"To pope, humans more than just 'units' to be used, says ethicis
"Caritas in Veritate": A Defense of Life
Primacy of Culture in "Caritas in Veritate"
PTER ONE: . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .
CHAPTER TWO:. . . . .. . . . .. . . . ..
CHAPTER FOUR: . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . .
The Holy Father offers Commentary on the Encyclical "Caritas in veritate"
Wednesday, 8 July 2009 Holy Father Benedict XVI
Caritas in veritate
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I wish to reflect on my Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. Some forty years after Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Populorum Progressio, it too addresses social themes vital to the well-being of humanity and reminds us that authentic renewal of both individuals and society requires living by Christ’s truth in love (cf. Eph 4:15) which stands at the heart of the Church’s social teaching. TheEncyclical does not aim to provide technical solutions to today’s social problems but instead focuses on the principles indispensable for human development. Most important among these is human life itself, the centre of all true progress. Additionally, it speaks of the right to religious freedom as a part of human development, it warns against unbounded hope in technology alone, and it underlines the need for upright men and women – attentive to the common good – in both politics and the business world. In regard to matters of particular urgency affecting the word today, the Encyclical addresses a wide range of issues and calls for decisive action to promote food security and agricultural development, as well as respect for the environment and for the rule of law. Stressed is the need for politicians, economists, producers and consumers alike to ensure that ethics shape economics so that profit alone does not regulate the world of business. Dear friends: humanity is a single family where every development programme – if it is to be integral – must consider the spiritual growth of human persons and the driving force of charity in truth. Let us pray for all those who serve in politics and the management of economies, and in particular let us pray for the Heads of State gathering in Italy for the G8 summit. May their decisions promote true development especially for the world’s poor. Thank you.
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© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Encyclical Not Just for Catholics
Based on Natural Law, Appeals to Atheists Too
ROME, JULY 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- "Caritas in Veritate" is directed to believers and nonbelievers alike, since it is based on natural law, the Pope's secretary of state affirmed today to the Italian Senate.
In a presentation which he discussed last week with the vacationing Benedict XVI, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone showed how the Holy Father was able to unite the themes found in the title of his third encyclical: "caritas" and "veritas," love and truth.
"The Holy Father enables us to understand that these two fundamental realities are not extrinsic to man or imposed in the name of an ideology, but rather are deeply rooted in the human person," Cardinal Bertone said. "This truth is not only vouched for in Biblical revelation, but can also be understood by every person of good will who uses his reason uprightly in reflecting upon himself."
The secretary of state explained in this regard that the proposals the Pope makes in his encyclical are based on natural law, which, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms, "expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie."
In this sense, Cardinal Bertone linked the encyclical with the document recently published (so far only in French and Italian) by the International Theological Commission precisely on natural law. This document, which was begun under the direction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was president of the commission, was explained by the Pope in his April 2008 discourse at the United Nations.
Human rights, he said on that occasion, "are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different cultures and civilizations."
"Removing human rights from this context would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks," the Pontiff contended.
Cardinal Bertone explained at the Senate that the document from the theological commission "precisely illustrates how truth and love are essential exigencies for every person, deeply rooted in their being."
"In his search for the moral good," he added, "the human person harkens to what he is and becomes aware of the fundamental inclinations of his nature, which move the person toward the goods necessary for his moral fulfillment."
Man, the cardinal continued, is therefore made to know "the truth in all of its fullness, that is, he is not limited to acquiring technical know-how so as to dominate material reality, but rather open to encounter the Transcendent and to fully live the interpersonal dimension of love, the principle not only of micro-relationships -- relationships of friendship, family and groups -- but also of macro-relationships -- social, economic and political relations."
"Precisely 'veritas' and 'caritas' indicate to us the demands of natural law that Benedict XVI presents as the fundamental criteria for reflection of a moral order on the current social-economic reality," Cardinal Bertone affirmed. Thus, the "proposal of the encyclical is neither of an ideological character nor reserved for those who share faith in divine Revelation, but rather based on fundamental anthropological realities, as are, precisely, truth and charity."
The Heart of Social Doctrine Remains the Human Person"
Cardinal Cordes on "Caritas in Veritate"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unam, gave July 7 at the press conference that marked the release of Benedict XVI's encyclical "Caritas in Veritate."
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I have been asked to situate the Encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" within the context of the thought and magisterium of Benedict XVI. His first Encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est," on the theology of charity, contained indications on social doctrine (nn. 26-29). Now we have a text dedicated entirely to this subject.
