Monday 25 March 2024

Caritas in Veritate - Pope Benedict XVI - CTS Books

Caritas in Veritate: 
Encyclical Letter on Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth
Encyclicals & Exhortations of Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
ISBN 9781860825156
ISBN 186082515X
CTS Booklet B718

Caritas in Veritate - Pope Benedict SVI - CTS Books

Over the last few years, I have read a number of books by and about Pope Benedict XVI. Of the popes in my lifetime, I find his writings of immense spiritual benefit. I would state that I underappreciated him until his resignation. And since then, I have read much. And with each piece I read I appreciate his wisdom, faith, and stand against modernism. This was an excellent read. There are two editions of this work, and they are nearly identical. In Europe this volume was published by the Catholic Truth Society called Caritas in Veritate: Encyclical Letter on Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth. In North America Ignatius Press published once called Charity In Truth with a subtitle of Caritas in Veritate. I had tracked down this volume and was reading it when I picked up the eBook from Ignatius. Thus, I read about half the book in each edition.

The descriptions on the back of the two volumes are very different. The description of the edition of the book is:

“Benedict XVI's first social encyclical responds in full to many pressing concerns of today's world. The social teaching of the Catholic Church and its emphasis on the common good is re-proposed with great clarity and with renewed vigour following the recent financial crisis.

Pope Benedict proposes a framework for human development that does not diminish the dignity of the human being and does not exclude anyone, thus "bringing about the development of the whole man and of all men".

The new problems and opportunities of a globalised world are explored in detail. Pope Benedict encourages us to imbue global trends with a respect for life and a civilization of love. He explores economic development by pointing out that there must exist, beyond 'the state' and 'the market', an area of civil society characterised by fraternal charity - both locally and globally.

Benedict calls for respect for the environment but always within a context that in tum respects the ecology of mankind.

In particular the recognition that humanity is a single family must be based on a care for families, since the greatest poverty for any person is to be isolated from his fellows.

Pope Benedict also assesses technological advances and points to the danger that a self-sufficient technology leads to "too much attention being given the 'how' questions and not enough to the many 'why' questions".”

This volume was published at the end of the Pauline year and is one of a few volumes on Paul penned by Pope Benedict XVI. The chapters in this edition are:

The message Pupulorum Progressio
Human Development in Our Time 
Fraternity, Economic Development and Civil Society
The Development of People - Rights and Duties - The Environment
The Cooperation of the Human Family
The Development of Peoples and Technology

It should be noted that the Ignatius edition includes the paragraph numbering range for each section. I highlighted a number of passages while reading this volume, some of them are:

“To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, “rejoices in the truth”.”

“Charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine. Every responsibility and every commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law.”

“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. That light is both the light of reason and the light of faith, through which the intellect attains to the natural and supernatural truth of charity: it grasps its meaning as gift, acceptance, and communion. Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality.”

“Truth frees charity from the constraints of an emotionalism that deprives it of relational and social content, and of a fideism that deprives it of human and universal breathing-space. In the truth, charity reflects the personal yet public dimension of faith in the God of the Bible, who is both Agápe and Lógos: Charity and Truth, Love and Word.”

“Another important consideration is the common good. 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 common good. It is the good of “all of us”, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society.”

“In 1967, when he issued the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, my venerable predecessor Pope Paul VI illuminated the great theme of the development of peoples with the splendor of truth and the gentle light of Christ’s charity. He taught that life in Christ is the first and principal factor of development6 and he entrusted us with the task of travelling the path of development with all our heart and all our intelligence, 7 that is to say with the ardor of charity and the wisdom of truth.”

“The correct viewpoint, then, is that of the Tradition of the apostolic faith, 13 a patrimony both ancient and new, outside of which Populorum Progressio would be a document without roots—and issues concerning development would be reduced to merely sociological data.”

“In addition to its important link with the entirety of the Church’s social doctrine, Populorum Progressio is closely connected to the overall magisterium of Paul VI, especially his social magisterium. His was certainly a social teaching of great importance: he underlined the indispensable importance of the Gospel for building a society according to freedom and justice, in the ideal and historical perspective of a civilization animated by love.”

“This is not a question of purely individual morality: Humanae Vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae.”

