May the Almighty bless your work and grant an abundance of his Blessings to you and to your loved ones!

  • Ecumenism is meaningless? Caritas in Veritate is poorly written?

    What the heck?

  • “What the heck?”

    ditto, and I rather liked Ut Unum Sint.

  • Ecumenism is meaningless in the sense that the neo-modernists and the left have misappropriated the term to mean the Catholic Church abandoning the principles upon which she was founded, in favor of a more generic and FALSE Christianity in order to appease the separated brethren sufficiently to establish some sort of loose affiliation which they would consider “unity”. That is FALSE ecumenism, with true ecumenism being the goal of restoring those separated brethren to the One True Church by abandoning their erroneous doctrines and invalid hierarchies.

    Tito did not say the latest encyclical is “poorly written” he acknowledged that some critics have said so. It clearly is more of a committee document than Benedict’s prior encyclicals.

    Ut Unam Sint? Good heavens, that is by far the worst encyclical since the 2nd Vatican Council, or perhaps EVER. There’s a reason that our current Holy Father as head of the Holy Office, issued a major clarification to restore proper understanding of the mission of the Church and the true meaning of Ecumenism.

  • If a text leads to a clarification later, that doesn’t mean the text itself is written badly (otherwise, we must all consider the Bible one of the worst books ever written). Theology is always engaged with this kind of work; compare St Cyril of Alexandria vs Pope St Leo; I wouldn’t call Cyril a bad writer because he doesn’t use the advanced terminology of Leo, because, well, he didn’t have use of it in his time!

  • “Neo-modernists”? Who are these people in the Church who have with their practice so destroyed the meaning of ecumenism? Are they Church officials? Bishops’ conferences? Renegade theologians? General ill-willers?

  • Henry & Alan,

    Could you find for me in Ut Unum Sint what the definition of “ecumenism” is?

    I doubt you can find it.

  • Tito

    Can you find in the Bible a definition of the Trinity? Does it make the Trinity not in the Bible? Documents are after written with the presupposition that the basic terms within it don’t need to be defined.

  • Henry Karlson,

    Even the text of infallible proclamations/documents does not necessarily make them impeccable.

    Your point concerning thus seems to make the case that such documents are indeed so.

    If that is the case, your contention is as remarkably risible as Tito’s TACO is as derisive.

  • Henry K.,

    I didn’t say Bible, I said Ut Unum Sint.

    Again, you can’t find it because Pope John Paul II never defined “ecumenism”.

    Ecumenism is a protestant invented word. Nowhere is it defined.

    It is so ambiguous it could mean anything, ipso facto, it can be meaningless.

  • Ecumenism is a protestant invented word.

    I think if we wanted to start digging into the origins of much of the vocabulary commonly utilized in Catholic theology, the origins will not be majority Catholic.

  • “Ecumenism is a protestant invented word. Nowhere is it defined.”

    A couple things, you are arguing a Latin document to define words in English? Again this is rather weird. Second, the source of the word is Greek, and nowhere I see is the word “invented by Protestantism.” You will find ecumenism engaged long before Protestants.

    While the word itself is not defined in the document, the activity which the Church supports is given throughout. More importantly, just because a document doesn’t define the meaning for you, doesn’t make it meaningless, just as the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, but not meaningless. Again, this is basic — the arguments you make remind me of Protestants as they argue definitions “via the Bible.” They don’t understand definitions are presupposed if a word is used, and the Bible doesn’t define words, just as a Papal Encyclical doesn’t have to define every word it uses to make the word meaningful.

    As for a fine example of dissident Catholicism, just remember who it is pointing at the Church and telling it that its declarations are in error! You are telling the Church it is calling us to something meaningless, not I. This is the example of your clear Cafeteria style Catholicism. It is quite apparent you don’t listen to the Church, you only take things out of context for your non-Catholic political ideology, and if the Church says different, you begin to mock the Church.

  • HK,

    issued a major clarification to restore proper understanding of the mission of the Church

    First let me correct the record, the clarification was issued after the ascension of Benedict XVI to the papacy, and so was under the prefect Cdl. Levada technically (though clearly it was written by and/or closely supervised by Benedict XVI).

    Secondly, this clarification after only 12 years is in no way related to re-examinations of the early fathers work 100’s of years later. They’re just not the same thing. The document in question is not simply an analysis, it is corrective. The corrective was necessary because the neo-modernists and leftists began taking advantage of the difficulties in Ut Unum Sint to further their destructive efforts, completely ignoring 2000 years of doctrine. The same occurred after the documents of the 2nd Vatican Council.

  • Michael

    It is true that the origin of the word is not important (most words can probably be traced back to pagans), but in this case, he is also in error. The word is derived from Greek – and is cognate with “economy.” Ecumenism isn’t a modern phenomena – again, as I have said, all one has to do is look back in time, and one will find Florence, which was 15th century ecumenism.

  • Matt

    You really should look into the time between Ephesus and Chalcedon, and also, the reaction of those who opposed Chalcedon. You will find that clarification was indeed needed, soon after Ephesus, but that does not dismiss the value of Ephesus itself. This is the same thing. The Church is always engaging, going deeper, bringing up something new.

  • Tito,

    Ut Unum Sint is built on top of the Second Vatican Council’s decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, which notes the following:

    “The term “ecumenical movement” indicates the initiatives and activities planned and undertaken, according to the various needs of the Church and as opportunities offer, to promote Christian unity.”

    I would recommend a careful reading of Unitatis Redintegratio to frame Ut Unum Sint. Having read some responses to Ut Unum Sint, primarily on the part of some Orthodox, it’s impact is important. To pass it off as some sort of Protestant invention is, in my opinion, silly.

  • HK,

    So because you can’t find the definition you begin your ad hominem attacks on me.

    Typical Vox Nova poster.

  • Tito

    No, I didn’t make any ad hominems — heck, there is a post on VN you need to read, now that you make that claim.

  • Alan Phipps,

    you should also review Unam Sanctum, Redemptoris Missio to properly understand the Church’s teaching on how unity is to be restored and maintained. Where Peter is there is the Church, he is the earthly sign of unity.