What strikes me from the outset is that the central concept remains caritas understood as divine love manifested in Christ. This is the source that inspires the thinking and behavior of the Christian in the world. In its light, truth becomes "gift …, not produced by us, but rather always found or, better, received" (n. 34). It cannot be reduced merely to human goodwill or philanthropy. In my intervention, I wish to comment first on social doctrine within the mission of the Church, and then treat one of its principles: the centrality of the human person.
1. Social Doctrine in the Mission of the Church
1.1. The Church's task is not to create a just society
The Church was constituted by Christ to be a sacrament of salvation for all men and women (LG 1). This specific mission subjects her to a constant misunderstanding: secularization to the point of making her a political agent. The Church inspires, but does not do politics. Drawing on "Populorum Progressio," the new Encyclical states clearly: "The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim to meddle in the politics of the State" (n. 9). The Church is neither a political party, nor a politicizing actor. Woe to those who reduce the Church's mission to a worldly pressure movement to obtain political results. Cardinal Ratzinger himself opposed this possible misunderstanding in the 80's as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the face of certain theologies of liberation. (Instructio of 6.8.1984).
This implies in turn that the social doctrine of the Church is not a "third way," that is a political program to be implemented in order to attain a perfect society. Whoever thinks in this way risks -- paradoxically -- creating a theocracy, in which the valid principles concerning faith become tout court principles to be applied for social life, both for believers and unbelievers, embracing even violence. In the face of such errors, the Church safeguards, together with religious freedom, the rightful autonomy of the created order, as assured by the Second Vatican Council.
1.2. Social Doctrine as an element of evangelization
Of course, the Encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" expresses the import of the Church social doctrine in various places, for example number 15, which treats the relationship between evangelization and human promotion, from the starting point of "Populorum Progressio." Whereas, up until now, social doctrine emphasized action to promote justice, now the pastoral side is broached: social doctrine is affirmed as an element of evangelization. That is to say: the Church's perennial announcement of Christ dead and risen has a consequence also for social living. This affirmation contains two aspects.
We cannot read social doctrine outside the context of the Gospel and its proclamation. Social doctrine, as this Encyclical demonstrates, is born from and is interpreted in the light of Revelation.
On the other hand, social doctrine cannot be identified with evangelization, but is one element. The Gospel deals with human acting also in social relations and institutions born from them, but cannot limit man to his social life. John Paul II vigorously defended this concept in "Redemptoris Missio" (n.11). Hence, the Church's social doctrine cannot take over the announcement of the Gospel in the person-to-person encounter.
1.3. Social Doctrine: not without revelation
A brief historical overview: as a result of the industrial revolution (19th century) and its negative consequences, the Church's leaders urgently pressed the State for a response in order to reestablish social justice and the dignity of the human person in philosophical terms. Later, with "Pacem in Terris," John XXIII focused largely on the horizon of faith and spoke of sin and victory over it through the divine work of salvation. John Paul II then introduced the concept of "structures of sin" and applied salvation also to the fight against human misery. His "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis" integrated social doctrine within moral theology: "This belongs, therefore, not to the field of ideology, but theology, and especially moral theology" (n. 41). With this step, social doctrine enters clearly into the theological domain. The principles of social doctrine have not remained merely philosophical, therefore, but have their origin in Christ and His word. In "Deus Caritas Est," Benedict XVI writes that faith purifies reason and thus helps it to create a just order in society; this is where social doctrine is inserted (cfr. 28a).
This proceeds, then, upon the foundation of a discussion accessible to all reason, and hence on the basis of natural law. But it recognizes its dependence on faith.
The new Encyclical treats more explicitly and more decisively all of this, with charity as the foundation. It teaches, "charity is the supreme path of the Church's social doctrine" (n. 2). Charity understood here as "received and given" by God (n. 5).
The love of God the Creator Father and His Redeemer Son, poured out in us through the Holy Spirit, empowers the social life of man on the basis of certain principles. It affirms for development the "centrality … of charity" (n. 19). Wisdom -- it also says -- capable of orienting man "must be 'mixed' with the 'salt' of charity" (n. 30). These simple -- apparently obvious -- affirmations conceal some important implications. When it is loosed from Christian experience, social doctrine becomes that ideology which John Paul taught it should not be. A political manifesto without a soul. Social doctrine rather, in the first place, commits the Christian to "incarnating" his faith. As the Encyclical claims: "Charity manifests always, even in human relations, the love of God, it gives theologal and salvific value to every worldly task" (n. 6). To the oft-formulated question: "What contribution does the Christian make to the edification of the world?" social doctrine provides the answer.
