First up, George Weigel's piece in the National Review.
Weigel rightfully points out that this document is a hodge-podge from the Justice and Peace Commission. Consider this statement:
Those with advanced degrees in Vaticanology could easily go through the text of Caritas in Veritate, highlighting those passages that are obviously Benedictine with a gold marker and those that reflect current Justice and Peace default positions with a red marker. The net result is, with respect, an encyclical that resembles a duck-billed platypus.
Very clever. But it is not irrelevant - he is pointing out that in this one document we can see the hermeneutic of rupture clashing with the hermeneutic of continuity. I think he got it entirely right when he speaks of the processes that went into making this encyclical and calls out the irrationality of the Vatican placing any sort of hope in a world authority:
And another Justice and Peace favorite — the creation of a “world political authority” to ensure integral human development — is revisited, with no more insight into how such an authority would operate than is typically found in such curial fideism about the inherent superiority of transnational governance. (It is one of the enduring mysteries of the Catholic Church why the Roman Curia places such faith in this fantasy of a “world public authority,” given the Holy See’s experience in battling for life, religious freedom, and elementary decency at the United Nations. But that is how they think at Justice and Peace, where evidence, experience, and the canons of Christian realism sometimes seem of little account.)
Okay George, so I am convinced that this document is a hybrid, confusing disaster. Now what? Well, Weigel doesn't tell us that. He just pleasantly reminds us that this document is a muddle, that some parts of it are "naive or dumb," but doesn't give us any hint as to what we are to do with it. Some have criticized Weigel for parcing the document into sections that can be accepted and sections that can be discarded, taking a cafeteria-style approach to the encyclical based on his economic tastes. I don't think he does that in this article. He is right to point out the committee-style format and also right in not making any drastic calls on his own authority to accept or reject this encyclical. So I give Weigel's review a thumbs up.
Next up, Phil Lawler's comments at Catholic Culture.
Phil Lawler basically reiterates what Weigel said, but adds an important aspect that Wiegel left out: despite the fact that this is obviously some chop-shop production of a committee, at the end of the day, Benedict has signed off on it and it cannot be ignored or explained away based on the fact that he didn't literally write all of it:
Whether or not he drafted every sentence himself (and clearly he did not), Pope Benedict signed his name to the encyclical, and gave it the authority of his teaching office. We know that the Holy Father did not do this lightly. He rejected earlier drafts of the document. He allowed the project to slip behind schedule, even to the point of embarrassment. He was evidently determined to wait until he had a document that satisfied him. Caritas in Veritate satisfied him.
This is the only notable contribution to the discussion made by Lawler, except for this laughable quote from the British Lord Brian Griffiths:
Despite heavy competition from some of the world’s finest minds, it is without doubt the most articulate, comprehensive and thoughtful response to the financial crisis that has yet appeared.
Most articulate? Lawler seems to agree with Lord Griffith's assertion, which I find incomprehensible. Thumbs down for Lawler for just restating everything Weigel said and endorsing the statement of this British dufus.
Next on the chop block, Cathy Lynn Grossman's piece in USA Today entitled "Pope calls for 'God-centered' global economy."
At least Grossman understood what this encyclical is actually about instead of just ruminating on how it got produced and why. She mentions the encyclical is "theologically dense", which is much closer to the mark than Lord Griffith's claim that it is "articulate and thoughtful."
Her article has a pretty comprehensive run-down of the pertinent points of the encyclical, including the statements condemning demographic control and an "anti-birth" mentality. But when dealing with the issues surrounding the document's controversial "redistribution of wealth" statements, she turns to Fr. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit (uh-oh) professor at Georgetown to interpret them for us. Not surprisingly, Fr. Reese interprets these statements in the most socialist, left-leaning manner possible, arguing that redistribution of wealth means, well, simply, socialist redistribution of wealth, and tries to assert that this is now something that must be adhered to with Catholic obedience:
"Strong language here on the redistribution of wealth — not something people like to talk about in the USA. If the Catholic right is against the redistribution of wealth, they're against the pope. He doesn't believe an unregulated marketplace is going to solve all the problems of economy and poverty."
Amusing to see a Jesuit these days lecturing the "Catholic right" about obedience to the pope! However, Fr. Reese is not being logically inconsistent in assuming that redistribution of wealth means simply what it says - it is more truthful than the neocon pundits who are trying to assert that Benedict's "vision" for "redistribution of wealth" is actually different from liberal redistribution of wealth. The context of the encyclical makes it clear that they are the same thing.
