THE RECENT PAPAL
"CARITAS IN VERITATE"
(Charity in Truth)
Sister Brenda Walsh, Racine
The new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" released
from the Vatican on July 7th calls us beyond our own personal issues
and concerns to a global perspectives and concern about issues such as
economics, politics and greater ecological awareness. The document reminds us to
look beyond our own local concerns to the well-being of the millions that lack
basic needs like food, water and shelter, and also calls us to social
responsibility for the sake of generations yet to come.
Pope Benedict also declares in the Encyclical that
"the whole church in all her being and acting – when she proclaims, when she
celebrates, when she performs works of charity, is engaged in promoting integral
human development, which concerns every dimension of the human person." We have
many situations in this time that illustrate this, such as the economic crisis,
the environmental destruction, mass migration, lack of food and water for
millions and in the US, the need for health care for all and endless wars that
only lead to more violence and take needed resources away from our responses to
basic human needs.
When we listen to the news, we need to consider the
ethical and moral implications of what we see and hear. It implies that
economics at all levels must be governed by ethical principles since it affects
so many lives. We cannot have charity without justice which is the basis of
charity. This calls for fair trade, respect for workers, a more equitable
distribution of wealth, concern for the human development of all people and
concern for the common good. In addition, care for the earth and all our natural
resources are also a requirement.
We are called to reexamine our consumerism and
materialism as a way of life and, at a national and international level, the use
militarism and violence as a way of solving problems The world’s richest nations
are called to share more of their resources with the poorest around the world
and empower them to access and use their resources for their own well-being. The
encyclical condemns corruption in economics, the exploitation of workers and
destruction of the environment. We also need to find peaceful ways of solving
national and international problems and divert the money spent on militarism and
violence toward human development for all people. When we talk of being
pro-life, it means being pro-life for all people – at every age and stage.
Health care for all in the US is a moral obligation, not a political game that
people play to retain their own power and influence. The infant mortality rate
among the uninsured is 25% higher than in the population that has access to
health care. Human trafficking both nationally and globally is another example
of the need for a consistent life ethic.
What can people of faith do to take the encyclical
seriously and begin to implement it? Pick one or two of the following.
- Study the encyclical with a group and come up
with some ways to put it into practice.
- Continue to work for health care for all in
the US. