I must apologize in advance for taking some of this encyclical out of context and going beyond what these men were trying to say 50 years ago. I realize that they were attempting a rather bold reform of their antiquated institution. Much like Bishop John Shelby Spong‘s work in trying to reform the Church of England and its offshoots, I find this work riddled with fallacies in its basic structure and, at the same time, extremely progressive ideas. The basic foundation flaws of Biblical inerrancy and Papal benevolence seem to have forced the Second Vatican Council to resort to surround good ideas with political armor so their good ideas were, for the most part, lost amid the obfuscations required to sustain the illusion of their special relationship with the Almighty. Sometimes I think we might do better starting from scratch rather than try once more to make unworkable ideas somehow workable.
I consider the Catholic Church directly and primarily responsible for the Dark and Middle Ages of Europe. By burning all dissenting books and crushing or isolating all dissenting ideas, they, like Communism in the Twentieth Century, tried to force their ideas upon the entire population – and succeeded! But the results were not even close to Heaven on Earth.
And I consider pretending to speak for God to be the worst form of blasphemy, a conceit which usurps the authority of others’ Higher Power and gives it to oneself and one’s colleagues.
I must also apologize to the many men and women who have spent their lives in sincere and dedicated service to the Catholic Church. I find no vice in them, but I think they serve a generally corrupt and disingenuous organization which has not served mankind well in the last century or in any that preceded it. Of course, one might hope for that to change. But it seems less likely with every passing year.
Even a Jesuit Pope can’t untangle the roots of the Catholic Church from its past sins and misadventures.
I find it a gross presumption for celibate men who have actively misled the world in which they held massive influence and control to lecture the rest of us on morality and ethics. They parceled out stolen lands to relatives and sycophants, including South and Central America. They relegated girls and women to an inferior status. They actively campaigned for the abuse of homosexuals when they arrived, unwanted, in Christian families. They told us the world was about 6,000 years old and that it was composed of good and evil and that they could ameliorate the evil if one were credulous and obedient. They insisted that disease was caused by something they called “sin,” which they did in lots of ways but pretended to be “forgiven” which, to them, made all the difference even though their own sins continued unabated and almost always hidden from the rest of the world.
They described an awful, foolish, inconsistent, illogical “God” and insisted that we genuflect before Him (and, not incidentally, them as His “representatives.”) They gave themselves the right to dictate the “truth” to the rest of us which turned out to be primarily lies or fantasy or delusion but, in any case, was definitely not truth or truthfulness. They hid their own crimes for centuries while persecuting any and all dissenting opinions in their ranks or within their influence. And, in the half century following the publication of this encyclical, continued to hide crimes by their priests and bishops.
These paragons of deception and illusion who have garnered massive wealth and influence while cajoling the rest of us into generosity, humility and poverty; these self-styled “Prophets” and “Saints” were again styling themselves to be suddenly erudite and learned when their book, their organization, their history still reeks of child molesters, bigots, misogynists, and purveyors of snake oil and patent medicines that never worked and were a sham from the beginning.
And, before I start, there is one more thing that strikes me as bizarre. Anyone who aspires to walk in the footsteps of Saint Paul, the originator of Catholic misogyny and bigotry, (as Pope Paul VI must have done when he chose his new name) isn’t anyone I would trust to lead the modern world forward.
Section 3: A Problem for All Men
“The hungry nations of the world cry out to the peoples blessed with abundance. And the Church, cut to the quick by this cry, asks each and every man to hear his brother’s plea and answer it lovingly.”
I couldn’t help but note that the International Red Cross has manned this front continuously since its founding, while, except for a few individuals in the Church, the wealthiest organization on the planet before, then, or since, has by-and-large hoarded their wealth, power, and resources rather than rising to this call for compassion and generosity.
Like a lot of things coming from the church, these men seem long on ideas and words and short on actually being compassionate or generous.
I remember a fictional movie where the pope, played by Anthony Quinn, opens up the church’s coffers to solve a global crisis. I’ve never seen anything even remotely like it in real life.
I agree with the basic idea of the wealthy helping the poor, but NOT handouts – clean water installations, an alternate source of fuel for cooking in areas where the population exceeds the renewable fuel, fertilizers, and BIRTH CONTROL!!! As long as famine,war and the rhythm method are the only supported forms of birth control in the Third World, we’re just increasing the problem tomorrow rather than helping any group permanently.
Section 4: Our Journeys
Again, the Pope has seen the problem on its surface, but his religious views preclude him from seeing the underlying problem – overpopulation – and its obvious, cheap, and humane solution – birth control.
Section 5: Justice and Peace
The Pope appoints a commission which, as far as I know, has done absolutely nothing in the last 50 years to actually promote justice or create peace in the world. Since this encyclical, Mexico, one of the most Catholic of countries, has degenerated to the point where there is little peace or justice for anyone! And there are several other countries where Catholic colonialism has made life intolerable for the vast majority of their populations.
Contrary to this pablum, the church systematically and almost universally covered up sexual crimes by its officers before, during, and after this encyclical. It did nothing real to stop the problem that they knew infested their organization, preyed upon its “flock,” and denied – and continues to deny – justice to molested children and their families.
The Church regularly participated in or concealed the rape of native girls and boys by “Catholic” colonizers which is near the root of today’s problems in Latin America.
The Papacy itself has remained steadfast in its opposition to birth control as well, the only path I see to world peace and social justice. With ever-expanding population and welfare for the poor nations, war and famine are the only solutions left to stem the tide of mankind overwhelming the environment.
In a just world, as I see it, anyone living off welfare should not be ALLOWED to reproduce. If they cannot take care of themselves, I agree to help them, but not generation after generation. Again, this humane solution causes the Catholics among us apoplexy and so it isn’t even suggested. If you are on welfare for more than two years cumulatively, your tubes should be tied. This might even encourage a few people into useful occupations.
Section 7: Effects of Colonialism
The Pope seems to have sought a middle road between admitting to authorizing and facilitating the atrocities – and the unexpected plagues – brought to colonized countries and praising the church for “civilizing ignorant savages.” I, for one, don’t buy it for a minute. Any invasion of another land and subjugation of its people, whatever the side-effects, is a crime if not an atrocity! To mince words on this issue is unconscionable!
Section 8: The Widening Gap (between rich and poor)
While the past 50 years have proven the truth of this declaration, the Church has done nothing substantial to ameliorate the problem – including maintaining the hidden alliances between the church and the ruling classes that grew during the Dark and Middle Ages and persist today in most of the countries that the Church rules. In other words, this is just talk while the church itself is a contributor to much of the social injustice in the Third World.
More headway has been made in countries that have broken away from Rome, such as the United States, The European Union, and several South American countries.
I, for one, look at the relationship of the Roman Emperor Constantine to the bishops he sent to Nicea to formalize the Catholic Church; at their dogmatic and self-aggrandizing declarations; at the abuses that canon law (which they started) brought to the world of its day; and at the reactionary nature of the religion itself. Today, I see an organization that, at its best: responds to changing situations sluggishly if at all, holds onto the past tenaciously, isn’t at all democratic, and finds itself and its views out of step with the rest of the world.
I see a widening gap between the Church and the modern world which needs birth control; a wise, well-educated, self-actualizing population; and quick, effective solutions to its problems. Instead, the Church purposely miseducates its members, knowing that much of what they are saying is false.1 Instead, the Church hoards its wealth and begs more each week from its colonies throughout the world. Instead of allowing growth within its ranks, its older members rule its younger members (and all women!) with absolute and complete control of what they say and do. This was considered normal during the Middle Ages. It isn’t even tolerable today, yet it persists.
1I refer to the works of Anglican Bishop John Shelby Spong who (finally) acknowledges the obvious fallacies in claims of Biblical inerrancy or legitimacy that he says have been known by Christian leadership and scholarship for 200 years.
Section 9: Signs of Social Unrest
The Pope and his Cardinals talk about “social structures out of tune with today’s demands and threatened with extinction.” They further state, “For the older generation, the rigid structures of traditional culture are the necessary mainstay of one’s personal and family life; they cannot be abandoned,” but they’re not speaking for me. I find their effect on multi-generational family life to be consistently detrimental. My grandfather, a devout preacher had huge conflicts with several of his sons, including my father over such rigid structures and my mother and I would have had a wonderful relationship except for her rigid beliefs in the sanctity of the fictional works of Saul of Tarsus and a number of his followers – including, presumably, Pope Paul VI himself.
I was in Thailand, a mostly agricultural country, around the time this was written, and though I saw widespread poverty, I did NOT see much social unrest of any kind. Maybe the thing here isn’t the poverty or ignorance but the attitude of the wealthy and powerful. In Thailand, money itself isn’t highly valued, but generosity is. Maybe Buddhists have a few things to teach Catholics if, perish the thought, Catholics were interested in listening.
I think social unrest does NOT come from poverty but from the imbalances within most Catholic societies: men/women; wealthy/poor; educated/uneducated; greedy/generous; compassionate/ruthless. People need respect, whether they’re poor or not. The Catholic system takes that away from both sides and holds them rigidly accountable to an ineffective, obsolete, and schizophrenic code of conduct.
Furthermore, the excessive preference for male over female and heterosexual over homosexual has created enormous rifts in both families and society itself. Not only MUST this be abandoned, it is and has been consistently detrimental to both family life and the societies it has been imposed on – throughout the long history of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic societies.
