Why is ‘Caritas in veritate’ so poorly written?
Peter Steinfels wants to know.
That is meant as a serious, honest question, not a snap way of dismissing a remarkable document, brimming with profound ideas and moral passion and issued at a time when it could hardly be more relevant. The matter is all the more confounding since Benedict has often shown himself a graceful writer, and one who has insisted on the importance of beauty in communicating his church’s message.
There are three readily available explanations for the encyclical’s ungainliness. The first is simply that this is just the way encyclicals are. They are a genre wielding theology and philosophy to address complex issues that a worldwide church may confront in many very different forms. Thus a tendency toward abstract language and vague or hedged generalizations.
A second explanation is that “Caritas in Veritate” is the work of many hands.
A third, very down-to-earth explanation for the tough read, however, is offered by the Rev. John A. Coleman, a Jesuit sociologist and theologian who has been studying the trajectory of Catholic social teaching for decades. Father Coleman believes that Pope Benedict simply tried to do too much.
Read the rest right here.