Katherine Jean Lopez of National Review Online interviewed me about the new papal encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, shortly after its release this morning here in Rome:
LOPEZ: Obviously the topic of ethics and the economy resonates with people today. What can a Catholic take away from the new encyclical when it comes to his lost job, the stimulus, or government takeovers?
JAYABALAN: It’s hard to summarize such a long and complex document into a lesson or two, but I’ll try. First is the absolute importance of Truth to our understanding of charity, efficiency, and economics. For Catholics, this means the Church’s fundamental theological and moral teachings, which should be received as gifts rather than burdens, as difficult as they may seem to us. The Church’s theological understanding of charity and justice should make all Catholics feel responsible for each other and think and act accordingly. This is the real meaning of solidarity.
During the interview I was also asked about the importance of the encyclical to non-Catholics and what they can take away from it:
LOPEZ: What can the non-Catholic learn from the encyclical?
JAYABALAN: He doesn’t distinguish between Catholics and non-Catholics in the encyclical but calls all of us to broaden our use of reason beyond the merely technical or scientific. Benedict also recalls the limited nature of the state and its inability to provide the most important thing — love.
As Benedict argues in his previous encyclicals, as well as the current one, the state is no replacement for the family or the church: The state cannot love us — and it would be a scary thing even if it could.
Even where the state does have some responsibilities, it may obey the principle of subsidiarity — that is, let individuals, families, churches, businesses, and local communities handle their own problems first. This is the setting for the pope’s call for fraternity and a vibrant, diverse civil society.
The entire interview can be read at The Corner.