Friday, July 10, 2009

"[T]ruth is not something we produce"- CL on Caritas in veritate

We are grateful to the Holy Father that in his social encyclical he has again proposed the originality of the faith and the contribution that Christians can give to social life and development.

To us it seems critical that at the beginning of an encyclical dedicated to human affairs, the Pope, with great realism, is recalling everyone to something basic and evident, which, if denied, leads every human effort to become unjust to the point of violence: "Sometimes modern man is wrongly convinced that he is the sole author of himself, his life and society. This is a presumption that ... is a consequence ... of original sin. The Church’s wisdom has always pointed to the presence of original sin in social conditions and in the structure of society." Recent experience, in fact, teaches us that the claim of self-sufficiency and of being able to "eliminate the evil present in history by his own action alone has led man to confuse happiness and salvation with immanent forms of material prosperity and social action."

On the contrary, the truth about ourselves is first of all "given": "[T]ruth is not something that we produce; it is always found, or better, received." This is why the Pope affirms that "[c]harity in truth ... is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity... In Christ, charity in truth becomes the Face of his Person."

Benedict XVI recalls us to the fact (which, as current events show, is more and more often forgotten) that a "Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance. In other words, there would no longer be any real place for God in the world."

Caritas in veritate asserts that the Church “does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim to interfere in any way in politics,” but does have a mission to accomplish: proclaiming Christ as "the first and principal factor of development."

Along this path of witness we feel challenged to verify, within the context of daily life, the import of faith in Christ, as the One who places us in the best conditions for facing the myriad of problems in the economic, financial, social and political fields enumerated by the encyclical.

In the next issue of Traces, the monthly international magazine of the movement coming out next week, a booklet with the text of Caritas in veritate will be enclosed.

CL press office
Milan, July 8, 2009


  1. Yes, as Benedict says in paragraph 3: "Only in truth does charity shine forth."

    This is such a difficult thing for many contemporary men and women to understand, i.e., the relationship between truth and love, between truth and freedom to love as we ought. Truth, as we know, is the God in whom we believe, who is both Love and Truth, (Agape and Logos).

  2. As a contemporary person myself, I often find it difficult to adhere to the truth, even knowing that the truth is a Person. You are right it is easier to keep rules than to love and it is easy to be confused about what it means to love. Examples from my own life abound.

  3. Some do find it easier to follow rules than to love. Others seem to want to make their own rules in the name of love. John Paul II wrote of these, calling the former heteronomists and the latter autonomists. Catholic moral thinking has always been what JPII called "participated theonomy", something all of us struggle to live.

    I find all of this helpful when I teach classes. I find many simply wanting to be told what to do. (Give me the rules!). Others resent "authority" and want to make up their own rules for living, (Don't tell me what to do. I must be free to follow what I think is right!).

    Both need to be lead to the Truth,from whom we have come and to whom we are oriented. We are adopted children of God and thus participate in the truth and are called to make free personal moral decisions in obedience to Truth. This requires a relationship with God, and a well-formed conscience. Then we can, as Augustine said, "Love and do what you will."

  4. I think you hit the nail on the head. That God loves us and wants us to be happy is something that requires experience and education.