Rabbi Michael Lerner's response to the Pope's new encyclical, posted at Huffington Post.
The Pope Might Save the Planet...If You Would Join an Interfaith Effort to Support His Direction!
"...spiritual progressives can challenge the values that underlie global capitalism and materialist versions of socialism and instead chart a path to a fundamentally different global economic, political and social world. We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives have begun to do that with our proposed Global Marshall Plan (please download the full version at www.tikkun.org/gmp) and our proposed ESRA--Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (please read it at www.tikkun.org/esra).
The reason why Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and most secular humanist organizations have not yet embraced this path is that they are dependent for funding both from the capitalist class and from many in their membership who are attached to the materialist and looking-out-for-number-one worldview of global capitalist societies and hence dismiss any fundamental alternative as "unrealistic." Ironically, it is precisely the undemocratic and hierarchical nature of the Catholic Church, and its previous accumulation of huge wealth, that frees the Pope from these concerns and hence made it possible for someone who genuinely is rooted in the spiritual values of the Bible to actually ask the world to remake itself in accord with those values. I don't recommend the undemocratic or hierarchical path, but I do rejoice that this made it possible for a religious leader and a religious movement to develop that would be unequivocal in its critique of capitalism without falling into the narrow economistic and materialist worldview that has characterized most Left movements. It is their economistic, materialist and religio-phobic perspective that keeps most people on the Left from embracing the path of the spiritual progressive, even though in their hearts most people on the Left simultaneously embrace the values of the New Bottom Line (and were they to do so more explicitly, and get progressive organizations to publicly embrace and emphasize the New Bottom line the Left would be far more successful).
Of course, the Pope's stand is generating considerable opposition from conservative Catholics who have already found ways around the Bible's social justice teachings so that they could explain why they are champions of the rich and still call themselves Christians. All the more reason for the rest of us to embrace this Pope, even as we gently and lovingly chide him to consider applying his message of caring for everyone more fully by embracing full rights for women and homosexuals.
The best way to support the Pope is to build an interfaith movement based on these values articulated in the New Bottom Line. It is only when people begin to see a spiritual progressive movement in the public sphere with a strategy for how to save the planet that is willing to challenge the fundamentals of global capitalism that they will be able to imagine overcoming their own passivity, emotional depression, and mistaken certainty that "nothing will ever make possible a new economic system." It is only when they see millions of us working together for a fundamentally different world that they will overcome this mistaken commitment to "being realistic" and instead recognize that "we never know what is possible until we join with others to struggle for what is desirable." So I invite you to become a member of the NSP--Network of Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressives.org/join. You don't have to believe in God or be part of a religious or spiritual community to be a spiritual progressives--you only have to embrace the New Bottom Line articulated above--so the NSP is not only interfaith and welcoming people from every religious community in the world, but also welcoming to secular humanists and atheists who want the kind of world we are seeking..."