Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The New Encyclical

I have just finished reading Benedict XVI's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. It really is quite an achievement. Once again, the new Pope reveals himself to be a thinker of tremendous depth and power, writing with a clarity and heart-felt devotion that is a joy to read.

In his usual incisive manner, Chiesa's reporter Sandro Magister, in an article that appeared on Chiesa's website to-day commented not so much upon the encyclical itself, but on the resistance to the new Pope. One way in which this has manifested was apparently in the delay of translation of the document --- a translation the Pontiff himself felt impelled to correct. The first of three such "resistances" that Mr. Magister touched upon was that of the Neocatechumenal way, which has crossed swords with the Pope over its litugical style. As the article informs us, "...instead of simply obeying, the Neocatechumenals disobeyed while asserting that they were perfectly obedient." This is a tactic those of us living in such places as Los Angeles are entirely familiar with.

That aside, the encyclical is in many ways a radical document, in the sense of returning to the roots. Love --- carefully defined as the Pope does --- must lie at the root of all Catholic endeavour. But he takes pains to show us that this love must be both mystical and concrete, and does so in an easily comprehended matter.

His Holiness touches upon the role in politics that love must carve out for Catholics. While, as is his wont, he goes out of his way to be conciliatory to the temporal authorities, he includes a passage from St. Augustine that --- whether Benedict knows it or not --- is extremely condemnatory: "a State which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves." With a very few exceptions (Liechtenstein until its recent acceptance of abortion comes to mind)that pretty much somes up the totality of the governments with which the Church as a whole and Catholics as individuals must deal.

In that context, one cannot look at this letter as a practical "how-to" guide for dealing with the State. But it will certainly serve to refocus our energies in the proper direction. By the same token, despite the loving manner in which the Pope puts forth his programme, there can be no doubt that --- deficient as it may be to some Traditionalists --- it is sure to bring him nasty assaults from the powers that be, in Church as well as State. This, surely, is an area in which we must defend him; and there is no better start to that than reading Deus Caritas Est and meditating upon its contents.


Blogger Jeff said...

So glad you found an excuse for posting again!

What I find most refreshing about you among traditionalists is that you manage to preserve an attitude of deep respect and filial piety toward the Pope. I can tell you "receive" this document, you don't just use it as grist for the deconstruction of the "Post Vatican Two Church."

I notice on a lot of the other traditionalist websites a sort of hypercritical habit of spirit that immediately leaps into opposition and fault-finding. This was not the attitude of von Hildebrand, nor was it mostly the approach Michael Davies took. I get the feeling, too, that you might actually SURVIVE under a real monarchy, but that some of the other monarchists don't know how to act like subjects, only like units of the demos.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Ă‰stiel said...


Your comments on the Holy Father's first encyclical are superb. Thank you. Wonderful sanity.

I agree, Jeff, is it not refreshing to find such a voice?


3:49 PM  
Blogger willa_cather said...

What strikes me is that a modern Pope actually pays homage to a medieval poet, Dante. Over seven hundred years ago, Dante wrote in his Paradiso:

"In this realm is so much love, that no will desires more..."

In other words, no matter how much love we have in heaven we could never desire more. But interestingly, in Dante's view of heaven, there is still a heirarchy: we all have the beautific vision, but differently. I don't know if that idea is still sound, theologically, but it is food for thought..

9:36 PM  
Blogger Roger Buck said...

Warm greetings.

This is not so much a comment on your post, though like Jeff, I appreciate your traditionalism-with-respect for Our Holy Father ...

Rather it is to say I have been reading a number of your writings -

Find myself with significant disagreements ...

But also find myself intrigued.

And thought you just might want (?) to know of my own weblog: Hermetic Catholicism

Our Lord it seems, leads me to an ever more traditionalist Catholicism - but I guess I would still seem pretty liberal/left-wing to you (?) ...

Still I deeply respect much of what I see with you ... your commitment to the tradition ... your erudition, and I feel heart.

God be with you,


3:45 PM  
Blogger Roger Buck said...

I just need to make a CORRECTION here ...

re my above comment regarding my weblog, Hermetic Catholicism

I can't believe I got my own website address wrong.

The real link is:

How embarrassing.

God bless you.

2:00 PM  
Blogger hilary said...


How come you've got all the boys in the League of Evil Traditionalists blogrolled, but not the girls?!

It's discrimination I tell you!

4:24 PM  

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