Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Faith in Action

A short post, with two links:

First, Pope Bebeduct Benedict (sorry, can't spell today) XVI's Caritas in veritate - Charity in Truth - his most recent (and third) teaching document. It's long, it's complex, it's highly footnoted, and it reads like a German wrote it (duh.) So I'll be digesting it slowly.

(It's always better to read these things yourself rather than let the media summarize them for you. But props to BBC for linking to the whole document off their site.)

There are a few lines that jump out at me, in the first few paragraphs:

Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting. I cannot “give” what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice. If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is inseparable from charity[1], and intrinsic to it.

...which is not how I typically think of justice and charity. I have thought of charity as, in some senses, denying justice, because it fails to give the recipent what they deserve. (Like most people, I think, I'm pretty big on charity (or mercy) for myself, and justice for everyone else.)

The Pope's message will be, I bet, heavy on how a Christian is to live out their faith in their own life. As in - this is a garment for the working day, not just for Sundays and feast days.

Which brings me to my next link: British Medical Association doctors have voted down a proposal calling for them to be given a right to pray for patients without facing disciplinary action. Which leaves me...uneasy. On the one hand, I strongly feel that one should be able to 'discuss religion' - particularly as part of a whole patient care system - without being afraid of being accused of harrasment. On the other hand, none of us are as smooth handed as we would like to be at all times, and I can easily see how an offer to pray for a patient could come across entirely wrong. Complicating this, the BMA members are overwhelmingly part of the British goverment, as employees of the NHS, as well as being individuals with their own souls and minds.

My gut feel is that it is generally better to try and sometimes do it wrong, than to always fail to speak about faith. For me, that the NHS does have a chaplain section tips the balance over into an unhappy acceptance of the BMA's decision, instead of a sense that they made the wrong call.

Not an easy decision.


On tap: movies I saw on vacation, a few books I read, and stuff about vacation.

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