charity in truth

Cutting across parking lots or strolling down alleyways can offer a very different perspective of an urban landscape. A couple of days ago, I abandoned a busy summer afternoon walk on Ste. Catherine Street.

Cutting across parking lots or strolling down alleyways can offer a very different perspective of an urban landscape.

A couple of days ago, I abandoned a busy summer afternoon walk on Ste. Catherine Street. It was just too crowded with tourists, shoppers and business people finding some excuse to escape their desks in the glass towers around the McGill College promenade to accommodate my pace. I began to zig-zag south and east towards Montreal’s Chinatown.

Off Cathcart Street, just on the other side of University Avenue, I caught a view of the upper third of the cross-topped steeple of Christ Church Anglican Cathedral. It was framed by a loading dock and the Dumpsters of a building fronting on Ste. Catherine’s.

Higher neighbouring buildings and fire escapes deepened the gloom of the shadowed service bay. The steeple, though, was brilliantly back lit by the afternoon sun reflecting off of the 34-storey mirror-walled facade of the Tour KPMG just behind the cathedral. Dramatically highlighted, the scene was lifted from the mundane to the memorable.

Though overshadowed by the secular in our contemporary, western consumer society, churches still have a presence. Pews maybe emptying and remaining congregations graying but organized religion nonetheless has a voice. Coherent life-affirming principles of all the great religious and philosophical traditions can serve as a real template to judge the meta-economic basis of the current Western materialist paradigm against.

Last month Pope Benedict XVI released his third encyclical. An encyclical is a letter from a Pope usually addressed to the world’s Roman Catholic bishops and focused on doctrinal issues. In 1891 Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum, Of New Things, breaking that narrow mold and speaking more broadly on the social issues of the day, specifically in that case on capital and labor and the condition of the working class. Caritas in Veritate or Charity in Truth from Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, continues in this social encyclical tradition.

Charity in Truth offers a reflection on the present crisis of capitalism from the perspective of Christian beliefs and principles. The scope has changed from Leo XIII’s day from primarily the nation state to the world. “In an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family…. (7)”

While Leo XIII rejected both communism and unfettered capitalism, today Benedict XVI focuses only on global capitalism. This isn’t a new concern for him. As early as 1985 then Cardinal Ratzinger noted in a paper for a symposium on the market economy in Rome that a diminishing ethical grounding of the economy “can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse.”

In Charity in Truth Benedict XVI returns to the theme of ethics and economics. If you exclude foundational principles what happens? The logic of the unregulated market kicks in. “Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty. (21)”

When “many people today would claim that they owe nothing to anyone, except to themselves,” where do you start? Placing a fundamental priority on social solidarity, accepting a global standard for the common good offers us a beginning point. “Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone… (38)”“It is important to call for a renewed reflection on how rights presuppose duties, if they are not to become mere licence.(43)

“The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly—not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred. (45)”

Fundamentally Charity in Truth calls for a new financial order and, by extension, the political and economic institutions to sustain it. “There is urgent need of a true world political authority… such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights… (67)” As sovereign of Vatican City, the world’s smallest country, the Pope has little to gain geo-politically. In all charity what he is offering, is truth.

Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country will be screened at the Old Fire Hall at the bottom of Main Street in Whitehorse on Monday, August 10th at 7 p.m. Tin Maung Htoo, Executive Director of Canadian Friends of Burma, will be a special guest. Admission to the film showing is by donation.

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.

Namaste notes

Sunday, August 9 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Suggested reading John 6:41-51.

Sunday, August 9 – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples will focus this year on the urgent need to preserve indigenous languages and the role of indigenous youth have in doing this.

Wednesday, August 12 – International Youth Day’s theme this year is “Sustainability: Our Challenge. Our Future.”

Friday, August 14 – Krishna Janmashtami is the Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Most Read