Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Caritas in Veritate – a manifesto for Compassionate Conservatism?

With this encyclical, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has sealed his place – if one were in any doubt – as one of the foremost theologians of the age, and one of the finest ever to occupy the throne of St Peter. Pope Benedict may be conservative in his theology, but pigeon-holing his economics is not so straightforward. He is neither left nor right: there is something in this document for Marx and Keynes; something for the Thatcherites and the Blairites. It would appeal to Ronald Reagan as much as it would to Bill Clinton and President Obama. In many ways it walks the path of trying to please everyone.

And it succeeds.

Caritas in Veritate – Love (or Charity) in Truth – is stronger on principles than it is on policy, but it raises all the important social, economic and moral questions of the contemporary world. In that regard, it is a magisterial work. By fusing the Vatican’s traditional ‘Justice and Peace’ agenda with the unique Benedictine theological insights and understanding of the more nuanced complexities of the modern age, this encyclical is indeed all things to all people. In that regard, it is a postmodern ‘Third Way’ document of disparate disjuncture. It is occasionally obscure and, at times, inaccessible. But His Holiness is, for the most part, speaking cogent Latin to the Romans, even if sometimes quite repetitively. Just occasionally he might as well be speaking Greek, for some of the writing is impenetrable. But the encyclical is coherent and it undoubtedly feels right: one gets the impression that its genius lies in the fact that it articulates traditional Roman Catholic social doctrine in the new context: it is therefore designed to evoke feelings more than it is to provide solutions to the world’s problems. And in a world in which politics is about feeling – about the sound of words more than their meaning – Pope Benedict has spoken the right words.

If this encyclical had been written prior to the global financial crisis, it would have been considered prophetic. It is searingly spiritual and acutely temporal, not least in its purposeful political timing to coincide with the G8 meeting of world leaders who are presently gathered in Italy to discuss global economic issues and climate change. And it will go down in history as one of the most significant religio-political documents ever penned. As an articulation of Roman Catholic social doctrine it is as important as the Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII, in which the plight and misery of workers was first acknowledged; and the Quadragesimo Anno of Pope Pius XI, which developed the notion of Corporatism and laid the religio-political foundations for Roman Catholic social teaching. In a year or two, the financial crisis will be over, but the principles of the encyclical will endure because ‘Justice and Peace’ is semper eadem.

Caritas in Veritate is wholesome in its discussion of the ‘denial or suppression of life’ (abortion, euthanasia, embryo experimentation, stem-cell research) and the inherent worth of humanity. But the principal focus is clearly economic and it is purposely addressed to the ‘selfish desires’ of the wealthy nations of the developed world. Pope Benedict demands an ‘ethical approach’ to capitalism – as though Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism were somehow insufficient in its exposition, and capitalism were inherently devoid of morality. This is a ‘social justice’ programme to infuse economics with moral character: it is a manifesto for Compassionate Conservatism.

But it is more compassionate than it is Conservative.

Of course, there is more to life than eating and drinking; there is more to labour than production; there is more to progress than profit: Christians are called to incarnate their faith in the ways they live and act in the political, social and economic spheres. And of course they should work within their families and communities for the common good in all those areas. This means loving one’s neighbour, comforting the lonely, feeding the starving, housing the homeless, helping the weak, the destitute, the disenfranchised. Christians should pursue justice, and Caritas in Veritate is essentially a call to behold the relationship that exists between human and environmental ecologies, and to link charity and truth in the pursuit of justice, the common good and authentic human development.

And Conservatives will agree with the Pope corruption and illegality are evident in the conduct of the political class; that government has its limitations and that the market its imperfections. But the few solutions he proposes are those of the outdated post-war European Socialist; the lethargic statist policies of the unreformed Christian democracies which bind so much of the European Union in red tape and mire it in stagnation. Thus does he call for ‘solidarity’, increased welfare, stressing the importance of trade union power to protect workers and invoking the role of the state in the provision of jobs.

This is the political economics of the Anglo-Saxon Left or the Continental Right.

The Pope calls for a ‘profoundly new way’ of organising global finance and business. Although there is nothing new under the sun, the inference is that global regulation is needed because national governments have failed. But where regulation is prolific, the economy is manifestly hindered: unemployment rises and poverty increases. This has been the whole history of the experience of the application of Roman Catholic social doctrine: it makes countries economically less efficient and people poorer. Wealth is created when markets expand and they only expand when they are liberated. And yet the Pope is persuaded that in order to revive the global economy without creating greater imbalances, inequalities and insecurities, ‘there is urgent need of a true world political authority’ to oversee the economy and work for the common good.

What is proposed here is nothing less than the creation of a UN ‘socio-economic security council’ to stand alongside the current Security Council. While one is dedicated to peacekeeping, the other will be concerned to enforce the principles of social justice.

And enforced they shall be, for what otherwise is the purpose of calling for a world council ‘with real teeth’ if it cannot bite? And how otherwise than through legal imposition could the ‘common good’ be pursued in a world of competing and mutually exclusive common goods? How can the imperative that wealthy states ‘must lower their domestic energy consumption’ be realised if that absolute ‘must’ is not somehow binding?

