Encyclical upshot: Is the Pope a liberal?

Caritas cover.jpgThat’s the question I pose, and try to answer, in this essay at PoliticsDaily:

But what is clear, whether one reads every word or just excerpts, is that the pope is a liberal, at least in American political terms. He says this is not a document proposing “technical solutions,” and stresses the greed and sin at the heart of the current economic crisis. Yet he rigorously and consistently applies the Golden Rule to economics and finance, calling for greater regulation of the markets and — get this — “a true world political authority” that can put “real teeth” into international governance.
Not even the purportedly “socialist” Barack Obama, who will meet with Benedict on Friday for the first time at the Vatican, would imagine going that far.
Right? Or left?



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posted July 8, 2009 at 12:01 am

The Church has always leaned to the left in economic terms. John Paul II was the first pope to accept that capitalism could even be acceptable with Catholicism.

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posted July 8, 2009 at 1:23 am

I’ll be impressed when they do anything to back up their flowery words and approached social justice issues with the same stridency as abortion and gay marriage. There don’t seem to be any moves to deny predatory lenders communion or bar them from speaking at Catholic universities.

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posted July 8, 2009 at 7:51 am

I think Kenneth makes a point…in theory we have been a “liberal” church but in implementation we speak out of both sides of our mouths. Still, I am heartened that in this environment, someone with the platform that the Pope has, is prepared to make the statements that are necessary.
This brings many questions to mind. Like what will this do to affect liberation theology? How will the institutional church live these words? What will the people who do not see the correlation between thier faith and the way they live do? There are a lot of people who love to dwell in Church teaching alone and forget the message of the Gospel,(they are not always the same) as a way of reconciling the way things are in the world, what will they do now if church teaching suggests that it is wrong? I hope, for the sake of all of us, it causes a real stir. I hope people struggle with it, and I am truly convinced that Benedict was meant to be our Pope at this time. The Holy Spirit is alive and well in our church if we would just be open to its workings.

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posted July 8, 2009 at 9:49 am

So, David, your true interest is in trying to box the Pope into a political category. To what end? To reinterpret the text? To confirm your own political instincts, predispositions, categories, and prejudices? Why must your first substantial post be a politicization of Church doctrine? Why do we have to selectively garnish doctrine to provide ammunition for our own political ends? Shall we look at some of the conservative passages in the document and absolutize them as well? You’re contributing to the devouring taking place between Catholics on the right and Catholics on the left that is vitiating our community’s capacity to have a positive impact on society through prophetic witness, the promotion of authentic integral development, and reading the signs of the times. You people are stuck in a vicious closed circle that extinguishes the vital energies with which our community is supposed to give life to the world.

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posted July 8, 2009 at 9:57 am

Pope Benedict XVI is not liberal or conservative. Such terms are political terms. He is a Catholic Christian, he is Pope. He follows Christ –not a political movement or party.
As to communion being not being permitted to “predatory lenders” etc– it is already not permitted. Anyone who is in a state of mortal sin is not to approach Holy Communion. And if they do they do knowingly — it can be a further sin of sacrilege!! If one commits a mortal sin and does not repent etc (go to confession ..and if stealing etc –intend to make restitution) one is not to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. As St. Paul says in Cor. one must “examine oneself” before the Eucharist or one “eats and drinks condemnation” to oneself!
Furthermore — one follows the Gospel and of course the Teachings of the Church (these may apply the Gospel to new moments in history but the have authority and often –especially defined things –are the Gospel)–as Jesus said in the Gospels “He who hears you hears me”.

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John McG

posted July 8, 2009 at 10:28 am


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posted July 8, 2009 at 10:42 am

People, people, people.
Is it possible that David is using this meme to help us all get past our obsession with American Politics and perhaps realize there is both a wider world and that its full of people?

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posted July 8, 2009 at 7:35 pm

He is the Pope of the Universal Catholic Church.
He cannot be reduced to specific political boundaries of one country.
To do so is an unfortunate analysis.
Was Christ a liberal because of Matthew 25?

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Frank Clyburn

posted July 8, 2009 at 8:10 pm

The whole basics of the Church is Liberal…..or is it? Good question. The right to life for unborn babies is Conservative for certain, as for anything else very Liberal. That’s why a separation of church and state in America helped to make this country great. Historically the church has kept her people ignorant and stable and locked in that ignorance. To me that is very Liberal.

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Bruce Roeder

posted July 9, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Insisting on the labels used in twenty-first century American politics to the leader of the ancient, universal Church reveals much more about the inadequacies of the former than the policy patterns of the latter.

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