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Dear brothers and sisters:
My new encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," which was officially presented yesterday, was fundamentally inspired in a passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, in which the apostle speaks of acting according to truth in charity: "Rather," we have just heard, "living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ" (4:15).
Charity in truth is, therefore, the principal propelling force for the true development of each person and all of humanity. Because of this, the whole of the Church's social doctrine revolves around the principle "caritas in veritate." Only with charity, enlightened by reason and faith, is it possible to achieve objectives of development with a human and humanizing value. Charity in the truth "is the principle around which the Church's social doctrine turns, a principle that takes on practical form in the criteria that govern moral action" (No. 6).
In the introduction, the encyclical immediately refers to two fundamental criteria: justice and the common good. Justice is an integral part of this love "in deed and truth" (1 John 3:18), to which the Apostle John exhorts us (cf. No. 6). And "to love someone is to desire that person's good and to take effective steps to secure it. Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society. … The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbors, the more effectively we love them." Therefore, there are two operative criteria: justice and the common good. In this second element, charity acquires a social dimension. Every Christian, the encyclical says, is called to this charity and, it adds, "This is the institutional path … of charity" (cf. No. 7).
Like other documents of the magisterium, this encyclical also takes up again and goes deeper into the analysis and reflection of the Church on social issues of vital interest to humanity in our times. In a special way, it is linked to what Paul VI wrote now more than 40 years ago in "Populorum Progressio," the cornerstone of the Church's social teaching, in which the great Pontiff outlined certain decisive and ever relevant ideas for the integral development of man and of the modern world. The world situation, as the chronicle of recent months amply demonstrates, continues presenting not a few problems and the "scandal" of outrageous inequalities, which remain despite commitments made in the past. On one hand, signs of grave social and economic inequalities are evident; on the other hand, peoples from all over are calling for reform that will overcome the discrepancy of development among peoples, and this cannot wait.
The phenomenon of globalization can, in this sense, be a real opportunity, but for this, it is important to undertake a profound moral and cultural renewal and responsible discernment of the decisions that must be made for the common good. A better future for everyone is possible, if it is founded on the discovery of fundamental ethical values. A new economic plan is needed that will reshape development in a global way, basing itself on the fundamental ethics of responsibility before God and before man as a creature of God.
The encyclical certainly doesn't look to give technical solutions to the great social problems of the world today -- this is not the role of the Church's magisterium (cf. No. 9). It recalls, however, the great principles that show themselves to be indispensable for building human development in the coming years. Among these: In the first place, attention to the life of the person, considered as the center of all true progress; respect for the right to religious liberty, always closely linked to the development of the person; rejection of a Promethean vision of the human being, which considers him the absolute author of his own destiny. An unlimited trust in the power of technology in the end shows itself to be illusory.
Upright people are needed as much in politics as in the economy, people who are sincerely attentive to the common good. In particular, looking at world emergencies, it is urgent to call the attention of public opinion to the drama of hunger and food security, which affects a considerable portion of humanity. A drama of such proportions piques our consciences: It must be decisively confronted, eliminating the structural causes that bring it about and promoting agricultural development in the poorest countries.
I am sure that this path of solidarity toward the development of the poorest countries will certainly help to elaborate a solution to the current global crisis. Undoubtedly, the role and political power of the state should be attentively re-evaluated, in an age in which limitations to its sovereignty exist as a result of the new economic-commercial and international financial situation.
And on the other hand, the participation of citizens in national and international politics should not be lacking, thanks as well to a renewed commitment from the associations of workers called to establish new synergies at the local and international level. The means of social communication also have a primary role in this field, to advance dialogue among cultures and distinct traditions.
In wanting to make a plan for development that is not tainted by the malfunctions and distortions amply present today, serious reflection on the very meaning of the economy and its goals is required from everyone. The ecological state of the planet demands it; the cultural and moral crisis of man that is apparent in every corner of the globe requires it. The economy needs ethics for its correct functioning; it needs to recover the important contribution of the principle of gratuitousness and the "logic of gift" in the economy of the market, in which the norm cannot be personal gain.
But this is only possible thanks to a commitment from everyone, economists and politicians, producers and consumers, and presupposes formation of the conscience that gives strength to moral criteria in the elaboration of political and economic projects. Rightly so, many places pay recourse to the fact that rights presuppose corresponding duties, without which rights run the risk of becoming arbitrary.
It is said more and more that it is necessary for all of humanity to have a different style of life, in which the duties of everyone toward the environment are united with those of the person considered in himself and in relation with others. Humanity is one family and fruitful dialogue between faith and reason cannot but enrich it, making the work of charity more effective in society, moreover establishing the appropriate framework to stimulate collaboration between believers and non-believers, in the shared perspective of working for justice and peace in the world.
As guidelines for this fraternal interaction, in the encyclical I indicate the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, which are interconnected. I have indicated, finally, faced with such vast and deep problems in the world of today, the need for a world political Authority regulated by law, which abides by the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity already mentioned and which is firmly oriented toward the fulfillment of the common good, in respect of the great moral and religious traditions of humanity.
The Gospel reminds us that man does not live on bread alone: not just with material goods can he satisfy the deep thirst of his heart. The horizons of man are undoubtedly higher and broader. Because of this, every development program should have present, together with the material, the spiritual growth of the human person, who is gifted with soul and body.
This is integral development, to which the Church's social doctrine constantly refers -- development that has its guiding criteria in the propelling strength of "charity in truth." Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray so that this encyclical too can help humanity to feel that it is one family committed in bringing about a world of justice and peace. Let us pray that believers who work in economics and politics realize how important is the coherence of their Gospel testimony in the service they offer society.
In particular, I invite you to pray for the leaders of states and governments of the G-8 who are meeting during these days in L'Aquila. That from this important world summit might come decisions and useful guidelines for the true progress of all peoples, especially of the poorest. Let us entrust these intentions to the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church and of humanity.
[Translation by ZENIT]
[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]
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. The Encyclical 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 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.
I welcome all the English-speaking visitors present today, including the university and school groups from America, Canada, and England. May your visit to Rome be a time of deep spiritual renewal. Upon you all I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.
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