2. An anthropocentric approach
The heart of social doctrine remains the human person. I already said that, in a first phase, the attention of this discipline was oriented, rather, to problematic situations within society: regulation of work, right to a just wage, worker representation. Later, these problems were dealt with at an international level: the disparity between rich and poor, development, international relations. With the theological emphasis, John XXIII treats more decisively the question of all this in terms of the human person -- we are in a second phase in the evolution of this discipline. John Paul II then reinforced this understanding centering social reflection on the anthropological. This aspect is present in a striking way in the document: "The first capital to be defended and valued is man, the human person, in his entirety" (n. 25); "The social question has become radically the anthropological question" (n. 75). Progress, to be truly so, must, therefore, enable man to grow in his entirety: in the text, we find references to the environment, market, globalization, the ethical question, culture, that is, the various places where man carries out his activity. This end remains a precious heritage in social doctrine from its beginnings. But, more deeply, the anthropological question implies answering a central question: which man do we wish to promote? Can we consider true development a development that imprisons man in an earthly horizon, formed only by material well-being, ignoring the question of values, meaning, the infinite to which he is called? Can a society survive without foundational reference points, without looking at eternity, denying man and woman an answer to their deepest questions? Can there be true development without God?
In the logic of this Encyclical, we find then a further stage, perhaps a third phase in the reflection on social doctrine. It is not by chance that charity is placed as a key link: divine charity responds, as a human act, through a theological virtue, as I said at the beginning. Man is not considered only as the object of a process, but as the subject of this process. The man, who has known Christ, makes himself the agent of change in order that social doctrine does not remain a dead letter. Pope Benedict writes: "Development is impossible without upright men and women, without economical actors and politicians who do not live strongly in their consciences the call to the common good" (n. 71). Here, we are in perfect continuity with the Encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," which, in its second part, treats the characteristics of those who work in charitable organizations. And the horizon widens to the public world, where often, in the north and south, we experience phenomena that are all too well-known, preventing the growth of people: corruption and illegality (cfr. n. 22), the lust for power (cfr. DCE 28). The "original sin," as the text recalls in n. 34, prevents the construction of society in many places. Also in those who guide society. We cannot confront the social question without the ethical. The Encyclical refers to the "new man" in the biblical sense (n. 12). There can be no new society without new men and women. Social doctrine will not remain a treatise or an ideology only if there are Christians prepared to live it in charity, with the help of God. Authenticity on the part of all the actors is needed. Formulated without any twist of words: "Far from God, man is troubled and sick" (n. 76). It is very significant that the last paragraph of the Encyclical (n. 79) is dedicated to prayer and the call to conversion: God renews the heart of man so that he may dedicate himself to living in charity and justice. Christians, therefore, do not simply stand at the window to watch or protest, infected by the modern culture of denouncing others, but they allow themselves to be converted to build, in God, a new culture. This is true also for the Church's members, both as individuals and groups.
I wish to end with a reflection on the concept of progress. Paul VI -- this Encyclical also recalls -- spoke about it in a succinct way ("Populorum Progressio," n. 21). Unfortunately, human growth has often been conceived as independent from the question of faith, as if human promotion is one thing, and the proclamation of the faith another. In addition to unifying the two dimensions, this document introduces a further element in the concept of progress: hope (n. 34).
As Pope Benedict XVI stressed in "Spe Salvi," hope cannot be that of progress constructed for well-being in this world (n. 30), since this does not coincide with human freedom (nn. 23-24); the foundation of Christian hope is the gift of God (n. 31). Hence, hope helps us not to enclose progress in the edification of an earthly kingdom, but it opens us to the gift: in God, we find the crowning of the desire for man's good. It is always within this optic that the Church formulates social doctrine and Christians find in it inspiration for their engagement in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen: There is great interest in this Encyclical. When read well, Benedict XVI's text is a light for society and, last but not least, for us Christians.
"Caritas in Veritate": A Defense of Life
By Carmen Elena Villa
ROME, JULY 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- "Caritas in Veritate" presents the new face of development, true ethics and human dignity, according to the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, who is also rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, gave his evaluation of Benedict XVI's third encyclical during a presentation Wednesday in Rome.
