Some pointers for reading the new encyclical

There is a kind cyber-roundtable on Caritas in veritate at the site of Catholic World Report.

I am not one of them, alas.  There are some good comments and writers, such as J. Brian Benestad, Francis J. Beckwith, Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., Richard Garnett, Thomas S. Hibbs, Paul Kengor, George Neumayr, Joseph Pearce, Tracey Rowland, Father James V. Schall, and Rev. Robert A. Sirico.

It is good to get some different but dependable views and pointers for your own reading of the encyclical.

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25 Responses to Some pointers for reading the new encyclical

  1. Andreas says:

    And above all, people should read the encyclical for themselves: especially if they want to comment about it. There is an acute case of commentaritis going around: folks have been commenting before the encyclical even got published. How silly is that? I say: read it: and don’t stick to every word until you’ve read it all. Then think about it for a few days: then perhaps you might want to comment. Or not.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Beckwith? It always kills me how Protestant smarties convert and carry over all their prestige. What does he know? Dietrich von Hildebrand kept his mouth shut for 7 years and then started writing the greatest stuff of the last century.

  3. Larry says:

    I agree with Andreas, this is a very dense encyclical letter and covers a wide range of issues all of which have a direct bearing.
    Read it in bites, underline, take notes. this is a class not a simple letter. Be prepared because some of th catch phrases that are making the media will be wonderful opportunities to evangelize but only if you are prepared.

  4. RBrown says:

    Dietrich von Hildebrand kept his mouth shut for 7 years and then started writing the greatest stuff of the last century.
    Comment by Jeremy

    Every hear of Fr Garrigou LaGrange op?

  5. Vincent Uher says:

    I do wish you were part of that, Father! Many thanks for calling it to our attention.
    The timing of the release of the encyclical was brilliant. I too wish that people would read it for themselves both prayerfully and carefully.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Why do people always hate on Hildebrand because he was a phenomenologist who didn’t follow Aristotle and St. Thomas slavishly? Yes, the good Fr. was excellent. But you Thomist-purists have got to loosen your collar a little and smell the rose of Hildebrand. He was the greatest philosopher of the last century and his theological writing is Beautiful, Good and True.
    Anyway, the main point is Catholics who have not even buried their Protestantism (I heard Beckwith on the Bible Answer Man the other day palling around with Hank Hannegraff the heretic). What happened to Catholic Identity?
    On the encyclical, I don’t really want to form an opinion yet. The media has already so poisoned the waters and the Neo-Con Americanist Catholics are pushing back with a Americanist interpretation. I don’t trust the translators of the Pope’s works. So I wait for the Latin and Father Z’s most excellent corrections of the unofficial Engrish ;-) from the Vatican.

  7. Tzard says:

    People keep saying it’s dense. Perhaps the details are, but the overall theme, the basic message, the foundation isn’t. Much of it is examples proving the theme, rather than the other way around.

    Yes, read it yourself. I am. I actually am using the Ignatius press audio-book. I learn better aurally.

    I also found Fr. Schall’s observation that parts were initially written by others telling – I can detect a change in the tone of some of the sections. What’s the important, perhaps, is the “glue” that the Holy Father uses in between the pieces.

    Or so it seems to me.

  8. Boniface says:

    As someone who has read a lot of papal writings from both the earlier centuries and today, I find the modern encyclicals get more and more dense, and more philosophical, as we get closer to the present day (not to mention longer). I find the new encyclical dense, but not un-understandable.

  9. Fr. Z,

    Do You know whether German is the controlling language for the text? That is my working assumption.

    Like Jeremy, I do not trust the translation, at least not every word of it. Every time I read “authentic,” I get suspicious. I am working my way through it paragraph by paragraph referring to the German and looking things up in the big dictionary.

    I do not assume the translator(s) have a conscious agenda, but theirs is a tricky job. Not only are the thirty thousand plus words written in a theologically substantial vocabulary, but the words in one language reflect different institutional and cultural realities. Let me use an example from my own field of economics. The English word “regulation” as used in America does not strictly speaking have any corresponding reality in Europe or even in Great Britain. If a language does not have a reality to reflect, the words used to translate into that language will not be able to accurately convey that reality even when the reader or translator thinks they are understanding what has been translated. Moreover, the translators’ own backgrounds may influence the vocabulary they use to carry the meaning from German to English.

