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Allen Back on his Game

John Allen received some mild criticism on this blog for his report on the new Motu Proprio entrusting the ongoing dialogue and discernment regarding the Society of Saint Pius X to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.Evidently stung by the perceptive remarks of a number of the comments on the thread, John has stepped up to the plate and hit a triple with his new column from Rome. The most interesting part is his further reflections on Caritas in Veritate. Here is a passage that particularly caught my attention:

Yet if there's a $64,000 question left hanging by Caritas in Veritate -- a point where Benedict's teaching seems interesting and important, but cries out for more meat on the bone -- it's probably this: What exactly would the "true world political authority" urged by the pontiff actually look like?In keeping with papal social teaching as far back as John XXIII's Pacem in Terris in 1963, Benedict XVI argued that the development of a global system of governance is an urgent priority, both "to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis" and "to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration."Yet for a bit of counsel that's been around at least for 46 years, the outlines of what popes mean by a "true world political authority" are notoriously fuzzy.Popes themselves -- including, it must be said, Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate -- often don't seem terribly clear what they have in mind. Sometimes it seems like they're talking about a formal, constitutional one-world government -- a sort of United Nations on steroids. Yet in the same breath, popes usually invoke the principle of subsidiarity, which implies a devolved system of decision-making at the lowest possible level. How to square these two points remains a bit of a mystery.

The rest is here.

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"When you comment on this statement of Benedict: Charity goes beyond justice, by remarking, Justice is reduced not to charity but to a mere local application of charity, lacking in ontological dignity compared with charity this is not the optic of Scripture! I wonder if you should be quite so quick to criticize Benedict for misrepresenting anothers thought."Well, I wrote that quickly very late at night here in Japan, so I may not have done full justice to the Pope -- I am not writing an Encyclical with 40 years of time to reflect. Paul VI created Benedict a Cardinal, so he perhaps feels some duty to revere him; but it is clear that his entire policy spells the ruination fo Paul VI's (as the Bologna school have documented) so his efforts to show loyalty are rather off-key."A mere local application of charity" sounds harsh; "justice consists only in the application of charity, so liberation theologians should tone down their Marxist-sounding anger about injustice, redolent of the now obsolute attitude of the Hebrew Prophets, and instead focus on cultivated the spirit of charity in docility to the Church's doctrinal magisterium" would be perhaps what one should say.

cultivated SHD BE cultivating

obsolute SHD BE obsoleteBut perhaps the word "obsolute" is one looking for an application...

Komonchak writes:"Ratzinger/Benedict has argued that structural reforms are not going to happen without inner reforms, and, with some historical evidence behind him, that without inner reform they are likely to be as bad as the system they replace. Hence, the priority of conversion of heartliving out of love of God and neighbor. Perhaps the question is: How far are people going to pursue justice if they dont love?"I have long been fascinated by the revolutionary appeal to the creation of "the new man" throughout history. My first encounter with it was in the writing of some who promoted the French revolution, but I'm sure it antedated that. It re-appears in the propaganda about the "new Soviet man," the new Aryan super-man, the new "Maoist man," the new Cuban etc. etc. -- all with decidedly bloody results. So to gloss Komonchak's question: in what direction and to what extremes will people pursue justice if they don't love?Joseph O'Leary concedes:"Well, I wrote that quickly very late at night here in Japan, so I may not have done full justice to the Pope ..."Tolle, lege denuo!

Fr. OLeary:May I ask where in Scripture, and particularly in the New Testament, you find it set out that Justice is the highest reality imaginable. When in the early 1970s I was helping introduce liberation theology to North American Catholics and when later I was teaching courses on the Church and social justice, one of the objections made was that the NT lacks the powerful exhortations to justice that one finds in the OT prophets. I thought, and think, that the objection can be met not by appealing to overlooked NT texts but by working with a fuller, more concrete anthropology than the one that underlies efforts to spiritualize and individualize the notions of sin and salvation. I do not think that justice is the primary, highest reality, either in God or in us. I think it is lovethe love that goes beyond what justice could be content with Its the older son in the parable who invokes what justice ought to require the father to do with his errant son. Justice cant comprehend the parable of the workers in the vineyard or the parable of the forgiven but unforgiving servant. Its an excess of love that goes far beyond mere justice that marks the Sermon on the Mount, particularly in the great antitheses. When you say that individual righteousness and integrity is co-included with the thirst for justice in society, you are rightly relating to one another what have been too often separated. But I think that according to the Scriptures individual righteousness and integrity is achieved through love of God and love of neighbor. We become righteous, integrated, when it is such love that directs our lives, and the standard for such righteousness, integrity, is the God whose righteousness is mercy. People who love will be able to discern what needs to be done whether that is the next needy person they encounter or a whole vast structure that needs to be dismantled or transformed. I do not think that the Pope has reduced love to charity in the sense of the individual effort and most of the recent Encyclical is devoted to thoughts about what both charity and justice require to be changed in the world economic system. I think you have caricatured his thought.

