New Ecyclical Caritas in Veritate: Ethical Basis for Addressing Societal Crisis Today

Benedict XVI's latest encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" (full text: www.vatican.va)offers a unique vision by using traditional principles to enlighten today's societal issues such as globalization, the economy, technology and the environment. rawing from the ecclesiastical magisterium of the past half-century, the Holy Father offers a theological prism developed through long reflection upon the relationship of faith and reason, truth and freedom, and the primacy of the human person in a communion of love through which we must view the social teaching and doctrine of the Catholic Church. This encyclical is, truly, a celebration of the Church's social teaching, with a special emphasis on Pope Paul VI's landmark post-Vatican II social encyclical "Populorum Progressio"(1967).

Further, it is clear in Pope Benedict's writing that the human person is not merely a sum of his or her parts, so to speak, but, rather, an integral -- the word is used throughout this text -- whole: physical, spiritual, social, psychological, emotional, sexual, etc. Benedict XVI writes that the challenge of human development today is "linked to technological progress," calling technology "a profoundly human reality" related to "the autonomy and freedom of man."

Pope Benedict calls technology "the objective side of human action," but cautions that technological advancement "can give rise to the idea that technology is self-sufficient." Pope message advocates that both fascination with and development of technology must be accompanied by "decisions that are the fruit of human responsibility [...] there cannot be holistic development and universal common good [themes of this encyclical] unless people's spiritual and moral welfare is taken into account, considered in their totality as body and soul."

Procreation and sexuality, abortion and euthanasia, the manipulating of human identity and eugenic selection are evaluated as social problems of primary importance, which, if they are handled according to a logic of pure production, deform social sensitivity, undermining the sense of law, corroding the family and making it difficult to welcome the weak. The encyclical affirms that it is no longer possible "to implement development programs that are exclusively about economics-production, which do not systematically take into account as well the dignity of woman, of procreation, of the family, and the rights of the unborn."

In sum, the encyclical has the great merit of rising above outdated ideas and the oversimplification of complex problems. Attention is directed again to man, the object of truth and love and himself capable of loving and knowing the truth.

Suggestion: I highly recommend that everyone read it, especially all in ethics and philosophy.

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