  10. Jack says:

    Jeremy 4 points

    a) Dr Beckwith is a revert rather than a convert and why can’t he pal around with old friends? (b) I guess the reason that he’s so high profile is that he was president of the ETS when he came back (c )I guess (not having read the link yet) that he was asked to contribute in his capacity as an Associate professer of Church-State studies

    D) most thomists don’t dismiss Hildebrand out of hand but rather view him as supplimentry, I would however echo Rbrown in saying that arguably Fr LaGrange O.P was the greatest Catholic Philosopher of the 20th century followed closely by his student Jacques Maritain

  11. EDG says:

    Malcolm:

    The English translation is bad and even misleading in parts. I believe the original language was Italian. Many papal documents are originally in Italian, and the Peace and Justice Commission (under Martino) contributed to it, and as far as I know, they’re all Italians.

    However, IMHO, the political/economic section of the document is very influenced by the terminology used by Communion and Liberation (CL – a superannuated European “youth” movement founded in the 1970’s by Msgr Luigi Giussani). I have never particularly liked CL, but BXVI said (when he was still Joseph Ratzinger just a few weeks before the death of JPII) that CL “changed his life,” so he’s obviously pretty devoted to it.

    He’s a heck of a lot more intelligent and knowledgeable than people who think that Piero Pasolini is a saint, but he is still obviously influenced by CL. Cdl Martino, a member of the peace and justice group involved in writing the encyclical, is involved with both CL and the UN (he was the Vatican observer at the UN), and I think we have to take this into consideration.

    I don’t agree with Weigel’s opinion that BXVI didn’t know what was going on in some of the sections, but I do think we have to regard these as being the product of different hands.

    That said, whoever did the English translation went one step beyond and was either not very knowledgeable or had an ideological bias. The other translations are much less offensive, although, alas, they still reveal the high-flown but fuzzy language of the 1970’s, which is the same thing that afflicts all the documents of Vatican II.

  12. Novum Reformatio says:

    Two from Ave Maria U!

  13. RBrown says:

    Why do people always hate on Hildebrand because he was a phenomenologist who didn’t follow Aristotle and St. Thomas slavishly? Yes, the good Fr. was excellent. But you Thomist-purists have got to loosen your collar a little and smell the rose of Hildebrand. He was the greatest philosopher of the last century and his theological writing is Beautiful, Good and True.
    Anyway, the main point is Catholics who have not even buried their Protestantism (I heard Beckwith on the Bible Answer Man the other day palling around with Hank Hannegraff the heretic). What happened to Catholic Identity?
    Comment by Jeremy

    How did this move from me mentioning Garrigou LaGrange to you talking about people hating von Hildebrand?

  14. RBrown says:

    D) most thomists don’t dismiss Hildebrand out of hand but rather view him as supplimentry, I would however echo Rbrown in saying that arguably Fr LaGrange O.P was the greatest Catholic Philosopher of the 20th century followed closely by his student Jacques Maritain
    Comment by Jack

    1. I never said that Garrigou LaGrange was the greatest Catholic philosopher. I mentioned him in response to a comment that von Hildebrand wrote the greatest stuff of the last century.

    2. Although Maritain was influenced by GL, he wasn’t really his student.

  15. joe says:

    The English translation does have a few moments of, um, “imperfect harmony” with, say, the Spanish translation. Would love to see the Latin, too.

    AMDG,

  16. Mark says:

    Section 67 of this encyclical is horrific. The call for a global political government with ‘teeth’ as the solution to economic injustice and suffering couldn’t be more incompatible with traditional Catholic doctrine. How this could be reconciled with Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno or Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio, (let alone natural law), is beyond me.

    I wonder whether the Pontiff recognizes the true source of these problems, viz., the protestant reformation and the rejection of the role of government in promoting the natural end of man. So long as governments not only avoid, but ban the promotion of man’s natural end as part of the promotion of the common good, said governments will be working at odds with divine law.

    That nowhere in this document does B16 call for the nations of the world to embrace the Social Kingship of Christ evidences how little he understands of the problem (or, worse, how little he understands of traditional Catholic doctrine).

    Clearly he is a brilliant man, so not to have mentioned any of this seems to me an implicit rejection of them.

  17. Andreas says:

    Mark:

    German: … damit dem Konzept einer Familie der Nationen reale und konkrete Form gegeben werden kann. That is: (… so that a concept of a Family of Nations might be given a real and concrete form.)

