Question: Did Pope Benedict Attack Capitalism in His 2013 World Peace Day Message? Answer: No!
The Social Teaching of the catholic Church is neither left nor right, within the contemporary politicized use of those words
Pope Benedict's profound letter on World Peace Day should be read by every world leader. It should also be ACCURATELY reported on. Did Pope Benedict attack Capitalism in his 2013 World Peace Day Message? The answer is No! He spoke the truth. He issued a caution, reaffirmed the truth about human freedom and inited upon the primacy of the person, the family and the true common good.
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - In a message released on New Year's Day, the World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI used a few words which were quoted out of context in numerous media reports. The Message is entitled "Blessed Are the Peacemakers", the theme of this Year's World Day of Peace, and can be read here. It is a brilliantly written exposition of Catholic Social Doctrine which offers tremendous insights sorely needed in this urgent hour.
In the middle of 4,000 words addressing a full palate of social concerns - including the obligation to defend human life, protect marriage and the family, respect fundamental human rights such as religious freedom and encourage truly just economic development - he made reference to a "a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism."
Those few words gave rise to headlines in several media sources which were either intentionally false or reflected sloppy journalism. I will leave such a judgment to others. However, this kind of caution has been given before by the magisterium - and rightly so.
Here are two of many examples of poor coverage: Breitbart News reported on the speech in an article entitled "Pope Attacks Capitalism in New Years Speech." The Daily Mail out of the UK reported on the speech in an article entitled "Pope's hope for peace in 2013 despite fears over the threat of terrorism and capitalism." Both titles, as well as the articles which followed, revealed that the authors did not read the message from Pope benedict XVI in its entirety.
I was reminded of similar reactions to Pope Benedict XVI's 2009 Encyclical letter, Charity in Truth. In that encyclical letter the Pope addressed what the Church calls integral human development. The early responders attempted to read the letter through the prism of political categories such as "left" and "right", "liberal" and conservative". The incessant efforts to characterize the principles offered in that letter as "for or against capitalism" also missed the insights offered by Pope Benedict XVI on economic development and the primacy of the human person, the family and the common good.
The field of moral theology referred to as Catholic Social Doctrine is often misunderstood and misrepresented. The Catholic Church does not propose any economic system or endorse any particular economic theory. However, as an expert in humanity, she insists that every economic order be placed at the service of the human person, human freedom, human flourishing, the family and the common good.
This teaching is called social because it speaks to human society and to the formation, role and rightful place of social institutions. The Social Teaching of the catholic Church is neither left nor right, within the contemporary politicized use of those words. The Church "walks the way of the person" because she continues the work of the Lord Jesus in whom is revealed the fullness of the human person.
The Social teaching maintains that there are unchangeable truths, such as the dignity of every human person at every age and stage, which provide a framework for viewing and structuring our social life together. We should recognize and follow them if we ever hope to build a truly just society.
This human dignity is present in every person, at every age and stage, because it reflects the Image of God in all men and women. It is this foundational vision of the human person which informs the Catholic position concerning the respect for every human life whether that life be in the first home of the womb, a wheelchair, a jail cell, a hospital room, a hospice, a senior center or a soup kitchen.
It does not propose any particular economic theory but insists that every economic order must first be at the service of the dignity of the human person and the family and further the common good. The social teaching offers principles which are to be worked into the loaf of human culture in order to build a more just society. That includes principles meant to inform how we order our economies. Because they are principles, they leave room for the application of prudential judgment.
The Church challenges any notion of freedom which begins and ends with the isolated, atomistic, person as the measure of its ...
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