Briefly noted

The second encyclical from Pope Benedict XVI, warning against secular ideas of progress, has prompted a lively debate among newspaper commentators in Italy—some labeling the pope a reactionary, but others springing to the pontiff’s defense. According to Vatican-watcher John Allen, who writes for the National Catholic Reporter, the encyclical could be seen as a reworking of ideas already expressed by the pope when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican’s doctrinal guardian. In essence, Allen said, the message is: “If human beings place their hopes for justice, redemption and a better life exclusively in this-worldly forces, whether it’s science, politics, or anything else, they’re lost. Instead, ultimate hope—what the pope describes as ‘the great hope’—lies only in God, because only through the moral and spiritual wisdom acquired through faith can technology and political structures be directed towards ends which are truly human.”


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