Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Encyclical Caritas in Veritate

The Catholic Church of Korea is very conscious of its unity and rarely do you see any public disagreement among the higher echelon in the Church. So it was a happy surprise to see there was some misgivings in not seeing an early Korean translation of the recent encyclical of the Holy Father Caritas in Veritate. It was signed on June 29th and was released on July 7th. The Catholic Church in Korea appears not to have a high priority f0r the translation of Vatican Documents. It could be the difficulty of translating without the Latin copy but more likely the desire for perfection which seems to be very Korean. A provisional copy to be amended later would be welcomed.

The editorial in the Catholic Peace Paper mentioned that in the west the encyclical was awaited with much expectation and when finally released there was much analysis and comments. Here in Korea it has been too quiet. It is a letter that all of us should read and study and little has been made of the encyclical. It is true that we have a language barrier but even considering this the editorial emphasized it has been too quiet.

The encyclical was released in English, French, German Italian , Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish. Apparently the Latin text is still not released. There will be much dispute on what the letter says in certain parts of the encyclical: the comments that have been made tell you more about the one making the comments than on what the Encyclical had to say. The Encyclical is very compact and complex; there will be much said about the contents in the years to come.

The Pope right from the beginning makes it clear "The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim 'to interfere in any way in the politics of States.' She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation."

The difference of opinion we have will be expressed very eloquently by those on one side or the other; I do hope that we have enough humility to open ourselves up to change. Cardinal Newman said to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often. Hopefully what we read will both allows us to concur and to be open to change.

The social evils and the value for life are all of one piece - to put one against the other is not a Catholic way of looking at life. " When both the logic of the market and the logic of the State come to an agreement that each will continue to exercise a monopoly over its respective area of influence, in the long term much is lost: solidarity in relations between citizens, participation and adherence, actions of gratuitousness, all of which stand in contrast with giving in order to acquire (the logic of exchange) and giving through duty (the logic of public obligation, imposed by State law). In order to defeat underdevelopment, action is required not only on improving exchange-based transactions and implanting public welfare structures, but above all on gradually increasing openness, in a world context, to forms of economic activity marked by quotas of gratuitousness and communion. The exclusively binary model of market-plus-State is corrosive of society, while economic forms based on solidarity, which find their natural home in civil society without being restricted to it, build up society." (#39)

I will be waiting for a Korean copy of the Encyclical so that I can discuss it with the Catholics. The Encyclical is following a long tradition of social teaching. The letter is full of our traditional teaching but at times a different emphasis, helpful in our approach to the globalization we are experiencing. Hopefully, the translation will not be delayed too long.

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