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Encyclical tosses aside left and right


Pope Benedict's social encyclical shows, among other things, just how unhelpful the classic left v. right classifications are when assessing the state of contemporary church teaching. We use the terms, and we more or less know what they mean. I speak from the left. George Weigel and Michael Novak speak from the right. But, the dominant thought coming from the pope does not fit easily into those classifications. The interesting debate is not between left and right but between the "Communio" school and both the left and the right.

Vatican deficit blamed on 'global crisis'


With all the buzz over the meta-economic story, Benedict XVI's encyclical and the global economy, you might have missed the micro-economic story: Vatican City reports $22 million deficit. Vatican City is the secular state.

News was a bit brighter for the Holy See, the episcopal jurisdiction of the pope, reported a loss of merely $1.3 million, down from $14 million in 2007.

World's oldest Bible digitized


The surviving pages of the world's oldest Bible have been reunited -- digitally. The early work known as the Codex Sinaiticus has been housed in four separate locations across the world for more than 150 years. But starting Monday, it became available for perusal on the Web at so scholars and other readers can get a closer look at what the British Library calls a "unique treasure."

Pope proposes a 'Christian humanism' for the global economy


New encyclical on the economy offers something for both the political left and right to cheer … and something to be grumpy about


tBlending a call for increased aid to developing nations, support for global governance with “real teeth,” alarm at the “unregulated exploitation” of the environment, and staunch opposition to population control programs, Pope Benedict XVI today sketched what he called a “Christian humanism” for the globalized age in his long-awaited social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”).

tTo be sustainable, Benedict argues, economic policies must be rooted in a comprehensive vision of human welfare, including spirituality – as opposed to a “technocratic” approach, or one driven by “private interests and the logic of power.”

tThe pope rejects a laissez-faire economic philosophy which would treat the market as largely free-standing. Benedict specifically brushes off the idea that the economy has an in-built “quota” of poverty and underdevelopment required to function successfully.

Indiana firm can claim a papal thumbs-up from new social encyclical



tThough the Vatican typically is loathe to put the pope in the position of endorsing a commercial product, in effect a papal thumbs-up is precisely what Mundell & Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Indianapolis, Indiana, can claim from Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI’s new social encyclical.

tFounded in 1995, Mundell & Associates is a 20-person firm specializing in environmental clean-up and design; for example, it’s currently helping Ball State University convert its entire campus to geothermal energy. Directed by a Catholic couple, Mundell & Associates is also part of the “economy of communion” network of businesses linked to the Focolare movement.

The “economy of communion” was cited by Benedict XVI as a promising form of intermediate activity between for-profit business and classic non-profit institutions, rupturing what the pope called an “exclusively binary model of market-plus-state” which is “corrosive of society.”

tThat papal seal of approval should give “great credibility” to enterprises such as his own, said John Mundell, founder of Mundell & Associates, in a July 6 telephone interview.

Legislative strategy and abortion reduction


I am not one of those inside the Beltway types who thinks all wisdom resides within its eight traffic lanes. But, there are circumstances in which you can see the forest for the trees sometimes better when you are at least familiar with the ways of Washington.

A perfect example of this is the competing bills about the how to reduce the abortion rate, about which the jockeying has become intense in recent weeks. The Ryan-DeLauro bill includes funding for contraception and extensive sex education and will be opposed by the Catholic hierarchy. The Pregnant Women Support Act aims only at the economic, social and health needs of women for whom pregnancy is a complicated blessing. The USCCB has already endorsed the latter bill. The White House has not committed itself. Some groups, such as Third Way, support Ryan-DeLauro. Others, such as Catholics for Life, support the PWSA.

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales target of abuse suits


Perhaps it was an inevitability, simply a matter of time, before the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in the Eastern U.S., got caught up in the ugliness of the sex abuse scandal.

An article in yesterday's The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., details some of the charges involved in "nearly 30 lawsuits alleging that 10 priests had for years sexually abused students at Oblate-run high schools in Delaware and Pennsylvania."

During a recent discussion with a priest about the damage the sex abuse crisis had done to the church and the deep scars it had left on some members of the community, he stopped and said, "Still, you are who you are because of the church."


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August 15-28, 2014


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