It's a hopeful sign that The Council for Justice and Peace note "reform of the international financial system with a view toward a general public Authority" is getting a good amount of press. The Vatican has again added its voice to those calling (some from the streets) for a return of ethics and political oversight to the titanic power of financial institutions that have grown beyond political control after decades of deregulation and technological innovation. And yes, the Vatican does stand with the "basic sentiment" of the protesters on Wall Street and around the world.
Most coverage has focused on the document's call for a global governmental authority through which the global community can "steer its institutions towards achieving the common good." It is true, as George Weigel has sputtered out between angry outbursts of "rubbish, rubbish, rubbish!" that this document has a low level of authority.
YOU ARE NOT A GADGET: A MANIFESTO
By Jaron Lanier
Published by Vintage, $15
What can the fact that all computer music sounds the same tell us about what Facebook and Wikipedia are doing to us? In this engaging and accessible “manifesto” Jaron Lanier pursues such questions (and the communication abilities of octopuses as well!) to call attention to the choices and consequences of technological design.
In Caritas in Veritate, Benedict honors Paul VI's Populorum Progressio as the "Rerum Novarum of the present age" and takes up his own responsibility to bring Catholic social thought to bear in a much changed economic and political landscape.
The title expresses Benedict's distinctive concerns. He proposes caritas as a virtue with the moral, intellectual, and political force desperately needed in our globalizing world. Caritas -- grounded in God's Trinitarian life -- impels us to seek the good of the other. Just as God refuses to leave humanity suffering in its sinful state, so charity prevents us from accepting the myriad ways that our economies dehumanize and despoil. Just as God saves humankind within history, so charity impels us to realize the positive potential of economic life for human communion and mutual flourishing.
The images out of Notre Dame are similar to what transpired at Georgetown when President Obama spoke here: students were enthusiastic to hear from a president whose election was both a watershed moment in American history and a turn from the destructive and divisive politics of the recent past, while angry protesters at the gates denounced a betrayal of Georgetown's Catholic character.
If their apocalyptic shouts win no converts their cause, they are still quite successful in equating abortion with the sum total of Catholic concern about public life. The president had come to Georgetown to discuss his economic vision and policies. These were an enormous improvement over the market fundamentalism that has brought us to our current crisis and much closer to Catholic Social teaching, if not beyond critique. This central Catholic concern was once again obscured by what a colleague has called "the abortionification" of Catholicism.