They go on to say, “The younger generation, on the other hand, regards them [rigid structures of traditional culture] as useless obstacles, and rejects them to embrace new forms of societal life.” I am 73 and I think these “rigid structures of traditional culture” are wrong, harmful, and an impediment to an effective and peaceful organization of families and societies, rather than useless and have thought so throughout my life. Their use is obvious – to divide and isolate its “flock” and to keep power and influence in the hands of its traditional wielders rather than share power and influence with others.
Cloistered men have NOT been shown to be more moral or ethical than the rest of us. Like the rest of us, they run the gamut from almost saintly to horribly abusive and destructive and everything in between. What the religious traditions that began the Dark and Middle Ages in Europe did was wipe out all dissent, discourage or control all dissident thoughts, and rigidly control all social life with the seven sacraments including childbearing, birth, childhood education, marriage, and death.
Only a break with Catholicism allowed free expression of dissident thoughts and the “modern” advances the Church now touts as part of its own accomplishments. The Church began around the time of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, and a huge growth in knowledge. It was the instrument that shut down all social and intellectual advances for a millennia and a half! And he’s saying that all old men WANT this and all young men REJECT this?? The Church is once again living in Fantasyland!
The final paragraph of this section states a belief in deteriorating “moral, spiritual and religious values.” How can a belief in a God who would have been guilty of genocide if he were a man lead us to any useful moral, spiritual or religious values? How can an organization that holds the words of a few bigoted misogynists as “sacred” lead us to such values? And, if they could, why haven’t they? When the Church was given absolute and undisputed control of our society for fifteen centuries, the situations which this paper decries: huge gaps between rich and poor; ignorance; poverty; disease; war; etc. were ubiquitous! The Church even started a few wars itself and raised gigantic and magnificent edifices to its own glory in the midst of it all!
Section 11: Concomitant Dangers
The Pope and his helpmates decry the, “alluring but deceitful promises of would-be saviors.” I am very sorry to have to include him and his predecessors among these deceitful would-be saviors. I doubt that, in the long run, the Catholic Church will be remembered for its truthfulness, its service to society, or its effective leadership. Over the length of its reign over European culture and the colonies they subjugated, I think there will be quite a few crimes and lies they still haven’t owned up to. When the final tally comes in, I imagine that there will have been far more deficits than benefits from the reign of Catholicism.
They say that the gravity of the question under study here must surely be apparent to everyone yet fail to acknowledge or correct the Church’s obvious role in creating 12/3 millennia of terror for homosexuals, disbelievers, and people with scientific or logical minds, not to mention abused women, Arabs, and Jews and a whole lot of force-fed disinformation for the rest of their “flock.”
Section 12: The Church and Development
“True to the teaching and example of her divine Founder, who cited the preaching of the Gospel to the poor as a sign of His mission, the Church has never failed to foster the human progress of the nations to which she brings faith in Christ; ….”
I find this historically inaccurate if we’re talking about anything but proselytizing. If “fostering the human progress of the nations” means actual progress, we must look at the societies that Catholicism and its offshoots (including Islam) colonized and see the long-term effects their disdain for existing beliefs and structures, their arrogant stance against any science or logic that rebuts their teachings, and their fixed and narrow outlook on life actually brought. In Africa, for example, social structures were far in advance of the Europeans who subjugated them. Many African chiefs regularly consulted with their entire tribe prior to making difficult decisions rather than the top-down, dictatorial model of government brought by Europeans and their Church. We will never know many of the losses due to this colonial subjugation and the suppression of local customs and values.
And, is it wise or even sensible to call studying a 2,000-year-old book filled with a mixture of timeless good ideas and thoroughly disproved dogma “progress”?
Section 13: The Present Need
The Pope “offers man [the Church’s] distinctive contribution: a global perspective on man and human realities.”
This organization which burned or drowned numerous “witches,” which preaches about righteousness while simultaneously hiding horrendous crimes against children, and led and participated in the colonialism which created the mess the world is in is going to inform the rest of us about man and human realities?
I have yet to discern even a small amount of humility, regret, or amends in this tract which pretends to a wisdom which history does not corroborate. Have I missed something? Is the Church, in reality, leading us to a better future? Or is it an anchor to a dismal and regrettable past where our gullibility was used against us by SECOND OR THIRD SONS OF NOBILITY TO CEMENT THEIR HOLD ON WEALTH, POWER AND THE ALMOST ABSOLUTE CONTROL OF ALL HUMAN SOCIAL INTERACTION?
Section 14: Authentic Development
This section rejects accounting as the sole arbiter of the development and improvement of civilization. If it weren’t the Catholic Church speaking, I would welcome the sentiment. History has taught me that the Church, since its founding in 325, has systematically held back any and all new ideas which, in any way, contradicted the more-or-less fixed ideas and social order of Catholicism. The Reformation and the enlightened ideas of Sir Issac Newton and Charles Darwin arrived only after the power of Catholicism had been broken in England and the concept of viruses and bacteria causing disease would have been condemned as heresy or kept under wraps in some monastery if Europe had remained under the complete control of the Papal See.
And, while the accountants within Vatican City amass untold, unreported, untaxed wealth for century after century, little (if any) is returned to the people it came from except in new holdings, new edifices to the glory of God and His representatives on Earth, themselves. Their schools are cheaper, but not because they are subsidized by Rome, but because their teachers and administrators aren’t paid much and cannot have families of their own to support!
Section 15: Personal Responsibility
This section, enunciating the concept of free will, is most welcome. I especially liked the final two sentences:
“He [each man] is helped, and sometimes hindered, by his teachers and those around him; yet whatever be the outside influences exerted on him, he is the chief architect of his own success or failure. Utilizing only his talent and willpower, each man can grow in humanity, enhance his personal worth, and perfect himself.”
I wouldn’t have said it that way myself, however, and the pointed use of the masculine throughout is a throwback to previous and ongoing slights against women. Furthermore, while we have free will, our growth in talent, in humanity, and in fortune is a collective process and relies extensively on the words, concepts, understandings, labor, and influences of many others, past and present. The concept of a self-made man is fantasy.
Section 16: Man’s Supernatural Destiny
Jesus Christ in a bathtub!! What does “The whole of creation is ordered toward its Creator” mean? So the dinosaurs were around for over a hundred million years working toward what goal? I guess a Pope and his fellow authors are required to say something like this, but it makes no sense to me and doesn’t seem to fit anywhere in my conception of history or reality.
This “higher state of perfection” is apparently Heaven and we are back to the old tried-and-untrue bullshit first promulgated by Saul of Tarsus and his fellow dogmatists.
I would have talked of the brotherhood of man, of our common ancestry and our mutual destiny, of our current interdependence, of the benefits of working together toward a better future for all of us, regardless of our differences and disagreements.
Section 17: Ties With All Men
Ah, well they do bring up the brotherhood of man (and, hopefully, women). I agree that by accepting the largess created by others both past and contemporary, we incur an obligation to pass it on. I’ve nothing to carp about in this segment.
Section 18: Development in Proper Perspective
I find “If anyone is unwilling to work, do not let him eat” harsh, but that idea might be valid. In Buddhist societies, however, monks (men and women) individually beg (but do not grovel) for their food and it is given willingly by most of their society. This generally two-year hiatus from the workforce seems to cement Buddhist society together while “work or don’t eat” does not.
Section 19: Latent Dangers
“Neither individuals nor nations should regard the possession of more and more goods as the ultimate objective. Every kind of progress is a two-edged sword.”
And here we come to the crux of the problem outlined in the beginning: the accumulation of wealth; the pursuit of profit; the separation of society into “haves” and “have nots.” I find the double-edged sword in the wealth I inherited. My next younger brother, having no heirs, is spending his excess wealth on college scholarships for the most worthy and needy of his students. My older brother takes long vacations to exotic places and helps fund the higher education of his grandchildren. My youngest brother struggles to maintain his several millions of wealth in a single property on the ocean front of prime real estate in California. My sister is heavily involved in civic activities. And I put my money into education for myself, solar panels on the home I share with my ex-son-in-law, daughter, and several grandchildren as well as buying a fairly new hybrid automobile. I didn’t keep the stocks I inherited but sold them almost immediately and I feel that second edge of the sword almost daily. The poorest of my siblings, I still regard myself as excessively wealthy – and, by any historical standards, I am.
Meanwhile, I live in a society drowning in the systemic greed of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and a morality that boils down to return on investment and the obligation of professional money and corporation managers to maximize this single monetary index which I interpret as systemic corporate greed; a greed depersonalized and dissociated from “owners” who have no idea what they own and customers and consumers who have only the illusion of a free market and are under the unrelenting influence of massive, ubiquitous advertising.
We are shown daily pictures of frequent idyllic trips down the rivers of Europe or exotic treks through China. We are shown frowning investors and smiling investors with friendly and mutually beneficial relationships with their brokers and the implied wealth and security of such investment portfolios and are never aware of the machinations necessary to secure our treasured dividends.
Meanwhile, this diffuse and diversified “ownership” of the means of production is, as they say here, concentrating into fewer and fewer hands which are spread across the globe and constitute about 1% of the population owning about 99% of the world’s capital.
And, as the economies of scale manifest themselves into gigantic virtual monopolies with only mild competition, the niches for new entrepreneurs with limited resources get smaller and smaller and the stranglehold that the wealthy 1% have on the rest of us continues to tighten. They own the news media. They control the web to a large extent. And they buy our votes with ubiquitous ads in political races that might influence their profits and continue to influence legislation with powerful Political Action Committees which already write much of the complex legislation that Congresspersons sponsor and approve.
Rather than have the Catholic Church supervise and control our daily lives, they are now supervised and controlled by managers hired by the ultrawealthy!