  • Tito, I think you’re being willfully obtuse on this.

  • Matt,

    I’m only helping to frame Ut Unum Sint. I don’t dispute that “ecumenism” has been hijacked by some groups to mean something it does not. I don’t think your beef is really with me.

  • Henry K.,

    “the ecumenical movement really began within the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the Reform”.
    –Ut Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II

    Ut Unum Sint is not ex cathedra.

    Pope Pius XI condemned any attempts at ecumenism in Mortalium Animos.

    Pope Pius XII made a prediction concerning the problems of ecumenism, being of Protestant orgigen:

    “I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that would be represented by the alteration of the faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul… I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past.”

  • Ecumenism is but a vile virus that has become an apparent plague on Rome, which will ultimately lead to its very undoing.

    You need only take notice of purported Catholics who are nothing but Gnostics in disguise, succumbing to various heresies and cultish folk practices given to the provocation of the spirits.

  • Tito, it’s interesting that you dismiss one encyclical by citing another, and bolster it with a purported quote from Pope Pius XII that only appears as a “so-and-so said he heard that the Pope said” kind of quote on far-right Traditionalist websites. It would appear that cherry-picking isn’t only a left-wing activity.

  • e.,

    Well I wouldn’t go that far.

    “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”
    – – Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 16:18

    Ecumenism may have harmed the Church but it won’t be it’s ruin.

  • JohnH,

    I am not dismissing Ut Unum Sint, I am just pointing out that it isn’t ex cathedra and there still needs to be a better clarification on the subject of ecumenism.

    40 years of “ecumenism” has produced zero, “0”, results.

    Outside of cut-off chicken heads at Fatima and heathens desecrating the churches of Assissi, it has been fruitless.

  • JohnH,

    And no, I didn’t pick the quote from “traditionalist” websites, I got it from the Vatican website. Unless of course you are accusing the Vatican of being traditionalist.

    Take a chill pill dude.

  • Alan Phipps,

    I’m only helping to frame Ut Unum Sint. I don’t dispute that “ecumenism” has been hijacked by some groups to mean something it does not. I don’t think your beef is really with me.

    there’s no beef really, I just want to point out that one can’t properly understand Ut Unam Sint by reading it and Unitatis Redentigratio (UR). One must also read older documents, and the correctives from Redemptoris Missio, Dominus Iesus and the doctrinal note which followed from UR.

    Speaking of which, after further research, Dominus Iesus was in fact issued under Cdl. Ratzinger as a corrective for UUS and only 5 years after it’s issue, subsequently another corrective was issued under Cdl. Levada.

    e.,

    Ecumenism is but a vile virus that has become an apparent plague on Rome, which will ultimately lead to its very undoing.

    I don’t think it’s possible for Rome to be “ultimately” undone, pretty sure Christ assured us of that. Clearly the false understanding of ecumenism has been a vile virus which harms the Body of Christ but can not destroy it.

  • “Neo-modernists”? Who are these people in the Church who have with their practice so destroyed the meaning of ecumenism? Are they Church officials? Bishops’ conferences? Renegade theologians? General ill-willers?

    Christopher Ferrara in his critique of ecumenism places the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the most recently deceased pontiff. The Latin Mass has an occasional feature on the problems which ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue have presented and Ferrara and Woods write at length on the subject in The Great Facade.

  • Tito, you need to know how to read things in context; Pope John Paul II, in saying, “the ecumenical movement really began within the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the Reform,” is of course talking about the modern ecumenical movement in the 20th century. However it is not the foundation of ecumenism, which is something else.

  • And no, I didn’t pick the quote from “traditionalist” websites, I got it from the Vatican website. Unless of course you are accusing the Vatican of being traditionalist.

    OK, please show me where that quote shows up on the Vatican website. The one that begins with “I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucy of Fatima.” I can only find it though sedevacantist / SSPX websites.

  • Henry K.,

    I agree with you on that point.

    Like you, I want all Christians united.

    I just wished that Pope John Paul II would have used more concise language than the ambiguities that are infested in Ut Unum Sint.

    I doubt Ut Unum Sint will ever be as relevant as when it was first issued. Like Vatican II, it will be our children who will see what is effective and what is not effective.

    You and I are on the same side, we want to evangelize the world.

  • “Dominus Iesu” was actually not written as a corrective to UUS, but to deal with some Catholic theologians engaging a broad form of pluralism which rendered Jesus insignificant. It was an internal theological document, not a document which was at all written in response to ecumenism.

  • “Outside of cut-off chicken heads at Fatima and heathens desecrating the churches of Assissi, it has been fruitless.”

    I think that such a conclusion is short sighted. There has been great strides in our ecumenical efforts with the Eastern Orthodox, and hopefully with the TAC. Did you read Unitatis Redintegratio? Just because it doesn’t move according to your schedule or expectations doesn’t make it fruitless. Nor is it rendered irrelevant when other groups reduce enumenism to indifferentism, which the church has also condemned.

  • JohnH.,

    I was referring to Mortalium Animos.

    Please, where is the evidence of any ecumenical success?

  • ““I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that would be represented by the alteration of the faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul… I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past.””

    Speaks nothing of ecumenism. As the Church makes clear, even in UUS, ecumenism is not about the alteration of Church teaching; it is not a syncretism.

  • Matt,
    Cardinal Levada’s document was in response to misinterpretations of and questions about Dominus Iesus, which was issued by the CDF under Joseph Ratzinger.

  • Sorry, Matt, I missed where you noted the correct timeline. Shouldn’t have skimmed through the subsequent responses.

  • Matt McDonald:

    Agreed; however, it has most assuredly not only harmed the Body of Christ, but it has done so to such remarkable extent so as to disfigure it almost rendering it to where you can hardly see the Catholicism of today as actually being “Catholic”.

  • Henry Karlson,

    “Dominus Iesu” was actually not written as a corrective to UUS, but to deal with some Catholic theologians engaging a broad form of pluralism which rendered Jesus insignificant. It was an internal theological document, not a document which was at all written in response to ecumenism.

