Pope Benedict XIV – An appreciation
When Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger became Benedict XVI, a number of “conservative” American Catholics seemed to nurse hopes that the new pope would distance the Church from its familiar social teaching on worker justice, labor unions and the regulation of the economy for the common good.
Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate proved deeply disappointing for such as these. “The repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum, for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must… be honoured today even more than in the past,” the Pope instructed.
The aforementioned American “conservatives,” of course, weren’t the only ones clamoring for change in the Church. But whether the calls for change came from right, left, up, or down, Benedict XVI proved to be a conservative in veritate: he conserved the traditions and teachings of the Catholic faith at a time when many from every direction clamored for radical change.
For all the challenges that the Church faces that Benedict XVI was unable to address, the people of God could do far worse.