Those who dig through the document to see whether it leans left or right will be disappointed: There is something here for everybody. For the Left, anxious to set the scene for President Barack Obama's meeting with Benedict in a few days, there are plenty of concerns expressed that fit their agenda. But the pope's criticism of free markets and the pursuit of short-term profits, as well as his support for labor unions, environmental ecology, and the right to food and water, are embedded in an overall account of social teaching tightly integrated with the life issues, moral duties, natural law, and truth. Love, in other words, is wedded to the truth about God and man.
Benedict intends his encyclical as both a tribute and commentary on Populorum Progressio (1967) of Pope Paul VI:Now that a further twenty years have passed, I express my conviction that Populorum Progressio deserves to be considered 'the Rerum Novarum of the present age', shedding light upon humanity's journey towards unity.
Rerum Novarum, published by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, is considered to be the foundation of the Church's modern social teaching. Benedict affirms a coherent tradition between Leo XIII to Paul VI, John Paul II, and himself, rejecting the oft-used distinction between preconciliar and postconciliar: "There is a single teaching, consistent and at the same time ever new."
Throughout his reading of Populorum Progressio, the Holy Father stresses the "link between life ethics and social ethics," as seen in Paul VI's more controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968), which reaffirmed the Church's teaching on abortion and its ban on contraception. Not surprisingly, Benedict condemns foreign aid to undeveloped countries that impose abortion and contraception practices:In economically developed countries, legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other States as if it were a form of cultural progress.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
An initial look at the new papal encyclical - Caritas in Veritate
Deal Hudson at Insidecatholic.com provides an initial look at the encyclical: