I was reading Leon Podles’, The Church Impotent, lately in preparation for my paper, which, by the way, I will be posting snippets of while I am away in Fatima to deliver it. One interesting observation of Podles is that the development of patriarchy among the Jews in the Old Testament, was quite a an accomplishment. It was quite a unique institution of that time and place.
You see, patriarchy among the Jews was not principally about authority or the elimination of legitimate autonomy, but it was rather about the common good. Fathers protect and defend. Among the Old Testament Jews with the development of patriarchy, the father was not just a provider, or someone who was only home in the evening to crash after a hard day’s work. The father was a presence of both firm guidance and compassion.
In connection with this, I link to an interesting post by Msgr. Charles Pope who comments on several reviews of Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. One is by George Weigel, who does not think that this latest take on Catholic social ethics is a “theological timebomb.” Just can’t get the enthusiasm revved up. The other is by Bill Donahue of the Catholic league, who suggests that leftist interpretations of the Holy Father’s remarks are not to the point. To bad that The righty Weigel paints the Holy Father on the wrong side of the picture. The actual fact, is that Catholic social teaching canonizes neither socialism or capitalism. Catholic social teaching is about the common good; we might say it’s about the values of patriarchy not paternalism. Here is Donahue:
The best way to service the poor, according to the pope, is not to create bureaucratic monstrosities that cripple the dignity of the indigent. “By considering reciprocity as the heart of what it is to be a human being, [the principle of] subsidiarity is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state.” Similarly, the pope admonishes us not to promote “paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need.” In other words, the tried and failed, dependency-inducing welfare programs that mark the social policy prescriptions of the poverty industry are seen by the pope as a disaster.
But there are many people the pope will never please, because his interests are not the same as the average know-it-all. He is a good father, whose concern is the common good.
(I am out the door to the airport and to Fatima. I will try to post while I am there.)