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Caritas in Veritate?

11 July AD 2009
Saint Pius I, Pope & Martyr

Encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI-Caritas in veritate
(Numbers in parenthesis refer to paragraphs in the Vatican edition.)

    In his latest encyclical Pope Benedict XVI paints a beautiful picture of what the economy ought to be—informed by love, truth, justice, generosity, respect for the rights of individuals and reverence for the Creator.  His picture may be an unrealizable utopian dream, but it is certainly beautiful nonetheless.  It is also certain that the Holy Father has little understanding of how such an economy might be brought into existence.  And even more certain that the two sources of the Pope's inspiration—Vatican II and the encyclical Populorum progressio of Pope Paul VI are dead ends.  Paul VI was the economic “savant” who hired a Mafia Don and Freemason named Michele Sindona to administer the Church's vast investment portfolio. Vatican II was the council that brought unmitigated disaster upon the Catholic Church in every measurable way.

    There are, I believe, at least three fundamental flaws in the encyclical:

  • The inability to recognize that Modernism and Socialism represent a complete break with twenty centuries of the Catholic Faith, and to recognize that Modernism is responsible for the Church's inability to deal with the problems of modern life from the religious perspective.
  • The failure to recognize the immoralities urged by the global ruling elite as moral evils—even to the point of calling for vastly stronger global government.
  • The failure to consider the detrimental effect governments have had on the development of peoples, and the maintenance of prosperity and peace.

The Discontinuity

    The title of the encyclical is misleading for Pope Benedict's conception of truth is Modernist—something that develops when people “dialogue” and form a consensus of opinion.  In several places he is critical of relativism but fails to see that relativism permeates his own thought.  Modernist thinking has more in common with dialectic of Hegel and Marx than it does with the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church of an absolute truth known at least in the mind of God, and perhaps by men as well.   Dialectical thinking is fraught with contradiction and ambiguity—anyone reading the encyclical will be struck by Benedict's insistence on subsidiarity (governing things at the lowest possible level of society) while at the same time calling for global government (47, 57, 58, 60, 67)!

Because it is filled with truth, charity can be understood in the abundance of its values, it can be shared and communicated. Truth, in fact, is lógos which creates diá-logos, and hence communication and communion. Truth, by enabling men and women to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions, allows them to move beyond cultural and historical limitations and to come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things (4).

    Benedict's concept of charity is unlike that usually found in Catholic writings.  Generally the Church speaks of charity as one of the supernatural virtues—something infused in the souls of believers—which enables them to love God, and then to love their neighbors as themselves.  Without the grace of conversion this virtue is simply not available to even the most well-meaning leaders, economists, planners, sociologists, and so forth.  One can speak of a natural virtue of charity, but that is far below what one would expect in any Catholic elaboration of society.  Indeed, one would have expected an encyclical concerning the world social order to center around Christ the King and the Universal Church through which He reigns.

    Pope Benedict repeatedly uses the undefined phrase “integral human development” (4, 8, 9, 11, 17, 18, 29, 30, 34, 44, etc.).  Only peripherally does this refer to the relationship of individuals and societies with God.  His view is, rather, that of the humanist who considers man as largely a natural phenomenon.  The religion of individual men may facilitate this humanism, but it remains peripheral.  Apparently the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ is not totally adequate to the job for:

For this reason, while it may be true that development needs the religions and cultures of different peoples, it is equally true that adequate discernment is needed. Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal. Discernment is needed regarding the contribution of cultures and religions, especially on the part of those who wield political power, if the social community is to be built up in a spirit of respect for the common good. Such discernment has to be based on the criterion of charity and truth. Since the development of persons and peoples is at stake, this discernment will have to take account of the need for emancipation and inclusivity, in the context of a truly universal human community. “The whole man and all men” is also the criterion for evaluating cultures and religions. Christianity, the religion of the “God who has a human face”, contains this very criterion within itself (55, emphasis supplied).

    “Cultures and religions” are to be evaluated—with whatever charity and truth mean to modern man—with “the whole man and all men” (whatever that means) as the criterion for their evaluation.  Who is to evaluate?  Certainly, it will not be the Magisterium of the Church!  Perhaps we will have a periodic meeting like the one in Assisi in 1986 for this evaluation to take place.  Or perhaps we can assign the task to the United Nations.

    Of necessity the encyclical bears on economics.  It would probably be wrong to label Benedict a Marxist in the classical sense—he is a globalist, but his dialectic is at least superficially more spiritual than material.  Yet, some of his ideas—e.g. global warming, and evolution are tinged with the political correctness of Cultural Marxism.   His economic ideas follow the corporatist socialism of Mussolini or Franklin Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration.  Perhaps his is best called an “international socialism” or possibly a “Global Masonic Grand Lodge.”

