Monday, August 13, 2007

A second encyclical?

Rocco has a piece on the rumors that the Pope will be coming out with his second encyclical next year, following in the footsteps of Pope Paul VI's encyclical on development, Populorum Progressio.

This should be fascinating. Not just the contents, but how it plays out in the Catholic and wider world. Most modern Popes have been suspicious of neo-liberal economics and unbridled capitalism. I suspect Benedict is no exception. And most of the (American) Catholic blogosphere that supports Pope Benedict wholeheartedly is doctrinally and socially conservative, but also tends to economic neo-liberalism (or "fiscal conservatism" in American parlance). I wonder how the media will receive this? Which template will the use? Benedict the Rottweiler who is now a Socialist? NPR surprised? First Things scowling? The Economist mocking?

Of cousre, all of that is not just speculation, but stupid speculation. There ain't no encyclical yet!

I haven't read Populorum Progressio and that's probably the best way to prepare for this next encyclical. But, I must say, I tend towards the more neo-liberal economic view, with some good anti-statism thrown in the mix (though I'm not libertarian and for completely unregulated markets). I'm not an economist, [just the son of two brilliant economists, which, of course need mean nothing as far as my own comprehension goes] (I really need to formally study some basic economics. I actually think all seminarians should. Some stuff one hears from priests makes one wonder whether there is even a basic grasp of economic realities!) -- however, I've seen what economic liberalization has wrought in India in 16 years, after decades of stifling Nehruvian socialist policies that bred endemic corruption and did very little for the poor. Oh it's not perfect, far from it. But it's better than any garibi hatao ("remove poverty") program of the 1970s. And that really is the rub. We don't have perfect poiicies or systems. Or perfect anything. We have better ones and worse ones. Or, least worse ones.

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