Although these calls are accompanied by the need for reform of the structures of global governance (UN, IMF, World Bank), the precise nature of those reforms is unspecified, other than that they must ‘observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity’.

Yet we have seen how subsidiarity operates within the EU. It does not because it cannot: where there is the real practice of subsidiarity, the ‘real teeth’ of the supranational authority are muzzled. The Pope favours precisely the sort of ‘big-government’, pro-EU, anti-State, anti-individualist, socialist, federalist, corporatist, ‘Third Way’ interventionism which is antithetical to the philosophy of Conservatism which prefers many limited governments to one overriding authority.

The Pope’s theology far surpasses his grasp of economics: if he genuinely wished to address the forces which retard economic and social development, he would talk more of wealth creation and less about redistribution, for one cannot redistribute ex nihilo. Christians may be exhorted (or states may make it compulsory) to give one of their coats to the man who has none, but this is only possible if the coats have been manufactured to an acceptable quality and the owner sufficiently wealthy to purchase them both in the first place.

Certainly, those coats must be ethically produced, marketed, sold and bought – even made of recyclable material using renewable energy. But one does not need a ‘world political authority’ armed ‘with real teeth’ to tell us this. Not least because in a world of post-State Socialism enforced through universal legislation in accordance with the New World Order, everyone will end up wearing the same globally-financed, officially-approved, virtuously-manufactured coat made of inferior material of a bland, uniform style.

It may not look attractive, but at least it will be ethical.


Blogger John Doe said...

I can feel the indignation before I speak, but here goes. His Grace is never going to get His camel through the eye, it just is not in His upbrininging.

8 July 2009 at 10:37  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Pope Benedict is a conservative in a world where conservatism has been all but destroyed or ridiculed. I'm sick of the selfishness brought about by minority interests and all of the bullsh*t political correctness that goes with it. It would be nice to see an end to it.

There are some things that I do not find acceptable about Catholicism - birth control being one of them. Religious doctrine insisting that people on an over-crowded planet full of hungry and dying mouths breed themselves deeper into poverty is stupid. Where's the compassion in that?

Your Grace, I find that your references to "post-modern" and "third way" do nothing to help promote the topic. Post-modern third wayism is a major contributor to what got us into this unholy mess in the first place.

8 July 2009 at 10:38  
Anonymous oiznop said...

I still want a post on synthetic sperm.

8 July 2009 at 10:41  
Blogger Gnostic said...

I second oiznop. :D

8 July 2009 at 10:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to talk about sperm too.

This post is boring.

8 July 2009 at 10:48  
Blogger John Doe said...

I am not going to mention masturbation, no, but it seems that something of the nature of perm from His Grace is going to be necessary for the spiritual supplication of His erudite communicants.

8 July 2009 at 10:56  
OpenID jamestheless said...


Rome does not teach that people should "breed themselves deeper into poverty" - it expects its adherents to be chaste and does not regard contraception as an acceptable Christian alternative to self-restraint.

In this, it is following St Paul (who advocated chastity) and the early Church, which strongly condemned birth control, infanticide and abortion, even though these were widely practiced in the ancient world.

8 July 2009 at 10:56  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Sorry, I've read the post but am none the wiser. Is Caritas in Veritate a good thing or a bad thing?

8 July 2009 at 11:06  
OpenID jamestheless said...

Anonymous at 10.48,

"This post is boring."

Possibly, but it concerns a very important topic, in view of the close links between the EU's default mindset and the Vatican's social teaching.

His Grace's post covers a lot of ground, which I am still trying to digest - and I have barely even glanced at the encyclical!

8 July 2009 at 11:06  
Blogger Gnostic said...

James the last - please get real. This head in the sand attitude about chastity and the human condition is killing people.

Absolutes do not work. However, compromise can and does. So how about we see some compassionate compromise for a change instead of suicidal absolutes.

8 July 2009 at 11:16  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Rebel Saint,

It depends.

8 July 2009 at 11:28  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

At least Benny is consistent. He fought for the Third Reich and now he fights for the Fourth Reich, the European Union.

8 July 2009 at 11:28  
Blogger John Doe said...

A good thing or a bad thing.

If you have been brought up in a well-to-do middle class family, who have been keen to instill the virtues of Anglican middle class genetic superiority, then the anti capitalist overtones will scare you, but if you can somehow get your camel through the eye and focus on Christian equality and moral justice (and if you are skint) it will sound much better, and be perceived as a good thing.

This is the dilemma for the working man you see, as much as he may find himself at odds with the new Labour regime, he will never fit in to the Tory Toff club as long as his anus remains open to the world.

8 July 2009 at 11:46  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

And in a world in which politics is about feeling – about the sound of words more than their meaning – Pope Benedict has spoken the right words.

In that case politicians, and perhaps even popes, should follow Lewis Carroll's advice to "Look after the sense and the sounds will look after themselves."

