Monday, May 14, 2007

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my -- Capitalism and Marxism and Liberation Theology OH MY

“What is real?” he mused in the speech, hours before heading back to Rome after five days in Brazil, the world’s most populous Catholic country. “Are only material goods, social and economic and political problems ‘reality’?” Without agreeing first on God, he argued to the bishops, society is unable to tackle the problems of poverty and social injustice.

“Just structures are,” he said, “an indispensable condition for a just society, but they neither rise nor function without a moral consensus in society on fundamental values.”

“Where God is absent — God with the human face of Jesus Christ — these values fail to show themselves with their full force: nor does a consensus arise concerning them,” he said.

To see the Times article click here.

He also raged with equal fire against Marxism and capitalism. By focusing solely on material concerns, he said, they “falsify the notion of reality by detaching it from the foundational and decisive reality which is God.”

“Both capitalism and Marxism promised to point out the path for the creation of just structures, and they declared that these, once established, would function by themselves,” he said. “And this ideological promise has proven false.”

Marxism, he said, left “a sad heritage of economic and ecological destruction.” Capitalism, he said, has failed to bridge the “distance between rich and poor” and is “giving rise to a worrying degradation of personal dignity through drugs, alcohol and deceptive illusions of happiness.”

Without specifically mentioning liberation theology by name, Benedict, in his speech to the bishops, criticized Catholics who argue that the church’s supreme moral duty is to denounce and resist social injustice. As the Vatican’s senior official on matters of doctrine and faith, he led efforts in the 1980s to stamp out the movement, then quite influential in Latin America, and on Sunday he again warned the clergy not to permit such concerns to eclipse their spiritual duties.

“This political task is not the immediate competence of the church,” he said. “Respect for a healthy secularity — including the pluralism of political opinions — is essential in the authentic Christian tradition.

“If the church were to start transforming herself into a directly political subject, she would do less, not more, for the poor and for justice.”

Link to Zenit for the full address.

Everyone, on all sides, even in the pews, shout and demand action and justice, yet few seem to heed THE Good News, as in the Gospel reading today: John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.


Athos said...

I will suppose, Aramis, that your title, "Lions and tigers...", besides referring to the Wizard of Oz, or perhaps placing the Pope alongside the Tinman, Lion, and Scarecrow, is a couched way of saying that you think the Holy Father doth protest too much?

If so, please recall that -- far from disagreeing with his predecessor, Leo XIII, BXVI is merely calling them as the Holy Spirit allows him to see 'em.

Let me quote from an essay in StAR (Sept/Oct'03):

The Distributist ideal extends back as far as Aristotle, was enshrined in Catholic thinking by St. Thomas, and during the great social crisis occasioned by the rise of industrial capitalism, was revived by Pope Leo XIII in his social encyclical RERUM NOVARUM, which exhorted political leaders and legislators to work for the widespread distribution of property."

You see, far from being the brainchild of the 19th century, Distributivism, now shortened to Distributism, is firmly and stoutheartedly ensconced in the historical teaching of the Church as "the only reasonable alternative to Capitalism and Socialism, and the only economicl system taht could sustain traditional democracy" (Likoudis).

What the Pope is saying is of no threat to the small business owner (but it is to the big box monstrosities).

Best, Athos

David Nybakke said...

Ah, my dear friend, you have it all wrong. Peace I give you - not our frail peace, but His Peace (lions, tigers and bears - what fear is there when you have His Peace?). What are capitalism, Marxism or liberation theology? They are not reality. Reality is found in truth and truth is found in a person - in Jesus Christ.

What is interesting to me is that, not only does Pope Benedict XVI emphasize a Church free of political agenda, he also never ventures into Distributist ideals or any other economic theories. He simply, with a broad brush, paints a picture where each works for justices for all, particularly to the widows and orphans...

It seems to me that Pope BXVI focuses on the task of passing on the faith - and in doing that task it will influence and steer political and economic forces.

Athos said...

Ah, my dear friend, you have it all wrong...Reality is found in truth and truth is found in a person - in Jesus Christ. (N)ot only does Pope Benedict XVI ... never ventures into Distributist ideals or any other economic theories. He simply, with a broad brush, paints a picture where each works for justices for all, particularly to the widows and orphans...

So, Aramis, I guess we can start doing away with other structures, like the structure of the Mass (just hold up a Chalice and the Loaf, smiling benigning and thinking about only Jesus), the big old Catechism (just smile peacefully and think about Jesus), and the unreal economic system, Capital Hill, petroleum dependency, manufacturing, and labor issues (put on a friar's habit and get to work loving like Jesus)?

I get your emphasis, and I DO think you are representing the Pope's message, Aramis, but once again, the Church's teaching is complex because LIFE IS complex. It's okay to wan to simplify, simplify, simplify, but Jesus knew life was messy, filled with problems, and complicated; that is why he gave us the Church: to meet ALL of the problems of real, human, vastly intricate life, IMHO... Cheers, and peace!