I always thought of justice as the accountant's highest virute. For the Cubs fan, it's patience.

For the Prophets justice is the highest reality imaginable in the sense that it is intimately linked with God and cannot be surpassed in the name of a higher reality such as charity. In the Gospel too Jesus and Paul never put anything higher than justice, dikaiosune. Paul, after expounding his doctrine of justification, does not say "I will now show you a higher way -- love!"When people talk of transcending justice, one should be wary of their intentions. Paul VI got is right: social thinking and action are led by justice attended by love. Ratzinger has always made a great todo about the danger of justice without love and this has been the basis of his crushing of liberation theology (at a time when John Paul II had lent his support to the Contras and was ignored Oscar Romero -- thus showing an exquisite prophetic attention to justice and charity). He has also fought a crusade against the alleged danger of godless humanism he saw lurking in Liberation Theology -- in the cry of the poor -- apparently hearing in it only what Fr Imbelli calls "the revolutionary appeal to the creation of the new man ... propaganda about the new Soviet man, the new Aryan super-man, the new Maoist man, the new Cuban etc. etc." Liberation theologians were quizzed ad nauseam about "in what direction and to what extremes will people pursue justice if they dont love?" while they were being undercut and shunted in every way by the Vatican. "May I ask where in Scripture, and particularly in the New Testament, you find it set out that Justice is the highest reality imaginable. ... one of the objections made was that the NT lacks the powerful exhortations to justice that one finds in the OT prophets. I thought, and think, that the objection can be met not by appealing to overlooked NT texts but by working with a fuller, more concrete anthropology"Agreed, the NT does not yield its meaning to an atomistic focus on prooftexts but only by attention to its total image of the human condition, in light of our own experience and knowledge of that condition. And of course scripture texts always appeal to the imagination as well -- they are invitations to vision, not blueprints.Bring that fuller perspective to bear and one will find reams of stuff in Luke-Acts to begin with -- social justice in the sense of casting down the rich and raising up the poor, selling all you have an giving to the poor, attending to Lazarus and his sores, having all goods in common, curbing the motive of greed etc. is not a mere application of charity or spirituality in Luke, but is just as primordial as in the prophets if not more so.

"I do not think that justice is the primary, highest reality, either in God or in us. I think it is lovethe love that goes beyond what justice could be content with Its the older son in the parable who invokes what justice ought to require the father to do with his errant son."The elder son does not show any sense of justice in the Lukan sense; he is associated with the Pharisees who are proud of their own righteousness and thus enemies of justice. Creating an inclusive community in which outcasts are embraced. sinners pardoned (for all are equally sinners in the eyes of the forgiiving God), the proud humbled and the humble exalted, is how Gospel justice operates -- as liberation theologians would be the first to point out." Justice cant comprehend the parable of the workers in the vineyard or the parable of the forgiven but unforgiving servant. Its an excess of love that goes far beyond mere justice that marks the Sermon on the Mount, particularly in the great antitheses."Again, "mere justice" is an unbiblical idea. The Sermon begins by tallking of hunger and thirst for righteousness -- the old law is surpassed not in the name of stepping beyond justice but in the name of perfect justice. As far as I know, there is NO opposition or rivalry between justice and love in scripture, yet Ratzinger has made such an opposition central to his social thinking and to his exegesis of the message of Jesus."I do not think that the Pope has reduced love to charity in the sense of the individual effort and most of the recent Encyclical is devoted to thoughts about what both charity and justice require to be changed in the world economic system. I think you have caricatured his thought."His concrete proposals may be valuable -- though one esteemed moral theologian I know tells me that the Encyclical's social analyses are very inadequate. But the set-up that presides over them -- especially when we note its contrast with that of Paul VI -- is likely to undercut the power of the concrete proposals and make them a mere ragbag.