Grossman's article does mention the world political authority, but also reminds us that Benedict envisions this authority "as simple and local as possible." It's good that she points this out, but it is naieve to imagine a true world authority that would be anything other than a stifling, top-heavy bureaucracy.
Reluctant thumbs up for Grossman's article, even though it is dull and just a rehash of what the encyclical states. At least she and her sources are honest about what the thing says.
Next, Lewis McCrary's article "Is the Pope for New World Order?" in American Conservative, available here.
McCrary's article attempts to reconcile everything in CV with previous papal statements, and the result is a dishonest and ignorant mess. First, he claims that despite the fact that CV calls for a one world authority, we are misconstruing what he means. He is not, according to this article, asking for some New World Order government, but is asking for an empowered and effective United Nations:
The need for global cooperation is argued for in the context of existing institutions such as the United Nations...it is hard to argue with the assertion that - as long as it remains the primary institutional means for global cooperation - the UN should be more effective in helping resolve pressing cross-border issues.
So, the Pope does not want a New World Order, just a more empowered and effective UN. My question is: What's the difference? It's the same concept.
McCrary adheres to a mentality that I found disturbing in the encyclical - the tacit acceptance of globalism as a fait accompli. The statement "as long as it remains the primary institutional means for global cooperation " presupposes that it is even good to have a secular institution of global cooperation, which may not be the case. I do not agree with Mr. McCrary that the UN should be more effective - I think it should be abolished.
So the Church, according to McCrary, is seeking a global authority, perhaps from some existing structure, that "has wider legitimacy." He brings up the fact that the United States is the only de facto "world authority", and then says that we have been very ineffective in promoting democracy around the world and in the Middle East. For McCrary, this is justification for calling for a world authority with "greater legitimacy", but for me it is an example of why we shouldn't have any global authority.
McCrary then goes on to argue that this authority is indeed necessary, for (quoting CV), without it "despite great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations." I say so what? No matter what, the balance of power will always be swayed by the strongest nations - that is the way of the world. Nor is it unjust - the stronger nations should have more of a say than some inconsequential, loser banana-republic. Furthermore, who has the authority to level out the national inequalities? Does an international authority gain legitimacy and authority just by virtue of being global? Balance of power has worked tolerably well in past and has preserved sovereignty. International balance of power is the equivalent of checks and balances and is necessary to prevent the kind of global tyranny that McCrary seems to be endorsing.
Like other commentators, McCrary seems to see no problem with the UN expanding its scope of operations and authority so long as it is "limited by the principle of subsidiarity."
There's some more of this bull-bleep in McCrary's article, some whining about the power of the G8 and the excessive power of the strongest nations...for the American Conservative it sounds like a bunch of progressive complaining. Look, there is nothing wrong with there being strong nations and weak nations. There is no inherent global equality, just like there is no inherent individual social equality when it comes to how we will all function and live in the world. I like the fact that I live in a powerful country. There is nothing wrong with wanting your country to be powerful - the things I advocate for our own country are things I think would make it stronger. The only problem is if your country abuses its power, which we certainly have in the past - but these people treat the very fact that we have power as an abuse of power in itself.
McCrary concludes his article by making two extraordinarily naive statements [my comments]:
How seriously one takes this claim of injustice is no doubt influenced by one’s perspective. Today a thoughtful friend remarked to me that the inclusion of the “world political authority” paragraph is evidence that the Pope has become a misguided utopian dreamer; he is living in a bubble, my interlocutor remarked, clueless as to the potential dangers of large-scale tyranny [and he is right to be alarmed]. But we must consider that perhaps it is we Americans who are living in a bubble. After all, it’s easy for Americans to dismiss the claim that other peoples of less firepower and economic might should have a seat at the table when America is already the de facto “world political authority" [in other words, we are prejudiced to be wary of a one world government and should not worry about preserving our own autonomy].
So I guess if you are worried about a large-scale tyranny you are living in a bubble. My question to Mr. McCrary is that in a world when large-scale tyranny is ever more possible and is even called for by persons in high places, how can you justify not be concerned about it?
