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Encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" out July 7th: a return to truth in social themes

July 2, 5:55 PM Manchester Faith & Culture ExaminerDyan Puma

                                                              Photo: CNA

The “heralded” third encyclical of Benedict XVI, "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth), will evoke the social themes found in "Populorum Progressio" by Paul VI 20 years ago, but is a timely social doctrine.

Benedict XVI will present the encyclical from the Holy See Office at 11:30 a.m. on July 7. The release is one day before the Group of Eight will begin an international summit in L'Aquila, Italy, and three days before the Pontiff will sit down with President Obama.

The encyclical is a “reflection on the conditions necessary for "integral development,” the Pope said. He explained that it "aims to go deeper in certain aspects of the integral development of our age, in the light of charity in truth."

"I entrust to your prayer this new contribution that the Church offers to humanity in its commitment to sustainable progress, in full respect of human dignity and the real needs everyone has," Benedict XVI said.

A recent Catholic News Agency report contains an article by Gian Guido Vecchi quoting what he claims are several original paragraphs of the Pope’s third encyclical.

"Without truth, without trust and love for what is truthful, there is no conscience or social responsibility, and the social action falls under the control of private interests or logics of power, with destructive effect on society, even more on a society on the way to globalization, in difficult moments like the current ones,” the Pope will say in “Caritas in veritate,” according to Vecchi.

Corriere della Sera says the Pope highlights in the forthcoming document that globalization is not an evil in itself, but it cannot be left to self-regulation.

“In the midst of the new international economic, commercial and financial context,” the Pope will suggest an international agreement to lead the process of globalization: “an authority that should be regulated by law, should stick coherently to the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, should be aimed at achieving the common good and committed to fostering an authentic integral human development, inspired in the values of charity and truth.”

In what Vecchi describes as “a very theological and theoretical” document, Pope Benedict will highlight from the beginning that “the charity of truth, which Jesus Christ has shown to us along his entire earthly life and, above all, with His death and resurrection, is the main resource at the service of the true development of each individual human being and humanity as a whole.”

According to the Pope, the current crisis has been sparked by "a deficit of ethics in the economic structures.” A reform of the current system, therefore, will require “a common code” based on “the truth from both faith and reason,” capable of providing “the light through which the human intelligence arrives at natural and supernatural truth of charity.”

Vecchi claims that the Pope will recall the “social responsibility of private companies,” but also underscore that “true development is impossible without honest men, without financial operators and politicians who strongly feel in their own consciences the call to [serve] the common good.”

The encyclical will also pay attention to the “ecologic health of the planet,” but will remind that “the duties we have to the environment are connected to the duties we have toward the human person,” because “the first capital to be protected and cherished is the human person in its integrity.”

According to Vecchi, the encyclical will hardly be “good news to the liberals and bad news to the conservatives,” as claimed by some analysts who have not seen the text of the document.

“The Pope quotes Paul VI’s Populorum progressio, which in 1967 denounced the gap between rich and poor countries, but the encyclical also draws on Humanae vitae to criticize abortion and contraception,” Vecchi writes.

The encyclical, in fact, is likely to say that “openness to life is at the core of every true development,” and regarding the ambiguous policies aimed at “reducing the need for abortion” by means of other social policies, the Pope warns that “if personal and social sensibility toward the welcoming of a new life is lost, even other forms of welcoming [life] useful to social life become fruitless.”

The encyclical will also tackle global injustice, especially world hunger.

“Charity in truth requires an urgent reform to confront courageously and without hesitation the great problems of injustice in the development of the nations,” the encyclical will say.

The document will also say that “food and water are universal rights,” and will remind that the Greek word Oikonomia - from which the word “economy” comes -  means the rule or management of the oikos, the home: “the development of all nations depends above all in recognizing that we are one single family.”

Source: Vatican Information Office, July 1, 2009.

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