By now, most everyone who set his alarm early last Wednesday to get his own copy of Deus Caritas Est fresh off the Web has had a chance to read it. A lot of people, even some you might not have expected, have said nice things about the encyclical and the man who wrote it. (Granted, not all the nice things said have been well grounded in reality.)
I wonder, though, whether the occasional quibble expressed in public by Benedict boosters (e.g., Mike Liccione's, "I'm somewhat disappointed that the encyclical is not more specific and therefore more offensive.") might indicate a broader or deeper disappointment with the inoffensiveness, perhaps even the ineffectiveness, of the encyclical.
Here Cathoholics had waited nine months for the new sheriff in town to put up the wanted poster, or maybe the "No Guns Allowed" signs, or something. Anything.
What we got was an insightful, clear, and even moving exposition on Divine love. All to the good, of course; we heartily endorse Divine love. But now what?
Am I imagining the feelings within certain broad quarters of the Church that they would have preferred the encyclical to be more of a call to action? More percussive, so to speak? Or even concussive?
I have seen perhaps two comments so far to the effect that Pope Benedict is simply laying the groundwork for, you know, the red hot stuff, which we can expect Real Soon Now.
But what if he isn't? What if he wrote Deus Caritas Est, not to pad the footnotes of a barrage of Notices from the CDF he's been preparing for two decades, but to teach the Church about Divine Love?