Benedict XVI Says Justice Needs Charity

Sends Message to Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is emphasizing that even in the most just society, there will always be a place for charity.



The Pope said that in a note sent to Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, on the occasion of its plenary assembly.

The assembly was held April 27-May 1 and considered the theme "Charity and Justice in the Relations Among Peoples and Nations."

The Holy Father wrote: "The Church's conviction of the inseparability of justice and charity is ultimately born of her experience of the revelation of God's infinite justice and mercy in Jesus Christ, and it finds expression in her insistence that man himself and his irreducible dignity must be at the centre of political and social life."

The Pontiff highlighted the principle of the universal destination of the goods of creation.

"According to this fundamental principle," he said, "everything that the earth produces and all that man transforms and manufactures, all his knowledge and technology, is meant to serve the material and spiritual development and fulfilment of the human family and all its members."

3 challenges

Benedict XVI called attention to three issues, "which I believe can only be met through a firm commitment to that greater justice which is inspired by charity."

The first was the environment and sustainable development. The Pope called for greater protection of the world's resources, while keeping in mind the plight of poor countries.

He also mentioned the challenge of the "conception of the human person and consequently our relationships with one another."

A third challenge, the Holy Father said, "relates to the values of the spirit. Pressed by economic worries, we tend to forget that, unlike material goods, those spiritual goods which are properly human expand and multiply when communicated."

Glendon's message

After the plenary session concluded on Tuesday, Glendon, the academy president, gave an overview of the results.

She explained that this year's meeting is part of a "broader project of the academy on questions arising from globalization."

Glendon said: "Over several years, these meetings have provided academy members with much data and creative thinking. While we are not in a position today to speak about any final conclusions, I hope to give you a sense of what we have been doing this week.

"In the coming months, academy members will further discuss what we have heard here, and be in a position to arrive at some conclusions for a final report."

The Harvard law professor gave an overview of expert interventions which the academy considered.

She gave special focus to the principle of subsidiarity.

"In Catholic social thinking, the concept of subsidiarity allows space for individuals, families and communities to practice the virtues of charity and justice without being usurped by an all-powerful state," Glendon said. "At the level of nations, is there room to allow for charity and justice to be exercised as virtues?

"There can be no doubt that the Catholic Church, in its teachings on the unity of the human race and the universal destination of material goods, stands on the side of institutions which promote peace and harmony between nations.

"But the challenge is for those institutions to allow ample space for the virtues of charity and justice as well.

"The work of our academy in the months ahead is to look at concrete proposals in that regard."