  18. Joe says:

    I wonder who really wrote this for the Pope.There’s a lot of incongruity here. He doesn’t appear to be as conservative as I once thought. Honestly, I think the Pope should stick to religious matters. He is not an economist, nor are the priests in his employ as writers.
    Sadly, it isn’t going to matter. There is still so much venom and bitterness towards the Pope and the bishops over the abuse scandal and the protective modes maintained that not many of the faithful are really going to give a hoot what he says.
    Even sadder, the pope doesn’t look well. In the photos with Obama, he looks like a worn-out grandfather and even has sores on his face.

  19. LCB says:

    Joe,

    What, precisely, do you have an issue with? (Like, paragraph number, etc).

    Mark,

    I would advance a different argument, that the current nation-state is a development of the Peace of Westphalia, and that Catholic Social Teaching has not fully caught up with that reality.

    As a consequence, we Catholics often labor under the belief that the primary end of the State is justice, etc (the classic definitions of Augustine and refined by Aquinas, and restated in the Catechism). While this OUGHT to be true, and surely is the goal in a state that views the source of its authority as God, it is no longer the case in reality anywhere in the world.

    Rather, the primary purpose of the state is often merely power and authority itself, with a rejection of any external authority (which, of course, is a consequence of the Protestant Revolt).

    So when Benedict writes, I would encourage you to keep in mind the more classical and Catholic understandings of the role of the State, and less so the secular understandings. To speak of a Family of Nations in terms of Nations seeking justice makes perfect sense. To speak of a Family of Nations in the current conception of the Nation State really lacks any meaning.

    I hope this helps.

  20. Andreas says:

    Joe:

    “Honestly, I think the Pope should stick to religious matters.”

    The Pope is a human being, a member of the human family, a man of his environment and time. He is free to speak his mind on any matter. The idea that Popes should only say things when they are prepared to make oracles of some sort, is silly. There is nothing to fear. And he doesn’t have to write everything in Latin. This particular peace, overall, is an excellent invitation to see the economy in context of justice, love, and above all, Faith. And it says that without God there is no fraternity, there is no vision, there is no econominc prosperity. Now what’s wrong with that? And it contains a lot of highly relevant critique of common errors prevalent in our society. Where else do you get to read such sensible comments about the state of affairs from someone important. This stuff will filter into the political environment, into universities, and elsewhere. This is very positive.

  21. joe says:

    What Mark alluded to above should give people something to thing about. The Social Kingship of Christ needs to be proclaimed, which means that nations should be recognising Our Lord and the true religion, Catholicism. For a keen insight on this and other related matters, go and read http://www.christorchaos.com/GiveMeTwoBayersPlease.htm and July 9’s Two More Bayers, please. Dr Droleskey gets to the heart of the matter. Even though there are Catholic elements contained in the encyclical, he demonstates that you have to take the whole writing as it is and finally assess that it does not square with what the Church has consistently taught. Previous papal quotes will prove this point for those who take the time to check out the facts.

    Joe

  22. laminustacitus says:

    “The Social Kingship of Christ needs to be proclaimed, which means that nations should be recognising Our Lord and the true religion, Catholicism.”
    Proclaimed by whom? By either the voluntary volitions of free moral agents, or by the forced confessions by those who do not want to become second-class citizens?

  23. joe says:

    Laminustacitus,
    Nations should be established, recognising the Social reign of Christ. Individuals should be converted by their own choice, never coerced or forced. That is not a true conversion. At best, other religions can be tolerated because of the reality of the situation. It is never to be thought of as the ideal. God permits us to freely choose, but we don’t have the right to choose wrong. Again, while an individual may choose the wrong path, they will have to answer for it. God judges us all. I am talking here about actions and saying that they have consequences, as anyone living in this world knows.

    Joe

  24. laminustacitus says:

    “Nations should be established, recognising the Social reign of Christ. Individuals should be converted by their own choice, never coerced or forced.”
    So, individuals should not have a say in the religion of their state even though they have a say in their own religion?

    ” At best, other religions can be tolerated because of the reality of the situation.”
    So why should individuals be converted by their own choice if religions are only tolerated by the reality of the situation? Does that mean if the situation changes, individuals should not have a say in their creed?

    “I am talking here about actions and saying that they have consequences, as anyone living in this world knows.”
    You are not: you are talking about forcing the world to abide by your own judgments of value.