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Monday 22 June 2015

Collective Selfishness

Years ago, in England, in the late 1980s, a priest told me that Margaret Thatcher had "institutionalized greed". She was not the only one, and in fact, the same type of "collective selfishness" burst out of psychobabble into the mainstream politics of America and Europe.

The Pope is a good examiner of corporate sin and the reality that a sense of responsibility for the common good has all but vanished.

We are experiencing a serious shortage of doctors, nurses, teachers, and all service oriented types of jobs. Volunteerism has all but disappeared (remember my old article on Bowling Alone?)

The Pope is correct is both assessments; that the problems of narcissistic consumerism is dire, but that human beings can rise above this.....but only, in and with Christ, through His Church.

204. The current global situation engenders a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which in turn becomes “a seedbed for collective selfishness”.[145] When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears. As these attitudes become more widespread, social norms are respected only to the extent that they do not clash with personal needs. So our concern cannot be limited merely to the threat of extreme weather events, but must also extend to the catastrophic consequences of social unrest. Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.

205. Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts. I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours. No one has the right to take it from us.

Ah, the beginning of self-knowledge and knowledge of others leads to knowledge of God.

Again, the Pope quotes the Pope Emeritus' encyclical Caritas in Veritate, which I examined on this blog almost two years ago.  Follow the tags.

“Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act”.[146] Today, in a word, “the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle”.[147]

I shall finish this encyclical tomorrow...I feel like reading Hard Times, by Dickens.

More Good Stuff--Finally, A Mention of Subsidiarity

When I try to talk to Americans about simplifying their lives. I either get blank stares or anger.



189. Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy. Today, in view of the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life. Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system, a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises after a slow, costly and only apparent recovery. The financial crisis of 2007-08 provided an opportunity to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and new ways of regulating speculative financial practices and virtual wealth. But the response to the crisis did not include rethinking the outdated criteria which continue to rule the world. Production is not always rational, and is usually tied to economic variables which assign to products a value that does not necessarily correspond to their real worth. This frequently leads to an overproduction of some commodities, with unnecessary impact on the environment and with negative results on regional economies.[133] The financial bubble also tends to be a productive bubble. The problem of the real economy is not confronted with vigour, yet it is the real economy which makes diversification and improvement in production possible, helps companies to function well, and enables small and medium businesses to develop and create employment.
190. Here too, it should always be kept in mind that “environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces”.[134] Once more, we need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals. Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations? Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention. Moreover, biodiversity is considered at most a deposit of economic resources available for exploitation, with no serious thought for the real value of things, their significance for persons and cultures, or the concerns and needs of the poor.
191. Whenever these questions are raised, some react by accusing others of irrationally attempting to stand in the way of progress and human development. But we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development. Efforts to promote a sustainable use of natural resources are not a waste of money, but rather an investment capable of providing other economic benefits in the medium term. If we look at the larger picture, we can see that more diversified and innovative forms of production which impact less on the environment can prove very profitable. It is a matter of openness to different possibilities which do not involve stifling human creativity and its ideals of progress, but rather directing that energy along new channels.

First of all, for people to want to use resources responsibly, they have to believe in personal responsibility.

Second of all, we must decide to live more simply...Here is Francis quoting Benedict.

Benedict XVI has said that “technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency”.[135]

And, more on balance....

Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress. Frequently, in fact, people’s quality of life actually diminishes – by the deterioration of the environment, the low quality of food or the depletion of resources – in the midst of economic growth. In this context, talk of sustainable growth usually becomes a way of distracting attention and offering excuses. It absorbs the language and values of ecology into the categories of finance and technocracy, and the social and environmental responsibility of businesses often gets reduced to a series of marketing and image-enhancing measures.

195. The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy. As long as production is increased, little concern is given to whether it is at the cost of future resources or the health of the environment; as long as the clearing of a forest increases production, no one calculates the losses entailed in the desertification of the land, the harm done to biodiversity or the increased pollution. In a word, businesses profit by calculating and paying only a fraction of the costs involved. Yet only when “the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations”,[138] can those actions be considered ethical. An instrumental way of reasoning, which provides a purely static analysis of realities in the service of present needs, is at work whether resources are allocated by the market or by state central planning.

