Thursday, July 11, 2013

More Catholic News: Lumen Fidei as Benedict's Final Encyclical, UN Puts Pressure on Vatican re: Abuse Crisis

More items about Catholic issues in the news right now:

First, on Sunday, I linked to a recent posting by Colleen Baker at her Enlightened Catholicism site about the recent encyclical on faith co-authored by Popes Benedict and Francis. As I noted, Colleen characterizes the encyclical as "in reality Pope Benedict's final encyclical."

And here's English theologian Tina Beattie on the same theme, in The Tablet:

Lumen Fidei is the first encyclical to be promulgated under the name of Pope Francis, but this is an act of papal ventriloquism. In style and content this is undoubtedly Pope Benedict's last and possibly greatest encyclical - deeply problematic though it is in places.
It asks to be read, not as the first encyclical of a pastoral Pope who represents the advent of global Catholicism, but as the last intellectual flourish of a European papacy insulated from the complex realities of modernity by its baroque institutions. Beautifully crafted and erudite, it is an eloquent and fitting elegy to that great tradition. It is also highly idealistic about the Church and deeply pessimistic about post-Enlightenment western society which is the focus of its concerns - its author being apparently oblivious or indifferent to the world beyond that context which has already taken the Vatican by storm. It is preoccupied not with the challenge of injustice, violence and poverty, but with the existential nihilism of a culture that has turned its back on God. In addition to great theologians such as Augustine, Aquinas, Gregory the Great and Cardinal Newman, it cites Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Martin Buber, Dante, Dostoyevsky and TS Eliot; it celebrates the achievement of Gothic architecture and the great cathedrals, and it shows little if any concern for those outside that European tradition, nor for those who beg on the pavements and languish in the prisons and refugee centres of Europe's increasingly divided societies. One searches almost in vain for the hand of the Argentinian pastor whose signature it bears.

For a discussion of Beattie's article (with a reminder that the University of San Diego rescinded a fellowship invitation to her last year due to her support of marriage equality), see this Commonweal thread started by Grant Gallicho.

And second, as Chris Morley has noted in several valuable comments here in the past two days, the United Nations's Committee on the Rights of the Child is now putting pressure on the Vatican to release precise information and documents detailing how Catholic officials have dealt with the abuse of minors around the world. Here's Owen Boycott in The Guardian:

Shortly after becoming pope, Francis announced that he had urged the Vatican to deal with the problem. A spokesman said in April that the church would "act decisively in sex abuse cases, above all promoting measures to protect minors, assistance for all those who in the past suffered such violence, [and] necessary measures against the guilty". 
The CRC has been pressing the Vatican for greater disclosure over the issue of clerical abuse for years. Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests said last month: "The fact that a UN committee has called the Vatican to account for its record on children's rights, including the right to be free from sexual violence and exploitation, is giving survivors all over the world hope."

As Alessandro Speciale of Religion News Service (by way of National Catholic Reporter) notes, the response of the Vatican to the request of the UN CRC "will show how Pope Francis wants to handle an issue that has deeply scarred the Catholic church's image in the past decade." I expect that many people will be watching this response very carefully for a signal of how or whether the current pope will come to terms with the abuse crisis in the church, after his continuation of the canonization process for John Paul II calls into question, for some of us, his intent to make good on his words about dealing decisively with this issue.

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