Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Propos the Post: "The Encyclical of Benedict XVI: "Caritas in Veritate"

"My question would be: is this form, the encyclical, really reaching those in the business world or is it just reaching priests and Catholic school teachers and professors and what proof do we have that it will be read by business leaders?

"Christ went to the leaders in person to whom He wanted to preach as did John the Baptist (they came to him at the Jordan...excepting the one who had him killed).

"Imagine if the Pope instead of an encyclical met with the 300 most influential Catholic business leaders for a week in Rome or via internet conference. Then we could be sure that the top 300 business people who are Catholic knew what he said instead of our imagining that they do.

Bill Bannon

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Dear Bill,

Good idea. However, I believe the real problem is culture as a living reality. And the key to living culture is living faith. I don't think it's merely systemic that a few knowledgeable and powerful people can fix by being galvanized into action and overhauling it or tweaking it. I don't know what the pope's going to say in "Caritas in Veritate" but his ever insistent reference to culture, particularly in Europe, is calling for a something new as dynamizing the civilization of love.

Culture is a consciousness that comes from an anthropology of self-gift – a praxis, the first act of which is living faith. Faith is not the revision of a few ideas but a lived, moral act. I refer you to Wojtyla’s presentation at The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan on March 18, 1977 and found in Person and Community pp. 263-275 entitled: "The Problem of the Constitution of Culture Through Human Praxis."

What also haunts us is the parity of Marxism and Capitalism. I am thinking of Ratzinger's remark that the Communists, be it in Europe or China, simply became liberal capitalists after the collapse of economic Marxism. H e said: "I see as an essential problem in our day, for Europe and for the world, the fact that the economic failure is never disputed, and therefore the former Communists have become economic liberals almost without hesitation, whereas the moral and religious problem, which was really at stake, is almost completely dismissed. Nevertheless, the complex problems left behind by Marxism continue to exist today. The loss of man's primordial certainties about God, about himself, and about the universe - the loss of an awareness of intangible moral values - is still our problem, especially today, and it can lead to the self-destruction of the European consciousness, which we must begin to consider - independently of Spengler's vision of decline - as a real danger;" ("What is Europe" in Europe Today and Tomorrow Ignatius [2007] 29-30).

What has to take place is the restoration of the human person as relation to God and others. He/she is in a state of alienation by being turned back into self - all of which is aided and abetted by hand-held technology. It is now becoming – or has already become - a non-culture of robotic individualism. The restoration of man must be a cultural restoration of the person from the alienated state of individualism, and it cannot take place without self-transcending act of the human person dynamized by prayer, sacraments and the Eucharist. A read of Walker Percy’s “The Message in the Bottle” and “Love in the Ruins” – especially the latter – would help dramatize what’s up.

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