Section 20: A New Humanism Needed
Again, I say, the problem isn’t poverty or poor conditions in life. The problem, in a nutshell is that there is little, if any, respect between the poor and the wealthy, between ourselves and our neighbors, between various political and religious groups, and between one nation and the next. What we need is compassion and understanding, whether or not we have material things.
This religious organization was so fixated on the societies they rule that they failed to even look at other cultures that developed beyond their influence and control.
Section 21: The Scale of Values
Once again I find myself in opposition to the basic premise of this tract – that all men are oriented to the desire for and increase of worldly wealth and, of course, the spiritual “wealth” that these dogmatic religions promise us in the hereafter if we accede to their “wisdom” and authority.
Even in our culture and despite constant urging to acquire wealth, some of us have rejected this scale of values. In a religious organization supposedly following the footsteps of the poor and generous philosopher, Jesus of Nazareth, they seem incongruous.
I specifically noticed the phrase “unjust transactions,” and I couldn’t help remembering the many unjust transactions the Catholicism has made, such as dividing the “New World” in half and, disregarding the rights and ownership of its inhabitants, deeding it to Spanish and Portuguese monarchs to divvy up among those of their population wealthy enough to raise a small army to hold it against the locals while forcing the locals to continue working the land. And laying the “legal” and “ethical” foundation for the creation of colonial Palestine and its transition into the racist state of Israel. This, in turn, hearkens back to the soft-sell of colonialism in Section 2.
However, it seems that what they’re trying to say is that the system of greed we currently have isn’t working for any of us – even the wealthy – and I agree with them on that.
Section 22: Issues and Principles
I detest this idea: that man is the best and most perfect of all Creation; that we have a right – a duty even – to take it all and subdue it and turn it into territory controlled by us and the Papacy. The bold egocentricity of this offends me. And I worry frequently that this mania to rule rather than coexist will turn our small globe into slag and radioactivity before we come to our senses and reject this self-aggrandizing philosophy.
This idea stands on the book of Genesis, which is patently false. The universe wasn’t created for the use of man any more than it was created for the use of dinosaurs, who “ruled” much longer than we seem destined to rule.
This idea also is used to support the horrible and destructive philosophies of colonialism and proselytizing.
The problem here isn’t progress, but the devaluing of all other “rights,” the rejection of native philosophies which respected the environment and gave it rights and respect equal to their own and their tribes’. If we put mankind or the pope on a pedestal, if we make our imaginary gods like us and worship them as if they were like us, we miss the humility needed to fit in with our surroundings. We get far too big for our britches and we go off half cocked, ruining the rest of nature, our relationships with others, and our own future in the process. I reject this whole section in its entirety!!
Respect, Equality, Win-Win, Coexistence
Let’s look at these problems from a different perspective. What if the Church respected the ideas, rights, property, and worth of other cultures? What if, instead of an attitude of superiority, they held and fostered an attitude of equality? What if they (we?) looked for win-win solutions and sought peaceful coexistence rather than fear, subjugation, and obedience?
We wouldn’t give South America to European warlords. When we saw that native people had little or no resistances to our diseases, we would back off until a solution was found. We wouldn’t even think of creating a “promised land” or a haven for persecuted Jews because they would be welcome additions to our own neighborhoods. We would learn from Buddhists and they would learn from us and both would benefit from the interaction. We would back off when a process was harmful to our environment or a group of people (or animals) until a decent win-win solution could be found.
We wouldn’t have wars because we would respect other’s sovereignty and they would respect ours.
We wouldn’t bully other cultures into trading with us or accepting our views or our technology or our religion, or even our moral and ethical values, but would continue to pursue mutually beneficial, mutually agreeable solutions to our differences. If our way was better than their way, it might win out over the long run but by example rather than by coercion or dogma, but, in all probability, a new, untried way would emerge as a synthesis of our two differing perspectives.
If a man is respected, he doesn’t need a new car or a fancy jet or a billion dollar net worth. I suspect the main reason many wealthy crave such items is that, in our culture, they symbolize and command respect.
Section 23: The Use of Private Property
I agree generally with this section and St. Ambrose:
“You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not just to the rich.”
But I also think that there needs to be respect and self-respect both ways in this transaction. This means that both the giving and the receiving must be on equal and honorable terms. This requires some sacrifice in return on the part of the recipient, some type of repayment or benefit or duty which repays and equals the transaction; possibly not in kind but in spirit and in good faith. This is why the Buddhist monastic system works so well. The monks have (temporarily) given up worldly goods and pleasure; the giver sacrifices some cooked rice and vegetables and maybe a bit of meat and both gain respect within their culture for this.
I also think that a business is a partnership of sorts between capital and labor, that decision making, sacrifices, and rewards must be shared faithfully and equally between these two factions. I believe that in an equitable society profits and losses should be divided after wages are paid and equity and interest is returned. I believe major decisions should involve the interests of labor, management, and ownership – and possibly the community as well. Again, the rights of ownership aught not overpower all other factors and interests. Only when we have win-win rules will we have harmony and cooperation.
However, the idea most valued in our culture is competition, but it is increasingly a sham; window dressing covering many severe crimes of unnecessary greed and unbridled self-interest – on both sides of the issue. Work and dedication must be of equal or similar value to the contribution of excess money and the rights of ownership.
Section 24: The Common Good
The problem with expropriation of unused or underused land (eminent domain) is in who makes the determination and who ultimately profits from this expropriation. Again, this paragraph presents an all-or-nothing proposition rather than a compromise and I would again seek win-win compromises rather than just taking away someone’s property with a token payment.
The second paragraph of this section condemns spending profits earned in one nation in another “for the sake of their own private gain alone, taking no account of their country’s interests,….” In the diversified portfolios of investment today, and in the increasing internationalization of the world economy, this is becoming less and less a factor.
Instead of nations, we need to think in terms of need balanced by obligation. In the US, for instance, our indebtedness to the rest of the world requires that we export more and import less or suffer some penalties in the future for not being frugal in our spending … especially in the area of what we erroneously call “defense.”
And there is the other side of this question to consider. In Greece, they take long lunch breaks and have huge welfare rolls and their whole economy suffers for it so that the rest of the EU is carrying them on their backs.
I think that respect, privileges, and obligations should be in balance as much as is practical. With entitlements come obligations. If nothing else, the Greeks should incur some special obligation to the rest of Europe to retain their easygoing lifestyle and the US should be required to reign in both its personal and public debt or again suffer some penalty or obligation.
And then there are those issues that are hard to weigh. For the past 70 years, the United States has had something like 50,000 troops stationed in Germany. How do we account for them? Are they needed by the German people or the German government? Whom do they benefit? They are paid for by ordinary taxpayers in the United States but I see zero benefit which goes back to those taxpayers. How do we weigh the import of these huge outlays in manpower, equipment, and facilities in light of Germany’s reunification and prosperity? As far as I can see, this is a military boondoggle which inflates the “defense” budget while providing no substantial benefit to anyone.
In the United States, such boondoggles, unneeded military bases in districts with powerful US congressmen, for instance, benefit a few at the expense of the many, yet they continue to exist decade after decade and are immune to eminent domain laws even though they clearly impede progress.
Section 25: The Value of Industrialization
This again takes only one side of an issue. We must make industrialization sustainable and less harmful to the natural environment. Clearly, issues such as global warming, the accumulation of radioactive waste and almost indestructible plastic waste, the loss of traditional jobs, and the increasing need for better education must be resolved in ways that ultimately benefit all rather than the current win-lose of man versus nature and the individual exploiter versus the needs of society.
Section 26: Unbridled Liberalism
This, if I read it right, is what we in America attribute to Libertarians. There are serious divisions between what I call “liberal,” meaning an obligation of government to serve all people, regardless of their economic condition, and American Libertarians who, if I understand them, want as little government as humanly possible, trusting the conscience of individuals and the free enterprise system rather than the rule or expanded role of government.
The Pope’s and my concerns align in that we’re both worried about the “international imperialism of money.” Certainly, in the 50 years since this was written, money itself has driven our elections, our government, and our national and international policies, including, I am quite sure, two completely unnecessary wars in Vietnam and Iraq.
The first paragraph calls these concepts “unbridled liberalism”: “profit as the chief spur to economic progress, free competition as the guiding norm of economics, and private ownership of the means of production as an absolute right, having no limits nor concomitant social obligations.”
I have no idea where they got the term “liberalism” out of all this. These appear to be Libertarian concepts.
Modern laws have separated owners from any responsibility for damage done by things they own if they are incorporated. Furthermore, corporate ownership has been diluted and diversified by mutual funds, which buy and sell stock for a large collective of owners and, again insulates them from legal liability and, most often, even knowledge of what is done to achieve the high return on investment which makes it desirable as an investment. With companies owning companies and funds buying other funds, one is often unaware of what is done to earn dividends and stock growth.
Furthermore, it has been proven over and over (the deceptive practices and rhetoric of the NRA, the sale and misleading advertising of the tobacco industry, the too-big-to-fail bailout of the bankers who invested our money in grossly mislabeled economic goods, the ENRON fraud which bankrupted California and a number of retirement funds, the pharmaceutical industry of today, the ongoing misinformation about “defense” and “fighting for freedom,” and the gutting and scapegoating of government regulatory agencies) that corporations, worldwide, by-and-large, are just in it for profit, the one and only criterion for “success.” The exception is China, where the government is also in bed with corporations, but has the upper hand and does long-term strategic planning and worldwide corporate espionage.