The prelate noted that with the publication of Paul VI's "Populorum Progressio," the primary exhortation was to rescue populations from illiteracy and misery. Now, Archbishop Fisichella said, without excluding those factors, the concept of development "has a broader connotation."
The academy president lamented the incongruity of those who "defend the environment and yet forget human life and its protection." He instead urged a "balance that does not exalt one and humiliate the other, thus falling into neo-paganism." What is needed, the archbishop affirmed, is "integral humanism."
"Only when people know themselves and maintain a longing for the truth can there be a guarantee that society can have coherent development," Archbishop Fisichella said.
He went on to note how "Caritas in Veritate" illustrates true charity, showing "the path for getting out of the tunnel of generalized emotivity."
More than no's
The Vatican official said the Pope's third encyclical reiterates that the Church's message is anything but a list of "thou shalt nots."
Instead, he maintained, the Holy Father lays out a "courageous project" in which the market, businesses and finance "are called above all to answer to needs that are intrinsic to their nature."
Archbishop Fisichella also reflected on the anthropology presented in the encyclical. He cited Paul VI's idea, taken up by Benedict XVI, that "under-development has a cause that is even greater than the lack of thought: It is the lack of fraternity among people and nations."
In this regard, he affirmed that the current economic crisis is rooted in more than finances: Its true cause is a distorted anthropological base.
The encyclical, the prelate said, "shows the path that the person is called to walk along with perseverance."
An ethical framework that takes into account, among other things, just salaries and security and is committed to "educate people so they don't fall into forms of under-development" is needed, the archbishop continued. Such a system has to regard more than technical aspects; it must include the "social, ethical and human factors."
He went on to emphasize the importance of solidarity always being accompanied by subsidiarity.
"Solidarity," Archbishop Fisichella affirmed," is not sufficient if subsidiarity is lacking," since it runs the risk of falling into a mentality of hand-outs. "This perspective is nothing more than an anthropological demand."
Finally, the academy president noted God's role in development: "The spiritual horizon is not an add-on; it is the essence." He pointed to the encyclical's link with "Gaudium et Spes" from the Second Vatican Council, reflecting that "Jesus worked with human hands, thought with a human mind and loved with a human heart."
The originality of this encyclical, he concluded, is that it shows how the "path taken in the light of reason cannot be fulfilled if it is not made in the light of faith."
To pope, humans more than just 'units' to be used, says ethicist
By Trista Turley
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI "has a vision of the human person that transcends seeing us as economic units or raw units to be used for biotechnical development," said John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.
"We don't have an understanding of a human being as truly human unless we see them as being open to the transcendent or the supernatural," he said in a July 20 phone interview with Catholic News Service.
He made the comments about the pope's stance on bioethics in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), which was released July 7.
Haas said the pope's writing offers a profound philosophical anthropology.
While the pontiff dedicated a large portion of the recent encyclical to addressing the global economic crisis and issues of economic development, he also discussed bioethical concerns.
"A particularly crucial battleground in today's cultural struggle between the supremacy of technology and human moral responsibility is the field of bioethics, where the very possibility of integral human development is radically called into question," the pope said.
According to the pontiff, the fundamental bioethical question for humanity is whether man is a product of his own labors or if he owes his existence to God. Pope Benedict said scientific discoveries and advances in technology have forced a choice between two types of reasoning about humanity: reason open to transcendence and the spiritual or reason closed within "immanence," or, for example, not going beyond oneself.
The pope made the church's position on the issue clear. "It is no coincidence that closing the door to transcendence brings one up short against a difficulty," he said. "How could being emerge from nothing, how could intelligence be born from chance?"
"Faced with these dramatic questions, reason and faith can come to each other's assistance," the pope stated. "Only together will they save man."
Pope Benedict specifically criticized in vitro fertilization, embryo research, human cloning and research into human hybrids for ignoring the transcendent nature of the human being.
"All (of these practices are) now emerging and being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture, which believes it has mastered every mystery because the origin of life is now within our grasp," the pontiff said.
In his encyclical he also denounced abortion and euthanasia as instruments of "the culture of death."
Haas believes the pope's message of belief in a transcendent human being will appeal to a broad audience both within and outside the church.
"There are two different versions of the human person that are radically different from each other," he stated. "The (nontranscendent view) is frightfully reductionistic: If we're nothing more than a chance development in a mindless universe, how do we have any significance? We would be able to justify using other human beings for our own ends and our own purposes."
Haas said the pope's view of the human person is far more appealing than the other and will inspire more people.
