Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Exhibit A

Caritas in Veritate in Gold and Red by George Weigel on National Review Online

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I have nothing but respect and admiration for Mr. Weigel. However, this is such a clear example of the kind of intellectual audacity with which I feared this encyclical would be met, that I simply can't pass it over. Mr. Weigel identifies two "strains" in the encyclical, some which are clearly "Benedictine" and thus may be marked in gold (ooooh, gold!), and other which are from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and must be marked in red (bloody fascista nonsense). Mr. Weigel's suggestion is to apply this hermeneutic to reading the document: "Those with eyes to see and ears to hear will concentrate their attention, in reading Caritas in Veritate, on those parts of the encyclical that are clearly Benedictine...."

Ok. Where to begin? Well, first of all, the Pope isn't some copy writer for a cheap news item playing and pandering to his cronies and appeasing them so that they all get their say. Did he play to every special interest group in the Vatican when he published Summorum Pontificum? I think not. Vatican politics are a reality to be reckoned with, but with due respect to Mr. Weigel, when Our Holy Father placed his name at the end of this encyclical letter, I think he intended the whole of it to be carefuly studied and reflected upon. And it is an insult, not to the PCJP, but to Benedict XVI to say that sections of the encyclical sound like "the warbling of an untuned piccolo." Perhaps the preconceived hermeutic of bifurcation with which the encyclical has been read make some passages seem obscure. Rather than trying to see the "red" sections in light of the "gold" and how elucidation might result from such an application, it seems far easier to just chuck half the paragraphs out the window as unsubstantial addenda only published in the first place to appease old Cardinals who might get in a tissy if they're not paid attention to. Yeah, cuz that seems like Benedict XVI's way of action...

Read the letter. Read the whole letter. And think about it. If it seems like it's meaningless, even in part, give the benefit of the doubt to the name at the end of it and try a little harder to wrap your mind about it before drawing in a scapegoat.

UPDATE - 07/07/09 @ 1450 hrs

I'm not the only one: Father Z. apparently has not fully grasped Mr. Weigel's "beef" either.

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