    Unless you’re actually familiar with the “ecumenism movement” in which case you would know it has been drifting towards pluralism since the 70’s and recognize that this illicit movement had used UUS to further it’s cause, thus justifying it’s inclusion in the discussion.

    Alan,

    I think that such a conclusion is short sighted. There has been great strides in our ecumenical efforts with the Eastern Orthodox, and hopefully with the TAC. Did you read Unitatis Redintegratio? Just because it doesn’t move according to your schedule or expectations doesn’t make it fruitless. Nor is it rendered irrelevant when other groups reduce enumenism to indifferentism, which the church has also condemned.

    Tito forgot to mention the illicit inter-communion which the Canadian Bishops have all but publicly embraced… I don’t think Tito is objecting to the TRUE ecumenism which is going on with the Orthodox and TAC, he is rejecting false ecumenism (on that he ought to be more precise) as does the Church.

  • e., sounds like you’d agree with this fellow:

    Ecumenism — is one of the mechanisms by which this mixing is achieved in practice. It is a relatively recent satanic invention, which already proved to be a huge success. Under the guise of “super-Christian love” it attempts to blur and, eventually, destroy the boundaries of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, depriving the faithful of the Holy Mysteries and corrupting their souls.

    Except that he’s not Roman Catholic.

    http://ecumenizm.tripod.com/ECUMENIZM/index.html

    And Tito–if you want to find out what the fruits of ecumenism have been, why not ask some of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Rite priests who have been doing mission work in Russia? I’m sure if you look around, you could get a good perspective on it. The efforts have not been fruitless, especially in building trust within countries that traditionally have been fiercely anti-Rome.

  • So “ecumenism” means being “nice” to others?

    I thought charity fell under that category, but I guess ecumenism is the new “charity”.

    So ecumenism means being nice to others, but not necessary being one Church.

    See the confusion?

  • “Unless you’re actually familiar with the “ecumenism movement” in which case you would know it has been drifting towards pluralism since the 70’s and recognize that this illicit movement had used UUS to further it’s cause, thus justifying it’s inclusion in the discussion.”

    Not true at all; it is quite apparent you are the one who has not studied the movement, but rather, strawmen about the movement itself; indeed, as I pointed out, UUS has criticized this idea of ecumenism, so it can’t be seen as supporting this notion at all. More importantly, if you look at the bi-lateral dialogues between Catholicism and others, you will note doctrine is significant, and the Orthodox, who have always been with the WWC, have always put forward as the difference of doctrine is a fundamental issue and cannot be dismissed for some “super-church” which ignores the distinctions. Sergius Bulgakov consistently insisted the ecumenical movement address Mary, btw.

  • e. ,

    Agreed; however, it has most assuredly not only harmed the Body of Christ, but it has done so to such remarkable extent so as to disfigure it almost rendering it to where you can hardly see the Catholicism of today as actually being “Catholic”.

    not everywhere, but certainly in many places.

  • JohnH:

    Stuff it and quite putting words in my mouth; regardless of the fact that even previous popes themselves opposed ecumenism and for good reason, too!

    Truly, the Smoke of Satan has already infiltrated the Church, as had even been prophesied by a well-respected pope; one need only see the many modern-day ‘Catholic’ churches, which are more like pagan sacrificial worship sites or your local protestant gathering place, as well as attend any number of ‘services’ to see its dispicable fruits which, thus, evince an overwhelming evidence for the center of such villainy.

  • So “ecumenism” means being “nice” to others?

    No. I think you are confused, or possibly being obtuse again. The efforts at ecumenism in Russia and elsewhere have opened doors for Catholics working in these countries.

  • JohnH,

    Again with ‘obtuse’.

    Show me the evidence that Michael Denton so often begs for that we are making inroads in Russia.

    I have heard our Russian Orthodox brothers complain about this, yet I don’t see any evidence of this.

    As of today, Rome and Moscow have no plans to reunite.

    Shoot, they don’t want us to walk within a hundred miles of the Russian border.

  • e.: I’m pretty weary of the whole “I’m more Catholic than Rome” schtick.

  • Tito: you can talk with the priests from here:

    http://www.vladmission.org/

    next time they are in the US. I know Fr. Dan is back and forth quite a bit. Or you can e-mail them for a chat (though the internet there is wonky).

  • JohnH,

    Thanks!

    I sincerely appreciate this because I love conversion stories and I would like to know how the whole “conversion of Russia” scene is playing out.

    Saint Padre Pio once said that the Russians will convert to Catholicism before the Americans, and they will teach us how to convert.

    Yes, I am being sincere, thank you!

  • You are welcome.

  • Henry K.,

    I have read those in the past, but I mostly stick to InterFax and Patriarchia for my Russian Orthodox news, and they haven’t been as friendly nor as optimistic:

    http://www.interfax-religion.com/

    http://www.patriarchia.ru/

    (use a translator for the second link)

  • fruits of ecumenism:

    ?

    Not sure what that has to do with ecumenism.

  • Henry Karlson Says Thursday, July 23, 2009 A.D.
    “Ecumenism” is a meaningless word? Tell that to the Vatican”.

    “This post is another fine representation of cafeteria Catholicism”.

    What is cafeteria-like about it is the avoidance of specifics. It is headline writing. All fog and fuss, no way to answer it.

  • e. Says Thursday, July 23, 2009 A.D. at 10:55 am
    “Henry Karlson,
    Even the text of infallible proclamations/documents does not necessarily make them impeccable”.

    Surely there is some confusion here about the meaning of “impeccable”.

    [NB: “not necessarily” is a meaningless weasel phrase].

  • Gabriel Austin:

    Are you much a fool as you are incapable of discerning what “necessarily” actually construes? Or are you so devoid of philosophic/theologic training so as to be wholly incapable of noting what is necessary and what is sufficient?

    Furthermore, the fact of the matter remains that just because something is, in fact, infallible does not actually render it “impeccable”; if that were indeed the case, that one is saying that any such infallible decree has been rendered remarkably perfect.

