BY JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tBy the time Pope Benedict XVI’s new social encyclical appears in early July, it may well seem largely anti-climactic. Extracts have already appeared in the Italian press, and yesterday the pontiff actually scooped himself by devoting his remarks for the close of his “Pauline Year” to the theme of Caritas in Veritate, “Charity in Truth,” also the title of his long-awaited meditation on the economy.
tIn effect, what Benedict laid out last night likely amounts to the theological and spiritual substructure of the encyclical, minus the specific economic prescriptions.
tThe core of what Benedict said, during an ecumenical vespers service at the grand basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, is that building a better world requires forming better people. Structural reform thus presupposes personal moral and spiritual renewal, including a life devoted to prayer and the sacraments.
[Editor's note: For more analysis from John Allen on the new encyclical, see: Economic encyclical expands on church's 'best-kept secret'.]
tIn his long-awaited new encyclical on the economy, Pope Benedict XVI appears set to call for new global “synergies” among labor unions in order to resist cuts in social safety nets, stronger efforts to combat world hunger, and greater protections for the “ecological health of the planet.”
tBeyond those policy matters, the pontiff also will apparently strike three vintage personal themes:
•tSocial justice depends upon individual conversion, and the roots of the present crisis are in an “ethical deficit” within economic structures, especially greed;
•tThe defense of the poor and the defense of unborn life, implying opposition to abortion and artificial birth control, are necessarily linked.
•tPreaching Christ is not a distraction from building a better world, but “the principal resource at the service of the true development of every single person and of all humanity.”
Benedict’s new social encyclical, titled Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”), will likely not be released until early July, but this morning’s Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, carried lengthy extracts.
It’s been a hard week for Hollywood. Three show business icons finished their earthly journeys. First Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s long-time side kick, passed away. Then on Thursday, June 25, both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died.
I don’t know much about Ed McMahon except that my grandmother, who could have been Ed’s mother, was in love with him. Back in the 60’s, when she wasn’t gushing over daytime television’s Betty White and Alan Ludden’s Password romance, she had her eye on Ed McMahon. My memories of him are mostly associated to McMahon’s Furniture Store in Lemon Grove, CA. There was no relation, I’m sure, but I think my grandmother liked to shop there for patio chairs hoping there was. Later, when I started getting interminable Publishers’ Clearing House mailings, I began hoping McMahon would get a new job. I never did watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but whenever scenes of Johnny and Ed have replayed over the years, you know they made people laugh. They still do.
Remember the days when we used to pray for the conversion of Russia after mass? Those prayers were traced back to requests made by Our Lady of Fatima.
Well, communism has ended in the Soviet Union and there are more baptisms per capita in Moscow than in Paris. Who's to know? Did is work?
Practically in the NCR backyard, a Vatican miracle investigator is visiting Colwich, Kan., to look into claims of a healing attributed to the intercession of Fr. Emil Kapaun, a U.S. Army chaplain from Pilsen, Kan., who died in a prisoner of war camp during the Korean War.
Last year 20-year-old Chase Kear sustained head injuries in a pole vaulting accident during a track meet. (Kear's doctor said the young man's "skull had been cracked from ear to ear.") His chances of survival were very low. His family and parish began praying to Fr. Kapaun for help.
In an unusual First Amendment alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union sided with the Diocese of Bridgeport Thursday and slammed the state Office of Ethics for investigating whether the church, in organizing a rally at the Capitol, violated state lobbying laws.
The ACLU filed a friend of the court brief supporting the diocese's request for a preliminary injunction to block the state Office of Ethics from requiring it to register as a lobbyist.
Ethel Gintoft, the first women to head the Catholic Press Association, died Wednesday at the age of 83. She was a bright and caring journalist and an esteemed colleague. For years she stood out as editor of the Catholic Herald, the Milwaukee archdiocesan newspaper, both because she maintained a highly professional publication and because it was still unusual for a women to hold such a post within the Catholic press.
The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has granted $17,598 to six northeast Wisconsin organizations. The funds come from the diocese’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Catholic Relief Services’ Operation Rice Bowl collections during Lent.
(I didn't realized that CRS' Operation Rice Bowl still exists, as I don't see it advertized very often.) Given the brutal fundraising environment, these grants will do a lot of good for the poor.
A scientist can be a believer. But professionally, at least, he can't act like one.
This is a fun opinion piece to contemplate on yet another cloudy day here in the Northeast.