Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fighting hunger, beefing up unions part of pope’s new social encyclical

National Catholic Reporter
by John L Allen Jr on Jun. 27, 2009

In his long-awaited new encyclical on the economy, Pope Benedict XVI appears set to call for new global “synergies” among labor unions in order to resist cuts in social safety nets, stronger efforts to combat world hunger, and greater protections for the “ecological health of the planet.”

Beyond those policy matters, the pontiff also will apparently strike three vintage personal themes:

• Social justice depends upon individual conversion, and the roots of the present crisis are in an “ethical deficit” within economic structures, especially greed;
• The defense of the poor and the defense of unborn life, implying opposition to abortion and artificial birth control, are necessarily linked.
• Preaching Christ is not a distraction from building a better world, but “the principal resource at the service of the true development of every single person and of all humanity.”

Benedict’s new social encyclical, titled Veritas in Caritate (“Truth in Charity”), will likely not be released until early July, but this morning’s Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, carried lengthy extracts.

While the pope has consulted a number of experts, both economists and theologians, the final text of the encyclical appears to be very much his own work. According to the Corriere report, Benedict XVI has been working on the text for months, even correcting a draft during his mid-May trip to the Middle East.

As the title suggests, the idea of “truth” runs through the encyclical like a leitmotif.

“Without truth, without trust and love for the truth, there is no conscience and no sense of social responsibility,” the encyclical will assert, according to the extracts published this morning.

In the absence of respect for truth, Benedict writes, “Social action falls into the hands of private interests and the logic of power, with destabilizing effects on society, all the more so in a society undergoing globalization.”

The pope apparently will invite commercial and political leaders to cultivate a new awareness of “the social responsibility of a business firm in an ample sense, which takes account of all the social effects of its activity.” He will also call for “urgent reforms in order to respond, courageously and without delay, to the great problems of injustice in the development of peoples.”

“Development of peoples,” the pope writes, “depends above all upon the recognition that we’re all part of one family.”

Though the pope takes on complicated questions about international economic structures in Veritas in Caritate, he also writes that the present crisis was born of an “ethical deficit” among individual persons, and that recovery will require a common ethical code founded “at the same time upon faith and reason.”

“Development is impossible without just human beings, without economic and political leaders who live the appeal to the common good strongly in their own consciences,” the pope writes.


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