By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
During a mid-day address to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on the Solemnity of the Feasts of St. Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict XVI announced that the publication of his third encyclical is “now imminent.”
Entitled Caritas in veritate (Charity in truth), the encyclical will bear the date of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, but will probably not become public for another week.
During his address, the Pope explained that this encyclical returns to the social themes contained in Pope Paul VI’s 1967 document, Populorum Progressio, which denounced the gap between rich and poor countries. The new encyclical “aims to delve more deeply into certain aspects of the integral development of our age, in the light of charity and of truth.”
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports that excerpts from the document were published by Gian Guido Vecchi in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
Calling it a “very theological and theoretical” document, Vecchi claims the Pope highlights from the beginning of the encyclical 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.”
The Pope claims, as he has done before, that the current economic 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 also recalls the “social responsibility of private companies,” but underscores 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 gives attention to the “ecologic health of the planet,” but reminds 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.”
While many have claimed that the encyclical will be “good news to the liberals and bad news to the conservatives,” Vecchi says this isn’t so. “ . . . (T)he encyclical also draws on Humanae vitae to criticize abortion and contraception,” he writes.
The encyclical says 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.”
It will also tackle global injustice, especially world hunger, declaring food and water to be “universal rights.”
During his announcement on Monday, the Pope concluded his comments about the encyclical by saying: “To your prayers I entrust this latest contribution made by the Church to mankind, in her commitment to sustainable development while fully respecting human dignity and the real needs of everyone.”
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