8 July 2009 at 12:01  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Your Grace, thank you for your further elucidation! ;oP

8 July 2009 at 12:12  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Your Grace.
Although the sentiments expressed by the Pope sound & probably were intended with compassion for the poor, one feels that this could be the start of the universal one world religous body that new Pope Blair & co need to complete their
New World Order. The bait in the trap has to look good to catch the prey!

8 July 2009 at 12:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel trapped already, no really!

8 July 2009 at 12:47  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace is to be congratulated in digesting a 30,000 word document of quite complex reasoning.

While I agree with Your Grace in his views about the greatness of the present Holy Father, I've tried to read the encyclical but I dont think the translation is very good. Probably brought out in too much haste.

For example: "Charity in truth places man before the astonishing experience of gift." (Paragraph 34) What does that mean?

For another thing, English hasn't got a word to translate 'caritas'. Charity, the nearest equivalent is a word that has become somewhat debased over the years and love tends to mean 'luuurv'.

The introductory paragraphs switch between charity and love so often as to make ones head spin.

Maybe if I do a word search-and- replace and use caritas for both charity and love it might work better.

That's all I can say for the present before retiring with a wet towel on my head.

8 July 2009 at 13:20  
Blogger Gnostic said...

O/T but relevant to all of us who value freedom from state fascism in the face of fraudulent taxation.

The Green Gestapo are coming to a town near you.

Industry today, tomorrow...who knows?

Maybe the Pontif would care to pontificate upon this travesty since he has first hand knowledge of how these things work?

8 July 2009 at 13:23  
Anonymous Puritan Preacher said...

And yet the Pope is persuaded that in order to revive the global economy without creating greater imbalances, inequalities and insecurities, ‘there is urgent need of a true world political authority’ to oversee the economy and work for the common good.

I have been reviewing the works of my spiritual forefathers whose candid opinions on the Papacy do not bear repeating in this age of ecumenism. A three digit number keeps turning up in their meanderings and some apocalyptic interpreters suggest that it might be a coded reference to the spiritual supremo of a 'world political authority' which they usually refer to as the New World Order, and describe as 'armed with real teeth'.

Be that as it may, I do feel that over-centralisation has grave dangers for personal and religious freedom.

8 July 2009 at 13:46  
OpenID jamestheless said...


I am not a Roman Catholic, so I do not know if there is anything in that Church's teaching which encourages its followers to have children that they know they will not be able to support. Somehow, I doubt it.

As for "getting real", people in poor countries have large families because they think it will help them fight for resources (at the expense of their neighbours, of course) and provide them with care in their old age. Perhaps you could explain how issuing them with contraceptives would change this?

8 July 2009 at 13:53  
Blogger Gnostic said...

James the last - perhaps you could explain why NOT issuing them with contraceptives would halt the spread of HIV and other nasty sexually transmitted diseases?

8 July 2009 at 13:59  
Anonymous Cynthia said...

Catholics are not something to be spoken of at lunch!

8 July 2009 at 14:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good place to begin, Gnostic, would be to keep your knickers on a bit more often.

8 July 2009 at 14:17  
Blogger Gnostic said...

My knickers are perfectly fine, Mr anonymous troll. Which is more than I can say for your obnoxious mouth...

8 July 2009 at 14:20  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Gnostic,

Please do not encourage anonymice: they are best left ignored.

8 July 2009 at 14:22  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Have a look at this Ms Gnostic.

'I asked for bread and I was given this condom'

8 July 2009 at 14:24  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ Anonymous (14:17)—ROFLMAO

8 July 2009 at 14:25  
Blogger Gnostic said...

I beg Your Grace's forgiveness. Sometimes one finds the need to slap at gnats and I succumbed to temtation.

8 July 2009 at 14:28  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mrs Gnostic,

And His Grace begs your pardon for once again using an incorrect form of address.

8 July 2009 at 14:37  
Blogger Gnostic said...

UGOC. There is something to be said about education, food and medical aid. However, there is also a large dose of claptrap served up with the sensible suggestions. I fear that middle ground is required here.

The huge task of educating people into not spreading infections is a huge task and will take time. There is massive prejudice to overcome first. Meanwhile there's nothing wrong with preventative measures. The last time I looked rubber was a lot cheaper than the cost of treating rising cases of HIV.

And remember, it's not just the sexually promiscuous that suffer, their children do too.

8 July 2009 at 14:44  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

What would His Grace choose as the greatest contribution of the Church of Rome to humanity? Her brilliant invention of Purgatory to fleece the faithful? Her strenuous efforts over the centuries to protect her pædophile priests? Her love for the Nazis because they were exterminating the Jews?

Just a couple of years ago, Panorama reported the story of two girls aged around 12 and 13 who lived in a Central American country still in the grip of traditional, despotic Catholicism. The girls had been raped by their own father and Holy Mother Church had insisted that there could be no question of abortion. The girls gave birth to their own brothers.

8 July 2009 at 14:53  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Your Grace, I believe that makes us even? :D

8 July 2009 at 14:55  
Anonymous no nonny said...

There's so much here, it's difficult to know where to start!