In a world of progressively heavier capitalization and a progressively smaller, specialized and better-educated work force, this state of affairs, if it continues unabated, will result in a world of owners and unemployed who both do nothing but have vastly divergent lifestyles, and the employed middle class which, as automation increases, will continue to shrink.
We will need far more consumers to keep things going and it seems in everyone’s best interest to spread the “wealth” around. Finding an effective way to do that and still motivate people has yet to be resolved. If it were possible, I’d like to see “from each according to ability, to each according to need” as it is within families. We know the “dictatorship of the proletariat” is unworkable. Maybe there is some other scheme that might make this work.
Entrepreneurship will find small niches, but these will gradually be filled up with large corporations as we’ve seen in retail sales, fast food, automobile manufacturing and sales, bakeries, butcher shops, tailor shops, cabinetmakers, and farming. In the next two decades, we will most likely see an end to truck drivers, street sweepers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and chauffeurs with intelligent, centrally-controlled and centrally-owned machines taking their place.
The encyclical declares, “economics is (I assume they mean economies are) supposed to be in the service of man.” And, if they also mean “all people,” I agree.
This is also a revolutionary thought buried inconspicuously in a long treatise. Economies have rarely served the common man. When they do, there is conspicuous prosperity. This happened a few times in history, but it always seemed to be sidelined by religion, war, and/or unfettered greed. The current trend is serving the average man reasonably well, but that cannot last if the rights of ownership override all other rights and the duties of citizenship involve removing the rights of ownership in other parts of the world and throwing our own unemployed or underemployed out on the street.
I don’t for a minute believe that the fairly near future won’t throw lots more people out of work and into despair. We need to be prepared for this. It will come as a bewildering shock to us when the economy grinds to a halt because not enough money is “trickling down” (to use Ronald Reagan’s disproven fantasy) to truck drivers, taxi drivers, and people without an expensive college education.
This society won’t be good for anyone, even wealthy people. We need new paradigms with which to share wealth, responsibility, and respect. To-the-victor-go-the-spoils will doom a democratic society to violent disagreements and a breakdown of civility as we’ve seen starting recently.
Section 27: Nobility of Work
Having experienced this, I appreciate the sentiment.
Section 28: Dangers and Ideals
Again, I agree with this sentiment: the worker needs dignity and a say in running an enterprise. I also believe that the worker should share in the success of a business as a right and the failure of a business as an obligation; that the business, as it progresses, should reward both workers and investors with some kind of equalizing strategy. Like copyrights and patents, maybe the originators of an idea or business should profit for a time, but to profit to the third and fourth generation is rewarding idleness and selfishness and completely unbalances the sacrifices of: idea, money (resources), supervision, and labor. It is a throwback to kings and queens, lords and ladies where birthright was everything and you were valued by whom your parents were; a system only slightly less dysfunctional than the old caste system in India.
Ownership has, through massive disinformation and much like dogmatic religion, gained supremacy in our society over other mediating and moderating philosophies; but it is and always has been flawed in that ownership outside our society has been consistently ignored or devalued. US treatment of native Americans before and after treaties were signed and our ongoing treatment of the Third World attests to the consistency of greed and grandiosity overriding all other values in our culture when dealing with peoples outside it and often even marginalized groups within it.
There is nothing “natural” or “God-given” about ownership, despite what the Bible says. Ownership is merely a claim based on established practices and often, as the Nazis dispossessing Jews and Jews dispossessing Arabs last century or the Americans dispossessing Native Americans in the previous century, or the Pope giving His blessing to dispossessing South American Natives in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, a claim based entirely on “might makes right.” Current Political and economic practices left a perfectly good house vacant rather than house a struggling grandmother and her two grandsons across the street. For the sake of profit and power, all kinds of seizures and foreclosures take away homes and give them to wealthy, avaricious people. The huge rise in real estate prices isn’t due to a massive increase in the need for housing but to a massive increase in greed by investors and the public in general.
Section 29: Balanced Progress Required
The problem I see here is that the violence isn’t originating from an uprising but from the elite among our nations. The wealthy are the ones creating crises and urging us to violence, not the men on the street. They are also urging us to discord and disagreement on both sides of the political spectrum and what is guiding them? I figure it is the fact that more people watch when there is violence and discord. The drive for viewers itself is fueling our societal dissonance. And this, in turn, is fueled by our system of unbridled, unfettered, unregulated greed.
Section 32: A Task for Everyone
While this starts out “We want to be clearly understood on this point,” I’m not sure I understood it. It calls for a bold confrontation of the present state of affairs, which seems ambiguous enough for most of the Church hierarchy to have ignored it for the following 50 years as they did in the previous 1500. It calls for a donation of personal goods and cites several bishops as examples. They want us to be responsive to men’s longings and faithful to the Holy Spirit, but it seems to me that a person’s dignity would be better-served by fresh water and arable land than by handouts of charity from the wealthy; by a reform of past injustices and inequities rather than some token payment of rich-to-poor which helps for a day but leaves the basic problem to fester.
Until the Church gets behind birth control, they will continue to be the roadblock to solving this “crisis” they are talking about. If the poorer people of the world are fed and clothed and housed by the rest of us, what will they do with all their idle time but procreate, making more poor people for us and the already overburdened environment to support. The plan doesn’t work without BIRTH CONTROL, at least voluntary, but preferably mandatory.
Section 33: Programs and Planning
The Catholic Church, in this section, tasks the supervision of this largess to the needy of the world to “organized programs” run by “public authorities.” But they call for additional private initiative and intermediate organizations to help them fuel the overpopulation of the world.
We reintroduced wolves to cull the herds and keep nature in balance, but we can’t seem to stop the human animal from overpopulating the planet and abusing our environment. The Pope’s plan will, inevitably, lead to more suffering and deprivation. Without limits on reproduction rates, this plan was assured of failure even if it had been embraced by all. The planning most needed is family planning.
Sections 34 and 35: The Ultimate Purpose/Basic Education
These sections strike me as odd. I get that technology should serve mankind and not the reverse, but the Pope talks about a balance between spiritual and technological growth without addressing the intellectual revolution against the exclusive rule of the church which began the modern era.
The Church is deeply rooted in the mysticism of the past and yet purports to be a leading faction towards a glorious future. Of course, they haven’t thought this through. The more prosperity, the more health care, the more free time, the more longevity, the more people we will have if the Church maintains its stand against limiting family size. With human population already overburdening our ocean’s capacity and famine in certain regions of Africa, it is only a matter of time before the earth cannot sustain its burgeoning human population.
The Church is the author of many of the earth’s current problems, overpopulation being only one.
The advance of science was mostly at a standstill during the absolute rule of the Church in academics. They taught – and insisted on teaching to all – that disease was caused by sin, making modern medicine just about unthinkable. They taught – and insisted on teaching to all – that all other religions served something they called “evil,” thus supporting war and strife. They fought modern astronomy and archaeology and geology and, in even their basic tenets, simple logic and simple mathematics. They preached an illogical Trinity. They preached that obedience and credulity were more important than ethics or morals. They taught – and insisted on through marriage vows – that women were to be subservient to men, thus supporting oppression of women and girls in every family they influenced. And, all the while these things were going on, priests were molesting both boys and girls while the entire hierarchy of the church covered up those crimes!
These things sometimes happened where the Church had no influence, but these inequities festered under the absolute rule of the Papacy and continued to fester and be covered up even after this encyclical!
Sections 37: Population Growth
This section finally walks the tightrope between American Catholicism and more traditional Catholic groups. Of course, it’s still not doing an about face, since doing so would cast their entire doctrine in doubt. It is clear to me that the writers of this document understood that traditional doctrine was wrong and that the world needs birth control, but politics and self-preservation dictated otherwise. So, rather than provide leadership and responsible stewardship of the planet, they obfuscated.
They also declared “When the inalienable right of marriage and of procreation is taken away, so is human dignity.” I don’t believe this for a minute. It insults priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes. It insults infertile couples, saying they have less dignity. And it definitely insults nuns who, for 1700 years have relied solely and unsuccessfully on immaculate conception. It’ seems an attempt at justifying this new stance, but it fails miserably. To say that giving up the “right” to overpopulate strips a person of dignity is absurd. Again, rights and responsibilities go together and it is in nobody’s best interests to overpopulate one’s house, one’s neighborhood, one’s country, or one’s planet. It puts an unfair burden on the couple itself, on others, and on the environment.
The “inalienable right of marriage” was and still is denied to gays and lesbians and the “marriage” allowed nuns was and still is a cold, lonely, and sterile one.
Nevertheless, I am heartened that they were able to push themselves this far toward allowing birth control. At least they recognized the problem and, though their solution was ineffective where it was most needed, it did leave the door open for conscientious Catholics to limit family size without using separate beds. In places like the United States, it finally allowed the church the leeway to say that the Pope thinks it a sin but allows birth control if you think otherwise. In the Third World, however, where birth control had become critical, such nuances were lost and old traditions prevailed against this tepid and ambiguous change in policy. It was, in my strongly held opinion, far too little, too late.
Up to this time Catholicism had said it was a duty of married couples to procreate, that they were commanded by the Lord to populate the world with little Catholics until they became infertile. They burdened every couple that got married by a Catholic priest with this task and had them sign an agreement to this effect before marriage. Now, it’s an “inalienable right of marriage” to procreate until menopause?? These men are weasels, not leaders. And, once again, Catholic leadership is merely self-serving. Having blackmailed every couple in love with calling their children “bastards” if they didn’t agree to support their scheme to take over the world by agreeing to a Catholic upbringing, they now change their mind, but only to call this burden an inalienable right. I’ve seen what this does to staunchly Catholic families in the Third World. This task aged women quickly and often killed them. And the men, put in harness to earn enough to feed an overpopulated household that has grown beyond their combined ability to sustain it, were often condemned to overwork and an early grave!
