.- George Weigel has provided a second reaction to Pope Benedict XVIâs latest encyclical âCaritas In Veritate,â saying the document raises questions about the âmoral ecologyâ of the economy, the continuity of Catholic teaching and the prudential application of Catholic principles.
In his July 7 reaction to the encyclical, published at National Review Online, Weigel claimed to distinguish portions of the encyclical written by the Pope and portions written by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, asserting its style âresembles a duck-billed platypus.â
He revisited the encyclical in a July 13 analysis at National Review Online, where he referred to scholarly debate about whether the Second Vatican Council is an example of âcontinuityâ with the Churchâs past or a ârupture.â Similarly, Weigel claims, there is question about whether there are one or two Catholic social doctrine traditions, one stemming from Leo XIIIâs 1891 encyclical âRerum Novarumâ and another from Pope Paul VIâs 1967 encyclical âPopulorum Progressio.â
The latter work, in Weigelâs view, lacks discipline in âclosely identifying specific policy recommendations with points of theological principle.â He stressed the importance of distinguishing between âprinciples of Catholic social doctrine and specific prudential judgments about public policy.â This approach is not âpicking and choosing,â he said, but rests on questions of prudence and practicality.
He then wrote that the new encyclical's teaching on the âmoral ecologyâ necessary to a free economy is âentirely welcome.â This emphasizes the necessity for people with âcertain virtuesâ to make an economy work to result in genuine human flourishing.
âBenedict XVI insists in his encyclical that the life issues are social-justice issues, such that the âhuman ecologyâ or moral ecology necessary to make free economies work is eroded when wrongs are defined as rights,â Weigel said in his National Review essay.
âThus the encyclical has put Catholic legislators on notice that they canât hide behind their âsocial justiceâ commitments while taking a pass (or worse) on the life issues,â he wrote.
âCaritas In Veritateâ challenges pro-abortion politicians to address the âhard questionsâ about whether Roe v. Wade violates fundamental Catholic norms of social justice, he said.
In his view, this is also a âtacit responseâ to President Obamaâs use of Cardinal Bernardinâs âconsistent ethic of lifeâ or âseamless garmentâ theory, which Weigel said has helped some Catholic politicians to avoid pro-life votes.
Weigel also suggested that Caritas in Veritateâs passages about âquotas of gratuitousness and communionâ derive from the âEconomy of Communionâ school which promotes free-market approaches in which profit is not the only factor and profits are shared with projects to empower the poor.
âIt is unclear from the text of Caritas in Veritate whether this is being recommended as a general model for 21st-century economic life, or an interesting experiment within the framework of the free economy,â Weigel remarked. However, he said economists and Catholic scholars âcommitted to the Centesimus Annus portrait of the free economyâ should engage and debate the idea.