But, Ultramontane...
"That's all I can say for the present before retiring with a wet towel on my head." - well that's always where postmodernist writers leave me! Someone recently told me she'd got tired of struggling through Lacan in English. So she turned to the French, and found it just as opaque. We agreed that he really didn't want to be understood; and they're not just deconstructing Englis.

I wonder if that would be true of the Encyclical? Not that I have access to it, or time to read it!! Though I wonder if 'gift' might refer to what we know as 'grace'?

8 July 2009 at 14:57  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Sorry - English.

8 July 2009 at 15:19  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Johnny Rottenborough said... "The girls gave birth to their own brothers.". So this horrific incident would have had a happier ending if they had simply killed their own brothers?

Hard cases make bad laws.

8 July 2009 at 15:20  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Ms Gnostic
Only something to be said about education, food, medical aid?

The article referenced gives an example of the condomania of the West, especially the British. We just love our condoms!

You seem to imply a inverse effect between the distribution of condoms and the incidence of HIV.

You may care to have a look at this Zenit article

The Catholic Church has a very good record of treating those with HIV and AIDS in Africa.

Whether you agree or not with the sentiments expressed in this article, comparative statistics could be of interest as the Catholic Church's influence isnt consistent across the African continent, and different countries have different policies.

The 'condoms with school meals' policy in this country doesn't seem to have cut down the rates unprotected sex, judging by the continuing increase in abortions and the prevalence of teenage pregnancy.

...and by the way, yes I do realise that children of the sexually promiscuous suffer too.

8 July 2009 at 15:30  
Anonymous no nonny said...

"everyone will end up wearing the same globally-financed, officially-approved, virtuously-manufactured coat made of inferior material of a bland, uniform style." Ummmm - except for the gentlemen in the picture? And, of course, the others who dictate the NWOrders for them to sign.... But so long as they resuscitate the Sumptuary Laws, while they're at it, that'll be OK.

I'd expect the pomp and circumstance - the theatricality - of the rulers to silence the ignorami with awe. Rather in the way their impossible prose is supposed to convince us of their intellectual superiority: "complex language to express complex thoughts," you know?

That same 'sophistication' and theatricality would fit well with the nEU affective piety, which I have noticed creeping into even Anglican services... At this point, though, horror does begin to strike - because the next thing looming on my horizon is SOMA!

In this light, it begins to seem that a couple of the topics Your Grace rejected for today's post in fact relate to the postmodern 'Caritas in Veritate' also: cf. artificial spermatozoa; 'euthanasia' (for which I read 'population control via genocide'). In addition, I saw over on Coffeehouse that Gordo's lot now seek government control of organ donation.

Oh, my. Your Grace said something about Ethics. I think I'm going to listen to the news, to see what ethics surface at the G8 conference............

8 July 2009 at 16:27  
Blogger Dr.D said...

The Pope of all people should be aware of the fact that people cannot be perfected. Thus this global agency he proposes to run the world economy will always be in the hands of imperfect, selfish, greedy, fallible (unlike himself?) people. If he would but look around him, he can see how well that has worked in large scale simulations in the USSR, China, etc. Must we take it to the level of the whole world to demonstrate that it will fail there too? Utopia is a fairy tale! I would have thought the Pope would have known that.

It is entirely bogus to call for a "profoundly new way" of organizing global finance and then offering nothing new at all, only the internationalism of the EU writ large. What a fraud!

The ultimate flaw in what the Pope is asking is this, I think: Jesus says that we are to love our neighbor, to care for him. This is only done truly if it is done freely. Anything done under compulsion is of no value in response to this command at all. Thus, if the government taxes us in order that it may give aid to another country, or other "good work," this is not charity. This is done under compulsion. You and I have no choice at all in the matter; we must pay the tax. Only alms freely given count towards charity, so forget about managing the global economy as an act of charity. That is simply an act of coercion, the heavy hand of government. It does not change hearts - either of the giver or the recipient.

We tend to think that our job is to create equality on earth. It is not. It is God Himself who created the earth as it is. He asks us to respond to this situation, and He observes what we do with the situation. How we respond will strongly affect our eternal reward. We must get over the idea that we need to correct the mess that God has made by letting some people advance more than others. This is not our job, and God did not make a mess; He created the world.

8 July 2009 at 16:35  
Blogger Gnostic said...


Yes, adhering to a moral code is a good idea. We could use one in the UK. But what happens when personal responsibility is usurped by the government? You get chaos.

Many African states are fighting ignorance, starvation, disease and internecine strife. While I have no doubt that there are a lot of good people who would gratefully embrace a moral code it doesn't help the ones already infected with HIV or are suffering from full blown AIDS.

Whether you like it or not, practising safe sex retards the spread of the disease by people who have already been infected, either by accident or a deliberate act of malice and humiliation.

Catching people before they are infected and instilling a sense of moral responsibility does work in theory. Such a practise has a good, long track record. It's difficult to become infected if you lead a virtuous life. But life isn't perfect. People stray off the straight and narrow. Or people bring the nightmare to you whether you want it or not.