Section 41: Avoiding Past Temptations
“The Poorer nations can never be too much on guard against the temptation posed by the wealthier nations.” The problem seems to be that they are often “so much engrossed in worldly affairs.” They go on to say, “The developing nations … must test and reject false values that would tarnish a truly human way of life, while accepting noble and useful values in order to develop them in their own distinctive way, along with their own indigenous heritage.”
So let us look at what the Vatican sees as “noble and useful values.”
First and foremost, there are two sets of values: one for clergy and another for everyone else. Lay people (if they’re not homosexual) now have the “inalienable right of marriage and of procreation” while priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes must remain celibate and nuns can marry God but must wait for an immaculate conception. This seems schizophrenic.
Ah, but there are other “noble and useful values“ that are distinctly Catholic. Popes live in a palace and Cardinals and Bishops live in distinct luxury and ease while their underlings, both within the clergy and of the “flock,” toil to provide this luxury. This all seems worldly. Some of that “glory to God in the highest” seems to have been siphoned off and sent to Vatican City!
And what’s this about women obeying men? Is this also a “noble and useful value”? It, too, seems distinctly self-serving, even self-aggrandizing. I’ve heard that women were often the leaders of the early churches and that many of these churches, when not founded by St. Paul or one of his converts, focused on the early teachings of Jesus which require far more humility and tolerance than the exclusively male group that, in 325, founded a formal Christianity, established a formal creed, and laid the foundation for persecuting any and all deviations from these self-serving declarations.
And the magnificent churches, gilded crosses, and priceless artwork paid for with the arduous toil of many congregations? Is this not also worldly? Yes, it intends to glorify God, but does it not also glorify and attempt to sanctify the worldly, fallible, and mortal “representatives” who pretend to know who God is, what God wants, and what everyone else, but not themselves, must do?
Have I’ve gotten this wrong? On March 5, 1493, didn’t Pope Alexander VI (AKA Rodrigo de Borja) issue a proclamation like the one I’m talking about here? Using his assumed powers as a representative and close associate of God, didn’t he, like the writers of the Old Testament, assume rights to lands neither owned nor occupied by him or his people, authorizing and giving “God’s” blessing to conquest and subjugation in the newly discovered but already peopled Americas? And what is Israel, if not the result of Christian and Jewish bigotry and duplicity rather than God’s will which started and then escalated the endless strife between the two Semitic peoples?
Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions here, but I see the role of the Catholic Church, as following in the footsteps of David, Joshua, Muhammad, and Pope Urban II rather than Jesus, pretending a special closeness to something “holy” but using their very potent power over societies of credulous and obedient people to overawe them and seize very real secular power over their lives, their education, their thinking, and their children and grandchildren, even sending them to foreign lands to kill, steal, and add to The Church’s secular power and influence.
And, while this encyclical attempts to loosen the reins a little, it still presumes to represent all that is good in the world without ever really acknowledging or cleaning up the overflowing cesspool in its own backyard and without ever working diligently to correct the gruesome mistakes of the past – or the ongoing mistakes of the present, as we have seen in the intervening 50 years of systematic cover-ups of massive damage done to families in their care due to sexual misconduct by people trusted to faithfully represent a caring and benevolent God.
Rather than disband after being disgraced by the excesses of the Borja popes, these old men maintained the fiction of their sanctity and erudition. Rather than recant after learning that The Holy Bible was clearly not “the word of God,” they executed the man who translated the Bible into English and doubled down on their charade pretending to be giving the world holiness, rectitude, and salvation while delivering grape juice or weak wine, crackers, and the words of a long string of men singularly dedicated to increasing their own worldly power and influence over society.
If we are to establish “noble and useful values” here on earth, it seems that “thou shall not murder” ought to include conquests of all kinds, even those pretending to be sanctioned by God or beneficial to the conquered. It seems that “thou shall not rape or molest” must be included and crimes against children ought to be considered the most damaging – and the most important to prevent from recurring. It seems to me that forgiveness without amends, without full disclosure and ongoing action to prevent recidivism and recurrence has been ineffective in establishing anything wholesome and noble but effective in winning “converts” who get easy, unmerited forgiveness by just imagining they have been miraculously changed.
Section 42: A Full-Bodied Humanism
This section declares:
“The ultimate goal is a full-bodied humanism. (44) And does this not mean the fulfillment of the whole man and of every man? A narrow humanism, closed in on itself and not open to the values of the spirit and to God who is their source, could achieve apparent success, for man can set about organizing terrestrial realities without God. But “closed off from God, they will end up being directed against man. A humanism closed off from other realities becomes inhuman.” (45)
“True humanism points the way toward God and acknowledges the task to which we are called, the task which offers us the real meaning of human life. Man is not the ultimate measure of man. Man becomes truly man only by passing beyond himself. In the words of Pascal: ‘Man infinitely surpasses man.” (46)”
One of the reasons I quote this section in its entirety is that it is difficult for me to know just what this “full-bodied humanism” is, since it seems, like other parts of this religious dogma, somewhat self-contradictory in that “man becomes truly man only by passing beyond himself,” which sounds erudite without being well-defined or logical.
In a logical, rational world, humanism might be something as simple as being kind, thoughtful, honest, and benevolent toward all of mankind. Or it might be flawed, emotional, and prone to errors in judgment; a definition backed up by any honest study of Catholicism and its history. It might even mean empathetic toward others not within the same group, but, of course, this isn’t their concept of our best selves even though it’s mine and, in my estimation, that of Jesus of Nazareth before the Last Supper. Or it might be credulous, obedient, and willing to follow, even to murder, rape, and thievery, with faith and loyalty, which, again in my estimation, is the concept of our best selves shown by their God, Jehovah, but not the other two “aspects” of their Trinity. However, it seems to be none of these things.
By the two references in this passage, it appears I must move on into II. THE COMMON DEVELOPMENT OF MANKIND to get more clues to what they are talking about.
II. THE COMMON DEVELOPMENT OF MANKIND
Section 43: Introduction
Wow! On first blush, this is totally aligned with my own goals for mankind!! Quoting themselves, they say:
“Man must meet man, nation must meet nation, as brothers and sisters, as children of God. In this mutual understanding and friendship, in this sacred communion, we must also begin to work together to build the common future for the human race.”
I didn’t initially notice the “children of God” or the “sacred communion,”which I must have dismissed as superfluous window dressing. Of course, on reflection, they are the fly in the ointment, negating the basic thought of the brotherhood of man by re-framing it within Catholic concepts and control. The Cold War was not-so-cold warfare over which dogma rules the world: “under God” or “the dictatorship of the proletariat,” rather than simple, nonjudgmental brotherhood. It is precisely these additional qualifiers which transform the idea into a recipe for more strife.
Without qualifiers, we might have seen the Vietnamese and their two-century fight for self-determination without having to fight them over labels and rhetoric, without having to drop a massive amount of high explosives and toxic chemical defoliants on this poor country, and without doing massive physical, emotional and spiritual damage to my generation of Americans and Vietnamese alike.
Without qualifiers, we might not have invaded Iraq and exacerbated the killing and the strife. We might have actually seen the Iraqi people as they were but aren’t any more: the least threatening to us, a modern people with some of the most progressive attitudes within the Arab world with a thriving, well-educated middle class. And, of course, we might have spared this next generation on both sides the broken bodies and twisted spirits that urban warfare inflicted upon them.
And, without qualifiers, we might immediately see the plight of the North Korean people today without their leadership or their ostensible beliefs and dogmatic rhetoric getting in the way. We could be compassionate and we could stop trying to starve them into submission. We might even notice our double standard as we curse them for arming themselves with Weapons of Mass Destruction while we maintain a fleet of stealth submarines so armed a few hundred miles off their coastline and more of these gruesomely destructive devices all over the world, which, at our President’s discretion, are ready to turn this paradise into slag, rubble, and radiation as we salute our flag and pray to our God and praise ourselves for our own rectitude and virtuous (and self-aggrandizing) dogma.
Section 44: Three Major Duties
This section skips over a whole lot of stuff to (again) promote a set of rules that the nation of Vatican City, arguably the wealthiest nation (per capita) on the planet, hadn’t followed and didn’t follow during the following half century.
Furthermore, when it comes to nations helping nations, it always seems to devolve into a boondoggle of sorts rather than actual assistance. Were it not for the allowance for personal projects in the Peace Corps, that, too, might fall under the spell of politicians lining their own pockets or pursuing their own interests on both sides of this nation-to-nation transaction.
How much better it might be if people of the United States sponsored an American firm to fund and supervise the building of a water treatment, recycling, and distribution system in an area of Africa that needed it? Isn’t this far more helpful than 100 English teachers?? Whenever possible, local materials could be used. Local workers could gain new skills. Local people could get clean, disease-free water. We wouldn’t have to send so many doctors and nurses. And, if this resulted in some African infrastructure and expertise, it might even pave the way for Africans to help Africans and all sides to benefit.
Of course, what the overpopulated areas of Africa need most is a cheap way to end war and famine, the inevitable consequences of overpopulation. Gosh, if only there were another way to solve this problem?? Will stopping disease or nursing the sick back to health help? Will feeding them lead to abundance and self-sustainability? What could we possibly do to help these poor people adjust to the damage that we’ve created by climate change and find a way to sustain themselves and their communities? Birth control, perhaps??
