Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An Easter encyclical?

Hopefully this time it is true. Last August when it became known that the Holy Father was working on and very close to promulgating another encyclical, it was initially believed in some quarters that the encylical would be on the Church's social teaching, with a special reference to Pope Paul VI's underappreciated and largely unappropriated encyclical Populorum Progressio, the fortieth anniversary of which we marked last year. Of course, what we received from Pope Benedict as an Advent gift was Spe Salvi, a much needed letter on hope, which it took time for me to fully appreciate.
An encyclical on the Church's social teaching, taking the Second Vatican Council and the papal magisterium of Papa Montini as its starting point, is much needed. However, I must admit a certain amount of trepediation given the tenor and tone of some of what we have received so far, particularly in part two Deus Caritas Est, which was critiqued in certain quarters for moving in a different direction than the two previous popes, Papa Luciani, whose papacy was lasted only thirty-three days, not included. This same concern also arises in light of the second encyclical on hope, in which no reference was made to that remarkable pastoral constitution of Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, of which Pope John Paul II, then still Bishop Karol Wojtyla, was a major architect. Like the papal magisterium of Montini, this constitution is quite prophetic and speaks volumes to our present situation, both by way of criticism and giving hope.

According to my good friend Rocco, the intrepid author of Whispers, "The 1968 (sic) letter on globalization and the development of peoples marks its milestone on 26 March, this year's Easter Wednesday. Listed among the new document's [i.e., Pope Benedict's anticipated encyclical] 'consistent themes': '"poverty, globalization, peace, disarmament, war between the rich and the poor, nuclear war and the environment.'"

Digging in the archives from both Καθολικός διάκονος and The People of St. Mary Magdalene, I offer two posts, first from Καθολικός διάκονος, entitled "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties" Gaudium et Spes 1, then from The People of St. Mary Magdalene, Populorum Progressio turns 40. Finally, a homily for Year C, Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, from last year.

More to follow in coming days on these issues, given that I am reading a brilliant analysis of these matters.

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