Athos said...

Okay, okay, let me revamp the above. Ontological substantiation comes solely via the Church, the sacramental means by which Jesus, the incarnation of God, the "Word made flesh" (Jn 1,14), provides for real life. If HE is at our center, then all the complexity of life, the stuff in which we live and with which we must deal in the messiness of life, then it all becomes manageable.

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well" (Mtt 5,33).

I hope that is a better way of putting it!

Porthos said...

I believe in the Church but to say that it is the only source of ontological substantiation is putting it more strongly than I am comfortable with, and more (I think) than Benedict himself would be comfortable with. (E.g. this is not his--nor was it JP II's--approach in ecumenical dialogue, and this is not the approach of Fr. Benedict Groeschel in the numerous dowloaded talk of his I have enjoyed). Putting aside Protestantism for the moment, there are sacramental and Apostolic streams (for instance, Orthodox, Marronite, Coptic) that have managed to retain and pass on some substantial ontological mojo without going off the rails. Even the numerous and varied guests on The Journey Home program rarely indicate that they lacked all ontological substantiation before coming home to the Church. Yes, they come into the fullness of the faith, but that doesn't mean there was nothing there, anywhere at all, until they did. Their testimonies tell a different story, and I imagine that ours would, too.

Athos said...

Whale, Porthos, I would refer interested readers to the Catechism Nos. 830-848 for the rather high ecclesiology of the Catholic Church, and one, I would add, I'm not comfortable denying. As to the Orthodox (the other "lung" of Christendom for JPII), we share fully in Eucharistic fellowship with them as Catholics; Maronites ARE Catholics; the Copts we are at least as close to as, say, Methodists (minus their disagreement with Catholics re: the nature of the Second Person of the Trinity ("homousias" or some such tidbit).

As to Fr Groeschel, and the Holy Father (!), I'm sure they are in full agreement with the Catechism in that "Outside the Church there is no salvation."

Does "ontological substantiation" equal "salvation"? In my understanding, yes. Does the Holy Spirit continue to work "outside the lines?" -- that is, provide this extra-ecclesially? Yes! (I mean, look at Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus, for example.) But here I would lean on Jesus' words, "By their fruit shall you know them."

But even here, many would argue that it only takes place because the Church exists IN the world as THE sacramental presence provided BY the Lord. Otherwise, we come vvery close to a kind of disembodied gnosticism. There is no Christianity without the visible Church, just as the soul needs the body in the world.

David Nybakke said...

Athos, all I am saying is summed up in the following: From Brazil Resounds a Word Sharper than a Sword

The pope begins it with words "sharper than a sword": the words of the New Testament on perfect obedience to the Father of Jesus, the savior of all precisely because he was obedient in everything, even to the cross. The bishops, he asserts, are simply "bound" to this obedience: their mission is that of preaching the truth, baptizing, "saving souls one by one" in the name of Jesus.

"This, and nothing else, is the purpose of the Church," Benedict XVI emphasizes. Therefore, where the truth of the Christian faith is hidden, and where the sacraments are not celebrated, "the essential is also lacking for the solution of urgent social and political problems."

All of the instructions that the pope gave to the Brazilian bishops following the address descend from this foundation. Benedict XVI's clear intention is that of reestablishing Jesus, true God and true man, as the center of the Latin American Church: a Church that, in his judgment, has in recent decades strayed too far into political territory, under the influence of liberation theology.

Christ is the center and the focus, and where the Church is always about raising up Christ to the world and passing this on to the next generation. If we lose site of this task we are bound to stray, even when we strive to feed all the hungry and solve all crimes against humanity, if we lose site of Christ we will stumble causing scandal.

Athos said...


Athos said...

Maybe Amy Welborn ties it all together in her blog post on the Pope's new book on Jesus. Michael Dubruiel (her spouse) speaks about it here.

Let me contritely say, my joy at a high ecclesiology could only happen because of an exponentially higher Christology. No Word made flesh - no Peter, keeper of the keys, no Church marching through history bestowing grace in Christ's sacraments. Hail, Lord, and maranatha. +

Porthos said...

I'm finding quite a lot in the 830s and 840s that seems consonant with my sentiments above. (Beautiful stuff in the Cathechism here, at any rate!)

For instance:
838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."324

In substance, however, this might corroborate your assertions above, because it's sort of a "they're in communion even though they don't know it" kind of thing.

So, maybe it should be put like this: "Even if you THINK you've got ontological substantiation from some other source, whatever ontological substantiation you have comes through you're unseen communion with the Church. In addition, I would also like to whap you upside the head, miscreant. Whap! Whap! Whap!

"Why? Because I felt like it! That's why."

If you put it in those kind of terms, I think I could get on board.