196. What happens with politics? Let us keep in mind the principle of subsidiarity, which grants freedom to develop the capabilities present at every level of society, while also demanding a greater sense of responsibility for the common good from those who wield greater power. Today, it is the case that some economic sectors exercise more power than states themselves. But economics without politics cannot be justified, since this would make it impossible to favour other ways of handling the various aspects of the present crisis. The mindset which leaves no room for sincere concern for the environment is the same mindset which lacks concern for the inclusion of the most vulnerable members of society. For “the current model, with its emphasis on success and self-reliance, does not appear to favour an investment in efforts to help the slow, the weak or the less talented to find opportunities in life”.[139]

more later....

Global or Personal Solutions--STM's Critique

In the section preceeding these paragraphs, references to international meetings, conferences and treaties on dealing with environmental problems provide a review of international efforts. The appeal to the U.N. seems to be a naive, but well-intended appeal to the international community which has not come to any real agreements on environmental care.

Here  lies the crux of the problem of a solution. And I choose bullet points to cover this serious problem.

  • Big corporations work hand in hand with special interests groups undermining national interests, such as the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and the Council for Foreign Relations. The Pope makes no mention of those groups which do not have either the poor or the vanishing middle class in mind, but only strive to create a master-class, and, mostly likely a slave class to support that. Until the UN is seen by Catholics for what it is, an anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, anti-pro-life entity, any desire to use this institution reveals blinders of great naivete.
  • What is missing is the really deep root of the lack of personal morality among the vast majority of people making decisions either in New York, Washington, London, or Brussels. Until men and women share a Christian philosophy of life, a world- view of natural law philosophy and a strong belief in the building of the Kingdom of God, all talk of cooperation between nations, (which are disappearing as distinct entities), seems out-of-touch with reality. 
  • The Pope may be optimistic and hopeful about the need for global cooperation, but he must also address personal conversion and the renewal of a shared vision of stewardship which no longer exists. 
  • Special interest groups have become anti-life, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The African bishops have spoken clearly about Western anti-life and pro-homosexual agendas among so-called Western charities, but this seems to be a point not directly addressed here, although indirectly addressed above.
  • Technology has spurted ahead of morality in the area of progress, and this is where the Catholic Church is weak--in moral theology which addresses the real issues of selfishness among those special interests and how to combat the evil of "big" as opposed to "small" groups. Those with a European perspective and those with an American one can see the omissions in this section.
  • Perhaps false hope in global governance is a blind spot, but only the Vatican can provide the real leadership for global renewal of Christian virtue and values. The Kingdom of God on earth must lead others, not follow others. Catholic teaching must inform all levels of science and technology.
  • Perhaps the lack of understanding even among those who work in and for the Vatican that it is Catholicism that must lead the world into responsible stewardship and not global government has do to with the over-reaction against St. John Paul II's real awareness of the dangers of both socialism and communism. The new threat is even more sinister, as it hides like a nice big brother, while in reality being the hideous hydra of greed and special interests.
  • There are few in the world today, East or West, North or South, with moral frameworks to judge what the Pope is trying to teach here.
170. Some strategies for lowering pollutant gas emissions call for the internationalization of environmental costs, which would risk imposing on countries with fewer resources burdensome commitments to reducing emissions comparable to those of the more industrialized countries. Imposing such measures penalizes those countries most in need of development. A further injustice is perpetrated under the guise of protecting the environment. Here also, the poor end up paying the price. Furthermore, since the effects of climate change will be felt for a long time to come, even if stringent measures are taken now, some countries with scarce resources will require assistance in adapting to the effects already being produced, which affect their economies. In this context, there is a need for common and differentiated responsibilities. As the bishops of Bolivia have stated, “the countries which have benefited from a high degree of industrialization, at the cost of enormous emissions of greenhouse gases, have a greater responsibility for providing a solution to the problems they have caused”.[127]

This section below reveals a wisdom and sense of reality about false environmental solutions. Ploy is an appropriate word here. I wish the Pope would identify more "ploys".

171. The strategy of buying and selling “carbon credits” can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require. Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.