    For your information, neither professional Catholic theologians and even then Cardinal Ratzinger think so.

  • I doubt anyone here had trouble understanding what e. means in using the word “impeccable” even if it was not perfectly applied (which I don’t concede).

  • You guys are hilarious.

    Here, for your edification:

    [I]nfallibility has never been said to entail impeccability, the fact that some bishops and popes have been quite peccable indeed is irrelevant as an objection to the doctrine that they are infallible under certain conditions. By the same token, infallibility is not a prerogative that men enjoy as men. Since only God is infallible by nature, infallibility is a divine gift to the Church that nobody deserves or can attain by their own efforts. Such a gift is also negative rather than positive: it does not entail that the irreformable pronouncements of the Magisterium are divinely inspired, or opportune, or even particularly well-formulated; it entails only that the Magisterium will never bind the Church definitively to a statement that is false.

    There, I’m done with informing the ignorant.

  • Pingback: Ecumenism! Ecumenism! « The American Catholic
  • e.,

    There, I’m done with informing the ignorant.

    I would advise you to not attend anymore Jesuit conferences if that is the case.

  • e. Says Thursday, July 23, 2009 A.D. at 2:41 pm
    “Gabriel Austin:
    Are you much a fool as you are incapable of discerning what “necessarily” actually construes? Or are you so devoid of philosophic/theologic training so as to be wholly incapable of noting what is necessary and what is sufficient?”

    I permit myself to reprove you with (Matthew 5:22) – “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

    “Furthermore, the fact of the matter remains that just because something is, in fact, infallible does not actually render it “impeccable”; if that were indeed the case, that one is saying that any such infallible decree has been rendered remarkably perfect”.

    Does not change the fact that you seem to have confused infallible with impeccable [which was nowhere discussed].

    Why do you hide behind an initial? Just curious.

    Interesting that in your informing [instructing?] the ignorant, you give a quotation but not a reference. Please do continue not to instruct [inform?] us.

  • I’m the one who has infallible confused with impeccable?

    Thus, says the man whose comments seemed to imply that an infallibile decree is actually flawless [impeccable].

    Now, go find a box somewhere upon which to recover your poise as you certainly need it!

  • Tito’s anti-Catholic recklessness continues and his co-bloggers remain silent.

  • Even those bloggers here with whom I greatly disagree, I would not accuse of either recklessness or anti-Catholicism.

  • e. Says Friday, July 24, 2009 A.D. at 2:44 pm
    “I’m the one who has infallible confused with impeccable?”

    Yes.

    “Thus, says the man whose comments seemed to imply that an infallibile decree is actually flawless [impeccable]”.

    “Seem to imply”. More weasel words. Have you a citation?

    “Now, go find a box somewhere upon which to recover your poise as you certainly need it!”

    Is this meant to make sense? Or is it merely an attempt to be offensive? If the latter, you need more practice. Read some Jonathan Swift.

  • Foxfier – I’m not accusing “the bloggers” of anything in the abstract. I am accusing Tito of specific actions here that are reckless and anti-Catholic.

  • I’m not accusing “the bloggers” of anything in the abstract.

    Incorrect; you accused them of allowing and– by their silence– promoting anti-Catholicism.

    That is both abstract– lacking as it is specific examples of “anti-Catholicism”– and an accusation.

  • Gabriel Austin:

    Are you that deficient in cognitive abilities? My comments were in fact making a distinction between the two.

    Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything more especially from a pompous trogoldyte who hails from the lesser races and believes adverbs are anathema.

  • Tito’s hatred of the Church’s teaching on ecumenism and his hatred of Archbishop Oscar Romero are evidence of his anti-Catholicism.

  • And speaking of so-called “weasel words”:

    “Does not change the fact that you seem to have confused infallible with impeccable [which was nowhere discussed].”

    By the way, you’re the one who has completely conflated the two since you actually are of the opinion that just because something happens to be infallible, it is indeed impeccable [flawless], or else you wouldn’t have taken issue with it to begin with (unless, of course, that’s just your way of demonstrating how you take being an arse to an art form!).

    So, go take your faux Catholicism elsewhere and stick your arrogance to where the sun don’t shine; I’ve had it with not only your pernicious mischaracterizations and condescending pettiness but, more especially, your constant pharisaic delectations, which are nothing more than a devious disguise to hide a clearly hideously fiendish nature underneath all that supposedly Christian exterior!

  • The only time Tito has written about Archbishop Romero was when he complemented you for praying to an uncanonized saint, and added prayers to Fr. Kolbe.
    (do a google site search, if you doubt)

    You seem to have a bit of a problem with facts.

  • Foxfier – You must have missed our conversation the other day on this blog about Romero.

  • Iafrate:

    At worst, Tito may be classified as careless or even thoughtless in some respects; however, to actually label the man “anti-Catholic” would seem to me to be wholly unjustified.

  • Michael,

    Yes Tito expressed belief in the accounts given to him by several Salvadoran friends indicating that Archbishop Romero had been hiding guns to help the guerrillas in that insanely long comment thread last week. No, I do not think it likely that his friends were right to believe that — though given their personal sufferings at the hands of the communist revolutionaries there I can see why Tito would.

    However, that in no way indicates “hatred” or anti-Catholicism, and while I won’t delete your original comment making that accusation (since it’s not my thread) I am going to stake out a line and tell you to stop it, or else I’ll delete any further comments from you along these lines.

    If you have something substantive to say, say it, but if you’re working on your extensive hate-list, we’re not interested.

  • Interesting to note that Iafrate is committing the very same kind of calumny that he was berating Tito for in a previous thread.

  • e. Says Monday, July 27, 2009 A.D. at 10:46 am

    [I must say I don’t know why I bother. Nonetheless to prevent the spread of error}.

    “you actually are of the opinion that just because something happens to be infallible, it is indeed impeccable [flawless]”.

    I would be curious for a citation citing my opinion on this confusion. The error is in the definition of impeccable as flawless. Perhaps in common usage. But in theology, impeccable means without sin.

