“People of good will” – wake up. Our Holy Father has words for you.
The long-awaited papal encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” – Charity in Truth – has been presented to us as a guide for interpreting the virtue of charity and its role in forming Catholic social teaching.
Acknowledging the “great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized,” Benedict XVI exhorts the faithful to turn always to God’s Love and to be “illumined by the light of reason and faith.”
For those of us with a “missionary spirit,” there is much food for thought in this letter.
Some points to ponder taken from the text:
Charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine.
Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity.
Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love.
Charity goes beyond justice.
To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity.
The sharing of goods and resources, from which authentic development proceeds, is not guaranteed by merely technical progress and relationships of utility, but by the potential of love that overcomes evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21).
Man does not develop through his own powers, nor can development simply be handed to him.
The world’s wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase.
Feed the hungry (cf. Mt 25: 35, 37, 42) is an ethical imperative for the universal Church.
One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples.
This is what gives rise to the duty of believers to unite their efforts with those of all men and women of good will, with the followers of other religions and with non-believers, so that this world of ours may effectively correspond to the divine plan: living as a family under the Creator’s watchful eye.
Development aid for poor countries must be considered a valid means of creating wealth for all.
Development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer.
The PIME Missionaries are keenly interested in the development of poor nations, in feeding the hungry, and, most importantly, in bringing the Truth of the Gospel to all. These words of the Holy Father bring to life the very soul of a PIME missionary:
Thus adherence to the law etched on human hearts is the precondition for all constructive social cooperation. Every culture has burdens from which it must be freed and shadows from which it must emerge. The Christian faith, by becoming incarnate in cultures and at the same time transcending them, can help them grow in universal brotherhood and solidarity, for the advancement of global and community development.
Read the entire encyclical here.