Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Papal Encyclical Coming ("Caritas in Veritate") - from "Inside the Vatican" March 2009

"As the 16 month-old disintegration of the post-World War II financial system seems to be accelerating to a climax, Pope Benedict XVI is preparing a major papal encyclical outlining the principles behind a just and stable economy.

"Financial market from New York to Tokyo in early March stood at lower levels than at any other time since the mid-1990s as global trade flows continued to contract, fueling fears that the entire financial ‘architecture’ of the post-war period, now seemingly fibrillating, could enter a period of ‘cardiac arrest’ – complete financial collapse – with a global depression of uncertain duration ensuing.

"This global economic crisis has contributed to the delay in the publication of Pope Benedict XVI’s new social encyclical tentatively titled Caritas in Veritate (‘Love in Truth’) because the Pope is trying to study the complicated issue in order to write clearly on the subject.

"If the encyclical ‘does not deal competently with the economic reality, it cannot be credible,’ Pope Benedict said on February 26 in Rome. ‘As you know, for a long time we have been preparing an encyclical on these points, and on its long journey one can see how difficult it is to speak competently about it.’

"The Pope’s message fundamentally will be one of hope, no matter how devastating the global financial crisis becomes. But it will not seem hopeful to some, because it will be filled also with truth about how false economic principles and moral ideals can lead mankind toward the abyss.

"On February 26, during a meeting with pastors and clergy of the diocese of Rome in the Hall of Blessings in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Benedict answered eight questions. One dealt with the world economic crisis.

"The Church as a duty to present a reasonable and well-argued criticism of the errors that have led to the current economic crisis, Benedict said.

"This duty form part of the Church’s mission and must be exercised firmly and courageously, avoiding moralism but explaining matters using concrete reasons that may be understood by everyone,' he said.

"Referring to his forthcoming encyclical, the Pope said it will analyze the crisis at two levels.

"The first aspect is the systemic, or ‘macroeconomic’ level. The Pope noted the shortcomings of a system founded on selfishness and the idolatry of money. These passions cast a shadow over man’s reason and will, and lead him into the ways of error, the Pope said.

"Here the Church is called to make her voice heard – nationally and internationally – in order to help bring about a change of direction and show the path of true reason illuminated by faith, which is the path of self-sacrifice and concern for the needy, he said.

"The second aspect of the Holy Father’s analysis will be the personal and the local sphere (‘microeconomics’). Large-scale projects for reform cannot come about unless individuals alter their ways, he said. If there are no just people, then there can be no justice.

"Hence he invited people to intensify their humble, everyday efforts for the conversion of hearts, an undertaking that above all involves parishes whose activity is not just limited ot he local community but opens up to all humanity.

"On the level of global economic systems, the Pope said almost every person in every country is feeling the consequences of ‘these fundamental errors that have been revealed in the failure of the large American banks; the error at the basis of it is human greed.

"‘We must denounce this (system) with courage, but also with concreteness because moralizing will not help if it is not supported by an understanding of reality, which also will help us understand what can be done concretely to change the situation,’ he said.

"While the global financial system must be reformed, the Pope said, individuals also must accept the fact that they will have to make some sacrifices in order to help the poor and move the world toward justice.”

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