Robert A. Gahl, Jr
In an encyclical released this week, an intellectually adventurous Pope asserts that love is ultimately the solution to the world economic crisis.
Today, by "economy" or "economical", what first comes to mind is low-cost, parsimonious, sparing, small, fuel-efficient, and, often, cheap. But now, with his third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate ("Charity in Truth") Benedict subverts and reverses the common understanding of "economy" as a parsimonious reduction in costs or a miserly (re)distribution of resources. For this counter-cultural Pope, "economy" is principally a question of charity, of love. In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est ("God is Love"), the Pope argued that love is inherently expansive, ecstatic, and effusive. For Benedict, the social doctrine of the Church, that includes a now rapidly developing theology of political economy, is not just about the distribution of wealth. Benedict is at least as interested in fostering wealth creation motivated by love, while exercising responsible stewardship over the environment.