There is a danger that, taken out of context, this language could be used to support some kind of global tyranny. But a closer reading of Caritas demonstrates that more international solidarity is not necessarily a recipe for a global Leviathan, particularly if it is conditioned by the Church’s formulation of subsidiarity.
Hahaha! And of course, NOBODY has ever taken a post-Conciliar document out of context, have they? After all, the Vatican has spoken and nobody would DARE presume to misintepret anything the Vatican says, right? No, we don't need to be worried about that! Hahaha...don't know whether to laugh or cry.
McCrary's article gets a thumbs down.
This next one is by far the worst and most dishonest, from John-Henry Westen of Life Site News. His article is entitled "Pope's New Encyclical Speaks Against, not for, One-World Government." Really? That's funny, because in paragraph 67 CV says:
To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food, security and peace; guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration; for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago.
"There is urgent need for a true world political authority." Okay, so according to Westen we are supposed to believe that what the Pope is really saying is that he does not want a world political authority despite saying there is "urgent need" for one?
Westen says, "The Holy Father differentiates his concept of a world political authority from that of a one world government." Same stupid distinction as in McCrary's article. As if we who are opposed to a "one world government" will suddenly be in favor of a "true world authority," as if they are two diametrically opposed concepts.
According to Westen, the distinction lies in the fact that the Pope's ideal "true world authority" will be marked by subsidiarity, as the Pope says in paragraph 41 of CV, where he talks about the importance of the State, saying that the role of the State "is not redundant" and actually "seems destined to grow." Therefore, according to Westen, this is not a one world government. It is a true world authority, made up of a union of states practicing subsidiarity.
Well, this is definitely a straw man argument. Essentially, Westen says, "The Pope is not calling for an authoritarian, centralized one world government. He is calling for a federal union of states, a true world authority, marked by subsidiarity. And that is ok." It is a straw man argument because nobody is arguing against the encyclical based on fears of a centralized, authoritarian global government - we are arguing against it based on fears of any global authority, authoritarian or democratic, central or federal, based on subsidiarity or otherwise. No global political authority. Period.
And by the way, I don't think the idea of the power of the States being "destined to grow" is a great idea either.
Is Westen really asking us to believe that a federal world government would be any better than a centralized one? The problem with a world government lies not in what kind of world government it is, but the fact that it is a world system. That's my hang up. Westen does not address it - instead, he says the Pope is not calling for a world order, then redefines what a world authority really is and tells us we should be in favor of it. What garbage.
One big stinking thumbs down in the rest-stop crapper for this article.
Finally, let's get the view of Protestant Marianne Davis of the Boise Christian Living Examiner, whose article is entitled "Pope Benedict XVI calls for a new world structure."
Unfortunately, this Protestant is the only one who has some common sense to see the plain shadow looming behind all of the hubbub. She puts her finger on it very plainly and says what these wimpy Catholic correspondents will not say.
The Pope’s vision for the future, although altruistic, casts a foreboding light on a "political authority" with global power. Bible prophecy predicts that the Antichrist will emerge in the last days with a coalition of rulers (Revelation 17:12), and that the Antichrist will be "given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation" (Revelation 13:7). According to biblical prophecy, the Antichrist will eventually grow corrupt with his unprecedented power, and will one day wage war on anyone who does not worship him (Revelation 13:5-18).
Amen. That's what this is all about. Why didn't any of the Catholic commentators get this? Thumbs up for Marianne Davis.
My main beef with the mainline Catholic defense of CV's "true world authority" segments can be summed up in these two points:
1) Despite the ineptitude of our own government, the immorality and flagrant corruption of the United Nations and the anti-God agenda of the globalist elitists, we are asked to believe that we can turn over authority to them and trust them to restrain themselves by the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.
3) Many of the commentators are being dishonest by trying to make it look like the Pope is saying (or not saying) something that is stated very plainly in the encyclical.
I want no part of erecting the stage that the Antichrist will stand upon, which any one world system will become. In closing, I could point out what many others have said: the very fact that this encyclical lends itself to so much interpretation and argumentation is ample evidence that it is not in any way clear or unambiguous. It bears the Pope's name, so it has his authority and it must be given assent to in some manner. But this is no part of Tradition and not part of the deposit of faith.
The Church should not waste so much time trying to prop up decadent, secular world authorities and instead proclaim the only true world authority: the universal Kingdom of Christ, which claims every soul upon the earth. That's a one world kingdom I would stand up for.