Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Charity for Sale by Pope Benedict XVI

In its coverage of B16's fresh encyclical entitled "Charity in Truth", the New York Times highlights this bit of it:

Profit is useful if it serves as a means toward an end. Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.

Nice. The pope denounces greed. OK, I'd like to read more of this, even though I think he ought to tend to his own disheveled backyard before he criticizes capitalism. I'd like to see how he juggles the fact of property and wealth in his empire with his mandate to charity. How does he balance his own astronomically high level of personal material refined comfort with the hardscrabble lives of millions of his followers? B16 has written me a letter and I wish to read it.

Eager to receive his guidance about money and profit-making, and filled with a fervent desire to read all 144 pages of the encyclical letter in English and also in Latin as Caritas in Veritate, I was happy to find that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops would send it to me as soon as it is available on July 17th.

Unfortunately, in order to receive B16's letter, I would first have to Add to Cart and set up an account. At Checkout, I was apprised of the shipping and handling costs for the Pope's letter: $6.00 for domestic ground, $15.00 for UPS or FedEx 2 Day, or $25.00 for UPS Nextday or FedEx Overnite.

And, yes, the letter itself is not free. The American bishops are selling it to you in paperback for $6.95.

("And that's not all, act now and you'll get not just Charity in Truth, but we'll throw in....")

I guess the American bishops have not actually read the letter, or, maybe they have read it and are doing what European Catholics have done for centuries, rendering an old pope harmless by ignoring his prattling.

In any case, do you recall that B16, in the wake of his disastrous pardoning of that monster-bishop who denied the Holocaust, vowed to use the internet in his future communications? I guess he wasn't serious about that because these days, if you write a letter and really want folks to read it, you use the internet. Duh. And yes, I'm not buying it because soon enough I'll be able to find the entire text somewhere on the net.* It is just very disappointing that B16 did not publish it that way himself.

I guess it's business as usual in the Roman Catholic Church.

I don't think this is the kind of enterprise Jesus had in mind when he distributed the few loaves and fishes he and his disciples had among them, and managed somehow to feed for free the huge multitude that had gathered on a hillside to listen to his words. Now that was charity in truth.

And hey, you American bishops, whose head is on that coin? Take a look at section 6 of the introduction: Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting. I cannot “give” what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice.

* Yup. Rocco's got the whole of it up already at Whispers in the Loggia. Interestingly, it seems to be an ode to the memory of Paul VI, the last of the great queer popes.


Birdie said...

85 pages, copied and pasted into Word.

Birdie said...

Before I stumble through this document, I could use a little cultural context. I became aware of the Catholic concept of “matters of conscience” when reading a letter from a well-spoken mother of a gay man, in opposition to Prop 8. Do the subjects contained herein fall under the veil of matters of conscience?

In terms of its power, where does this letter fit on the continuum between “this is how I feel” to “this is how you will act?” Will clergy be expected to respond on a different level than “the lay faithful” or “all people of good will?” And realistically speaking, how will people respond?

Tony Adams said...

The letter will be roundly ignored. It seems to contain no defined mandate for specific behavior and no specific prohibitions, but I haven't read much of it yet. It's not like Paulo Sesto's anti-artificial birth control encyclical letter. That one had balls. Encyclicals are instructions. Hard to categorize their authority and muscle. This one seems a watery gruel.

Anonymous said...

Ican't understand why you are cfreating this drama about waiting to 17th July to get the encyclical, supplying us with figures rearding the COST ( oh heavens, the greedy Vatican!) etcetera, etcetara, etcetera.... Ths encyclical is available free on the web at the Vatican website from the yesterday, when it "came out". It will cost you only the printing out of the document using your PC's printer.I've done it immediately. You seem to want it delivered into your lap by the angels or, better, a Vatican messenger, free of charge. A few pence or perhaps 1 dollar for your printer's ink too much to pay?

Good God.

Anonymous said...