172. For poor countries, the priorities must be to eliminate extreme poverty and to promote the social development of their people. At the same time, they need to acknowledge the scandalous level of consumption in some privileged sectors of their population and to combat corruption more effectively. They are likewise bound to develop less polluting forms of energy production, but to do so they require the help of countries which have experienced great growth at the cost of the ongoing pollution of the planet. Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies which allow developing countries access to technology transfer, technical assistance and financial resources, but in a way which respects their concrete situations, since “the compatibility of [infrastructures] with the context for which they have been designed is not always adequately assessed”.[128] The costs of this would be low, compared to the risks of climate change. In any event, these are primarily ethical decisions, rooted in solidarity between all peoples.

But, to be fair to Francis, he is merely stating Benedict's own views here. Let us be honest about this.

As Benedict XVI has affirmed in continuity with the social teaching of the Church: “To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago”.[129] Diplomacy also takes on new importance in the work of developing international strategies which can anticipate serious problems affecting us all.

St. John Paul II's "true world political authority" does not exist, except in Christendom, long gone. If the Catholic Church had the leadership necessary to again influence global interests, one could trust such efforts. But, as it is, the Church has been weakened by false ideologies of socialism and communism, as well as the practical relativism mentioned by Francis above.

Neither St. John Paul II or the Pope Emeritus could control the special interests in the Vatican. (cf. Malachi Martin, E. Michael Jones and others). It seems like Francis has fallen into the same level of ineffectiveness in controlling those who are not having the best interests of the Catholic Church in mind-those who hate the ideal of Christendom-the false ecumenism we see in the Synod, and the practical relativism of some Catholics in high places, even here in the US.

Until there are saints who can lead us back to earthly reality as seen through the eyes of Christ, and not a false millennialism, these arguments remain incomplete at best, and naive.

I wonder if this next paragraph which I have selected here reflects Benedict, or is a development of those influences described above?

177. Given the real potential for a misuse of human abilities, individual states can no longer ignore their responsibility for planning, coordination, oversight and enforcement within their respective borders. How can a society plan and protect its future amid constantly developing technological innovations? One authoritative source of oversight and coordination is the law, which lays down rules for admissible conduct in the light of the common good. The limits which a healthy, mature and sovereign society must impose are those related to foresight and security, regulatory norms, timely enforcement, the elimination of corruption, effective responses to undesired side-effects of production processes, and appropriate intervention where potential or uncertain risks are involved. There is a growing jurisprudence dealing with the reduction of pollution by business activities. But political and institutional frameworks do not exist simply to avoid bad practice, but also to promote best practice, to stimulate creativity in seeking new solutions and to encourage individual or group initiatives.

This paragraph below is good but limited, as international groups, such as the ones listed by me above, and others not listed, fall into power politics are well as national interests.

178. A politics concerned with immediate results, supported by consumerist sectors of the population, is driven to produce short-term growth. In response to electoral interests, governments are reluctant to upset the public with measures which could affect the level of consumption or create risks for foreign investment. The myopia of power politics delays the inclusion of a far-sighted environmental agenda within the overall agenda of governments. Thus we forget that “time is greater than space”,[130] that we are always more effective when we generate processes rather than holding on to positions of power. True statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term common good. Political powers do not find it easy to assume this duty in the work of nation-building.

But, these following paragraphs seem to contradict those above--YES! Let local governments, even very small ones decide on programs and policies to meet local needs. But, what must come first is the missing moral framework--Catholic stewardship based on natural law and Revelation, as well as Tradition.

179. In some places, cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy which ensure local self-sufficiency and even the sale of surplus energy. This simple example shows that, while the existing world order proves powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference. They are able to instil a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. They are also concerned about what they will eventually leave to their children and grandchildren. These values are deeply rooted in indigenous peoples. Because the enforcement of laws is at times inadequate due to corruption, public pressure has to be exerted in order to bring about decisive political action. Society, through non-governmental organizations and intermediate groups, must put pressure on governments to develop more rigorous regulations, procedures and controls. Unless citizens control political power – national, regional and municipal – it will not be possible to control damage to the environment. Local legislation can be more effective, too, if agreements exist between neighbouring communities to support the same environmental policies.


