July 24, 2009 – Better Late Than Never

Well even though it is late July the trees and the grass still look as green as they did 2 months ago.  My prediction is that we will enjoy this refreshing weather until around August 19 (first day of school), when I think we will probably see temperatures close to 100 degrees and humidity of 80%.  Can you believe that school is less than a month away?  I’m sure that the students, teachers and parents can’t believe it.

Well I have been promising for the last couple of weeks to write a little bit about Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” (truth in charity).  In scanning the internet, many people have already thrown in their 2 cents worth through various reports, articles, blogs, etc.  So I thought it was time to throw out a thought or two of my own.  Have I read the entire document?  No.  Am I a big expert on documentation that comes from the Vatican?  Hardly.  But I feel I have grasped many of the main points of the encyclical and can still throw out my observations.

The encyclical is a response to the global economic crisis.  The Pope calls for a global economic system that puts the importance of the common good ahead of individual profits.  I certainly do not believe that the Pope is saying that it is wrong for people to profit from their business ventures.  On the contrary – if the business is not profitable, it will not survive.  However, I think the central message being conveyed is that our economic system cannot be guided solely on profit-taking.  Quoting from the encyclical: “Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.”  I think this gets to the teeth of what led us into this crisis – greed.  Many people saw opportunities to line their pockets – whether it be through speculation or other means – without taking into regard the circumstances that would follow and the people who would be hurt in the process.

The Pope touches on many issues in this document.  Any one of them could lead to a lengthy discussion.  A few of the other themes from the encyclical are:

–  the failure of world leaders to successfully deal with migration, which often is provoked by the terrible situation in under-developed countries, and is made worse by the inability of developed nations to protect the dignity of immigrants

–  the wrongful exploitation of international aid, which often does not reach the intended destination

–  the attitude of de-valuing life, particularly in developed countries which can produce a society that “ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good.”

–  the importance of allowing Christian faith to be a moral guiding force, which can occur “only if God has a place in the public realm.”

In the reading I have done and in the opinions I have seen, it is no surprise that the typical person will see things that they agree with, and some that they do not.  People will read the same material, yet take different views of it.  And in the end, will this encyclical result in a radical change in how the global economy works?  Probably not.  When I was in college I remember talking to one of my older professors.  He said that so much is written – journals, theses, books, etc., but in the end analysis nothing really changes.  However, I think what documents such as this do is to promote thinking and discussion, as evidenced by all of the internet chatter.

It is also OK to have opinions that may differ from what the Pope tells us in the encyclical.  For example, the point is made of the right for groups of employees to organize into a labor union.  Personally I work for a non-union company,  and feel that in at least some cases unions have been exhorbatant in their demands and that this has led to the downfall of some companies and thus jobs.  However, anyone who is a Catholic Christian should be in agreement with the basic premise of the encyclical: that charity is the principle that Catholic social teaching is based on, and that we should make the effort to apply this principle to real every day life situations.

I hope you take the time to read at least part of the encyclical and if you do, leave a comment and let me know what you think.  Next week I have a meeting Saturday morning in Belleville with the Diocesan Pastoral Council, so my blog entry next week will probably come a little later than usual.  I should have some information to pass along from the meeting.  Until then, have a good week.  Don’t forget about our Mission planning meeting this Tuesday.  The time is drawing near.  Peace.

P.S.  So much for the Cardinals not making any moves!  Playoffs, here we come!

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One Response to “July 24, 2009 – Better Late Than Never”

  1. Patrick Jankowiak Says:

    I was pleased to attend mass on DEC 31. I am traveling on a working vacation having to do with a hobby of mine, and so I am a visitor in your fine town for a couple weeks. I have found the town and the people to be very nice and this is very refreshing. I hope to be at mass Sunday.

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