“As society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbors but does not make us brothers. Reason, by itself, is capable of grasping the equality between men and of giving stability to their civic coexistence, but it cannot establish fraternity. This originates in a transcendent vocation from God the Father, who loved us first, teaching us through the Son what fraternal charity is. Paul VI, presenting the various levels in the process of human development, placed at the summit, after mentioning faith, “unity in the charity of Christ who calls us all to share as sons in the life of the living God, the Father of all”.”

“The economic development that Paul VI hoped to see was meant to produce real growth, of benefit to everyone and genuinely sustainable. It is true that growth has taken place, and it continues to be a positive factor that has lifted billions of people out of misery—recently it has given many countries the possibility of becoming effective players in international politics. Yet it must be acknowledged that this same economic growth has been and continues to be weighed down by malfunctions and dramatic problems, highlighted even further by the current crisis.”

“Many areas of the globe today have evolved considerably, albeit in problematical and disparate ways, thereby taking their place among the great powers destined to play important roles in the future. Yet it should be stressed that progress of a merely economic and technological kind is insufficient.”

“Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.”

“One of the deepest forms of poverty a person can experience is isolation. If we look closely at other kinds of poverty, including material forms, we see that they are born from isolation, from not being loved or from difficulties in being able to love. Poverty is often produced by a rejection of God’s love, by man’s basic and tragic tendency to close in on himself, thinking himself to be self-sufficient or merely an insignificant and ephemeral fact, a “stranger” in a random universe.”

“When technology is allowed to take over, the result is confusion between ends and means, such that the sole criterion for action in business is thought to be the maximization of profit, in politics the consolidation of power, and in science the findings of research. Often, underneath the intricacies of economic, financial and political interconnections, there remain misunderstandings, hardships and injustice. The flow of technological know-how increases, but it is those in possession of it who benefit, while the situation on the ground for the peoples who live in its shadow remains unchanged: for them there is little chance of emancipation.”

“Linked to technological development is the increasingly pervasive presence of the means of social communications. It is almost impossible today to imagine the life of the human family without them. For better or for worse, they are so integral a part of life today that it seems quite absurd to maintain that they are neutral—and hence unaffected by any moral considerations concerning people.”

“Paul VI had already recognized and drawn attention to the global dimension of the social question. 155 Following his lead, we need to affirm today that the social question has become a radically anthropological question, in the sense that it concerns not just how life is conceived but also how it is manipulated, as bio-technology places it increasingly under man’s control.”

“The question of development is closely bound up with our understanding of the human soul, insofar as we often reduce the self to the psyche and confuse the soul’s health with emotional well-being. These over-simplifications stem from a profound failure to understand the spiritual life, and they obscure the fact that the development of individuals and peoples depends partly on the resolution of problems of a spiritual nature. Development must include not just material growth but also spiritual growth, since the human person is a “unity of body and soul”, 156 born of God’s creative love and destined for eternal life.”

“It requires new eyes and a new heart, capable of rising above a materialistic vision of human events, capable of glimpsing in development the “beyond” that technology cannot give. By following this path, it is possible to pursue the integral human development that takes its direction from the driving force of charity in truth.”

“At the conclusion of the Pauline Year, I gladly express this hope in the Apostle’s own words, taken from the Letter to the Romans: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12: 9-10).”

I hope those quotes give you a feel for this excellent volume. This was the third and final encyclical written by Pope Benedict XVI. It is understood he was working on a fourth when he made the decision to step down as pope in 2013. It is nearly twice the length of the previous two, but part of that is the analysis of the progression from Pupulorum Progressio by Pope Paul VI to 20 years later Sollicitudo Rei Socialis by Saint Pope John Paul II to this volume 20 years after that.

This work was more academic than some of the others by Pope Benedict XVI that I have read. But by fat not the most academic. There was a lot to think about, reflect on and ingest in this work. It is a volume that really has made me think and reflect. Which is good since I choose in 2024 to focus some of my Lenten readings on the works of Benedict XVI. What I love most about this encyclical is that Benedict XVI shows us the progression. He leads us through the previous church documents that are the foundation for this work. There is extensive research evident in the volume, and it shows the continuity of the faith. 

This is an excellent volume. I randomly pick from the three Encyclicals of Benedict XVI for which to read first. This was a great place to start. I appreciated both editions of this book that I have read. And I can easily recommend it to any Catholic. A great resource from the Catholic Truth Society. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Note currently available in a hardcover edition with the other two encyclicals.

Caritas in Veritate - Pope Benedict SVI - CTS Books

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