180. There are no uniform recipes, because each country or region has its own problems and limitations. It is also true that political realism may call for transitional measures and technologies, so long as these are accompanied by the gradual framing and acceptance of binding commitments. At the same time, on the national and local levels, much still needs to be done, such as promoting ways of conserving energy. These would include favouring forms of industrial production with maximum energy efficiency and diminished use of raw materials, removing from the market products which are less energy efficient or more polluting, improving transport systems, and encouraging the construction and repair of buildings aimed at reducing their energy consumption and levels of pollution. Political activity on the local level could also be directed to modifying consumption, developing an economy of waste disposal and recycling, protecting certain species and planning a diversified agriculture and the rotation of crops. Agriculture in poorer regions can be improved through investment in rural infrastructures, a better organization of local or national markets, systems of irrigation, and the development of techniques of sustainable agriculture. New forms of cooperation and community organization can be encouraged in order to defend the interests of small producers and preserve local ecosystems from destruction. Truly, much can be done!

To be continued....more later....

Technology vs. Morality

131. Here I would recall the balanced position of Saint John Paul II, who stressed the benefits of scientific and technological progress as evidence of “the nobility of the human vocation to participate responsibly in God’s creative action”, while also noting that “we cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention to the consequences of such interference in other areas”.[109] He made it clear that the Church values the benefits which result “from the study and applications of molecular biology, supplemented by other disciplines such as genetics, and its technological application in agriculture and industry”.[110] But he also pointed out that this should not lead to “indiscriminate genetic manipulation”[111] which ignores the negative effects of such interventions. Human creativity cannot be suppressed. If an artist cannot be stopped from using his or her creativity, neither should those who possess particular gifts for the advancement of science and technology be prevented from using their God-given talents for the service of others. We need constantly to rethink the goals, effects, overall context and ethical limits of this human activity, which is a form of power involving considerable risks.

I am going backwards a bit the encyclical because I did not emphasize this enough.

For the record, I have been against GMOs for a very long time. This section restates the great necessity of an ethical framework for agribusiness, which does not exist. Those of us from the Midwest have nicknames for some of the biggest polluters of the Mississippi and other rivers, companies into GMO technology. Also, if one followed the collapse of certain areas of farming in India years ago, part of this crisis had to do with multi-international companies pushing GMOs in areas which could not sustain such plants.

The moral repercussions of intensive farming must be identified and addressed. Years ago, in a debate class, I had my student look into the most famous, (or infamous) company in Iowa regarding GMOs and the negative impact on the environment.

The loss of many animals, songbirds and butterflies, as well as honey bees has been connected to GMOs. 

The loss of the family farm has to be one of the great tragedies of modern agribusiness schemes. As an old farmer from Missouri told me once, he was sick of the government and business interests telling him how to farm property in his family for over a hundred years. He became so exasperated, he sold a heritage farm.

These issues have not been addressed by the Church in America to the extent these should be. That the Pope begins this discussion is essential.

It is difficult to make a general judgement about genetic modification (GM), whether vegetable or animal, medical or agricultural, since these vary greatly among themselves and call for specific considerations. The risks involved are not always due to the techniques used, but rather to their improper or excessive application. Genetic mutations, in fact, have often been, and continue to be, caused by nature itself. Nor are mutations caused by human intervention a modern phenomenon. The domestication of animals, the crossbreeding of species and other older and universally accepted practices can be mentioned as examples. We need but recall that scientific developments in GM cereals began with the observation of natural bacteria which spontaneously modified plant genomes. In nature, however, this process is slow and cannot be compared to the fast pace induced by contemporary technological advances, even when the latter build upon several centuries of scientific progress.
134. Although no conclusive proof exists that GM cereals may be harmful to human beings, and in some regions their use has brought about economic growth which has helped to resolve problems, there remain a number of significant difficulties which should not be underestimated. In many places, following the introduction of these crops, productive land is concentrated in the hands of a few owners due to “the progressive disappearance of small producers, who, as a consequence of the loss of the exploited lands, are obliged to withdraw from direct production”.[113] The most vulnerable of these become temporary labourers, and many rural workers end up moving to poverty-stricken urban areas. The expansion of these crops has the effect of destroying the complex network of ecosystems, diminishing the diversity of production and affecting regional economies, now and in the future. In various countries, we see an expansion of oligopolies for the production of cereals and other products needed for their cultivation. This dependency would be aggravated were the production of infertile seeds to be considered; the effect would be to force farmers to purchase them from larger producers.

