Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 13, 2009
Scholars hail 'Caritas' for breaking new ground
NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
Pope Benedict's new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate breaks new ground on such topics as microfinancing, intellectual property rights, globalization and the concept of putting one's wealth at the service of the poor, according to Catholic scholars.
In interviews and in statements about the encyclical, commentators said the document takes on several issues not previously addressed so comprehensively.
"I was surprised . . . at how wide-ranging it is," said Kirk Hanson, a business ethics professor at Santa Clara University in California and executive director of the Jesuit-run university's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
Hanson said he also was struck by Pope Benedict's concept of "gratuitousness" or "giftedness," which reminds people "not to consider wealth ours alone" and asks the wealthy to "be ready to put (their money) in service for the good of others."
The encyclical is "a plea for the wealthiest on the planet to put their wealth toward the development of peoples," he said.
Terrence Tilley, who chairs the theology department at Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York, said one unique aspect of the encyclical is the pope's "vision that all flows from the love of God."
"It's unusual as a theological reflection on social justice," he said. "But that's what holds it all together."
Officials of International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity, an international alliance of Catholic development agencies known as CIDSE, hailed the encyclical.
The document might convince wealthier countries to "make up for broken promises" to the developing world, they said.
"Political leadership in resolving the (global economic) crisis is lacking and developing countries continue to suffer the direst consequences," said Bernd Nilles, secretary-general of the organization based in Brussels, Belgium.
"It's time for true reform and solidarity in the fight against global poverty."