    [Again, I ask myself why I bother].

  • And what, pray tell, was it in my comments that made you believe I was actually employing the term in its seeming officially accepted theological meaning?

    Especially since you yourself so much as admitted that its common usage (as well as according to Webster’s dic. and, not to mention, the fact that a certain Catholic Theologian himself also utilized the same term in the same sense I had applied thus in my own comments) is meant to contrue “flawless”, as I had indeed intended then.

    Regardless, that does not render (even slightly — and, if anything, your constant harangues only solifies support for my original position) my original statement wholly nugatory: the fact that just because something happens to be infallible, it doesn’t mean it’s actually impeccable!

    [Why do I even bother?]

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An Encyclical Prediction

Tuesday, July 7, AD 2009

Thus far I’ve only had the chance to read the first couple pages of Caritas in Veritate, however seeing the first rounds of blog and media reaction rolling forth from both sides of the Catholic political spectrum I would like to indulge in revisitting a prediction from the beginning of the year:

9. The much discussed social encyclical will finally be issued — and all sides of the Catholic political spectrum will within several days claim that it supports the positions they already held.

Regardless of one’s political position, if the main thing one gets from reading the encyclical is, “I am right, and my opponents are all fools or villains” then you probably aren’t reading very carefully. Hopefully most Catholics taking the time to discuss Caritas in Veritate will take the time to read at a deeper level than that.

Continue reading...

41 Responses to An Encyclical Prediction

  • Then you’re probably not. 🙂

  • Then we will lecture you on the effects of confirmation bias and intellectual pride, Henry. 😉

    That said, I think Weigel’s proposed hermeneutic is problematic:

    But then there are those passages to be marked in red — the passages that reflect Justice and Peace ideas and approaches that Benedict evidently believed he had to try and accommodate.

    Um, shouldn’t we read the document as an expression of Benedict’s considered opinion, rather than assuming any parts we dislike were reluctant concessions?

  • Amen, Darwin.

    Poking around the libertarian sites I frequent, the anti-Catholic bigots along with the ignorant have already started coming out of the woodwork. No doubt something similar will occur on the left, who will go ga-ga over any phrase that can be interpreted as a tacit endorsement of state intervention.

    I’ve only had a chance to read the opening sections myself, but hope to post my thoughts on this important encyclical from a more libertarian, free market POV…

  • But what if I were?

    In all seriousness, the idea that one cannot have been right beforehand is indicative of an idea which goes against the nature of the encyclical itself: the idea that this is a leap away from tradition, and something entirely new, outside of the bounds of what has existed within the Church until this time. This, however, is not the case.

    That many people are not within the “right” or “left” divide, and have consistently rejected it, should itself place them more comfortably within the position of being one who can already be seen as following the dictates of the encyclical itself. Now, I would say, most Americans are not too familiar with all the theological, economic, and philosophical presuppositions within Benedict’s writings, and so it would make it more difficult for an average person to know what to expect; on the other hand, one who actively engages Benedict and his sources, and has watched him and his work within the social doctrine for decades, will not be surprised here. Really.

  • Weigel’s approach is…um…nope, can’t think of any PG words to describe it. The idea that Benedict is too weak to stand up to the liberal forces inside the Vatican is so preposterous…

  • In all seriousness, the idea that one cannot have been right beforehand…

    Henry, I apologize for not being clearer: I was completely, entirely kidding. I haven’t seen anything that surprising from this encyclical (so far – I’m not finished yet) either.

  • JH

    I will agree — those who predetermine that the encyclical is to be read within a hermeneutic of suspicion, to distance themselves from the challenges within to fit their own bias, that is erroneous. This is true not only for Weigel; Novak certainly has this problem. Now, I don’t think I would expect many on the “left” (using the American idea) would say that Benedict’s position is identical with theirs, but they would admit there is debate between him and them, but I guess, it is possible some from them will come up and say “it is in perfect agreement with us.” Please, if you find such, show me!

  • What a perfect post, both for Weigel and his mirror image on the left (the MMs of the world).

  • Henry,

    I don’t really look at this from a left/right perspective. There are good faith attempts to interpret a document, and even good faith arguments to discredit other interpretations, and then there are outright dismissals of portions of the document (e.g. Weigel). I see little distinction between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ here, but I’d be relieved and happy to see America trumpeting the pro-life portions of the encyclical.

  • Having read and discussed the encyclical with Katerina, it does not seem that the encyclical can be spun to support neo-liberalism. I think this fact is displayed in Weigel’s piece where he parses out that with which he agrees (the “Benedictine” parts) and those with which he does not (the Justice and Peace parts). Kat and I are also in agreement that the strong sections on respect for human life and the reaffirmation of the singular importance of Humanae Vitae means that the encyclical cannot be hijacked by those who want to emphasize only the strictly economic parts of the encyclical. Pope Benedict XVI brilliantly tied morality and social doctrine together in such a way that the encyclical makes little sense without the respect for life sections. Like Weigel, those who want to argue otherwise are going to have to concoct some narrative about how some sections of the encyclical are more important or more true than others, the latter of which can be disregarded.

    In any case, I think that the Church’s traditional critique of Marxism is now met with a solid critique of neo-liberalism. The emphasis distributive justice, solidarity among diverse populations, and transnational juridical frameworks for global markets sounds very much like social democracy to me (which would make sense given Bavaria’s politics). But I do not say any of this with certainty, so don’t hold it against me!

  • M.J. (it’s going to take me a while to get used to the new handle) was too polite to link to it, but here’s his full length post on the encyclical:

    http://evangelicalcatholicism.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/the-authority-of-catholic-social-teaching-why-should-catholics-take-the-new-encylical-seriously/

    I haven’t finished it, but it’s worthwhile reading.

  • Henry,

    In all seriousness, the idea that one cannot have been right beforehand is indicative of an idea which goes against the nature of the encyclical itself: the idea that this is a leap away from tradition, and something entirely new, outside of the bounds of what has existed within the Church until this time. This, however, is not the case.