I'm not advocating that condoms are handed out to all and sundry for the sake of it. All that does is promote promiscuity. We've all seen how such a view has affected our own society. But there will always be promiscuous people. Couple that with the appalling ignorance of the men discussed in that article and you get an epidemic.

Leading a virtuous life is no protection. Let's not forget the women and girls who are raped and deliberately infected with HIV/AIDS such as those in Rwanda. How do you explain to a woman who is living under a death sentence that God frowns on condoms so you either commit the worse sin of spreading the disease to your husband (should you find one and who may not believe in HIV)or abandoning the marriage bed entirely and foregoing any human comfort they might otherwise find before death claims them? And what about children who issue from such a marriage? Babies born HIV positive isn't something that should be promoted either.

Condoms have their place the same as virtue does. And I reiterate, prevention is far cheaper than treatment.

8 July 2009 at 16:44  
Anonymous heretic said...

I think some Catholics are bending the rules on the use of condoms and contraception The middle class catholics only have small families now whereas the poor unfortunate uneducated catholics of the third world have very large families they can't feed. But numbers numbers are important in political lobbying. The Muslims understand this one as well.

The Pope is God's representative on earth. The layity have no part in the decion making. You can disagree with Church policy but your actions must conform to the teachings of the Church otherwise you will burn in hell for eternity.Sound like a Grimms fairy tale?I know it's hard to believe that anyone could tolerate this
medieval nonsense. Does the Pope sleep at night?We'll never know. Me,I sleep like a top.

8 July 2009 at 16:51  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

The Indigenous of this country already behave with restraint, we are in decline, only producing 1.5 children per woman, lured as we have into contraception, abortion and now plans for mass sterilisation and even Euthenasia.
Had things been left as they were this country and people would have been fine.
Gordon plans on solving increasing pollution, road congestion and landfill problems by mass mass immigration then taxation to solve the problems caused by mass mass mass immigration.

What about shutting the doors and planting tens of Billions of beautifull Tress.
Not only wold they look better they would over a period of 20 yrs take out of circulation hundreds of Billions of tons of CO2.

disturbingly I feel the motives of our elites may not be what they pretend, I feel a Communist Purge, a Cultural Revolution coming on.
Quite possibly using modern technology like a genetically modified Virus.

8 July 2009 at 17:44  
Blogger The Gnu said...

The Acton Institute seems not to have picked up on what you have found, judging by their unqualified praise.

8 July 2009 at 17:56  
Anonymous len said...

The pope Gods representative on earth?

I believe that position is already taken.Jesus Christ promised the Holy Spirit.
What the Pope heads up is a politico/religious system devised by men as a means of a acquiring wealth and power.

8 July 2009 at 18:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the ignoramus "len" - Matthew 16:18

8 July 2009 at 19:01  
Blogger ZZMike said...

Rottenborough: "At least Benny is consistent. He fought for the Third Reich ..."

At least, part of your name is apt. He did not "fight for the Reich".

I am awed by the respect with which our gracious host treats the Pope and the latest encyclical. In another setting, it would be cause for a fatwa.

In any case, I'll go off and read it. I just recently finished "Deus Caritas Est". It's slow going - you know how they tend to ponitificate.

Based on your comments ("... an ‘ethical approach’ to capitalism... This is a ‘social justice’ programme..."), I'm skeptical. "Social justice" is just a euphemism for "socialism". It was big in South America, where it blended really well with Communism.

"... the inference is that global regulation is needed because national governments have failed."

When a system is scaled up, its faults are also scaled up. If local governments have failed, global government will fail on a gigantic scale.

"Christians may be exhorted (or states may make it compulsory) to give one of their coats to the man who has none, ..."

To drag up an old old saying, would it not make more sense to teach the coatless gentleman how to make his own coat? St Paul was a part-time tentmaker - he preached (among other things) the value of work.

"Certainly, those coats must be ethically produced, marketed, sold and bought – even made of recyclable material using renewable energy."

You've been drinking at the fountain of environmental nonsense. There are certainly good aspects to all of those qualities, but they way they're understood today leads inevitably to your "virtuously-manufactured uniform style". It works rather well in China (though I notice that the leaders wear very nice Italian-tailored suits).

Based on your summary, I may end up doing a cut-and-paste of the good parts. Modern Popes limited their infallibilty to matters of theology. When he speaks of economics, I'll defer to other experts.

8 July 2009 at 19:31  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...


I think that we are agreed that adhering to a moral code is the best approach and as you say, and such practice has a good long track record.

As you rightly say, the policy of condoms for all adopted in this country has led to an increase in promiscuity. God help us if HIV/AIDS ever took a hold here. It would spread like wildfire. And the government knows no other policy but to issue more and more condoms.

I agree that life isnt perfect and with an abstinence approach, there will be plenty who stray from the straight and narrow. Likewise, you cant guarantee perfection in the use of condoms. There will be plenty of men (and women) who prefer the old fashioned way, whether or not they have the condoms available.

But looking from a cold utilitarian view, what sort of policy is most likely to reduce an aids epidemic? Do you try to stop an aids epidemic by increasing the condoms or by advocating abstinence? It’s a numbers game in the end. As you see from that article, Uganda has taken this latter road and reduced the incidence of AIDS dramatically.

