Vatican Radio: Pope's Encyclical Got US Talking

Reports That 1,800 Articles Discussed the Text

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 24, 2009 (Zenit.org).- According to Vatican Radio, Benedict XVI's encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" has caused quite the media buzz in the United States.

The Italian edition of Vatican Radio reported today that even after the text's release more than two weeks ago, analysis of the document continues. It noted that more than 1,800 articles have been written on the encyclical, many of them the report called "valuable."

In an article titled "'Caritas in Veritate' Welcomed With Great Interest in the United States" posted on Vatican Radio's Web site, the news outlet reported that the press in the United States dedicated more space and time covering the Pope's encyclical than in any other country, and that it was covered on a national and local level.

"The contribution to the debate on the part of laity, economists, experts in social science, history, theology, professors, is noteworthy," it said.

While acknowledging critiques of the document, such as the one written by George Weigel for the National Review, which held that the pontifical document was a "hybrid" of ideas that interspersed the thought of Benedict XVI with that of the more progressive Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Vatican Radio affirmed that the vast majority of analyses were positive, noting commentaries written by Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute and Catholic author and theologian Michael Novak.

Novak, writing the day after the encyclical's release in The Catholic Thing, summarized the document into four ideas: communion, gift, caritas, and truth.

He also called it, "undoubtedly, [...] the most theological, most specifically Catholic, of all social encyclicals since 1891."

Gregg, writing on the day of the release, said the core message of the encyclical was that "truth matters -- even in the economy."

He said Benedict XVI didn't write a criticism of the "market as morally problematic in itself," but that what matters "is the moral culture in which markets exists."

Market analysis

Vatican Radio said that it was notable that "the question of the market as one of the elements of the Pope's reflection that was most frequently touched on in the debate."

"Reading the articles," it continued, "one gets the impression of a serious self examination, even tending toward self-criticism, and a recognition that it is the end of an era when the market reigned supreme, without regulation, over everything. There were even opinions that held that the encyclical should be more insistent in that regard."

Vatican Radio said that it was a paradox that in the United States, which it called "quintessentially capitalistic," the Pope's encyclical was not interpreted -- as it was in other countries -- "as a 'judgment' on the mechanism or rules of this system."

In the Holy Father's text, which he repeated the following Sunday in his Angelus address, the Pope called for "[a] new economic plan is needed that will reshape development in a global way, basing itself on the fundamental ethics of responsibility before God and before man as a creature of God."

For many, the article added, the Pope's reflection on the "absolutism of technology" (Nos. 68-77), which he said "finds its highest expression in certain practices that are contrary to life," was said to be the most original and strong statement of the document.