Say it with me: Ratzingerian!

Rocco Palmo pointed the way to this bit of blogging by the Italian journalist Paolo Rodari, which considers the possibility that we may well be seeing Pope Benedict XVI’s long-awaited social encyclical later rather than sooner.  Rodari recalls that it was around this time last year that expectant talk of the social encyclical (Caritas in Veritate is said to be its title) began to gain momentum.  And then out of the blue, the Pope published Spe Salvi, on Christian hope (November 30, 2007). 

In the spring we were hearing that the social encyclical would be out over the summer.  (I made arrangements with my publisher, Pauline Books and Media, to do a study guide companion for it, expecting to do the bulk of the work during my summer vacation from my high school teaching ‘day job.’)  But here we are, as October wains, and it’s still not out.  And the world being in the midst of a global financial crisis, Rodari suggests, may only delay even farther the work on an encyclical that may well intend to touch on economic ethics.

So, Rodari says, don’t be surprised if what we see instead of the social encyclical is the third installment of the Pope’s trilogy of encylicals on the theological virtues.  After all, the one on love, Deus Caritas Est, was dated Dec 25, 2005. And Spe Salvi, on hope, was November 30, 2007.  The end of 2008 would be a fine time for the appearance of the encylical on faith that’s surely somewhere in the future. 

By the way, ya gotta love Rodari’s adjective.  Referring to this (presumed) set of three encyclicals on the theological virtues, Rodari speaks of “il trittico ratzingeriano” — the Ratzingerian triptych! 

Can we please start using this in the English-speaking world?  I resolve in the days ahead to find an appropriate context and put it to use.  Ratzingerian!

About some other author’s book that is a marvelous mix of the theological and the pastoral: “it’s quite Ratzingerian in nature.”

As we decorate our Christmas tree by mixing in several bulbs that are precious family heirlooms, alongside the many that are bright and shiny new: “it’s a Ratzingerian approach to tree-trimming!”

What may be the only way I’ll ever cave in to the ongoing requests of my kids and my wife that we get a pet cat in the house (despite the fact that cats are repulsive to me): “well … I suppose it’s at least a  Ratzingerian sort of pet, after all.”

Sorry.  Where was I?  Ah, encyclicals. 

Rodari also notes that one of the cardinals at this month’s Synod of Bishops on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” requested that the Pope write an encyclical on the interpretation of scripture — something that might certainly sound appealing to the ears of the author of Jesus of Nazareth.  And speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, there’s still that second volume that we have to look forward to!

So, let’s review.  A social encyclical.  An encyclical on faith.  An encyclical on interpretation of scripture.  Volume 2 on Jesus. 

I say, do them all!  Rest is what heaven is for.  Msgr. Georg needs to shoo away all the Pope’s visitors, cancel all his appointments, and make sure he keeps his papal bottom in his chair, writing writing writing. 

Of course, the guy’s been writing writing writing for a long time, so in the meantime there’s always this and this and this and this and….


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