|General Audience Catechesis on the Pope's recently
released social Encyclical
On Wednesday, 8 July
, at the General Audience in the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Holy
Father commented on his new social Encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate"
charity in truth. The Pope's third Encyclical was officially presented
on 7 July and is dated 29 June. The following is a translation of his
Catechesis, which was given in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My new Encyclical Caritas in Veritate was
officially presented yesterday. Its fundamental vision is inspired from
a passage of the Letter of St Paul to the Ephesians, in which the
Apostle speaks of acting in accordance with truth in love:
"Speaking the truth in love", as we have just heard, "we are to grow up
in every way into him who is the Head, into Christ" (4:15).
Charity in truth is therefore the principal force behind
the true development of every person and of all humanity. For this
reason the entire social doctrine of the Church revolves around the
principle caritas in veritate. Only with charity, illumined by
reason and by faith, is it possible to achieve goals of development
endowed with humane and humanizing values. Charity in 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"
In the introduction the Encyclical immediately mentions
two fundamental criteria: justice and the common good. Justice is an
integral part of that love "in deed and in truth" (1 Jn 3:18) , to which
the Apostle John exhorts us (cf. n. 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 obtain a common good
corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively
we love them" (n. 6). Hence there are two operative criteria, justice
and the common good. Thanks to the latter, charity acquires a social
dimension. Every Christian, the Encyclical says, is called to practise
this charity, and it adds: "This is the institutional path... of
charity" (n. 7).
Like other Magisterial documents this Encyclical too
takes up, continues and deepens the Church's analysis and reflection on
social themes of vital interest for mankind in our century. It is linked
in a special way to what Paul VI wrote more than 40 years ago in
a milestone in the Church's social teaching
in which the great Pontiff outlines certain crucial guidelines, which
continue to be timely, for the integral development of man and of the
The world situation, as the news in recent months amply
demonstrates, continues to present serious problems and the "scandal" of
glaring inequalities which have endured despite past efforts.
On the one hand, there are signs of grave social and
economic imbalances; on the other, reforms are being called for on
which can no longer be postponed
in order to narrow the gap in the development of peoples. To this end,
the phenomenon of globalization can constitute a real opportunity, but
for this reason it is important to initiate a profound moral and
cultural renewal as well as responsible discernment concerning decisions
leading to the common good. A better future for all is possible, if it
is founded on the rediscovery of fundamental ethical values. What is
needed, then, is new financial planning in order to redesign development
globally, based on the ethical foundation of responsibility before God
and to the human being as God's creature.
The Encyclical does not of course aim to offer technical
solutions to the vast social problems of the contemporary world. This
lies outside the competence of the Magisterium of the Church (cf. n. 9).
Yet, it recalls the great principles that prove indispensable to
building human development in the years to come. Among them, in the
first place, is attention to human life, considered to be the core of
all true progress; respect for the right to religious freedom that is
always closely linked to human development; the rejection of a
Promethean vision of the human being which maintains that he is the
absolute author of his own destiny.
An unlimited trust in the potential of technology
ultimately shows itself to be illusory. We need upright people both in
politics and in the economy who sincerely have the common good at heart.
In particular, looking at the global emergencies, it is urgent to focus
public opinion on the tragedy of hunger and food security which affects
a considerable part of humanity. A tragedy of such proportions calls our
consciences into question: it must be tackled with determination by
eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and encouraging
agricultural development in the poorest countries.
I am sure that this path of
solidarity towards the development of the poorer countries will
certainly help to find a solution to the current global crisis. Without
doubt, the role and political power of States must be carefully
reassessed, in an epoch in which limitations to their sovereignty de
facto exist because of the new international economic, commercial and
On the other hand, there must be no lack in the
responsible participation of citizens in national and international
thanks in part to a renewed commitment of the trade unions called to
establish new synergies at the local and international levels. In this
field too, a lead role is played by the means of social communication in
the strengthening of the dialogue between diverse cultures and
Therefore, seeking to plan a development that is not
marred by the dysfunctions and distortions that are widespread today, a
serious reflection on the very meaning of the economy and on its
purposes is obligatory for all. The state of the ecological health of
the planet requires it; the cultural and moral crisis of man which is
visibly emerging in every part of the globe demands it. If it is to
function properly, the economy needs ethics; it needs to recover the
important contribution of the principle of gratuitousness and the "logic
of gift" in the market economy, where the rule cannot be profit alone.
However this is only possible with the commitment of all
economists, and politicians, producers and consumers
and it presupposes a formation of consciences that gives strength to
moral criteria in the elaboration of political and economic projects. On
various sides an appeal is rightly being made for rights to presuppose
corresponding duties, without which they risk becoming arbitrary.
As must always be reiterated, a different lifestyle for
the whole of humanity is necessary in which the duties of everyone
towards the environment are linked to those towards the individual,
considered in himself and in relation to others.
Humanity is one family and fruitful dialogue between
faith and reason cannot but enrich it, making charitable work in social
life more effective and providing the appropriate framework in which to
encourage collaboration between believers and non-believers, in the
shared prospective of working for justice and peace in the world.
As criteria and guidelines for this fraternal
interaction, I indicate in the Encyclical the principles of subsidiarity
and solidarity, which are closely connected. Lastly, in the face of the
problems of today's world that are so immense and profound, I point out
the need for a world political authority, regulated by law, which would
abide by the above-mentioned principles of subsidiarity and solidarity
and would be firmly oriented to the realization of the common good with
respect for humanity's great moral and religious traditions.
The Gospel reminds us that man does not live on bread
alone: it is impossible to satisfy the profound thirst of the human
heart solely with material goods. The human horizon is undoubtedly
higher and broader; for this reason every development programme must
alongside the material
the spiritual growth of the human person, who is endowed with both a
body and a soul. This is the integral development to which the Church's
social doctrine constantly refers. The criterion that orients it is the
driving force of "charity in truth".
Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray that this
Encyclical may also help humanity to feel that it is one family
committed to bringing about a world of justice and peace. Let us pray
that believers who work in the financial and political sectors may
realize how important their consistent Gospel witness is in the service
they render to society. In particular, I invite you to pray for the
Heads of State and Government of the G8 who are meeting in these days at
May this important World Summit result in decisions and
approaches that will serve the true progress of all peoples, especially
the poorest. Let us entrust these intentions to the maternal
intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church and of mankind.