First, an update. Mid-way through the class. Keeps me busy from dawn to dark every day. And I’m taking advantage of the libraries while I’m here. I have hundreds of emails to catch up on. This encyclical is providing plenty to do. And isn’t the Supreme Court about to release some rather momentous decisions?
I’ve been on several radio shows so far, from Fr Johnathan Morris’s on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel, to Frank Beckman’s show on WJR in my hometown. This morning I’ll be on Ross Kaminsky’s NewsRadio 850 KOA (Denver) at 9:20 AM. And next week I’m already scheduled to be on three more. When I recall when, I’ll post the times.
What’s missing from Western Society is a discussion of the Big Questions. Even asking them is deemed a triggering microaggression. Occasionally, however, queries slip past the goalie, but regardless of their structure or content, the answer is always “Victims” or “The Poor” and “The State”.
Well, who can be against Victims (a group which encompassed pretty much everybody, with well known exceptions) and The Poor? And who but the State can heal their wounds and provide their needs?
Politicians are delirious over the encyclical because it says, or it is being read to say, that their services are in ever-greater demand. That they should accumulate more power and more control over the lives citizens so that Victims and The Poor find succor.
It has already begun. Here’s Damon Linker at The Week saying Catholics can no longer be good Catholics and good Republicans (the party of slightly smaller but still increasing government). So, in the States, what alternative have they? To be Democrats? The party viciously hateful of everything Catholicism stands for except, perhaps, its environmentalism?
But very well. Let us all become Democrats or Socialists or whatever. Let Victims be soothed and enrich The Poor and let the State grow without bound. Then what? What purpose this beneficence?
What is life all about? To provide temporary comforts? If everybody (except for our necessary leaders) is made equally poor, to what end?
Pope Francis, doubtless in a hurry, or perhaps thinking his audience already knew these things, forgot to quote the catechism (emphasis mine).
1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”
1894 In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.
1895 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.
2209 The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life. (1883)
Sin is mentioned twice in the encyclical: (8) (quoting another author) “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God”; (66) “This [harmonious relationship between human beings and nature] is a far cry from our situation today, where sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature.”
Salvation four times: (79) “This [applying our intelligence towards things evolving positively] is what makes for the excitement and drama of human history, in which freedom, growth, salvation and love can blossom, or lead towards decadence and mutual destruction”; (112) “Or indeed when the desire to create and contemplate beauty manages to overcome reductionism through a kind of salvation which occurs in beauty and in those who behold it”; (149) “This experience of a communitarian salvation often generates creative ideas for the improvement of a building or a neighbourhood”.
It’s not clear how “communitarian” differs from a form of collectivism, of which all forms are opposed. And all of the “salvations” appear to be the kind of earthly “salvation” commonly found in Heaven-on-earth interpretations of scripture.
The one exception is (235) where Pope Francis exhorts all environmentalists (presumably even Democrats) to look to the Eucharist, which the Holy Father accepts as being the real presence, i.e. the actual body of Our Lord. St John Paul II is quoted:
“Christianity does not reject matter. Rather, bodiliness is considered in all its value in the liturgical act, whereby the human body is disclosed in its inner nature as a temple of the Holy Spirit and is united with the Lord Jesus, who himself took a body for the world’s salvation.”
It’s not likely this passage will be quoted often.