Pope Rejects Theocracy in First Encyclical: The Church 'Cannot and Must Not Replace the State'
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Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:02:43 PM EST
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Pope Benedict XVI said in his first encyclical, "God Is Love," issued January 25, 2006, that the Roman Catholic Church has no desire to govern states, and that the church should maintain independence while fighting for justice with a spirit of love.

Significantly, the pope rejected the notion of theocracy, stating, "The church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the state. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice."

"The state may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between the followers of different religions," the Pope said, in the 71-page encyclical. "For her part the church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the state must recognize."

In a message that reflects his predecessor's desire to encourage charity, the pope also described Christian charity not primarily as a tool for proselytizing, but as a witness of God's love, and as a way to show compassion for one's neighbors. "Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies," the pope states. "It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs."




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If this first encyclical isn't a delicately crafted backhand to the government sponsored 'faith based' organizations and their misuse of power, I don't know what is.

I like this Pope.

by Lorie Johnson on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:09:22 PM EST

I wonder about the extent to which the Catholic Church's power structure is becoming irked by the recrudescence of anti-Papist sentiment in the US.

The Vatican has certainly noticed, that's sure.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:29:51 PM EST
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I'm a little skeptical about the timing of the release of this encyclical.  It coincides with the Senate debate over a fifth Roman Catholic nominee to serve on the Supreme Court.

Here's a link to my blog Matching Words and Actions.

by Mainstream Baptist on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:45:21 PM EST

Good point :

Susurrating beneath the Alito debate, horse whispering away tensions born from auguries and metrics that warn of an impending lurch towards theocracy : Benedict, a pope so mild ?

We'll see. I agree, The timing was notable.


by Bruce Wilson on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 07:57:36 PM EST
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The pacific tone of Rome does not imply a change of heart. She is tolerant where she is helpless.

When Alito is nominated then shall the United States know her true colors. Sorry, to say but it is the Protestants [Theocratic Right] who are doing her biddings here. She, the Roman church is only waiting her time to do what she has done in the past.  

by Publiclawman on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 02:38:04 PM EST


John Neuhouse and friends get from the Roman Catholic Church.  Perhaps none, but I doubt it.  His work in the Institute for Religion and Democracy surely doesn't come free.  It's possible that he's paid through the auspices of the 7 sisters foundations, who put a great deal of money behind the IRD, but I'll trust Ratzinger only when I see the figures laid out.  

by tikkun on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 05:00:23 PM EST


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