Charity in truth

Today I’m pointing you folks to an excellent summary of Pope Benedict’s Encyclical Charity in Truth (Caritas In Veritate), by John Hart, a Professor of Christian Ethics at Boston University. While we find parts of the encyclical problematic, there’s no question that this is an important document which agrees in many particulars with our own concerns. In particular, the calls for subsidiarity, inter-generational justice, a better relationship between humanity and the rest of the natural environment, and the consideration of peace as an environmental concern are all ideas which we wholeheartedly support. The Quaker Institute for the Future wants to find common ground to work with people of all faiths, in solidarity for a flourishing Earth.

In the Encyclical Benedict recalls some traditional Catholic ecological/eco-justice themes and phrasing. As has been customary in Church documents, the twofold thrust is care for creation/compassion for the poor (people, peoples, nations). The major issues are protection of the planet and provision for the poor. There is a customary omission of serious consideration of population issues in terms of strains on natural goods (“resources”) by continuously expanding populations, and consequent diminished availability of goods for the poor. Benedict does rightly reiterate, in this author’s assessment, the strain on the availability of natural goods, on members of the extended biotic community. He notes especially the strain on Earth’s integrity and well being, of consumerism, greed, and political manipulation of poor nations by powerful nations, ordinarily in the interests of the wealthiest and most politically powerful segments of the dominant nations. Dangers and benefits of globalization are stated, as are issues of war and peace, migration, the rights of labor (including the right to form unions), and abuses of wealth, the market, and economic structures. He calls for intergenerational responsibility to future generations, as well as for compassion and concern for people who are suffering now. There is a strong commitment to promoting the common good versus individual aggrandizement.

For the full text of the summary, please visit the Forum On Religion and Ecology.


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