Cafeteria Catholicism & the Pope's Encyclical
May 1988By John C. Cort
On a recent Firing Line program, William F. Buckley Jr. hosted Michael Novak and Fr. Richard McBrien in a discussion of John Paul IIs latest bombshell, a discussion that revealed some interesting things about cafeteria Catholicism.
The bombshell was the Popes encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, which he wrote to commemorate the 20th anniversary of another papal bombshell, Populorum Progressio of Paul VI. The latter was newsworthy, even revolutionary, for several reasons: One, it expressed more clearly and forcefully than other statements the foundation stone of Judeo-Christian social teaching: No one is justified in keeping for his exclusive use what he does not need when others lack necessities. I prefix Christian with Judeo because this principle of social justice goes back not only to Aquinas, the Fathers of the Church, and Jesus, but to the Prophets and sages of the Old Testament.
Two, for the first time Populorum Progressio, clearly extended this obligation from individuals to nations: The superfluous wealth of rich countries should be placed at the service of poor nations.
Three, for the first time in a modern papal document, the Thomistic teaching on just revolution was expressed, namely, that a revolutionary uprising could be justified where there is manifest, long-standing tyranny which would do great damage to fundamental personal rights and dangerous harm to the common good of the country.
You have two options:
- Online subscription: Subscribe now to New Oxford Review for access to all web content at newoxfordreview.org AND the monthly print edition for as low as $38 per year.
- Single article purchase: Purchase this article for $1.95, for viewing and printing for 48 hours.
If you're already a subscriber log-in here.