9 November 2021

Pastor eximius

On Sunday, a Pastoral Letter ('God's Creation') was to be read at all Masses in the Diocese of Portsmouth, in which I am domiciled. These texts are always worth reading; Bishop Philip Egan takes his job seriously and includes proper footnotes indicating the Magisterial bases for his teaching.

Congregations won't hear it, but today's 'Footnote 5' points us to the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate of Benedict XVI ... and to paragraph 51. (I regard that paragraph as possibly the most important part of that Encyclical; just as paragraph 80 of Veritatis Splendor is, surely, central to that document). 

(Rereading encyclicals of Pope Benedict is, for me, a slightly saddening experience. It reminds me of what we have lost! How many popes would incorporate a quotation from Heraclitus of Ephesus, c535-c475 B.C.: Hocosper sarma eike kekhumenon ho kallistos kosmos, with the appropriate reference to Diehl and Kranz Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (6th edition)?)

Paragraph 51 is where Pope Benedict deploys the concept of Human Ecology (?first found in S John Paul's Centesimus Annus of 1991, paras 38sqq?). However much the Church has a responsibility towards creation, above all (ante omnia) "she must protect mankind from self destruction". "If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to natural death, if human conception, gestation, and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed (immolantur) to  research" ... if we ignore "life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations, integral human development (humanae integraeque progressionis)", other ecological concerns are just one hell of a contradiction (gravis antinomia). 

In 2011, addressing the Brasilian Bishops, Benedict added "the family based on marriage between a man and a woman." In Laudato si (155) PF laudably amplified this with words about the complementarity between male and female. Accordingly, he categorised the consuetudo which desires differentiam sexualem delere as non sana (sano/sana in the Italian /Spanish versions).

This looks to me like a healthily evolving Magisterial teaching, well in accordance with the munus of the Successor of S Peter to act as what S John Henry Newman called a remora against innovation.

As so much chatter continues concerning "the Environment", I think it is worth remembering what it is that the teaching of the Magisterium sets before us as the prime and over-riding 'ecological' consideration ... not least because I bet you won't get the slightest whiff of it in all the hot air emerging from Glasgow.


Gregory said...

There are times when, having read something from the sour peripheries of the trad-sphere, I am tempted to dismiss P. Benedict XVI/Ratzinger as one with the underminers of Holy Mother Church. Thankfully, pieces like this come along and I am snatched from peril. Whereas the hermeneutic of continuity may not work as a framework for the Church's liturgical life, I think it is a useful lens for Papa Ratzinger's life in the Church: Despite attempts to paint him as a revolutionary, his actions were done with love for the Faith. The encyclical referenced here was a major help in my journey from protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy to Rome. I have said and will say again that when P. Benedict passes into eternity, both the dyspeptic trads and triumphalist modernists will be baffled (or outraged) at the outpouring of affection for the great teacher of our era.

Matt Smyth said...

Apparently, according to the CDF (and hence Bergoglio I guess), it's ok to use stem cells from aborted 3 months embryos if its for the most holly and sacrosanct "vaccine".
Matt S.