With the release of Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical just days away, the head of the Knights of Columbus is warning people not to ask how the Pope's teaching will validate their world view but how their views should change in response to the document.
The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson, states that those in positions of economic influence shold take notice of "Caritas in Veritate", the Holy Father's forthcoming encyclical, to be released on July 7th.
"Commentators," Anderson says, "should avoid trying to analyze the pope’s document from their own perspectives or through a political lens. Pope Benedict XVI's comments in this encyclical, like his writing on the economy previously, concern the need for an ethical underpinning in order for any economic system to be sustainable. An ethical underpinning to economic systems must transcend politics."
Another reaction that Anderson warns against is reading the encyclical and then "asking not how it validates our worldview." Instead, he suggests asking how one's worldview should change in response to the document.
"The world deserves a market economy with a conscience. We should bear in mind that Pope Benedict XVI in a 1985 paper criticized Marxism heavily for being too 'deterministic' and warned that market economies risked collapse if they too excluded or ignored the ethical component of individual decision making. Certainly, he has been proven correct, and thus all of us, and especially those in position of economic leadership, should certainly take notice of this encyclical," the Supreme Knight recommends.
The Pope's newest teaching document asks the world to re-examine the economic crisis by looking at "the very foundation of our system – and to build on the bedrock of ethics rather than the sand of determinism," he explains.
"We could sum up the pope’s thinking on the economy this way: Each of us must answer Christ’s question, “Who do you say that I am?” If we, with Peter, answer “The Messiah,” then that should direct the axis of our life. Our most important reality must be the truth of our relationships. In this, we understand how the law and prophets could be summed up in Christ’s two commandments: that we love God totally, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Thus we are able to speak of 'caritas in veritate.'"
"If we accept this, we can no longer ask Cain’s question: 'Am I my brother’s keeper?'" notes Anderson.
"Accepting this premise, we must realize that our exercise of freedom cannot take the form of simply amassing the most wealth that we can."
"Rather, all that we do in freedom must reflect that reality and all our actions must take into account the effects of those actions on others. A Christian must be a person for others. In America, most people are Christian, so it is easy to see why they intuitively understand that greed is at the root of our economic crisis, and that one can be ethical and successful. This is the message we have seen already from Pope Benedict XVI, in his writings before he became pope, and specifically in Spe Salvi and Deus Caritas Est –his two previous encyclicals," the leader of the Knights says.