    One of the great lies of the twentieth century was that nothing significant would change in the Church following Vatican II.  Pope Benedict speaks of a “hermenutic of continuity” as though saying something makes it true. Here he tries to make the case that the economic thought of the Vatican II era Popes is the organic development of the teachings of their predecessors (12).  He goes to far as to libel  Pope Leo XIII, claiming that in Rerum Novarum the saintly Pontiff wrote that “the civil order, for its self-regulation, also needed intervention from the State for purposes of redistribution” (39-Benedict appearing to quote Leo) something repeatedly praised by Pope Benedict (36, 37, 39, 42, 49) but found nowhere in Rerum Novarum.  Indeed, Pope Leo wrote:

4. To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man's envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community. 

5. It is surely undeniable that, when a man engages in remunerative labor, the impelling reason and motive of his work is to obtain property, and thereafter to hold it as his very own. If one man hires out to another his strength or skill, he does so for the purpose of receiving in return what is necessary for the satisfaction of his needs; he therefore expressly intends to acquire a right full and real, not only to the remuneration, but also to the disposal of such remuneration, just as he pleases. Thus, if he lives sparingly, saves money, and, for greater security, invests his savings in land, the land, in such case, is only his wages under another form; and, consequently, a working man's little estate thus purchased should be as completely at his full disposal as are the wages he receives for his labor. But it is precisely in such power of disposal that ownership obtains, whether the property consist of land or chattels. Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life.   (Rerum Novarum, emphasis supplied).

    Pope Pius XI echoed Pope Leo's remarks forty years later in Quadragesimo Anno:

119. Because of the fact that goods are produced more efficiently by a suitable division of labor than by the scattered efforts of individuals, socialists infer that economic activity, only the material ends of which enter into their thinking, ought of necessity to be carried on socially. Because of this necessity, they hold that men are obliged, with respect to the producing of goods, to surrender and subject themselves entirely to society.... 

    [Actually, socialism is a demonstrably less efficient means of organizing production than the market economy—witness, for example, the inability of the Soviet Union to feed its people year after year in spite of it plentiful resources.  Socialism lacks the feedback mechanism of the market that signals producers what to produce and how much.]

... Indeed, possession of the greatest possible supply of things that serve the advantages of this life is considered of such great importance that the higher goods of man, liberty not excepted, must take a secondary place and even be sacrificed to the demands of the most efficient production of goods. This damage to human dignity, undergone in the "socialized" process of production, will be easily offset, they say, by the abundance of socially produced goods which will pour out in profusion to individuals to be used freely at their pleasure for comforts and cultural development. Society, therefore, as Socialism conceives it, can on the one hand neither exist nor be thought of without an obviously excessive use of force; on the other hand, it fosters a liberty no less false, since there is no place in it for true social authority, which rests not on temporal and material advantages but descends from God alone, the Creator and last end of all things.

120. If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.  (Quadragesimo Anno, emphasis supplied.)

    Pre-conciliar economic encyclicals did consider the need for workers to earn a “family wage,” as Benedict does in his (63).  The idea being that a man must be able to support himself and his family on what he is paid.  The unspoken fact is that sometimes this means paying a man more than he produces—more of an act of charity than of justice.  Certainly there is room for charity in business.  In Pope Leo XIII's time, and even in Pius XI's time, such charity actually functioned.  But today, precisely because of government intrusion in the workplace, such charity is illegal.  Labor relations laws generally strive to enforce strict equality among workers doing the same job.  An employer would be guilty of discrimination if he were to pay the man with six children more than his unmarried counterpart.

    Pope Benedict repeatedly speaks of freedom as being needed for for human development (17, 21, 36). But the pervasive government regulation he espouses takes away freedom.  A man is not free if his goods are taken away from him or if he does not have the right to dispose of them as he sees fit.  He is not free if he is told where he is to work, what he is to produce, and how he is to do so, and what he may charge for his services.  There is no charity in confiscation.

   The Pope laments the “promotion of religious indifference or practical atheism on the part of many countries” (29).  He fails to see the role that he and other high placed leaders of the Conciliar Church had in bringing this about.  Religious indifference has been a integral part of the plan since Vatican II's pronouncements on “religious liberty” Nostra Ætate and Dignitatis Humanæ.  The plan was confirmed over and over again—the circus at Assisi in 1986 was a colorful example (by no means unique) of the Conciliar Church's indifference to the truth revealed by God.  Many Catholics holding the perennial understanding of the un-changing God's revelation of truth through the Church He established on earth were scandalized—many now spend their Sundays at fundamentalist and further out fringe churches—but many now just sleep late or shoot golf.  It is difficult to understand how the Church that claimed to represent “the Father of lights in Whom there is no shadow of change or alteration” suddenly felt compelled to change everything—the Mass and Sacraments, even the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and the Vulgate Bible.  Some of the changes are sacrilegious, some are just plain silly—but religious people are repelled by either one.

