Friday, January 27, 2006

"The True Face of Catholicism"

It is Friday, after all, so Happy Tablet Day to everyone.

As it should, the international Catholic weekly heaps glowing praise on Deus caritas est in its Leader:
Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical confirms him as a man of humour, warmth, humility and compassion, eager to share the love that God “lavishes” on humanity and display it as the answer to the world’s deepest needs. On his election last spring, the former Cardinal Ratzinger was widely assumed to have as his papal agenda the hammering of heretics and a war on secularist relativism, subjects with which he was associated as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instead he has produced a profound, lucid, poignant and at times witty discussion of the relationship between sexual love and the love of God, the fruit no doubt of a lifetime’s meditation. This is a document that presents the most attractive face of the Catholic faith and could be put without hesitation into the hands of any inquirer.
The endorsement does send a salvo back to this side of the Pond -- well, to some of its more overzealous inhabitants.
The second part of the encyclical, which is said to owe something to an unfinished project of the previous Pope, ties up a loose end in Catholic social teaching by addressing the question how, in a world seeking social justice, there is still room for charity. The answer is a compelling one. But this is still Ratzinger rather than Wojtyla, with his warning that it is not for the Church to take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. “She cannot and must not replace the State,” he insists. Yet at the same time she must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. Thus is a careful line drawn with regard to efforts by Catholic prelates, most notably in the United States in the last presidential election, to tell politicians which laws they may or may not pass.
And they wonder why I love writing for The World's Best Catholic paper....