Father Tadeusz Pacholcyzk, director of education for the bioethics center, said the pope's positions form essential ethical foundations for scientific research.
"The pope is asking how we can promote real development in the realm of bioethics. He is saying that openness to life is at the center of true development," Father Pacholcyzk told CNS. "If you accept life for what it is, then it helps you establish a certain moral character."
"Without that underlying morality, ethics just becomes a label," he stated.
Father Pacholcyzk said none of the bioethical positions outlined by the pope in his encyclical are new to the church.
"In this arena the message is a fairly simple one," the priest said. "I think the pope is trying to trigger a deeper reflection on some very basic moral truths that are essentially slipping through the fingers of our culture today."
Primacy of Culture in "Caritas in Veritate"
Jennifer Roback Morse: Primacy of Culture in "Caritas in Veritate"
Encyclical Offers Opportunity to "Think With the Church"
By Jennifer Roback Morse
SAN MARCOS, California, JULY 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's "Caritas in Veritate" is his contribution to the course of Catholic social teaching.
Many commentators seem to read this document as if it were a think-tank white paper, and ask whether the Pope endorses their particular policy preferences. I must say that I surprised myself by not reflexively reading it in this way. After all, I spent many years teaching free-market economics.
I distinctly remember reading "Centesimus Annus" for the first time, and mentally checking to see if I agreed with it.
But this is not the correct way to read papal documents. The papacy's prophetic role is to interpret the past, and provide guidance for the future, while avoiding the excesses of its own time.
In "Caritas in Veritate," Benedict XVI argues for the centrality of moral considerations in both economics and politics. Without charity and truth, we cannot create a truly decent society, no matter how sophisticated our technology or how thorough-going our democracy.
Benedict XVI stresses the centrality of the social, cultural sphere for several reasons.
First, neither the economic nor the political spheres can function entirely on their own. Both the economic and the political sectors need to be peopled with individuals who have well-formed consciences. Therefore, economics and politics rely upon the Church, the family, and other social structures that shape the conscience.
Second, the cultural sphere needs its own defense. Both the economic and the political sectors have plenty of ideological defenders. The libertarian right seems to believe that the market can manage all of society. The socialist left seems to think that the government can solve every problem and wipe away every tear.
Extremists on both sides fail to respect culture's distinctive role.
The modern ideologies that reify either the state or the market have difficulty understanding that the encroachments of their preferred sphere into the social and cultural sphere have the potential to dehumanize us.
Benedict XVI insists that we can't allow the state to redefine marriage, simply to satisfy demands for equality more proper to politics. The drive for same sex marriage, as well as much of the feminist movement before it, took this form. And we can't allow the market to take over the process of bringing forth the next generation.
Mothers and fathers give themselves to one another in an act of self-donation that can result in the bringing forth of new life. The child conceived in this way has been given an incalculable gift. By contrast, the child whose parents brought him into being in a laboratory, are made, not begotten. They are treated as though they are inferior to their makers.
But as I said, I surprised myself by agreeing with Benedict, even when the policy preferences implied in "Caritas in Veritate" did not line up with my own. That's because I found myself in agreement with the deeper perspective that underlies the particular policy recommendations.
When I read Benedict XVI's argument in paragraph 2 that we should not detach charity from juridical, political and economic fields, I realized that I had said something like that in my book "Love and Economics."
When I read in "Caritas in Veritate" 44 that we must have "full respect for human values in the exercise of sexuality," I realized that I said something like that in another book, "Smart Sex."
Obviously, it would be presumptuous to claim that Benedict XVI got the idea from me. In fact, I got the idea from the papacy. I have been absorbing Catholic social teaching during the 20 years that I have been involved with the Acton Institute.
"Thinking with the Church," means absorbing papal teaching and allowing ourselves to be changed by it. Every time I reread "Rerum Novarum," or "Centesimus Annus," I learn something new about the social order.
And of course, in my particular line of work at the Ruth Institute, rereading Pope John Paul II's "Love and Responsibility" and "The Theology of the Body" always creates a fresh appreciation for the Church's humane vision of marriage, sexuality and child-rearing.
No, the truth is that I get all my best ideas from the papacy. I have no doubt that "Caritas in Veritate" will likewise prove to be a rich source of wisdom for "All People of Good Will," to whom it is addressed.
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Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse is the Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, which promotes lifelong married love to young people. She has been a Research Fellow of the Acton Institute since its founding in 1990.