A heart which sees

Pope Benedict tackles in his encyclical the degrading results that come from an ideologized approach to improving man’s lot. If Deus caritas est is offered in part a lens through which we might consider other documents he has promulgated, consider this.

Moloch

In his Message for the World Day of Peace on 1 January, last, His Holiness spoke of atheistic, materialistic regimes which harm man’s dignity through imposing false "truths". In Deus caritas est he says,

Part of Marxist strategy is the theory of impoverishment: in a situation of unjust power, it is claimed, anyone who engages in charitable initiatives is actually serving that unjust system, making it appear at least to some extent tolerable. This in turn slows down a potential revolution and thus blocks the struggle for a better world. Seen in this way, charity is rejected and attacked as a means of preserving the status quo. What we have here, though, is really an inhuman philosophy. People of the present are sacrificed to the moloch of the future, a future whose effective realization is at best doubtful. One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now. We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity, independently of partisan strategies and programmes. The Christian’s programme ”the programme of the Good Samaritan, the programme of Jesus is a heart which sees.

Two things strike me in this paragraph.

First, the image of Moloch the hideous pagan god upon whose red hot fire-heated brass statues living babies were sacrificed while its priests banged on drums to drown out their screams, lest the people be moved to pity. This could also be a description of the way that the horrors of abortion are treated in some circles today.

Secondly, you can hear a touch of the theological background of His Holiness who is steeped in the writings of St. Augustine together with St. Bonaventure. In the citation from Deus caritas est above, I hear an echo of Richard of St. Victor who said: "Love is the eye and to love is to see."  Richard of St. Victor deeply influenced St. Bonaventure.

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