US House’s GOP leadership on “Caritas in veritate”

The US House of Representative’s GOP leadership issued a statement about Caritas in veritate.

My emphases and comments.


Statement by House GOP Leaders Boehner & McCotter on Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate

        WASHINGTON, DC – House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) today issued the following joint statement regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate:

        "Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, is neither an indictment of capitalism nor an endorsement of any political or economic agenda, and ideologues and politicos hoping to spin it as either are destined to be unsuccessful.
        "The Holy Father’s central point in Caritas in Veritate is that at times of economic challenge, the inherent dignity of the individual must be preserved and sustained through genuine charity and compassion.  This message is clearly distinct from efforts to ‘remake’ government into a soul-crushing centralized welfare state in which independent citizens are remade into dependent servants. ["soul-crushing"] In the encyclical, the Pope stresses that the human being must remain as the center of our free-market system.  He warns that individuals, families, churches, communities, and businesses must never become subservient to the state.  He emphasizes that the sanctity of all human life must always be protected.  And he advocates conservation, not radical environmentalism. [Rapidly becoming the new global "religion".]
        "Caritas in Veritate is not a political document, but rather a complex work that warrants careful and thoughtful contemplation by American Catholics and non-Catholics alike at this time of economic anxiety."

They are in contact with the right people.

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  1. Sylvia says:

    Nice! That’s very encouraging.

  2. shoofoolatte says:

    Who are the right people?

  3. moon1234 says:

    Wow! A great, concise answer that I would venture to guess will be BETTER than most Catholic news agencies will report.

    Father has it correct. There are the “right” people!

  4. joe says:

    …either that or they know which blogs to read. ;-)

  5. shoofoolatte says:

    Just came across this…

    “While the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human.”

    -Pope Benedict XVI

    from Caritas Veritate, his new encyclical on the world economic system.

  6. Phil Onochie says:

    That’s good. Thaddeus McCotter is a Catholic so I’m sure he’s got good connections.

  7. shoofoolatte says:

    Maybe it’s just me (one of the wrong people?) but it seems to me that this article bends over backwards to “assure” people (who?) that their way of life (security) will not be in any way challenged by this encyclical.

  8. Brian says:

    This is good to get out in front b4 the libs try to define the Holy Father’s thoughts for him.

  9. kgurries says:

    Bottom line is that this is a “challenging” encyclical. By that I mean that it challenges every “school” and political leaning.

  10. Phil Atley says:

    It’s good, but I just wish they had included “family” alongside “individual” when enunciating the central point. It’s about the dignity of both. They open themselves to the accusation that they too are spinning along the lines of their ideology. To be completely correct they’d need to point out that for Catholic theology, the “individual” may not be purely individualistic but constituting in selfless caritas.

    The rest of what is quoted here is good and a proper antidote to those who try to spin the encyclical as favoring statist welfare. But they have (unnecessarily) left themselves vulnerable to serious criticism by not defining more carefully what “individual” means in Catholic social thought.

  11. Peggy says:

    I think this was necessary statement to forestall the triumphalism of the pro-abortion, statist Dems who are declaring victory and are beside themselves about Obie meeting the pope, as if no US president or dark-skinned world leader has done so before. I guess they’re thrilled they’ve fooled the pope into approving Obie–or that’s what they think. The political right must not allow the left to own this document as the moral approval of their agenda. The GOP is right to point out that it’s not a political document, but a religious/moral document, which is very complex and multi-faceted.

  12. TJM says:

    Peggy, I agree with what you have to say. Unfortunately I am coming to the sad realization that many “Catholics” have become state-worshippers for
    whom private charity means nothing. I think the Republican statement is a sound one. Tom

  13. Maureen says:

    I find it disturbing that any congressman would release a statement about a papal encyclical. I mean, unless he blogged it. This is more the savor of officialdom. Not US official business, this.

    Unless that governor of theirs, Jennifer Granholm, opened her mouth and I missed it. In that case, fire away in reply!

  14. james says:

    Could it simply be a good p.r. move? To me, the economic
    and social policies of both parties are far from Catholic.

    That’s just my opinion, of course…..

  15. jh says:

    I am sort of amazed at some of the hostility to this. The subject of the document is suppose to be discussed among the laity and as a part of our policy. The fact is if w forbid polticians to comment on it I have a hard time seeing how that will happen

  16. elmo says:

    Is commenting on the pope’s encyclicals usual in the U.S. legislature? I’m glad to see it getting so much attention but am a little confused as to why members of Congress may feel the need to weigh in as legislators.

  17. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Shoofoolatte wrote:

    Who are the right people?

    Obviously, you don’t watch FOX News.

    I can already hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth: “I’m a Catholic Republican. Please, Sean Hannity and the RNC, explain Catholic social teaching away for me!”

  18. elmo says:

    Matthew W. I. Dunn: Unless it involves contraception. Sean Hannity berated a priest on the air over the church’s teaching on birth control. There are cafeteria Catholics of every stripe.