Sections 45 and 46: Aid to Developing Nations
So this is what Pope Paul VI meant by “A Full-Bodied Humanism” in Section 42: food and clothing to overpopulated, underprivileged parts of the world? Up until recently, this body declared it a duty to overpopulate. Now, they’re declaring it an inalienable right. These celibate men want us to feed and clothe those in abject poverty that inevitably resulted from following this poor leadership? And STILL they cannot bring themselves to declare their “holy book” or themselves unsuitable to advise us while striving to ameliorate the conditions that will get worse if we acknowledge the “right” to procreate and the “duty” to feed and clothe the resulting overburdened families and communities so created. These men are not rational. This”moral leadership” which Paul VI offers is dysfunctional in that it creates more misery and suffering while robbing everyone but themselves of responsibility and self-respect.
As a temporary solution, gifts of food and clothing make a lot of sense. But the ONLY permanent solutions to the problem seem to be warfare, famine, or birth control. By limiting the choices to two, the church has, in the past, built its membership by forcing all “valid” marriages to be Catholic and all Catholic marriages to dedicate their children to Catholic teaching, and, then, by banning all forms of birth control but the rhythm method, they had a successful method of sustaining themselves as an organization without being able to procreate themselves. Now, by taking a moderated stand against birth control, enlightened Catholics (still against the advice of their Pontiff) IF they can persuade their own conscience, may be able to limit their families to a manageable size and frequency without being overburdened with repetitive childbearing or the increased costs in housing, feeding, and clothing a overly-large family.
Had the Church spent the money and resources of the last fifty years on family planning in the Third World instead of adding to the overpopulation problem by prolonging lives, the problem might have already been solved.
I understand how this kind of bind can happen, once you start following a “holy book” which, let’s face it, is dead wrong about slavery, sponsors violent and aggressive wars, and pretends God favors men over women, Jews over Gentiles, heterosexuals over homosexuals, and, after a change of heart, Christians over all others. The thinking is biased by the biases of the original authors, but the problem goes deeper yet, because the mistaken thinking of these authors cannot be openly acknowledged without discrediting Papal authority. Thus, the sound advice of “Be fruitful and multiply” in an underpopulated world persists long after it is obsolete. The prohibition against eating pork persists long after we can ensure against harmful diseases from eating it. And certain sects of Christianity still believe old advice made obsolete by medical science, old history made foolish by modern astronomy, geology, and paleontology, and old bigotry that never worked well in the first place except as an excuse to invade other lands and steal from them.
Section 47: A World of Free Men
Again, the Pope and his fellows surprise me with a liberal, almost socialist sentiment: “But these efforts, as well as public and private allocations of gifts, loans and investments, are not enough. It is not just a question of eliminating hunger and reducing poverty [and reducing population where needed], it is not just a question of fighting wretched conditions, though this is an urgent and necessary task. It involves building a human community where men can live truly human lives, FREE FROM DISCRIMINATION ON ACCOUNT OF RACE, RELIGION OR NATIONALITY, free from servitude to other men or to natural forces which they cannot yet control satisfactorily. It involves building a human community where liberty is not an idle word, where the needy Lazarus can sit down with the rich man at the same banquet table.(52)“
Here, buried in the middle of a paragraph and easily lost, is a revolutionary concept that went forward with the fall of the Berlin wall and the founding of the European Union but then faltered with Brexit and the US border wall!!
And again, if the Pope had only gone the whole way, condoned birth control and redacted the Church’s earlier promulgation of “be fruitful and multiply,” this would have been earth-shattering. As it was, I’m not sure it was even noticed by most of his billion followers in the Third World. It was done low-key, however, so as not to cause too much of a ruckus with their more conservative parishioners.
I don’t know how practical this is, but the Pope Paul VI’s vision of a miraculous future goes on: “On the part of the rich man, it calls for great generosity, willing sacrifice and diligent effort. Each man must examine his conscience, which sounds a new call in our present times. Is he prepared to support, at his own expense, projects and undertakings designed to help the needy? Is he prepared to pay higher taxes so that public authorities may expand their efforts in the work of development? Is he prepared to pay more for imported goods, so that the foreign producer may make a fairer profit? Is he prepared to emigrate from his homeland if necessary and if he is young, in order to help the emerging nations?”
It seems the Pope and his cardinals were channeling John F. Kennedy’s spirit and asking for more Peace Corps funding and volunteerism. For a while, many Americans embraced this idea of helping out others less blessed with abundance.
The fly in the ointment, as I see it, was the valuing of wealth over modest, hard-earned income. If you look at lotteries today, you get a glimpse into the values that motivate many, if not most, of us. People seem willing to wager significant amounts of money on the extremely small chance of becoming a millionaire. Wealth, in and of itself, is a goal which the population, as a whole, seems to value inordinately, even the poor among us. And unearned, unmerited wealth has even more allure to many than that accrued through work and personal economy.
We, as a society, even went so far as to elect a pacifist as our Commander in Chief. He negotiated a Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty and brokered peace in the Middle East, earning the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. But America then rejected him and fell for the television star who was going to “Make America Great Again,” and we went back to bullying smaller nations, throwing our weight around, enticing Iraq into invading Kuwait, and pursuing military might and invasion as a panacea.
We’ve been brainwashed as surely as if we lived in Moscow. We’ve been told incessantly that the solution to war is preemptive war; that the solution to violence is a massive, violent reaction; that the solution to a threat is an overwhelming counter-threat; and the way to world peace is the invasion of any country which opposes our leadership or disobeys our commands. And, no matter how often this doesn’t work, we stick to our guns and our bullying of smaller, weaker nations.
Section 48: A National Duty
This section charges the wealthier nations to help the developing nations. I guess some American thought our foreign aid was doing good, but the Middle East is now a powder keg and our invasions have managed to ruin the region into endless fighting and spread the discontent and enmity far and wide.
Section 49: Superfluous Wealth
“We must repeat that the superfluous goods of wealthier nations ought to be placed at the disposal of poorer nations….”
Without birth control, this is NOT such a good idea in that its long-term effect is to create permanent dependencies with populations too large to be self-sustaining. When the foreign country stops shipments (because of shortages at home; because of greater need elsewhere, because the leadership has done something to incur our national wrath, or due to many other possibilities) the situation is far worse than before and the locals far less prepared to deal with it.
We forced Japan to industrialize. Then, during the Depression and the Second World War, we stopped shipping them the needed raw materials, which led to invasions of Manchuria and China to gain access to the materials needed to maintain their army and their infrastructure. It’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s the same dynamics.
Section 50: Concerted Planning
Again I say, and it may not be the last time, FAMILY PLANNING is what will help poor and developing nations. If they have one or two children rather than five or six, they can send them to school longer and feed them better and give them better clothing and health care. Their neighborhoods might have a bit of extra time to help each other out rather than taking two or three jobs just to make ends meet, or (as a Mexican father of five and coworker of mine did) find a job in a foreign country just to sustain his family.
The only coordinated planning I have noticed in the many years since this was written seems to be coming out of China and it may be a mixed blessing.
As to the United States, any planning seems to be reversed in the next congressional or presidential election with massive interference to accomplishing any agenda in between as the new norm. The new normal in politics is rumor mongering and blacklisting opponents to the point where people representing, it turns out, the majority faction of electors (if not even a plurality of voters) in our last national election, are chanting “Lock Her Up” as they nominate their candidate and vilify the former First Lady and current Secretary of State because she made a mistake or two.
It seems that when we embraced the idea of being “the Greatest Nation on Earth,” we lost the ability to coexist peacefully, not only with other cultures, but even among ourselves. The realization that this slogan we’ve voted for is gained by bullying and abusing other, smaller, less wealthy nations still hasn’t occurred to many of us.
Section 51: A World Fund
The Papacy appears to me to call multinational groups like NATO a hold-over from the colonial period, but maybe my own opinion has shaded my reading of this section. Anyway, the Pope’s hope of friendly relationships between nations of the world, written in 1967, got a strong boost with the inauguration of Jimmy Carter as the 39th US President a decade later but were dashed by his defeat four years later by a screen actor with the slogan “Make America Great Again.” Reagan repudiated SALT II and ramped up the military machine. His successor and Vice President initiated hostilities in the Middle East by conning the Iraqi dictator into attacking our colony, Kuwait, and then initiating a massive troop incursion into Saudi Arabia to drive him back. The reasons for the Kuwait-Iraqi hostilities were never divulged to the American people (Kuwait was stealing Iraqi oil by slant-drilling and selling it cheaply to America) nor did they know that Kuwait was a traditional deep water port of Iraq stolen by England after World War I.
This section states, “[When countless millions are starving, destitute, and ignorant and need hospitals and homes], we cannot but condemn lavish displays of public and private expenditures of a wasteful nature; we cannot but condemn lavish displays of wealth by nations or individuals; we cannot approve a debilitating arms race. It is Our solemn duty to speak out against them. If only world leaders would listen to Us, before it is too late!”
It talks about fear and stubborn pride and expresses the hope that a world fund would ameliorate these tendencies.
Unfortunately, there’s been a divergence. A great number of people from all over the world have dedicated their lives or the remainder of their lives to helping others. But a greater number have dedicated their lives or the remainder of their lives to getting obscenely rich and these include a good number of poor people getting poorer by playing lotteries and slot machines and gambling on sporting events and rich people ruining local economies by buying foreign-made goods and undercutting the prices of locally-made products, by moving factories overseas with less regulation and cheaper labor, and by buying political favors with massive campaign contributions. And there are a few of us that fit both descriptions: taking from their employees and customers with one hand and dispensing help and donations with the other.