    The sheltering of perverts, some in high places, severely damaged the Church's remaining moral influence.  Expulsion of immoral clergy rarely takes place unless the accused is first tried and convicted of a civil crime, as though the Church were incapable of exercising Her own discipline or unwilling to do so.  Economic losses and church closings accompanied high legal settlements.  Outright embezzlement, sometimes accompanied by sexual immorality, has added to the economic cost and loss of moral credibility.

    Pope Benedict struggled with the ways in which the lesser developed countries could share in the global economy.  He correctly recognized that government corruption is often intimately entwined with foreign aid:

 Such aid, whatever the donors' intentions, can sometimes lock people into a state of dependence and even foster situations of localized oppression and exploitation in the receiving country ... It must be distributed with the involvement not only of the governments of receiving countries, but also local economic agents and the bearers of culture within civil society, including local Churches....

... The Christian faith, by becoming incarnate in cultures and at the same time transcending them, can help them grow in universal brotherhood and solidarity, for the advancement of global and community development (58, 59).

In the past, missionary activity provided an important way of bringing both the truth of the Catholic Faith and a measure of self sufficient economic activity to poor societies.  The missionary orders provided conduits for charitable aid from outside the country without it being siphoned off by the local dictator for “oppression and exploitation.”  Missionary industry contributed to the education and training of the people, while enabling the growth of local private capital formation.  But the “Spirit of Vatican II” decimated the religious orders—numbers are down, average ages are up.  Why would anyone want to be a priest or a religious?  For many of the orders, spirituality was traded for “social relevance.”  The priest, formerly “another Christ” became the “presider over the assembly,” as the “Holy Sacrifice” became a “memorial meal.”  One could obtain a well paying job practicing the social sciences, even enjoying the amenities of life such as a wife and children.

    If government is to be involved with the reception of foreign money, it would do best to insure that local industry can be built up and local capital formed with a minimum of bureaucracy.  Nothing will keep a country poor as excessive regulation and “red tape.”  If it takes yards of forms, overt bribes, and lots of time to establish a business, investors are liable to do so elsewhere.

Global Government

    Pope Benedict tells us that “The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim ‘to interfere in any way in the politics of States’” (9), but then goes on to prescribe the interference of a global government!

    Though he echoes the error of Pope Paul VI in Humanæ vitæ (12), emphasizing “both the unitive and the procreative meaning of sexuality,” Pope Benedict quite correctly criticizes those who would deny “a right to life and to a natural death,” the making of “human conception, gestation, and birth” artificial, and the sacrificing of human embryos to research” (15, 51).  Curiously he has only praise for the United Nations!  UN population control efforts abound, and are paid for by taxpayers with no say in the use of their money for immoral purposes.  The UN considers such efforts to be a legitimate part of its UN Development Programme.

    The UN has always displayed Marxist leanings.  Its first General Assembly president Alger Hiss was almost certainly the Russian spy "Ales" mentioned in the Venona decrypts.  Due to the statute of limitations he could not be prosecuted for espionage, but did time for perjury.  The current president of the General Assembly is liberation theologian Fr. Miguel d'Escoto, the former Foreign Minister of Daniel Ortega's Marxist Sandinista government in Nicaragua from 1979-1990.  On June 4, 2008 Ortega nominated d'Escoto for the UN position and his nomination was accepted by acclamation of the entire General Assembly.  Accuracy in Media described the corruption and moral failings of the UN in this recent article.

    The UN is committed to the Kyoto Treaty, which, although based on junk science, threatens to destroy the economy of developed nations.  The Modernist Vatican has bought the “Global Warming” nonsense, much as it has fallen for the the pseudo science of evolution.

    Giving the UN more power and authority can only increase the damage it does to both materially and spiritually.  So what do we see from the Conciliar Church?

    The so-called “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” quoting the Vatican II document Gaudium et spes proposed the notion of an armed United Nations: 

As long as the danger of war remains and there is no competent and sufficiently powerful authority at the international level, governments cannot be denied the right to legitimate defense once every means of peaceful settlement has been exhausted (Gaudium et spes 79 §4).

    And now we have the Pope of Rome calling for a UN with “real teeth”!

In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth. One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at a political, juridical and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity. To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations. The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order, to the interconnection between moral and social spheres, and to the link between politics and the economic and civil spheres, as envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations. (67. Italics in the original, boldface emphasis supplied)

Pope Benedict has apparently not heard the adage that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  The government of an armed United Nations with “real teeth” would be a nightmare of proportions only dreamed of by the worst despots in human history.  Apart from the Pope's wishful thinking, it certainly cannot be expected to be Catholic, Christian, or even tolerant of Christianity.

