Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 13, 2009
Benedict puts openness to life at center of human development
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
VATICAN CITY - Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict's new encyclical, has linked the respect for human life inextricably with human development.
"Openness to life is at the centre of true development," the pope wrote in the letter issued July 7. "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."
An openness to life helps wealthy people to better understand the needs of the poor, he said.
It can also help them to "avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens." Instead, the pope said, they can take action that is morally sound and marked by solidarity.
Pope Benedict also criticized the view that sees population increase as a main cause of underdevelopment. "Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource."
Well-populated nations have emerged from poverty at least in part because of the size of their population and the talents of their people.
Conversely, formerly prosperous nations are entering "a phase of uncertainty and in some cases decline precisely because of their falling birth rates."
The declining number of births is straining systems of social welfare, eating into people's savings and thus reducing the amount of money available for investment and narrowing the "brain pool," the pope said.
"Furthermore, smaller and at times miniscule families run the risk of impoverishing social relations and failing to ensure effective forms of solidarity."
In such situations, he said, there is "scant confidence in the future and moral weariness."