  19. Michael says:

    Those who criticize Republicans for responding to this document maybe do not see how the Democratic party intends to use this encyclical for its own political purposes.

  20. Matt says:

    I’m not sure who the right people are, but a member of Rep. Boehner’s staff is a friend of mine from high school. He is an orthodox Catholic. So he would most likely make sure Rep. Boehner gets the right info.

  21. jh says:

    “I can already hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth: “I’m a Catholic Republican. Please, Sean Hannity and the RNC, explain Catholic social teaching away for me!”

    Ok who elese should we prohibit from talking about this document and getting it out there. I guess we could all return to Michael Jackson Funeral coverage

  22. Chris M says:

    When I saw the headline I literally braced myself for something horrifying. I’m quite pleased that was for nothing. This is good. It sounds like they got the gist of what the Holy Father was writing about and it doesn’t come across as partisan point-scoring or proof texting.

  23. TJM says:

    The Democratic Party aka the Abortion Party is desperate to change the subject about their party’s intrinsically evil platform – unrestricted abortion.
    I dare say if Pius XI were around today he would write another encylical condemning the modern “Party of Death” (so aptly coined by Archbishop
    Burke when referring to the Democratic Party) just as he did the Nazis and Fascist partys. Tom

  24. Maureen says:

    I didn’t say it wasn’t a good statement. I just said it’s really weird for US federal leaders to make a statement about it.

    OTOH, I suppose it shows the power of publishing encyclicals of ideas…. :)

  25. RC2 says:

    It’s a well-intentioned statement, but utterly tone-deaf. Why on earth did they lead with what they think the encyclical isn’t (“This isn’t a critique of capitalism,” –you can almost hear the “thank God”– ) rather than praising it for the good they see in it? It’s no way to win over voters.

  26. EDG says:

    I’m glad to see that somebody in Congress is taking it seriously and trying to think about it and respond rationally.

    BTW, I don’t think this encyclical can be understood – and to a certain extent, the foggy parts “explained away” – without reference to Communion and Liberation. Most of these are CL ideas and Martino is very involved with CL (which is also wildly popular among Italian intellectuals). Even the somewhat overblown and confusing phrasing of certain parts could have been culled directly from the writings of Msgr Giussani or some of his disciples.

    As for the dread paragraph 67, the only version that implies imposing a “New World Order” by force is the English translation (mistranslation) that uses the phrase “to give teeth to” where the original and other translations simply say “giving concrete form” (to the concept of the family of nations). So many thanks to Boehner et al. for reading and thinking about it and issuing a good, intelligent statement.

  27. Catherine says:

    Thanks be to God that Rep. Boehner, a faithful Catholic from all reports, has brought to the public square the light and truth of Catholic teaching.

    And the quote from the Pope on the poor knocking on the doors of the rich was gut-wrenching….

  28. B Knotts says:

    It should be noted that this is, to a large degree, a response to the many socialist/Democrat rants claiming the Pope has endorsed statism and denounced the free market.

  29. Latekate says:

    I read the encyclical and it seemed like there was some fence-sitting attempted. Much of it I agreed with and was sound but the part about giving the UN “real teeth” was troubling. The UN is pretty much a Marxist (state as ultimate authority and owner of ALL) organization. The UN treaty on childrens rights that the Obammunist wants ratified will officially strip parental rights (and we have seen how the state is such an awesome caretaker of the children of others).

    I am consoling myself that papal infallibility pertains to church dogma and not encyclicals expressing economic views.

  30. Charles R. Williams says:

    There are people who think the agenda of the Democratic Party is – aside from culture of life issues – consonant with Catholic social teaching. Republicans who oppose that agenda need to make it clear that in opposing the Democratic agenda they see themselves as acting in the spirit of Catholic social teaching. It is important that the encyclical not be hijacked by a particular political faction. Unfortunately, this is a problem with all the social teaching encyclicals – they can be read selectively in a partisan way.

  31. TJM says:

    Mr. Williams I agree. I believe that this Encycical is a repudiation of the notion that Catholic Social Teaching is supportive of Socialism or Statism and anti-thetical to Capitalism. The only “ism” the Church is supportive of is Catholicism. Tom

  32. mpm says:

    “I am consoling myself that papal infallibility pertains to church dogma and not encyclicals expressing economic views.”
    Comment by Latekate — 11 July 2009 @ 6:06 am


    I don’t think the Pope is trying to be infallible in #67, but prophetic, in the theological sense of that word.

    Take what Benedict says in that section as his way of putting the idea of a “better” United Nations than the one we have on the table.

    In economics, there is the concept of “externalities”, costs produced by a firm or market which the agent is not required to pay. In the 60s, pollution was identified as an externality, and laws were enacted to address the problem (whether or not they were the best is not the issue here).

    IMO, the Pope is making the argument (challenge) that there are externalities in the realm of “sovereignty” as well (not unlike the reason the 13 States drafted the Constitution of the U.S. in the 1780s). He is identifying the sorts of “properties” which a true intenational authority should have, I believe, and that includes “subsidiarity”, which would be a principle by which to preserve national identity, while relinquishing some powers to the higher authority.