    Well, I think it depends very much what one means by “right beforehand” — and I’ll be the first to admit that being excessively pithy results in being far less precise.

    I’ll admit that I’m saying this while only 10% done reading the encyclical, so perhaps this one will abandon the mold followed by all previous CST, but I would very strongly suspect that if anyone believes that CiV clearly and definitely endorses a particular political/economic program and structure is probably reading his assumptions into it. There are, in the many times and places where Catholicism has found itself, many ways of pursuing a just society, and there is not one form which we as Catholics must endorse in all times and places. This is what makes CST very different from all the utopian -isms which are floating around the modern political consciousness.

    This is the sense in which I would predict that if someone with a particular political agenda reads the encyclical and immediately thinks, “This proves I’m right and everyone else is wrong,” he’s misreading it.

    Also you ask:

    Now, I don’t think I would expect many on the “left” (using the American idea) would say that Benedict’s position is identical with theirs, but they would admit there is debate between him and them, but I guess, it is possible some from them will come up and say “it is in perfect agreement with us.” Please, if you find such, show me!

    I don’t know about “in perfect agreement with us”, but there seems to be a certain amount of “the pope used some words we like, so he must be endorsing our political agenda” thinking in comments such as this one:

    This is so clear, there’s no way to spin this one.

    Distributive justice? Redistribution of wealth? Isn’t that what Obama was attacked for? Same words that Benedict uses.

    Similar comments in the creation that appears on the Commonweal blog thus far.

  • The Encyclical rather strikes me like a variant of the song from the play A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: “Something for everyone, an encyclical tonight!” I found parts that I liked, parts that I didn’t like, parts I found confusing and parts I found literally incomprehensible. Other parts I found nice, like reforming the UN, but as likely of accomplishment as Ahmadinejad announcing his conversion to the True Faith. Ah well, something new to battle about for awhile on Saint Blogs.

    Here is Weigel’s take since his name was mentioned above:
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NTdkYjU3MDE2YTdhZTE4NWIyN2FkY2U5YTFkM2ZiMmE=&w=MA==

  • Weigel again?

    Just how many neocons infest TAC?

  • Charming, e.

  • e., you really don’t want to be the first person to be placed in moderation by both Joe and me in the history of The American Catholic do you?

  • Charming, e.

    As is Weigel’s notoriously biased account of the Good Pope’s encyclical; claiming that the good parts must have assuredly been from His Holiness himself (imagine that?) while the rest the he found disagreeable (and even, to some extent, tried to discredit and even demonized) were merely products inserted by some clueless, cryptic cosa nostrain the Vatican that Benedict had to somehow accomodate.

    That whole dismissive attitude of his towards such sections seems only to corroborate all the more his wont to color Pope Benedict’s encylical into little more than his lil’ ass upon which he seeks to sit upon and ride all the way to Jerusalem — making the pontiff’s profound work into nothing more than a pawn to advance his end game.

  • Donald:

    Surely, you don’t regard Weigel as some sort of gold standard that all most pay homage to?

    Did you even read his review with some modest degree of impartiality?

    The man surreptitiously attempted to turn the encyclical to something less, making those elements within it that he agreed with as coming from the Pope himself, while those he found distasteful the product of some phantom menace in the Vatican.

    Please tell me that you are ‘Catholic’ and not given to this rather coarse hermeneutic that’s notoriously based on left/right polity rather than ‘Christian’ ideal, which latter this encyclical quite rightly attempted to address.

  • I can tell this debate is going to be fun.. 🙂

    And I had such high hopes for my post on advertising this morning. Ha! Who am I to compete with a new encyclical!

  • Its like Farah Fawcett competing with Michael Jackson.

  • e, I would agree that it is far too easy to assume that what one likes in an encyclical is the pure papal teaching and what one dislikes is caused by bureaucrats in the Vatican. However, in modern times most encyclicals have had heavy involvement from the various departments of the Vatican.

    I truly hope the tourism section is the product of a Vatican bureaucrat:

    “An illustration of the significance of this problem is offered by the phenomenon of international tourism[141], which can be a major factor in economic development and cultural growth, but can also become an occasion for exploitation and moral degradation. The current situation offers unique opportunities for the economic aspects of development — that is to say the flow of money and the emergence of a significant amount of local enterprise — to be combined with the cultural aspects, chief among which is education. In many cases this is what happens, but in other cases international tourism has a negative educational impact both for the tourist and the local populace. The latter are often exposed to immoral or even perverted forms of conduct, as in the case of so-called sex tourism, to which many human beings are sacrificed even at a tender age. It is sad to note that this activity often takes place with the support of local governments, with silence from those in the tourists’ countries of origin, and with the complicity of many of the tour operators. Even in less extreme cases, international tourism often follows a consumerist and hedonistic pattern, as a form of escapism planned in a manner typical of the countries of origin, and therefore not conducive to authentic encounter between persons and cultures. We need, therefore, to develop a different type of tourism that has the ability to promote genuine mutual understanding, without taking away from the element of rest and healthy recreation. Tourism of this type needs to increase, partly through closer coordination with the experience gained from international cooperation and enterprise for development.”

    That struck me as just plain odd to be in a papal encyclical. Of course all it comes out in the name of the Pope, but parts of the encyclical have a committee feel to me.

  • e., I didn’t say I agreed with everything that Weigel said. He was being treated above in this thread as if he were a leper, and frankly nothing he wrote I haven’t seen written by many commentators whenever an ecyclical comes out. As I noted in my last comment, most modern encyclicals are very much a group effort, and I don’t think it is particularly scandalous to conjecture which department in the Vatican influenced the Pope to add a section in an encyclical.

  • By the way Anthony I did like your post and I hope we will see further posts from you for AC.

  • Thanks, Don. I’m coming to really enjoy the site.

  • Donald:

    Out of profound respect for you, rather than press the issue further and engage in more depth examination of the various particulars concerning the matter (as doing thus would ultimately and most assuredly earn me certain excommunication beyond the already seething vitriol against me by Joe et al.), I shall pass up the polemics.