Sadly we cant say the same for South Africa who have gone down the other route.

Sadly too, any suggestion of abstinence as a policy seems to invoke derision in the West from the liberals who claim an inalienable right to condoms.

8 July 2009 at 20:10  
Anonymous Joan of Arc said...

I wonder if the Pope is married yet? I do so love his hats.

8 July 2009 at 21:47  
Anonymous Big Girls Blouse said...

He got married last week Joan, in Peckham Baptist Church. I don't know if he will be wearing the hat though, it all depends on what his husband prefers I suppose...oh sorry, catholics don't wear hats do they.

8 July 2009 at 21:55  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Thank you for your synopsis of this your grace, perspective seems to have become a SOHO shop front in so many reportings of events these days , little care for backround or reason , just there to fullfill desire for a price !!

His holiness words and insight are appreciated.

To add if anyone stayed up to watch this evenings Dimbleby lecture , they would have been treated to a similar deep perpesctive from non other than HRH Prince Charles.

IT is no good me hiding the fact that I am convert of the Deep Green movement , however tonights lecture was a wonderful construct that left a deep impression on the mind , at times HRHs uses of the English language seemed long , but I noted every word was well crafted to ellicite one to think and cross reference .

It also reminded me of the poverty , corruption and lies that have been commited by politicians , in regard to our futures , and managed to increase my anger towards this governement over its years of spin, deciet and contempt about its jackboot modus operandi.

two worthy pieces from differening perpesctives , the lords timng must not be doubted or ignored .

9 July 2009 at 00:21  
Blogger Gnostic said...

UGOC, while abstinence is perhaps a method of controlling the spread of disease you must fight ignorance, prejudice and selfishness to achieve this goal. Unless entire populations can be persuaded to adopt this approach - which is very doubtful - then you need some sort of fall back plan. And even then you can guarantee nothing.

Sadly there is no one solution to this problem. It must be approached from many different directions. Basically you must fight with whatever means are the most practical. If certain of these means are removed from the arsenal because of religious objections and anyone becomes infected because people are made to feel they will be damned eternally for using such a method, then that religion is adding to the problem, not solving it.

I'm talking about infected people spreading an incurable disease because abstinence may not be an option for them. You have to be a realist about the problem and take the lesser of two evils until a better option materialises. Save lives first and then work on the souls. If you saw a person lying in the street bleeding profusely and you had the power to help him would you try to stop the bleeding or pray for him? The ideal answer is that you would do both at the same time if you are so inclined. However, there are times when the physical takes precedence over the metaphysical.

Of course, getting rid of governments that advocate the sexualisation and "empowerment" of children would be a good place to begin. The UK is no better than the third world in this respect. To diminish respect of oneself is to diminish society as a whole. It's easier to control people who are slaves to their own indulgences.

Since our own prelate seems to be complicit in this programme of moral destruction is it little wonder that so many people, myself included, have turned away from the hypocrisy?

9 July 2009 at 02:29  
Anonymous heretic said...

Ien Catholics don't share your view on that.How is it possible to brainwash so many people?

9 July 2009 at 02:40  
Anonymous ThomasWyatt said...

The problem with the Pope's theology is the notion that governments should forcibly take from some people in order to give to others. Christ preached nothing of the sort. His message is solely about what the individual should do -- voluntarily -- to help his neighbor. Take away the free agency of the donor, and you deprive him of the virtue of charity. Expanded state control over the lives of the citizenry is no way to foster true Christianity. Metastasized state power leads to tyranny. It sets the stage potentially for the greatest evils of all time (the murder of millions of people, and the enslavement of the remainder by, e.g., Soviet Communism, Pol Pot, the Chinese Communists, the Nazis, etc.)

It is very disappointing that the Pope, despite his great erudition, is clueless on this key principle.

9 July 2009 at 03:24  
Anonymous heretic said...

Sorry Thomas on which matters did the pope show great erudition? They have escaped me.

9 July 2009 at 03:37  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Speaking of boots (cf not a machine) - my computer shows lots of them standing to attention at the G-8!! More boots than ethics, really; and CNN report Sarko as spokesman, which is perhaps why the members glossily 'deplore' violence in Iran. Ah well, 'Amor Vincit Omnia.' How can China and India, resist - sitting so handily between Korea and Iran (+Afghanistan/Pakistan)?

Thinking about solutions and the encyclical, though, I can't help noticing an overall inversion - of roles for Church and States. In the days of Gregory I, and later, it seems that the Church tried to unite nations in recognition of one supreme and Almighty Power: God (Caritas). Even Charlemagne appropriated that pattern.

Now, though, el Papa must fall in under the umbrella of Communism-NWO: (Cupidity). I dunno, UGOC; maybe you should replace all those caritas words with cupiditas ones. I wonder if that would improve the coherence of the document?

9 July 2009 at 04:23  
Anonymous deals said...

The good thing is that "truth is here" but bad thing is that "its so boring".