135. Certainly, these issues require constant attention and a concern for their ethical implications. A broad, responsible scientific and social debate needs to take place, one capable of considering all the available information and of calling things by their name. It sometimes happens that complete information is not put on the table; a selection is made on the basis of particular interests, be they politico-economic or ideological. This makes it difficult to reach a balanced and prudent judgement on different questions, one which takes into account all the pertinent variables. Discussions are needed in which all those directly or indirectly affected (farmers, consumers, civil authorities, scientists, seed producers, people living near fumigated fields, and others) can make known their problems and concerns, and have access to adequate and reliable information in order to make decisions for the common good, present and future. This is a complex environmental issue; it calls for a comprehensive approach which would require, at the very least, greater efforts to finance various lines of independent, interdisciplinary research capable of shedding new light on the problem.

Again, the Pope refers to the dignity of the human being which is overlooked in much research.

136. On the other hand, it is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life. There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos. We forget that the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development. In the same way, when technology disregards the great ethical principles, it ends up considering any practice whatsoever as licit. As we have seen in this chapter, a technology severed from ethics will not easily be able to limit its own power.

A key concept for this Pope is that no moral issue can be isolated from another. We in the pro-life moment should know this as well.

It is essential to seek comprehensive solutions which consider the interactions within natural systems themselves and with social systems. We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.

Let me skip down to the section on the common good. The common good must be a consideration of each individual's responsible decisions. Is what I do good not only for myself but for others, for the culture, for Western Civilization, for the spreading of the Gospel?

156. Human ecology is inseparable from the notion of the common good, a central and unifying principle of social ethics. The common good is “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfilment”.[122]

157. Underlying the principle of the common good is respect for the human person as such, endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered to his or her integral development. It has also to do with the overall welfare of society and the development of a variety of intermediate groups, applying the principle of subsidiarity. Outstanding among those groups is the family, as the basic cell of society. Finally, the common good calls for social peace, the stability and security provided by a certain order which cannot be achieved without particular concern for distributive justice; whenever this is violated, violence always ensues. Society as a whole, and the state in particular, are obliged to defend and promote the common good.

Sadly, some Catholics simply do not believe that the Church over and over again, has called us to give special attention to the poor, in St. John Paul II's phrase, "a preferential option" for the poor.

158. In the present condition of global society, where injustices abound and growing numbers of people are deprived of basic human rights and considered expendable, the principle of the common good immediately becomes, logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters. This option entails recognizing the implications of the universal destination of the world’s goods, but, as I mentioned in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium,[123] it demands before all else an appreciation of the immense dignity of the poor in the light of our deepest convictions as believers. We need only look around us to see that, today, this option is in fact an ethical imperative essential for effectively attaining the common good. 

I have written on this blog and others that the basic questions need to be asked, and need to be part of the New Evanelization. Without discussing these basic questions, youth have absolutely no moral framework with which to judge any pro-life or pro-Christian answer.

The Portuguese bishops have called upon us to acknowledge this obligation of justice: “The environment is part of a logic of receptivity. It is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next”.[124] An integral ecology is marked by this broader vision.
160. What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? This question not only concerns the environment in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal. When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values. Unless we struggle with these deeper issues, I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results. But if these issues are courageously faced, we are led inexorably to ask other pointed questions: What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us? It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.

I am beginning to think that those who do not like the movement of this encyclical are probably readers who were critical of the phenomenological approach of St. John Paul II, as much of his way of looking at realty is in this shared perspective of this section.

The "Me" Generation and the growth of narcissistic personalities in our society are not new phenomena, but here, the Pope refers to the Idiocracy state to come if things cannot be changed both spiritually and physically.

161. Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now. We need to reflect on our accountability before those who will have to endure the dire consequences.

162. Our difficulty in taking up this challenge seriously has much to do with an ethical and cultural decline which has accompanied the deterioration of the environment. Men and women of our postmodern world run the risk of rampant individualism, and many problems of society are connected with today’s self-centred culture of instant gratification. We see this in the crisis of family and social ties and the difficulties of recognizing the other. Parents can be prone to impulsive and wasteful consumption, which then affects their children who find it increasingly difficult to acquire a home of their own and build a family. Furthermore, our inability to think seriously about future generations is linked to our inability to broaden the scope of our present interests and to give consideration to those who remain excluded from development. Let us not only keep the poor of the future in mind, but also today’s poor, whose life on this earth is brief and who cannot keep on waiting. Hence, “in addition to a fairer sense of intergenerational solidarity there is also an urgent moral need for a renewed sense of intragenerational solidarity”.[125]

So far, except for two paragraphs on global warming, I cannot disagree with what has been stated, as most of the above has been said before by other popes, either in encyclicals or in letters, or speeches.