I don’t know about how other countries might react to some international superfund for helping poor and developing nations, but the US policy toward it would most likely be erratic and ineffective. Our political will changes fairly quickly and has never been as unstable as it now is, sitting on the edge of another civil war if things get more antagonistic between a coalition of gun enthusiasts, Bible thumpers, wealthy heirs and neauveaux riche and their moderately-wealthy business and fund managers, along with poor Appalachian ex coal miners and out-of-work assembly-line workers, against the slight simple majority of us city folk on the East and West edges of our nation, we might not be able to live up to our name.
The “American” (meaning “from the US”) idea of fairness and fair play isn’t balanced or equitable, either. We’re boycotting the nation of North Korea for making and testing a few Nuclear devices when we’ve had them in the Pacific Ocean 200 miles off their shore for decades – and we used these damnable weapons of mass destruction against the people of two Japanese cities, not too far from their shores, back in 1945! We have a warped and contradictory idea of world justice and we’ve consistently used violence when nonviolence would have been far more effective and far less costly. (Just compare the total cost of invading Iraq versus the diplomacy of getting our 500 hostages back from Iran and the success of each in saving money and lives while promoting peace and good will.)
Section 54: Dialogue Between Nations
This section assumes a lot of good will on the part of donor and recipient nations that history and current events just doesn’t support. A number of the poor African countries are run by greedy men who use the largess of other nations to manipulate their population while others just take it from the people who were supposed to receive it and store or sell it.
I like the idealism here, but in practical terms, nation-to-nation aid rarely reaches its intended targets. Instead gutsy volunteers get a fair amount of aid through the nets of greed and corruption with unscheduled armed convoys in the night.
Again, this isn’t solving the problem of world hunger but merely holding it at bay while the human population continues to grow past local environments’ capacity to sustain the population.
Section 55: An Urgent Task
The call (again) is to help the needy. We are asked to encourage them to take steps for their own betterment, but (again) the step most effective and most needed is still not endorsed or even condoned by the Pope and his fellows in the Vatican.
Section 57: Growing Distortion
The Pope decries the fast-growing prices of industrial products against the erratic returns on agricultural products and raw materials which the non-industrialized countries have to export. I suppose this is a problem, but when England wanted Chinese tea and silk but the Chinese didn’t develop a taste for English wool or mutton, there was still a problem, solved by English gunboats forcibly opening opium dens in key Chinese cities by force.
Against this declaration, I might point out that the US consistently imports more value in goods and services than it exports, the significant difference maintained by a large, pushy, and well-armed Navy all over the rest of the world, the short-sighted selfishness of American consumers, and lots of available credit.
Frankly, the reality is much worse than the Pope envisions and involves a clandestine secret continuation of the colonial policies Pope Alexander VI started when, in 1493, he divided the New World in half for Spain and Portugal to colonize and expand the influence of the Catholic Church.
If you look at where we fought the “Cold War” and where we didn’t; if you realize that these fights weren’t cold or less bloody than the previous clashes in the Third World during WWI, WWII, and the Korean War; it suddenly becomes obvious that colonialism didn’t stop at all but was justified by our side claiming they were fighting for freedom against Communist oppression and their side fighting for the working class against our “Imperialism.” In this way both sides could explain unilateral invasions and surrogate wars without actually fighting the supposed enemy. We attacked Vietnam temporarily cut in half by our NATO allies but, at the same time, failed to aid the country of Hungary which had recently voted to secede from the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact. When our “enemy,” North Vietnam, became an ally in the Cold War by opposing Communist expansion, we remained silent and didn’t even note the obvious flaw in our justifications for killing several million people and tens of thousands of our own for no good reason other than continuing to dupe the electorate into supporting a powerful standing military force in what otherwise would have been peacetime. All during the Cold War, and even now, we have massive troops in the countries of Germany, Japan, and South Korea. (see graph of 2017 US troop deployments)
Section 58: Free Trade Concept Inadequate
Again we run into the concept of what the Papacy calls “Liberalism” and I call Libertarianism. The argument presented is that free trade isn’t fair to non-industrialized countries.
Having been the son of a man that worked for the International Labour Organization for five or six years and was a specialist in training and employment, I got a unique view of this problem when I visited Thailand and Laos with him. Thailand, (with a hot, humid climate) had, at that time, a 100% tariff on refrigerators! Yet there were STILL no refrigerators made in Thailand. They wanted someone in Thailand to start making these marvelous devices, but there were problems associated with the undertaking, the most pressing being raw materials and trained and motivated labor and management.
At the time, the US had a gigantic military presence there which they used as an adjunct to their colonial war in nearby Vietnam. This real estate has since been ceded back to Thailand Thais were extremely nationalistic and wary of their rich and powerful “protector.” Burma invaded Thailand and occupied Chang Mia for a year or two – two and a half centuries ago – and the average Thai is STILL angry at them!
Japan leapt across this industrialization gap, but she was dependent upon international trade. Two World Wars and a worldwide depression interrupted and disrupted international commerce. Her solution was, as we know, to invade Manchuria and China; to seize those resources needed to sustain her modern economy and, later; to submit to being a neo-colony of the United States, a condition that still exists today.
I wish this were as simplistic as the Pope would have us believe, but it isn’t. Thailand has trouble getting their Buddhist population to open businesses for themselves. If you look at Thailand seriously, you begin to realize that an inordinate percentage of their businesses are not owned by people of Thai descent, but by immigrant families from India and China. I believe this is because the Buddhist culture in Thailand is far more compassionate and doesn’t instill the necessary greed and aggressiveness needed for entrepreneurship. I also know this because I possess those same flaws in my own character and, while having been forced into several businesses of my own, made more money but didn’t like being an entrepreneur.
Furthermore, in a trip to Vientiane, Laos, with Dad, we saw lots of small entrepreneurships, but localized by lack of infrastructure: banks, roads, railroads, shipping lines, trade schools, colleges, and advertising to expand brand recognition out of local markets. Modern economies are complicated. They don’t just spring up through an international effort, clearly present in the International Labour Organization, a subsidary of the United Nations.
I suppose some of what they’re saying in this section is true. The US military and the US foreign service are active partners with our industry in today’s economy. I’m not sure how you pin this down with facts or figures, but I know England didn’t gain a huge “Commonwealth” without a lot of military and political shenanigans as well as outright brutality. And how much of today’s “success” by the U.S. is due to hard work and industry and how much is due to unfair and underhanded manipulation is hard to figure.
Section 59-60: Justice at Every Level
Again we find the argument against a Libertarian stance: that economic justice isn’t the same as free trade and the dictatorship of a market economy. In this argument I find myself in alliance with the Pope.
We’ve mostly agreed that monopolies create an unfair advantage in business transactions. Monopolies and virtual monopolies are becoming the norm in today’s economy.
DeBeers held a monopoly in the worldwide diamond marketplace for almost two centuries, but recently their control of raw and cut diamond markets have fallen to non-monopoly levels. Still, the price hasn’t really fallen much and has reached new heights since the actual monopoly was broken. I maintain that a virtual monopoly still exists in a de facto cartel of diamond producers; that the entire economy is becoming a cartel of sorts. This is due to the widespread use of stock to diversify ownership through subsidiary company ownership and international mutual funds. Now, there is a consortium of “owners” who have stock and then there are workers and consumers and independent suppliers.
We no longer have a free market when it comes to wholesale prices on manufactured goods. If I want to make a cordless drill, I must make and market it so that Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Ace Hardware will sell it in all their stores. Otherwise, I might as well close up my factory. And these three will tell me what they will pay me wholesale for certain capabilities and for brand recognition. I don’t really have much negotiation power. They can easily close me out of all stores if I don’t meet their demands.
And these three regularly adjust what they’re doing based on what the other two are doing, each specializing in a particular market niche and not really competing with each other. Furthermore, they are owned by the same people through diversified stock portfolios and mutual funds, so there is no incentive to start any price wars.
Manufacturers are forced to accept a dependent position to retailers. Employees either accept wages and perquisites offered by the three giants or go into a different retail market. There is no real competition there either. The three don’t dare deviate from the “norm” established after the regional hardware/lumber chains were killed off by massive investment and advertising by these “giants.”
This, I argue, is a new type of monopoly which exists because of a monopoly of capital by a small segment of the population. Just like the “have” and “have-not” nations of the world, there are the “have” and “have-not” people of the world and, while one may argue that there are many “self-made” millionaires, I argue that this happens, more often than not, through unequal and unfair power, unequal and unfair transactions, and unequal and unfair justice.
Section 61: One Standard for All
This section talks about just and fair trade transactions between rich and poor nations.
It is really pussy-footing around colonialism and its bullying of weaker nations. Let’s call a spade a spade.
The First World War found the Kaiser with German aspirations for empire vs the British Empire with India, Australia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Bermuda, Scotland, Northern Ireland, etc, the French with their colonies in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, the Belgians with the Belgian Congo, the Spanish with their colonies, the Portuguese with their colonies and areas of influence, and the decaying Ottoman Empire ripe for the taking. This made up a juicy and lucrative plum all participants were eager to pick or defend.
The Second World War was something of a repeat of the first. The Führer and the AXIS powers took on the winners of World War I with their additional territories and colonies.
The Korean War was the winners of WWII (Russia and the United States) BOTH scrambling to grab as much territory as possible.