9 July 2009 at 05:23  
Anonymous len said...

Catholic are under the great deception.
"How is it possible to brainwash so may people"
Beats me!
Catholicism is a religion who`s doctrine is one of works, dressed up very cleverly but still a doctrine of works.
Religion of whatever sort Catholicism, Islam, etc is the practice of trying to make oneself acceptable to a Holy God which is totally impossible .If you add works to Grace you have nullified Grace and you will stand or fall on your works!
I realise this doesn`t endear me to catholics but quite frankly the Truth is more important to me than bowing to your catholic doctrines.

9 July 2009 at 07:32  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Len - I'm not RC, but maybe I don't understand you. I don't see how we can be justified regardless - if our works are wilfully wrong, or if repentance is insincere or incomplete. Are you saying, though, that if one has the gift of Grace - then wilful bad works are impossible?

BTW, UGOC: I didn't mean to insult - I'd imagine the Pope must be in a very delicate situation. So I wondered if the comparison of worldly and spiritual words for love might provide some insights into that text.

9 July 2009 at 09:01  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The rise of Capitalism in England was Nonconformist. Birmingham developed because the villages that eventually made up the city were all more than 5 miles from a Chartered Borough and it permitted Congregationalists and Baptists and Unitarians to engage in trade without breaching Test and Corporation Acts.

Much of the commercial activity in Adam Smith's era was from those outside the Established Church - in towns like Bradford it was Congregationalists and Baptists who built the industrial base.

They were out of tune with Canterbury but still firm Believers with a moral codex and belief in Judgement to come. In this they were markedly different from the atheistic opportunism of Capitalism today reduced to simple rules of self-advantage and amoral.

The Encyclical is a call to have a deeper purpose in human existence and relationships than mere financial advantage and temporal excess. It is overdue for such reflections

9 July 2009 at 09:02  
Anonymous heretic said...

Steady on Ien.They are not my Catholic doctrines. I am a heretic. You're confusing me with recusant.

9 July 2009 at 09:08  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Excellent analysis.

If I recall correctly from a short book by the philosopher Roger Scruton, ‘England – and the Need for Nations’, he argues that every time a nation signs up to an international body like the WHO, UN or the EU – a ‘little bit’ of sovereignty is always surrendered.

I think if we desire to explore in the Anglo-sphere morality in economics then we do well to study the works of the great Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723-90):

‘Though our brother is on the rack, as long as we ourselves are at ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers… It is by imagination that we can form any conception of what are his sensations.’

Theory of Moral Sentiments (2nd ed., 1762) p. 2

And on ‘love they neighbour as thyself’:

‘It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but their self love.’

Wealth of Nations (1776) bk. 1, ch. 2

It seems to me that the ethic of ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ is interesting. For how can one love one’s neighbour without loving oneself?

It is this ethic that has been snapped in half by this government and its Marxian ideology: love thy neighbour (as the State rifles through our purses and wallets through excessive taxation).

How right the British colonists were in 18th century America: ‘No taxation without representation.’

The principle of ‘subsidiarity’ in the EU does not work as a nation must be able to love and decide for itself (as sovereignty lies in the people) rather than that supranational authority deciding what is good for the baker, butcher and stockbroker.

9 July 2009 at 09:10  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...


2:29? you do seem to work late.

"To diminish respect of oneself is to diminish society as a whole. It's easier to control people who are slaves to their own indulgences".

Well said! A quotable quote!

I dont think we are too far apart. We seem to be in agreement on the need to change the mindset of society.

One last thing - and slightly off topic - I dont want to start a new thread, but you have mentioned the threats of being damned eternally if you use contraceptives. The Holy Father has not said that, nor his predecessors. The Church does say that God is infinitely merciful as well as infinitely just.

Pax et bonum

9 July 2009 at 09:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the topic today then, you sanctimonious bitch?

9 July 2009 at 10:36  
Blogger Theo said...

If we want an objective and inspired source on the Catholic church why do we not simply read Revelation 17 and chapter 18 for the future of the church. Or has someone a less obvious interpretation to put on these two chapters?

9 July 2009 at 10:38  
Anonymous Joan the Nark said...


Please don't try and suggest that the Anglican Church is not part of the filth.

9 July 2009 at 10:55  
Blogger Theo said...

Joan the Nark
Forgive me if I refrain from editing the Word of God to include other abonimations, sorry, denominations other than those on seven hills.

9 July 2009 at 11:12  
Anonymous len said...

no nonny,re justification,
Hebrews 8
" Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant...not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt...For this is the covenant I will make....I will put MY Laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God and they Shall be My people...

Where religion falls down on this is they say that this means PAST sins,
However as Jesus Christ was crucified for my sins 2,000 yrs ago my sins can only have been sins in the future.
So the almost too good to be true news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that ALL my sins ,past, present , and future, have been paid for.
If you try to live under the law (works based religions) the law actually makes sin come alive , and you will find yourself battling with sin which is impossible to control with sheer willpower.
If someone is not asking the question " Does this not give me license to sin" they have not heard the True Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The key to the whole question is the re-born nature(the new heart and the new mind) which does not have the desires of the old nature.
We live in a culture where self effort, and self will, and pride in self ,is applauded and this appeals to the religious,
but in Gods kingdom the reverse is true an illustration of this is the Creator of the universe, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, washing His disciples feet.

