25 January 2006

Wednesday Morning Dogma

I've spent the morning reading through the first papal encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love). I plan to have a long and thorough piece on it ready for Sunday, but I find it absolutely necessary to write a few things about it now, upon which I will expand in the later post.
First, I'll from quote Hans Kung, eminient Swiss theologian, in his response to Deus Caritas Est:
"As Catholics, we are happy that the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, isn't a manifesto of cultural pessimism or of restrictive sexual morality towards love, but to the contrary takes on central themes under the profile of theology and anthropology. ... Papa Ratzinger takes on with his inimicable theological style a richness of themes of Eros and Agape, of love and charity," and scatters "the delusions that they are different." "A good sign," said Kung, hoping that it is "received warmly, with respect."
The encyclical centers on reconciliation and the power that love of God and love of neighbor have not only on the Church but potentially on the world as a whole. Say what you will about God generally, and Catholicism specifically, but their teachings concerning social justice and charity are unparalleled. They are not suggestions, but rather commandments. Here's another piece from Rocco Palma's site, this time his own words (and I hope he doesn't mind my extensive use):
Before closing shop for the evening -- the 5am wake-up call will come quick, and with it a busy day -- there was a notable screed over at the world capital of continuous auto da fe:

[T]o liberals (even Church ones) it is UNEXPECTED and ASTONISHING that a conservative Pope has would ever speak of LOVE."

No, Benedict talking about love isn't unexpected at all. Popes are Catholic, and love is an integral part of what Catholics do -- well, at least, when they're actually living (as opposed to screaming) what they profess.

What would really be unexpected and astonishing is if the conservative base which has repeatedly repudiated Benedict since his election will actually shut up for a half an hour, let him speak, and get over themselves enough that they'll actually listen to what he's saying.
While Benedict is certainly too conservative for my liberal Protestant self, I must admit that he's been given a bad rap on both sides of the debate: conservative Catholics are calling him out for being too liberal while others (myself included) are deriding him for attempting to undo the monumental works of his predecessor. After Deus Caritas Est, though there remain certain concerns, it becomes clear that we must refrain from judgment on the whole of his papacy, especially as it concerns the Church's role in increasing justice and reducing suffering throughout across the globe.

cross-posted at Street Prophets


Blogger abigail adams said...

The section of the encyclical that struck me the most dealt with charity, and "the heart that sees." It ties in to your previous post, Beyond Terror, and the idea that we need to look inward in society to who or what is in the most need. As Benedict wrote,"This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly."

25 January, 2006 17:46  

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