Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Neocons and Catholics

The Holy Father's latest encyclical Charity in Truth has certainly caused a stir. Most notable, though, is how little stir it's caused, or rather, the lack of stir among certain elements of the population. In the U.S., because of the abortion wars and some other political struggles, most practicing Catholics find ourselves in alliance with the Republican party. The Republican party, for its part, is wrapped around the Neocon finger. Anything that even hints at a whiff of "justice" or "social" is branded as socialism and roundly condemned as unchristian. Folks like George Weigel who otherwise sing the praises of popes as they stand against abortion, are dead silent, or in Weigel's case go so far as to wonder in writing if the pope in question has been listening to the wrong people too much.

This article, by Donald Devine, does a good job of refuting the Weigel's claim that the encyclical is somehow a departure from Catholic doctrine. Devine explains why both "conservatives" and "liberals" will be unhappy with the encyclical of a pontiff who refuses to be categorized so easily. "Liberals" use terms like "social justice" to engineer statist centralization of power. Neocons use terms like "free market" to rationalize a fascist oligarchy of corporations. The Holy Father, on the other hand, truly believes in the freedom of the human person fulfilled in a caring community organized around principles implanted in reality by its Creator.

That is, the Holy Father is a Christian. When Christ strikes America as liberal, then the Holy Father is "liberal," if you must. When Christ seems to Americans to be conservative, then let the Holy Father so seem as well. He is committed to neither side, and seems to see both sides as being artificial and unnecessary. He is committed to no political party. He is committed only to Christ. Please God we who populate the pews of Catholic parishes will give it a try.

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