Saturday, February 28, 2009

Canavan the prophet

If you would like to get an idea of how insightful and far-thinking Father Francis Canavan S.J. was, as well as how he exemplified the Ignatian principle of thinking with the Church, see his 1991 First Things article "The Popes and the Economy":

The liberal mind, atomistic and mechanistic as it is, constantly detaches means from ends and turns them into ends in themselves. In our doctrine of freedom of speech, for example, “expression” becomes its own end, to be pursued and protected without regard to the ends for which a rational and free people might have intended to guarantee it constitutional protection. Similarly, economic productivity and efficiency become ends in themselves, to be pursued without limit. It is against this that the Church protests. ...

Catholic individualism differs from liberal individualism precisely in that it looks to our common human nature as created by God for the obligatory norms of human action. Therefore, as Paul VI also said, faced with a rapidly developing world, we must ask what the goals of development are, and we must look for the answer in a new, complete, and transcendent humanism that aims at “the fully-rounded development of the whole man and of all men” and “is open to the Absolute and is conscious of a vocation which gives human life its true meaning” (PP, 16, 20, 42). Since this is the language of theology, it may seem remote from the practical concerns of economics, but it offers an answer to a question that economics on its own cannot answer: What is economic development for?

See the First Things Web site for more writings by or about Father Canavan from that magazine.

Please pray for the repose of Father Canavan's soul. Details of his wake and memorial services are on the Fordham Web site. Click the "Father Canavan" tag below or scroll down for more posts about him.