Pope Benedict on Charity and Truth

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Today Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical letter, “Caritas in Veritate,” was published. From time to time, popes issue such letters as guides to critical issues of the day, as seen in the light of faith.

As is their wont,  the usual suspects have already hijacked the letter to push their statist agenda. “If the Catholic right is against the redistribution of wealth, they’re against the pope,” whines one leftist priest who is out of favor with Benedict. More power-lusters are sure to follow.

Lest freedom-loving readers be misled by these charlatans, who make out the pope to be a twenty-first century international socialist, permit me to make one thing perfectly clear: the letter’s title is the heart of its message.

First, Charity is by definition voluntary. As soon as it becomes mandatory, it is no longer charity. It is theft backed by power, and the lust for power is recognized by the Church as the sin of Satan himself (1 John 2:16; Luke 4, passim).  The Charity that Benedict calls for is the freely-given Christian love of individuals (states, after all, cannot love), and the pope calls on all of us to devote ourselves more fully and deeply to this love, the fruit of which is voluntary generosity and the source of which is Christ.

Second, truth is the indispensable companion of true charity. Given their track record, the possibility that today’s governments could suddenly be trusted to tell the truth about anything, much less about what they are doing with the money taken from the productive taxpayer by force, would require a visible and profound conversion of truly miraculous proportions.

This demand for truth and voluntary charity — genuine Christian love — is central to all the particuars the Pope is calling for. The opportunistic left is busily cutting this beating heart out of the pope’s letter, and trying to peddle the cadaver as a shabby leftist diatribe against economic freedom. As we might expect, their approach embodies neither truth nor charity.

1:23 pm on July 7, 2009