    If you reread that paragraph (#67) in that light, I think you can see that he is not arguing that it must be instituted immediately or even post-haste, but after due consideration is given to what its authority and the limits thereon ought to be.

  33. Antonius says:

    The last couple of popes have made a point about third world debt forgiveness and aid for human development. I just wonder though whether they can be a debate on whether aid is acutally beneficial to third world nations, because I think in the end the thugs will just use the aid (whether food or money) to maintain a corrupt, miserable state (think Oil for Food). Without the aid, I think third world people would hold their government more accountable. But on the other side of the equation, I think a lot of industrial nations need to drop their protectionism, particularly of agriculture products. By dropping protectionist policies, third world farmers would be allowed to compete on the open market and improve their lot even if it just a little, which will lead to greater investment in that country. Indeed, the idea of a world political authority, which I think should be a world economic authority that does not neccessarily regulate economies, but rather invest in infrastructure develop (i.e. roads, schools, water) that will bring true development instead of the UN dumping billions into thugs hands and the only time it seems when the aid reaches the poor, it is usually in the form of infanticide.

  34. TJM says:

    Antonius, how dare you inject reality into this debate? I totally agree with your points. Tom

  35. Peggy says:

    Republican, politically conservative, and pro-life Catholics are going to have to do a lot more speaking out I sense after reading K Kennedy Townsend’s article claiming Obie more Catholic than the Pope. No, it’s the people who are not Catholic. The pope is fine; it’s the dissenters and Obie who are not Catholic. As Fr. Z predicted back in May: Obie is their pope.

  36. TJM says:

    Peggy it’s starting to sound like it’s time for a good old-fashioned excommunication to focus the mind. Kennedy, Pelosi or Biden would be an excellent place to start. Tom

  37. Joe says:

    Why does there always have to be this Democrat vs. Republican strawman thrown into all of these social teaching discussions?

    I’m a conservative. In my view, a federal government should stick to doing what the Constitution says it can and should do.

    Massive amounts of social spending, from FDR’s day, to the Great Society and even now haven’t lifted the poor out of poverty. They have become addicted to a government check.
    Government redistirbution of wealth is always a spectacualr failure – except for those who distibute the wealth. They keep power forever.

    Once can include middle class welfare and corporate welfare in that mix.

    There are many, many poor nations. Knocking on the door for a handout – a grant of aid – os a quick fix that provides no permanent solution. Loans don’t help either. Poor nations usually end up with leaders like Castro or Chavez who seek to empower and enrich themselves while leaving their people in squalor – and the “Catholic Social Teaching Adherents” blame capitalism for most if not all of it.

    Since WWII capitalism, for all its faults, has lifed nations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, etc. out of poverty. Latin America remains poor due to corrupt leaders, political violence and an infatuation with leftist politics that dates back to the days after Latin America won its independence from Spain. Brazil’s history is a little different.

    When discussing Third world debt, is anyone considering forgiving the United States debt? This nation is in no position to forgive anyone’s debt.

  38. beth says:

    I am very encouraged by this encyclical. In my lifetime I have seen materialism and consumerism become an obsession with the American people. It is time to simplify our desires and our lifestyles and open our hearts to the world’s many poor.

  39. LCB says:


    The democrats obsessive worship of Moloch and the Most Holy Sacrament of Abortion creates a division on all other issues.

    When one side is pro-genocide, it causes people off good will to reflexively oppose them.

  40. RBrown says:

    I am very encouraged by this encyclical. In my lifetime I have seen materialism and consumerism become an obsession with the American people. It is time to simplify our desires and our lifestyles and open our hearts to the world’s many poor.
    Comment by beth

    I have regularly seen countless acts of charity by Americans. Some easy examples:

    1. Some years ago I was to play tennis on Sat morn with a plastic surgeon friend. He arrived 15 mins late, saying that he had only slept about an hour the night before. A drunk had put his first through a glass door, and the surgeon spent hours putting things back together and picking out glass. He then added that he wouldn’t be paid–the MEDICAID payment would barely cover his expenses.

    2. An ordering running a parish run has a parish in a very poor area in Mexico. The priests appealed to the people for donation of clothes. The result was truckloads of clothes.

    3. A good friend in his 80’s just retired from the practice of law. One of his retirement projects is delivering library books to the homebound.

    4. Another friend, a very successful businessman and investor, just died. Over the years he and his late brother donated thousands of dollars to the local Catholic college. There were not Catholic nor, as far as I know, believers.

    5. I know an oral surgeon who a few weeks ago drove 150 miles and spent the entire weekend working on non paying patients.

    6. Almost everyone I know, despite their family and work obligations, has done some charitable work. Some at hospitals (Do you have any idea how many people volunteer at hospitals?) Some at soup kitchens. Some at assistance centers. Some donate clothes and food. Some donate services.

    7. There are also the checks that people privately (and regularly) write to missionary and charitable organizations.

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