Oblivious to the Ill Effects of Government

    Throughout the encyclical Pope Benedict calls for extensive intrusion of government in the world, in national economies, and in the development of lesser developed countries.  Apart from a brief comment on the dangers of foreign aid, he seems to be oblivious to the damage that governments have done and the disastrous effects they have had on the spiritual and material well-being of people throughout the world.  We in America might be quick to call attention to the Socialist and Communist regimes of Germany, China and the Soviet union during the twentieth century.  We would be justified by a litany of reasons, including their bitter persecution of religion, the theft of property and destruction of natural resources innate in socialist systems, the brutal repression of those who resisted the almighty state, the mass starvation, and the tens of millions of people murdered, and so forth.

    But Americans, and particularly American politicians have plenty of room for soul searching right here at home.  America's leading role in world affairs—political, economic, military, and social—often enough requires us to bear a significant amount of responsibility for the world's problems.  The American “Progressive” era and the Great Depression is a marvelous example of government monetary and financial bungling bracketed by two world wars—all of which would likely have been avoided with less government.

    The current world financial crises is similar to the Great Depression.

  • National central banks (like the US Federal Reserve) are generally private banks given cartel status by their government.  In conjunction with a fractional banking system they debase the nation's money, appropriating wealth from all who hold the money, making credit available for wars and vast government spending, and artificially manipulating the private economy in cycles of boom and bust.
     
  • In a free market, speculation (21, 40, 65) causes no harm and tends to make market adjustment of prices respond more rapidly to changes of supply and demand.  Speculators bring liquidity to commodities markets—In markets with few trades, a trade or two can move the market price to the limit—the speculators add a few more trades to the mix so that no one trade is overly significant.  Recent problems with commodity speculation came as the result of government intrusion and military saber rattling.
     
  • In the US, Federal Reserve mandated low interest rates fueled a housing boom.  The federal government added to this boom by guaranteeing risky mortgages through the Fannie-Mae and Freddy-Mac corporations, and by requiring banks to make loans to unqualified customers under the Community Reinvestment Act and other “affirmative action” laws. Down payments became small or non-existent, making it easier for buyers to walk away from mortgage difficulties.  Adjustable rate mortgages touted by the Fed encouraged the purchase of houses with the intention of a quick resale.  The mortgages were turned into mortgage-backed bonds which were thought to be very safe because they were diversified over all of the housing markets of the US.  The bond rating agencies are under Securities Exchange Commission regulation, and were reluctant to frustrate the government by honestly rating the bonds. When customers began to default on their loans, the housing boom turned into a bust and bondholders were left holding worthless securities.  
     
  • The US dollar is not backed by anything except the nation's debt (No, Virginia, there is no gold or silver backing the money).  Excessive taxation and regulation have driven production overseas, making US debt riskier.  The debt is being exacerbated by profligate government spending modeled on the failed programs of Hoover and Roosevelt which kept the US in economic depression from 1929 until about 1946—the longest depression in American history.  Government is not a producer of anything, it is a consumer. It “produces” by taking resources away from private individuals and firms to spend as it sees fit.  Even “infrastructure” projects like bridges and dams become maintenance liabilities for the municipalities who obtain them through government largess—and any city can use only so many bridges and dams.  When the government runs out of things to spend money on it turns to war. 
     
  • Wars do not bring prosperity except for those that finance them, and for the arms merchants with enormous military contracts.  Resources spent on rebuilding are resources that could have been used for something else if there had been no destruction.  The United States emerged from both World Wars relatively prosperous because there was virtually no fighting on American soil (apart from Pearl Harbor), and US production was in high demand by those nations that had suffered destruction.  The next World War will very likely be fought globally, and the US no longer produces much.
     
  • Many nations in the world rely on central banking systems, and their monies are pyramided on the US dollar and a few other key currencies.  Since nothing of intrinsic value backs any of these currencies, the economic chaos has become worldwide.
     
  • Many of these economic issues have moral dimensions.  Socialism is a species of theft wherein private property is seized under the threat of violence.  Financing wars and other large government enterprises by debasing the currency steals from everyone who holds it—debasing is a hidden tax that doesn't even have to be voted into law. War profiteering is one of the most awful wastes of human life.  In the United States, and perhaps elsewhere, a great deal of the government's intervention in the free market is a violation of our Constitution, and therefore fundamentally illegal. 

    Ten thousand maxima culpas, Holy Father!

in XTO,
Fr. Brusca
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