The many wars in Vietnam were all about acquiring or reacquiring this colonial territory ruled by China by about two centuries but which had a long history of being a united sovereign nation which may have dated all the way back to 2879 BC. The French had colonial dealings in “French Indochina” which started, as was often the case, with missionaries, but escalated to full-scale military operations during the time of Napoleon. The Japanese occupied a northern section of Vietnam for the purpose of stopping the Chinese from importing fuel and arms. The French tried to reassert their territorial rights after World War II, but ended up dividing up the country into North and South and then leaving. The United States saw this ripe plum left on the tree and, fixated on the “Cold War” competition with the USSR and China over controlled territory, started sending “advisers” and arms to the Francophile Catholic elites that had temporary control of the almost totally Buddhist South Vietnam. After we had exhausted ourselves fighting a civil war in which the majority, even in the south, were either against us or indifferent and for a government which wasn’t “of the people, by the people, or for the people”, we left. Shortly after this, Chinese Communists tried to reassert their old control and were ALSO beaten.
The Iraq involvement started with the British establishing the colony of Kuwait at the site of a deep water port on the Persian Gulf near known oil deposits just after the end of World War I, taking what had traditionally been part of Iraq away from people who had been allies during the war. Much later, Kuwait, having depleted its own reserves, started stealing Iraqi oil by extensive slant drilling under their border with Iraq. Our ambassador lied to Saddam Hussein and pretended that we were neutral in this dispute between neighbors, but when Hussein invaded this artificial construct on his southeast border, we defended with half a million US troops. After this, we harassed Iraq for ten years with “no fly zones” and other violations of their sovereignty. And, finally, we invaded unilaterally, gaining another foreign territory in which to station troops and expend American material and manpower!
The Afghanistan invasions, both Communist and US, and just about every war before or since have been about subjugating other nations in order to make lots of money for the wealthy, help ordinary people feel superior to everyone else and entitled to extra perquisites, and, behind the scenes, launder tax money and stolen property into the pockets of the rich and powerful, increasing their wealth and power.
- This is why all parties to the 2016 Presidential election used various versions of “Great” in their slogans and why Jimmy Carter lost his bid for a second term to a mediocre actor, snake oil salesman, and idologue. (Sorry, Reagan fans, but if you can point to any actual success and find facts to support this “greatness,” I’d like to hear about it. As far as I know, he sold energy inefficient and expensive “all electric” homes and dishonest myths about the Old West, he betrayed the Screen Actors Guild and was kicked out, he violated human rights as Governor of California, he sponsored an illegal and immoral Nicaraguan insurrection in order to destabilize a duly-elected but socialist foreign government, and violated a ban on arms sales to Iran to do it and let his subordinates take the hit. His “trickle-down” gift to the wealthy flowed out of our country to places with cheaper labor, cheaper raw materials and fewer environmental regulations and added more reasons to have massive overseas military operations. His deregulation and appointment of cabinet officers antagonistic to their roles led quickly and inexorably to massive abuses which bankrupted California and many retirement funds and eventually led to the “too big to fail” bank bailout and the current opiate crisis. His heavy-handed tactics broke the back of the labor movement in this country. And, of course, his repudiation of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty has created a more perilous world for everyone.)
The armed invasion of the western hemisphere was legalized and sanctified by Papal decrees such as this one, so it isn’t surprising that the Vatican wasn’t about to go all out in condemning the bullying of the Third World that’s been going on ever since. Yes, it was going on before as well, but not as much and not as often.
I’m not sure even the Roman Empire that stretched into England had as much of its economic engine invested in world dominance as the United States today. The United States taxpayers are funding more than 35% of the World’s warfare budget! (see Recent Analysis of US Troop allocations and expenditures) The United States’ inaccurately named “Defense Department” spends more per year on death, destruction, and instruments, training and manpower to create more of the same than the next seven countries combined!! We’ve stationed about a hundred thousand troops in Germany, Japan, and Korea and have kept them there for well over half a century. We’ve got troops occupying Puerto Rico, Guam, Guantanamo Bay, Okinawa, the Marshall Islands, and everywhere else we’ve “won” the “right” to station them. We invade other countries frequently and violate their sovereignty even more often, taking “rights” that we don’t allow others, such as owning and using Weapons of Mass Destruction and establishing “no fly” zones in Iraq. We’ve even scattered Claymore mines all over the Third World where they, to this day, indiscriminately blow the legs off innocent children because they are so good at hidden, indiscriminate violence. And we complain about IEDs causing us problems as we invade and occupy other less advanced nations for spurious reasons and with disastrous results for all parties involved. Except for the ghouls of war, those profiting from death and destruction, there are no winners anymore. Warfare in today’s world is a lose-lose proposition for the vast majority of people on both sides and has been for some time.
I think it is safe to say that this problem called “one standard for all” is a lot bigger than seems merited by being 61st on the list.
What would “one standard for all” look like?
- No nuclear weapons or everyone has them?
- No invasions or anyone can invade anyone for (pick valid reasons):
- Genocide or validated examples of genocide?
- Establish democracy? (show me ONE example)
- Make the world safe? (ditto)
- Establish or protect Freedom? (ditto)
- Establish ownership rights, trading rights, etc.?
- Reassert ownership rights, trading rights, etc.?
- Establish trade or trade balance?
- (eg: opium wars; Adm. Perry in 1852-1854)
- Establish shipping, shipping routes, trading centers?
- Protect shipping, shipping routes?
- Establish economic, legal, military control of a foreign region?
Well, I’m going way beyond what this Encyclical is talking about, but please bear with me for a bit.
If it is appropriate for us to have troops and silos in Germany, Japan, Korea, and Italy; if nuclear weapons 200 miles off North Korea’s shoreline are appropriate, what single standard might work? What’s our beef with North Korea?? Or Iran?? Or Iraq?? What is the REAL justification for a double standard?
Mutually-Assured-Destruction is a policy which is foolish and irresponsible.
For 60 or 70 years now, might has NOT made right (if it ever did before). Unfair and unbalanced trade bolstered by invasions and threats of invasions hasn’t worked well for anyone except the military and the profiteers surrounding, supporting, and controlling both the military and our two major political parties.
Sorry, dear reader, I guess I got a bit carried away, but if we’re going to ask the world to treat each other better, banning nuclear weapons, land mines, and ALL foreign invasions might be an appropriate precursor to fair trade agreements.
I’ve got nothing against fair trade. It’s just that, in our colonies, wealthy people have invested in creating sources for goods and services that got nationalized in places like Cuba and Libya when we lost control of the region. So, the wealthy can make vast amounts of money from a relatively small investment AS LONG AS their ownership rights are backed against nationalization. This is precisely why our “defense” (offense) budget is so high.
You’ll hear nonsense like “socialism is just as bad as communism.” The profiteers of the colonial system rely on being backed by our military to sustain their profits. From their point of view, nationalization is theft and socialists are essentially criminals and thugs. Thus, except for his closing of the brothels and his nationalization of the radio stations and certain highly-profitable monopolies in Cuba, Castro was little different from his predecessor, Fulgencio Battista, but our attitude toward Castro and his country has been antagonistic and intransigent.
This is the ugly underbelly of unfair trade and the heart of the problem.
Do we respect and/or enforce ownership rights across national borders? As the wealthy pool their resources in an increasing monopoly of the means of production, labor rates, market places, media, and the electoral debate, the needs and rights of individuals and nations take a back seat to the system of institutionalized greed which runs almost everything and influences us hourly.
Section 62-63: The Obstacles of Nationalism … and Racism
Section 64: Hopes for the Future
Section 65: The Artisans of Destiny
Section 66: Worldwide Brotherly Love
Section 67: Welcoming the Stranger
Section 70: A Social Sense
Section 71: Development Missions
Section 72: The Role of Experts
Section 73: Service to the World
Section 74: An Appeal to Youth
Section 75: Prayer and Action
Section 76: Development, the New Name for Peace
Section 78: Toward an Effective World Authority
Section 79: Hope for the Future
Section 80: A Final Appeal
Section 81: To Catholics
Section 82: To Other Christians and Believers
Section 83: To All Men of Good Will
Section 84: To Government Authorities
Section 85: To Thoughtful Men
Section 86-87: To All Promoters of Development
The idea here is that the world will become helpful to each other and invested in supporting mutual prosperity without regard to personal reward or benefit. During the age of flower children and Woodstock and John Lennon’s Imagine, and anti-war protestors in the US and all the way up until 1980 and the crushing defeat of Jimmy Carter by the man who promised us a return to “greatness,” this may have seemed a real possibility.
Today, in a world of drugs, systematic greed, selfishness, synicism, pseudo-realities, and pervasive simulated warfare (if not actual warfare), this seems more like a pipedream.
There are some worthwhile ideas in this 50-year-old manuscript. If these men had been divorced from their dogma and their predecessors and free to be apolitical and neutral towards religion, it might have done a lot of good.
Had these learned men dedicated themselves to fixing the ongoing cycles of pedophilia and molestation within their own house through support and rehabilitation on both sides rather than endless cycles of avoidance, cover-ups, forgiveness and absolution, they might also have been worthy of their calling.
And had they condoned and supported birth control as a way of freeing their congregations to pursue helping others and living within their available means, this might have done wonders for the world in those intervening 50 years.
I am convinced these men meant well. But their dogmatic religious views were far too powerful in the Third World and their changes too little, too late, and too ambiguous to do anyone much good except in the United States where Catholics were already somewhat emancipated from the duty to create as many Catholic children as possible. And history shows, regrettably, that they continued the widespread tradition of covering up and forgiving ongoing sexual crimes against children within their organization.
©David N. Dodson, Phoenix, AZ, 2019
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