Why You Can't Just 'Love Your Neighbor'
Therefore, it is not surprising that in Caritas in Veritate Benedict does not endorse any specific policies on economic matters. As he points out, “The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim `to interfere in any way in the politics of States’” (9, quoting from Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 13; notes omitted). The pope is, after all, the shepherd of a global church, one that includes a wide diversity of cultures, ethnicities, sensibilities, practices, and levels of economic development. These nations also run the gamut in terms of their forms of government.
But regardless of our differences, we share the same nature, the imago dei. We have intrinsic dignity because we are made in God’s image. However, we are also fallen creatures, prone to the same delusion and arrogance that captured the imaginations of our first parents. This means we can paint the Sistine Chapel as well as pollute Lake Erie. We can find a cure for polio while building gulags and concentration camps. We can fly our magnificent aircrafts into our monuments of prosperity in order to deliver in the name of God the angel of death. For these reasons, Pope Benedict XVI offers us an encyclical whose name affirms the only solution to what afflicts this mystery called man, Charity in Truth.
Francis J. Beckwith is professor of philosophy and church-state studies, and resident scholar in the Institute for the Studies of Religion at Baylor University. Former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, his most recent book isReturn to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic(Brazos, 2009).
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