I see that you have not cited any texts which assert the superiority of justice, so you'll forgive me if I remain with Jesus and his response to the question about the first and greatest commandment. And with Paul, who does say that love is the greatest gift, not, it is true, in Romans but in I Cor. Or are these mere poof-texts, too. And if you can write this sentence, with which I quite agree--"As far as I know, there is NO opposition or rivalry between justice and love in scripture"--then I do not understand why you have made such a fuss about this. It is clear from the paragraph I cited above from the new Encyclical that Pope Benedict also is not placing them in opposition to one another.

"Superiority" of Justice? The whole Old Testament is about justice, "zedekah" or "mishpat"and commandments about justice are followed by "I am the Lord" -- the Lord defines Himself as the one who upholds justice. Liberation Theology have spread awareness of this beyond the camp of OT scholars. The righteousness of God was something the people of the Covenant trusted in -- their love of justice was thus pretty much identical with the love of God.The NT takes over and presupposes the OT concept of justice. The antitheses of the sermon on the mount are not a rejection of Torah-righteousness but rather bringing out its core in love of God and neighbor etc. Jesus in Matthew refers to the weightier matters of the law as "justice and mercy and faith" (23.23); even mercy, or forgiveness, is considered to be already implied in Torah-righteousness (for the just God is rich in mercy, as the Bible tells us from the start).I Corinthians 13 and the Double Commandment in no way contrast love and justice; the entire biblical record associates the two so closely that a contrast would be very difficult to maintain. The justice of "an eye for an eye" or the discontented laborers in the vineyard, or the elder son in Luke 15 are not effective counter examples, for these rather denote failures to understand true justice.Now, to return to Benedict, if one thinks of Justice in the sense most prevalent in the Bible and in Justice & Peace thinking (and in Liberation Theology) one does not feel the need to issue anxious warnings that Justice is inauthentic unless guided by Charity (and Truth). Benedict, if I am not mistaken, puts a huge emphasis on this, whereas Paul VI, again as far as I remember, did not make it a major theme in his preaching. The biblical presumption would be that those who love justice already love God and neighbor with charity. That is why Paul VI says our concern should be led by justice and accompanied by charity.Consider if someone in a document on the sacredness of human life were to say: Concern for life is admirable but it must be rooted in charity or it is inauthentic. Would they not by that very token be somehow undercutting the sacredness of life, making it contingent on a higher consideration?

My answer to the question in your last paragraph is No.

Well, on rereading the question I think it does not make the point I thought it did. In fact a prolife encyclical that warned against a life-fanaticism divorced from charity would be quite wholesome. Is there a justice-fanaticism divorced from charity that is rife today (and that in papal eyes has been personified by Liberation Theologians)? The discussion of the encyclical here; http://www.amconmag.com/schwenkler/2009/07/11/reading-caritas-in-veritat... getting into quite complex issues;I wonder who will have the intellectual energy to keep up with it.

German Jesuit social ethicists are outspokenly critical:http://fuerwahrheitundrecht.blogspot.com/2009/07/schock-nicht-mal-papst-...

Joseph, if our Salvation was based on justice and not God's Love and Mercy, God would not have sent us his only Son to redeem us and show us the Truth of Love.

Nancy, divine justice is the principle of salvation in Scripture. "I am the Lord" is attached to declarations on justice (which includes salvation at all levels); God is identified as the one who upholds justice for his people. In Paul the Righteousness of God is the principle of our being clothed in the righteousness of Christ and so justified in God's eyes (Luther's discovery that the righteousness of God was not only that of a judge but had this positive saving force was the pivot of his conversion). Nowhere in Scripture will you find statements opposiing justice to mercy or justice to love -- that is our weary western platitudinous thinking, quite foreign to Scripture. Hence my disappointment with the Pope's rather unthinking subscription to the "charity transcends justice" theme, which goes hand in hand with his tone deafness to liberation theology and to Paul VI.

Charity transcends Justice because if our Salvation was based on Justice alone, we would all be in trouble. Thank God for His Love and Mercy!

I think it is more biblical to say that charity is the fulness of justice; see the use of the terms just and justice in Romans 8 -- the chapter in which Paul spells out most fully what the state of being Saved is like: Romans 8:4, 10, 30, 33.

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