  • Hey, come on e, I haven’t seethed anything at you lately.

    I don’t hold grudges. Water under the bridge.

  • Yeah, sorry, Anthony. I’d thought it would take people couple days to digest the encyclical and we could get the advertising piece in before the storm. Silly me. 🙂

    Hopefully we’ll get back to it — or perhaps I’ll repost in a week or two if it gets totally lost in the shuffle.

  • I want to get back to it, Darwin and Anthony. So with three of us interested, it will happen 🙂

  • Thank you e. All comments about the encyclical right now should, I think, be taken as very preliminary observations. There is a lot in it, and one read through as I have done, only allows me to have some very general impressions. I look forward to analyses from all sides in the days to come, especially in regard to passages I find confusing.

  • For those with vocations and current states in life which allow more study: I would like to state that I had pictured a quiet evening of having dinner, reading to the kids, and then reading the encyclical. However, there has been a minor change in plans, which involves several hours scrubbing marker off the wood floors with a series of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and scrupulously avoiding beating my children.

    St. Paul was right when he said that a man who has a wife and children and mortgage and floors finds himself distracted from the work of the lord at times. Consider this consolation all ye single people.

    Any commentary from me will be at a later date. 🙁

  • Your predicament Darwin reminds me of the time I went out to our front room and found my then 3 year old sons had decided that the rocking horse needed a ring around it drawn in shrimp sauce. Shrimp sauce on green carpet makes for a striking contrast. My first words to my wife were to ask her to please take the lads up to their room before I cleaned the mess up as I didn’t trust myself with them at that particular moment.

  • Tsk tsk, Darwin. At times like these it’s important to ask, “what would Jesus do?” Thing is, the answer is in the new encyclical, so why not just beat the kids and make them clean it up? After all, you’re just going to find the necessary justification for doing that in the encyclical. 😉

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  • The emphasis distributive justice, solidarity among diverse populations, and transnational juridical frameworks for global markets sounds very much like social democracy to me (which would make sense given Bavaria’s politics).

    This bothers me. Shouldn’t it bother you? It makes the encyclical sound less like a timeless set of principles, and much more like a product of a particular set of prejudices and assumptions common to people who lived in a particular time and place (i.e., old Western European men who grew up in the 20th century).

  • It makes the encyclical sound less like a timeless set of principles, and much more like a product of a particular set of prejudices and assumptions common to people who lived in a particular time and place (i.e., old Western European men who grew up in the 20th century).

    Of course, a social encyclical is going to contain BOTH timeless principles AND inductively established principles that are more relate to specific, historical circumstances. Also, a social encyclical will contain the application of both kinds of principles to historical events. I don’t see any problem with any of that. As for how this particular encyclical sounds, I don’t know about the whole old men from Western Europe thing, but it does seem to me that Benedict XVI accord primacy to some general political and economic solutions that are inspired by current European political thought (particularly social democracy). However, the encyclical avoids specific, technical policy proposals, which is why I don’t think it can be described as similar to old European policy options.

    Apropos of the discussion further up this thread, I wrote a response to the Weigel piece.

    [ed. updated the name for you Pol…er, I mean MJ – JH]

  • Sorry, old combox habits brought back Policraticus!

  • MJAndew/MJ Andrew/Policratius/Michael Joseph:

    You are confusing me in what is obviously a malicious plot by you to take revenge on me and others for your anger against JPII & Centesimus Annus. I am blocking out all your nicknames in red ink and will gold only Policratius, which I have arbitrarily determined to be the only name that you really intend and that is not the product of Katerina and your other friends, who you clearly are only catering to because you are a gentle young man.

  • Denton–

    That was pretty funny.

    I apologize for the collage of blogging names. I used “Policraticus” because I was often mistaken at Vox Nova for “Michael I.” (since I was “Michael J.”). At EC, I went back to Michael Joseph, but tacked on my confirmation name. I think I am now stable.

  • MJ Andrew:

    Glad you enjoyed it. I do recall several times being confused, wondering when you became an anarchist.

  • ut it does seem to me that Benedict XVI accord primacy to some general political and economic solutions that are inspired by current European political thought (particularly social democracy).

    Well, imagine a 19th century encyclical pronouncing French colonialism the best form of political/economic system; or a Renaissance encyclical saying that small city-states were the way to go; or an earlier encyclical saying that serfdom and monarchy were best situated to implement Catholic principles; or a 4th century homage to Constantine and the Roman Empire. If such encyclicals existed, we’d all look back and wince at the Church’s unthinking assumption that a very time-bound and place-bound system of government was “the” Catholic system.

    Is it really plausible that just now, 20 centuries after Christ, a bunch of mostly secular Europeans came up with the one golden system of government and economics that just happens to be what the Catholic Church was searching for all of these years? Church leaders who grew up under that European system of government just happened, by sheer coincidence, to come to the belief that the system in which they are most comfortable is the one that God has ordained?

14 Responses to Caritas in Veritate Is Here

  • Thanks for having this set up first thing this morning. It made my day being able to find the new encyclical so easily.

  • Quick off the dime John Henry! Well done!

  • We will be analyzing this one for a very long time!

    Struck by this portion thus far:

    “Some non-governmental Organizations work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned. Moreover, there is reason to suspect that development aid is sometimes linked to specific health-care policies which de facto involve the imposition of strong birth control measures. Further grounds for concern are laws permitting euthanasia as well as pressure from lobby groups, nationally and internationally, in favour of its juridical recognition.

    Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away[67]. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual.”

  • This is a very interesting passage:

    “What is needed, therefore, is a market that permits the free operation, in conditions of equal opportunity, of enterprises in pursuit of different institutional ends. Alongside profit-oriented private enterprise and the various types of public enterprise, there must be room for commercial entities based on mutualist principles and pursuing social ends to take root and express themselves. It is from their reciprocal encounter in the marketplace that one may expect hybrid forms of commercial behaviour to emerge, and hence an attentiveness to ways of civilizing the economy. Charity in truth, in this case, requires that shape and structure be given to those types of economic initiative which, without rejecting profit, aim at a higher goal than the mere logic of the exchange of equivalents, of profit as an end in itself.”

