My first reaction to our Holy Father’s new encyclical Caritas Veritate is cautious. I do like how the Holy Father stressed that there is not “pre-conciliar Church” and a “post-conciliar Church”. However, I always get a case of the heebee-jeebees when the Holy Father talks about the United Nations or even hints that they could be part of the solution (67).
Some Protestants and pro-capitalist Catholics have asked:
The short answer is that it’s not infallible.
Infallible proclamations are pretty clear. Here is an example of an infallible statement from Pius XII’s Munificentissimus Deus:
For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church;
by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma:
that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
Notice how Pope Pius, of blessed memory, invokes authority with the words: “by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma.”
He invokes Christ, Peter, and Paul and then gives the threefold formula of ” we pronounce, declare, and define”. Nowhere does the current Holy Father use such formulations in his new encyclical Caritas Veritate. Does this mean that we can ignore the document altogether. No.
I’m still taking in the new encyclical. I’d be happy to hear the reflections of others. What do you think of it?
If you haven’t read it, here it is: Caritas Veritate.