But, the crunch section follows, and I shall return to that later today.

OK Just a Hint

I shall return to the encyclical with a few criticisms later today.  I have to "do" some things first today.

Readers should ponder these bullet points, however.

  • Virtue lies with individual responsibility first, then corporate or communal responsibility.
  • Laws exist because people do not take personal responsibility.
  • Catholics have bought the entire Pelagian and Protestant teaching on wealth, salvation, and poverty, and good works.
  • A lack of clear moral teaching has weakened the Church from within and the encyclical does not address the need for a clear moral apologetic. Why this has disappeared, imho, has to do with the demiss of Classical Education.
  • America and the rest of the West has completely lost the ability to judge economic growth and the need for redistribution because of a lack of understanding of previous Catholic teaching. The Pope assumes people know this teaching, but they do not.
  • Consequentialism (read at least the Wiki definition if you do not know what this is) is not the basis for Catholic moral teaching.
  • Natural law is being denied, even by Catholics
  • The Pope assumes people have been reading St. John Paul II and Benedict on social teaching, and moves in the similar mindset of their view on globalism, despite JPII's correct hatred of communism and the long Church's teaching, (rightly so), against socialism--there are other alternatives.
  • Americans are not being objective about their own sell-out to gross consumerism and narcissism, and are refusing to be open to a needed corrective. But, the corrective needs to be more focused on personal conversion, responsibility and the need for a Catholic world view, instead of a Protestant or secular one.
  • I do not like the reference to global legal take-over of personal responsibility, but the Pope is writing to a horribly irresponsible world--there are other ways, like repentance and conversion.
  • To be honest, I believe the West is too far down the road in decay of morality that only God, Who will intervene, can bring about the needed correctives, after punishment. There are precedents in both the Old and New Testament.

more later, am on the run...

Today's Snippet from Julian

"Our prayer brings great joy and gladness to our Lord. He wants it and awaits it. By his grace he can make us as like him in inward being as we are in outward form. This is his blessed will.

So he says this, 'Pray inwardly, even though you fin no joy in it. for it does good, though you feel nothing, see nothing, yes even though you think you cannot pray. For when you are dry and empty, sick and weak, your prayers please me, though there be little enough to please you. All believing prayer is precious to me.'

God accepts the good-will and work of his servants, no matter how we feel."

From Today 's Office of Readings

Judith 8:25-27 Douay-Rheims

25 Were destroyed by the destroyer, and perished by serpents.

26 As for us therefore let us not revenge ourselves for these things which we suffer.

27 But esteeming these very punishments to be less than our sins deserve, let us believe that these scourges of the Lord, with which like servants we are chastised, have happened for our amendment, and not for our destruction.

People ask me, "Why do we have to live in these hard times?"

Now, as a Boomer, I have parents who lived through World War II. My dad is a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge. That war created extremely hard times.

For awhile, we all witnessed, at least in the West, times of peace, despite the Cold War and various smaller wars here and there. But, the sins of abortion, euthanasia, and sodomy cry out to a God, Who is Purity and Innocence Himself, as seen in Christ, as well as shared attributes in the Trinity.

This Holy God sends trials, such as the serpents in the desert, whose bites were healed through the intercession of Moses, a sign revealing the coming Savior Who would save us from sin through His Passion and Death. 

Numbers 21:9 Douay-Rheims

9 Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: which when they that were bitten looked upon, they were healed.

Christians suffer as well as those who live in sin and turn away from God. But, we, too, need to be punished in order to see our sins, know ourselves, and come to God in humility.

If one accepts suffering as deserved, which it is, these times become days of grace, not merely hard times.

My Thoughts Today on Two Great Saints

Found here......

And happy name day to those named after SS. Thomas More and John Fisher.


I shall continue the commentary on the encyclical later today....have been busy bakson

My July 4th

may be a day of fasting and  prayer, if........

Varying points of view and you thought things could not get worse....