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Preliminary Remarks on Caritas in Veritate

I finished reading it several days ago and am now, as time permits, skimming over it again, re-reading passages I’d marked, and thinking about it. I’m going to try to write something about it this weekend, so I invite anyone else who’s ready to discuss it to do so then.

Two broad observations: (1) it really is a mistake to mine the encyclical for quotes that can be put to specifically partisan purposes; it’s much larger than that. (2) Those who have complained that it’s poorly written and/or that it doesn’t all seem to be the work of the same person have a point. This doesn’t justify, for instance, George Weigel’s implication that some of it is dispensable because it doesn’t represent the mind of the pope. But it is a bit of a jumble, passages of golden theology juxtaposed with sometimes slightly odd excursions into commentary on specific matters, like tourism.

I also stopped reading commentaries from other people after the first day or so, but there are a few that I want to look at now. Speaking of the overall character and effect of the document, I can agree entirely with this comment by Peter Steinfels. I must say it feels a little strange to find myself agreeing with the New York Times.



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