  • Agreed Don. I thought Joe, in particular, would also appreciate this section:

    39…When both the logic of the market and the logic of the State come to an agreement that each will continue to exercise a monopoly over its respective area of influence, in the long term much is lost: solidarity in relations between citizens, participation and adherence, actions of gratuitousness, all of which stand in contrast with giving in order to acquire (the logic of exchange) and giving through duty (the logic of public obligation, imposed by State law). In order to defeat underdevelopment, action is required not only on improving exchange-based transactions and implanting public welfare structures, but above all on gradually increasing openness, in a world context, to forms of economic activity marked by quotas of gratuitousness and communion. The exclusively binary model of market-plus-State is corrosive of society, while economic forms based on solidarity, which find their natural home in civil society without being restricted to it, build up society. The market of gratuitousness does not exist, and attitudes of gratuitousness cannot be established by law. Yet both the market and politics need individuals who are open to reciprocal gift.

  • Where’s the part about how people should vote for Obama?

  • I’m halfway through it, taking extensive notes. I’m going to post on it, if not tonight, then tomorrow. Until then I won’t be around much.

    So far, I must say, it is everything I hoped it would be 🙂

  • I had to put this one up as possibly my favorite passage not directly dealing with the economy (and even then, its way up there):

    “In order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society.”

  • Here is one passage I find very meaningful:

    “76. One aspect of the contemporary technological mindset is the tendency to consider the problems and emotions of the interior life from a purely psychological point of view, even to the point of neurological reductionism. In this way man’s interiority is emptied of its meaning and gradually our awareness of the human soul’s ontological depths, as probed by the saints, is lost. The question of development is closely bound up with our understanding of the human soul, insofar as we often reduce the self to the psyche and confuse the soul’s health with emotional well-being. These over-simplifications stem from a profound failure to understand the spiritual life, and they obscure the fact that the development of individuals and peoples depends partly on the resolution of problems of a spiritual nature. Development must include not just material growth but also spiritual growth, since the human person is a “unity of body and soul”[156], born of God’s creative love and destined for eternal life. The human being develops when he grows in the spirit, when his soul comes to know itself and the truths that God has implanted deep within, when he enters into dialogue with himself and his Creator. When he is far away from God, man is unsettled and ill at ease. Social and psychological alienation and the many neuroses that afflict affluent societies are attributable in part to spiritual factors. A prosperous society, highly developed in material terms but weighing heavily on the soul, is not of itself conducive to authentic development. The new forms of slavery to drugs and the lack of hope into which so many people fall can be explained not only in sociological and psychological terms but also in essentially spiritual terms. The emptiness in which the soul feels abandoned, despite the availability of countless therapies for body and psyche, leads to suffering. There cannot be holistic development and universal common good unless people’s spiritual and moral welfare is taken into account, considered in their totality as body and soul.”

  • Unfortunately, my work schedule is such today that I won’t have the chance to get beyond the first few paragraphs of Caritas in Veritate that I’ve read so far until this evening. However, as others get farther into it an begin to discuss, I’d be curious what various people think of these remarks by Amy Welborn as Via Media:

    I have to say right out that I am never sure what the ultimate point and effect of an encyclical like this is. It is a mix between analysis of very specific global situations ranging from the financial crisis to migration to unions to the welfare state and some quite wonderful, clearly Benedict-written passages about the nature of human life, especially human life in community.

    I wonder if arguments about the former – about the accuracy of the analysis, the sufficiency of the evidence and data – will overwhelm the latter, which is really what we should be looking to a Pope for. Don’t think I’m saying religious figures – Popes included – shook stick to the “purely religious” stuff – whatever that means. I am just not sure if contemporary Catholic pronouncements touching on current issues have quite mastered the task of effectively bringing the Gospel into the fray while at the same time acknowledging the limitations of received data and analysis. This encyclical actually does better than some in its attempt to look at every side of issues and the prevalence of original sin and the law of unintended consequences. But I wonder if the detail and specificity it contains is necessary.

    Link.

  • I think John Paul II in Solicitudo Rei Socialis or Centesimus Annus discussed that any such document is necessarily based on economic, historical and sociological data. As such, there is a limit to the infallibility of its conclusions. There are of course set principles that are established including subsidiarity, solidarity, preferential option for the poor etc.

    The trick is sorting out which is which and how to apply to the current world situation. Thus will flow differing interpretations.

  • One aspect of the contemporary technological mindset is the tendency to consider the problems and emotions of the interior life from a purely psychological point of view, even to the point of neurological reductionism.

    To me, this seems to also address certain Christians who tend to use Christ as some sort of ‘consumer product’; that is, to be used as nothing more than a psychological pick-me up but never really anything having to do with acquiring that kind of spiritual life that the saints themselves aspired to but, more so, merely a utilitarian tool to ease one’s psyche.

  • so far it seems like a great condiment… but dinner, still, has yet to be served.

Exclusive Sneak Peek of Caritas in Veritate

Wednesday, July 1, AD 2009

Caritas in Veritate

[Updates at the bottom of this posting.]

The much anticipated new encyclical that Pope Benedict XVI recently signed, his third, on June 29th titled Caritas in Veritate, or Charity in Truth, will be released soon by Ignatius Press (the English version) on July  6th or 7th of 2009 A.D.  In searching for information regarding this encyclical I found bits and pieces here and there but nothing exhaustive or concise that came close to satisfying my curiosity.  So I’ve gathered all of my information and have presented it the best way possible in this posting.  With tongue in cheek I labeled this preview of Caritas in Veritate as an ‘Exclusive Sneak Peek’*.

Caritas in Veritate will be a social encyclical examining some of the social changes that have occurred since Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio, particularly globalization.  The encyclical will have Pope Benedict XVI articulating the need to bolster humanism that brings together the social and economic development of humans and to reduce the disproportionate gap between poor and rich.  One other major theme of this encyclical will be that of global justice.

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