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A Sneak Preview Of Upcoming Social Encyclical 18-02-2009
PANAJI, Goa(SAR NEWS) --Benedict XVI is reportedly working on his third encyclical expected to give a fresh look at the 21st Century. The Pope’s Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone confirmed the existence of the encyclical. The Pope doesn’t want to repeat common concepts of the Church’s social doctrine, but wants to offer something original, according to the challenges of today.”

The Holy Father may have given an insight into the themes of his encyclical when he addressed the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences examining the interrelationship between “four fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching: the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity and solidarity.”

“These key realities,” the Pontiff said, “which emerge from the living contact between the Gospel and concrete social circumstances, offer a framework for viewing and addressing the imperatives facing humankind at the dawn of the 21st century, such as reducing inequalities in the distribution of goods, expanding opportunities for education, fostering sustainable growth and development, and protecting the environment.”

Benedict XVI suggested, “We can initially sketch the interconnections between these four principles by placing the dignity of the person at the intersection of two axes: one horizontal, representing ‘solidarity’ and ‘subsidiarity’, and one vertical, representing the ‘common good’.

This creates a field upon which we can plot the various points of Catholic social teaching that give shape to the common good. “Nevertheless, though the graphic gives an idea of the principles’ interweaving,” the Pope stated, “the reality is much more complex”.

He said solidarity and subsidiarity must be placed within the context of the Trinity. He further proposed that these two principles “have the potential to place men and women on the path to discovering their definitive, supernatural destiny”.

“The eyes of faith permit us to see that the heavenly and earthly cities interpenetrate and are intrinsically ordered to one another, inasmuch as they both belong to God the Father, who is above all and through all and in all.” “At the same time, faith places into sharper focus the due autonomy of earthly affairs, insofar as they are endowed with their own stability, truth, goodness, proper laws and order,” he added.

G-8 Nations' Bishops Urge Plan for Food Crisis The bishops’ conferences of the nations included in the G-8 – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States – appealed to their leaders to address global poverty and climate change. “We pray that your meeting will be blessed by a spirit of collaboration that enables you to advance the global common good by taking concrete measures to reduce poverty and address climate change,” the prelates concluded.

“The experience of the Catholic Church in serving the needs of poor communities leads us to applaud the summit’s focus on development and Africa.”

The prelates affirmed that the global food crisis and the toll of HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases “make concerted action even more urgent”. They also focused on global climate change, “an issue of particular concern to people of faith based on our commitment to protect God’s creation”. “As Catholic bishops, we have a special concern for the impact of climate change on the poor,” they wrote. “The poor, who have contributed least to the human activities that aggravate global climate change, are likely to experience a disproportionate share of its harmful effects, including potential conflicts, escalating energy costs, and health problems.

President of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Oscar Rodrguez Maradiaga, lamented the current rates of progress, the Millennium Development Goals set to be attained by 2015, may take 100 years to reach. “There is now a real danger that the Millennium Development Goals will be remembered as empty words. This can only fuel the cynicism with which so many people in developing countries already regard rich countries’ expressions of concern.”

The cardinal noted that the term set for achieving the goals is already half over.

The eight Millennium Development Goals are: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership of development.

Cardinal Maradiaga also spoke on the issue of climate change. “Climate change is being felt the hardest by the poor in developing countries – those who are least responsible for the emissions that are causing it,” he lamented.

The recent catastrophic global financial meltdown may also figure in the new social encyclical. All these burning global social issues have to be woven into Pope Benedict’s faith reflection in the new social encyclical. It presents a challenge of faith worth waiting for.


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