Tag Archives: Caritas in Veritate

The earth is God’s gift to all of us

Earth Day bears us to recall what Pope Benedict XVI said:

“On this earth there is room for everyone: here the entire human family must find the resources to live with dignity, through the help of nature itself — God’s gift to his children — and through hard work and creativity. At the same time we must recognize our grave duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it… One of the greatest challenges facing the economy is to achieve the most efficient use — not abuse — of natural resources.”

(Caritas in Veritate, 50)

Messing with the Associated Press???


Is the Associated Press confused now? I’m not. Neither should you be.

Earlier today this post showed up on the AP. No doubt some are confused, others awkwardly changing their underwear after yesterday’s media frenzy about the Pope changing directions.

In an address to a group of Catholic gynecologists gathered by the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, Pope Francis said in part,

The cultural disorientation has affected an ambit that seemed unassailable: yours, medicine! Although being by their nature at the service of life, the health professions are induced sometimes not to respect life itself. Instead, as the encyclical Caritas in veritate reminds us, “openness to life is at the center of true development. […] If  personal and social sensibility is lost to welcoming a new life, other forms of reception useful to social life are hardened. The reception of life tempers moral energies and makes possible mutual help” (n. 28). The paradoxical situation is seen in the fact that, while new rights are attributed to the person, sometimes even presumed, life is not always protected as primary value and primordial right of every man. The ultimate end of medical action always remains the defense and promotion of life.

The full text is here.

Caritas in Veritate: What Does It Say to America?

Encyclical Forum.jpg

Broadening our concept of reason & its application is indispensable, Pope said

In this context, the theme of integral human development
takes on an even broader range of meanings: the correlation between its
multiple elements requires a commitment to foster the interaction of the
different levels of human knowledge in order to promote the authentic
development of peoples. Often it is thought that development, or the
socio-economic measures that go with it, merely require to be implemented
through joint action. This joint action, however, needs to be given direction,
because “all social action involves a doctrine“. In view of the complexity of
the issues, it is obvious that the various disciplines have to work together
through an orderly interdisciplinary exchange. Charity does not exclude
knowledge, but rather requires, promotes, and animates it from within.
Knowledge is never purely the work of the intellect. It can certainly be
reduced to calculation and experiment, but if it aspires to be wisdom capable
of directing man in the light of his first beginnings and his final ends, it
must be “seasoned” with the “salt” of charity. Deeds without knowledge are
, and knowledge without love is sterile. Indeed, “the individual who is animated
by true charity labours skilfully to discover the causes of misery, to find the
means to combat it, to overcome it resolutely.” Faced with the phenomena that
lie before us, charity in truth requires first of all that we know and
understand, acknowledging and respecting the specific competence of every level
of knowledge. Charity is not an added extra, like an appendix to work already
concluded in each of the various disciplines: it engages them in dialogue from
the very beginning. The demands of love do not contradict those of reason.
Human knowledge is insufficient and the conclusions of science cannot indicate
by themselves the path towards integral human development. There is always a
need to push further ahead: this is what is required by charity in truth
. Going
beyond, however, never means prescinding from the conclusions of reason, nor
contradicting its results
. Intelligence and love are not in separate
compartments: love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is full of love.

means that moral evaluation and scientific research must go hand in hand, and
that charity must animate them in a harmonious interdisciplinary whole, marked
by unity and distinction. The Church’s social doctrine, which has “an important
interdisciplinary dimension”, can exercise, in this perspective, a function of
extraordinary effectiveness. It allows faith, theology, metaphysics and science
to come together in a collaborative effort in the service of humanity. It is
here above all that the Church’s social doctrine displays its dimension of
wisdom. Paul VI had seen clearly that among the causes of underdevelopment
there is a lack of wisdom and reflection, a lack of thinking capable of
formulating a guiding synthesis for which “a clear vision of all economic, social,
cultural and spiritual aspects” is required
. The excessive segmentation of
knowledge, the rejection of metaphysics by the human sciences, the difficulties
encountered by dialogue between science and theology are damaging not only to
the development of knowledge, but also to the development of peoples, because
these things make it harder to see the integral good of man in its various
dimensions. The “broadening [of] our concept of reason and its application” is
indispensable if we are to succeed in adequately weighing all the elements
involved in the question of development and in the solution of socio-economic

(Caritas in veritate, 30-31; emphasis mine)

Giving Caritatis in Veritate a first look

How is Caritatis in Veritate (CV; Truth in Charity) binding on the
consciences of Catholics or anyone else? CV is a teaching document that is
addressed to clergy and all people of good will. If you want to talk about it
binding a person’s faith and reason it comes only in the willingness to accept the pope’s vision of life expressed in this teaching. Its ability to influence the reader lies in how receptive the reader is to that which is presented in love.

