Digging in

You know by now that Pope Benedict’s third encyclical, Caritas in Veritatis, appeared today.  It’s an interesting and sometimes difficult read.  I read through it today and look forward to spending some quality time with the letter in the days and weeks ahead. 

I also got a chance to peruse some of the commentary that’s already floating around the web.  I found these four in particular worth a look.  Of course, there’s probably some other good stuff out there that I’ve missed.

James Martin, SJ

John L. Allen, Jr.

George Weigel

reaction to George Weigel

The piece by Weigel (whose work I usually enjoy) was the very first one I found today.  My first reaction was to feel a bit of resentment at Weigel’s suggestion that he (and a few degreed Vaticanologists) know which sections of the new encyclical (or any encyclical) I should really pay attention to and which parts I can safely ignore because they were included so that the Pope could keep the peace in the offices at the Vatican.  The way Weigel casts doubt on sections of the encyclical that he clearly would prefer not to see in there is worth at least the raising of a dubious eyebrow.  But that fourth link I’ve provided above articulates this with such sharp wit — I laughed out loud in front of my screen several times.  (And one of the comments to the post made me chuckle, too:  “I think this may be the first time the historical-critical method has been used to tease out the “real” meaning of a religious document on the very day it was published.”) 

(UPDATE: Another strong reaction to the Weigel piece here.  The comments to it are also worth looking at.)

(UPDATE 2: Whoa. There is no shortage of people voicing their disappointment with George Weigel’s NRO piece.)

Of course, there’s no substitute for reading the encyclical itself.  Like so much of Benedict’s work, though, it’s not always easy reading.  (With this in mind, Pauline Books will soon be publishing my Your Guide to Caritas in Veritate: Charity in the Truth.  Keep an eye out.)


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