9 July 2009 at 20:02  
Anonymous len said...

No nonny,
Another scripture on sanctification,
( there are too many to list here)
" For by one offering He hath perfected FOR- EVER them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14)

9 July 2009 at 23:20  
Anonymous John Knox said...

As a much older Roman said:

"Who will guard the guards?"

10 July 2009 at 00:21  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Len - thanks for replying. I read the rest of it, as well, and noted verses 24, 26, 29, 30, 36, 38& 39. So that sorts it, and I'd guess that applies to the Elect, also.

10 July 2009 at 03:14  
Blogger Gnostic said...


Yes we do seem to share common ground. :D

Can you explain why the Catholic Church is against birth control? It doesn't make any sense to me. I can understand their attitude towards abortion. It's not something I could have undergone although I would not interfere with the rights of those who would because I am not the keeper of other people's consciences. But birth control?

10 July 2009 at 11:44  
Anonymous oiznop said...

The link between statism and supranationalism

July 10th, 2009 by Philip Vander Elst

Is there a strong connection between statism and supranationalism? At a time of rising taxation, increased state control over the banking system, and ever-closer European integration, it is a question that ought to concern anyone who cares about the survival of freedom in the 21st century.

The first and most obvious link between the two is that supranationalism, by definition, involves the extension of state power to a new and higher level above formerly independent self-governing nations. The prime example of this, of course, is the European Union, whose governing institutions - principally, the European Commission - originate three quarters of the laws now rubber-stamped each year by our Westminster Parliament.

Less apparent but more interesting, however, is the similarity between the assumptions and ideological reflexes of the supporters of big government, and the attitudes of contemporary supranationalists.

Both groups, for instance, share a common distrust of voluntary co-operation and an instinctive unwillingness to rely on it for the achievement of economic and social objectives. Statists prefer the action of government to that of civil society when confronting particular problems. Similarly, supranationalists prefer the centralised decision-making of a European or global government system to voluntary agreements between self-governing countries. Not surprisingly, given these attitudes, both groups tend to be deeply hostile to economic liberalism, and ever anxious to limit the scope of free markets.

Underlying the authoritarian mindset of statists and supranationalists is an implicit assumption that state officials and supranational bureaucracies are wiser, more knowledgeable and better motivated than ordinary citizens, the business community, or national governments and institutions. And the reason for this common but mistaken belief among so many intellectuals is the undoubted fact that they are precisely the class of people who are most likely to seek and find employment in government bureaucracies at all levels. As agents of state power and supranational institutions, intellectuals feel a natural sense of superiority over the common herd of humanity and tend to think that their educational qualifications, and their ideas about how the world ought to be run, give them the right to direct and control the activities of others.

The expansion of governmental power within the nation-state and above it, not only attracts the support of intellectuals because it offers them secure jobs and opportunities for engaging in social engineering. It also increases their ability to build a reputation for altruism and enlightenment by “doing good” with other people’s money.

Finally and most dangerous of all, statists and supranationalists share a common tendency to use economic and other crises (for which they are often largely responsible) to stoke up fear, thus building support for new restrictions on liberty. After a century like the 20th, in which 170 million people were killed in internal repression by tyrannical governments, and millions more economically ruined by socialist planners and state officials, that is a tendency that must be fiercely resisted.

10 July 2009 at 13:40  
Anonymous the recusant said...


God has a plan for salvation, that plan includes procreation. God designed procreation to work in the way it does, it has a purpose, it is not an end in itself. If God planned something so fundamental to work in a particular way, we have no authority to change that. Contraception high jacks Gods designed process for our own pleasure without being open to the purpose it was designed for, to give life, we takes God out of His own equation.

We cannot go against Gods plan without consequences, read Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI – it’s not too long and consider the Popes predictions, they have all come true.

The Church just looks at contraception and says is it in accordance with Gods plan, people look at contraception and say is it in accordance with my plan.

10 July 2009 at 13:58  
Anonymous len said...

Sounds to me that the Pope is advocating a New World Order. Perhaps he sees catholicism as being the chosen religion to share the throne with the emerging political power?
This will indeed be a fulfillment of biblical prophesy.( Revelation 17)

11 July 2009 at 10:53  
Blogger ZZMike said...

I finally got around to reading it.

I'd say a more apt title would be "Compassionate Socialism".

13 July 2009 at 23:46  
Anonymous abandonselfishness said...

with all things said about birth control blah, blah, blah... what's most important is giving utmost value to LIFE!

whether we like it or not, we are selfish! to everyone who's written a comment, can anyone honestly say that he isn't selfish? it's a matter of abandoning our innate selfishness... we must learn how to love...

we may all differ in ideologies and beliefs... but we should work towards alleviating poverty so that we could better live our lives and help improve the lives of others as well!

13 April 2010 at 04:30  

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