CV is a document of the Church’s ordinary magisterium and
therefore not in the realm of being an infallible teaching. It is not an infallible teaching for one reason: encyclicals by nature do not define dogma, that is faith and morals, but it may explain in contemporary terms what the Church believes and teaches about a piece of dogma. Encyclicals like this one which deals with the social teaching of the Church and therefore integrates faith and morals developing new data. New information requires a contemporary application. That which is taught in CV does not bear directly on salvation. Furthermore for a teaching to be infallible a pope has to include in the teaching the threefold formula of “we pronounce, declare and define.” Ultimately, we see that CV is signed by the
pope himself therefore it is an official papal document and official teaching but not on the level of dogma.

Some readers will find this work
a bit difficult, that is dense. There are few things to remember at CV: it’s a
committee document, it’s lengthy (about 30K words), and it has theological
depth. Further and most important, CV has what some will call a theological
tour de force because it’s a “classic Ratzinger theology” because you see his insistence
on the integration of faith and reason.

We can never get away from truth known as a Person ( Jesus Christ). In this current work of Benedict there is an insistence on our seeking truth which is found and expressed, according to the pope, in the economy of charity.

For ages now we should know that the Church has no expertise secular mechanisms but in
humanity particularly moral and doctrinal; its mission to man’s dignity
and vocation. In Benedict’s own words we hear the echo of what has always been believed, that “The Church does not have technical solutions to present but, as an expert
in humanity, she offers to everyone the teaching of the sacred Scripture on the
truth about man and proclaims the Gospel of Love and justice.” In another
place the pope also said that “The solutions to the current problems of
humanity cannot be merely technical, but must take account of all the needs of
the person, who is endowed with soul and body, and must thus take the Creator,
God, into consideration.”

CV clearly celebrates and applies in contemporary terms Pope Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical Populorum
 and the Pope recognizes today’s situation is
different and therefore adapts the church’s approach to social matters.  This encyclical a work of continuity in Church teaching. That is to say, Pope Benedict is taking his lead from the continuous teaching of the Church and therefore awakens our attention to a clearer sense of responsibility for shaping the 21st century according to the virtue of peace born of truth and justice. Consistently through the years the Church demands from us a heightened consciousness of our own freedom particularly a freedom wrought by Jesus Christ by indicating the scandals of injustice that exist when man and woman are blinded by sin.

Pope Benedict links man’s religious and human freedom with life issues. If you have to think about
a subtext, CV is a synthesis of the whole of theology. In this encyclical we
see the notion that human dignity is anchored in truth; man and woman has to be
at the center of every decision. As Pope John Paul II said in Centesimus
, man is mankind’s greatest asset. Speaking of the
Church’s interest in humanity, John Paul said: 

Her sole purpose has been
care and responsibility for man, who has been entrusted to her by Christ
himself: for this man, whom, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, is the only
creature on earth which God willed for its own sake, and for which God has his
plan, that is, a share in eternal salvation. We are not dealing here with man
in the “abstract”, but with the real, “concrete”,
“historical” man. We are dealing with each individual, since each one
is included in the mystery of Redemption, and through this mystery Christ has
united himself with each one for ever. It follows that the Church cannot
abandon man, and that “this man is the primary route that the Church must
travel in fulfilling her mission … the way traced out by Christ himself, the
way that leads invariably through the mystery of the Incarnation and the

Catholics, indeed all men and women of good will, have to make the connection with reality that humanity is radically connected with
the divine. But also, Catholics will come to see in CV that Pope Benedict believes in a companionship that is essential if we are to really thrive as a people with a common destiny; our job is to be mindful that there is truth in genuine friendship (cf. the other encyclicals of the pope). I think as we progress in this millennium we have to
regularly consider with faith and reason who man is according to method of faith and reason viz. what those who are
constructing a globalized sense of society say man is or is not. In other words, whose understanding of humanity is more reasonable, more loving and more life-giving? The Church’s or Citigroup’s? Increasingly
we hear how bad the world has been or is becoming and little on how a true
Christian responds to such anxieties. Sadly, many homilies we hear the priest or
deacon speak more of a reduction of man’s faith and the radical nihilism man
faces than salvation history wrought by Jesus Christ. CV opens the doors for us to live as God wants us to live by reminding us that the truth in freedom lies in the adherence to God’s discoverable plan.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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