Archbishop Wuerl Welcomes Timely Encyclical on Social Teaching

July 07, 2009

Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl today welcomed the latest encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate, “Charity in truth.” The third encyclical by the Holy Father explores the impact of the Church’s social doctrine “in a globalized society at difficult times like the present” (5).

“Pope Benedict’s new encyclical, Caritas in veritate, is very welcome and particularly timely as our political and economic leaders struggle to address the devastating global economic crisis. He makes clear that economic and political decisions and policies must be based on solid moral and ethical principles rooted in the truth and therefore that respect the dignity of each person and consider the impact the decisions will have on people, particularly the poor and most vulnerable.

“Our Holy Father reminds us that ‘charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine…Love is God’s greatest gift to humanity, it is his promise and our hope’ (2). He also teaches us that ‘Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity’ (3). The encyclical goes on to recall for all people of goodwill the interconnectedness of nations, economies and people. The actions of one nation can reverberate broadly, thereby impacting many. Responsibility does not stop at a nation’s borders nor does it fall solely to political leaders. Universal human truths about human dignity transcend geographic, economic and political boundaries. The community as a whole has a responsibility to promote the well-being of its members.

“On a personal level and on a corporate and political level, we must make decisions that reflect ‘fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom and the possibility of integral human development’ (9). In this way we show our solidarity with others and avoid the injustices of poverty and mistreatment of the environment.”

Caritas in veritate is Pope Benedict XVI’s third encyclical. The other two were Deus caritas est (God is Love; December 25, 2005) and Spe salvi (On Christian Hope; November 30, 2007). Today’s encyclical, which revisits in depth Pope Paul VI’s letter Populorum Progressio, builds upon more than a century of papal encyclicals and guidance on Catholic social teaching and the principles, such as the dignity of the human person, that should underlie economic and social life and decision-making. A list of the social encyclicals is online.

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