Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Caritas in veritate

Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who yesterday was part of the group presenting the new encyclical: 'Caritas in veritate,’ made this observation; “It was conceived by the Holy Father as a commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of Paul VI's 'Populorum Progressio'" although the theme of this new encyclical "is not the 'development of peoples', but 'integral human development'

For his part, Archbishop Crepaldi spoke of various new topics dealt with in this encyclical. "For the first time the two fundamental rights: to life and to religious freedom", he said, "are given explicit and extensive space in a social encyclical. ... They are", he went on, "organically linked to the question of development. ... In 'Caritas in veritate' the so-called 'anthropological question' becomes to all intents and purposes a 'social question'

I agree with our good friend Fr. Fessio, S.J. of Ignatius Institute who drew attention to section 51 of the document: "If there is lack of respect for the right to life and a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational system and laws do not help them to respect themselves" (51). There is no charity in truth if the truth of man’s value before and after birth is not understood and protected.

An inportant observation for me was when the encyclical drew attention to these words
In Paul V!’s Populorum Progressio:” The first is that the whole Church, in all her being and acting — when she proclaims, when she celebrates, when she performs works of charity — is engaged in promoting integral human development. . The second truth is that authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension
[11]. Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space.”

For this reason, while it may be true that development needs the religions and cultures of different peoples, it is equally true that adequate discernment is needed. Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal
[133]. Discernment is needed regarding the contribution of cultures and religions, especially on the part of those who wield political power.(31)

I am sure this work of our Holy Father will be discussed for years. It is full of wisdom and good news. Charity after all is Supreme and truth is the basis of right thinking without which we are doomed.

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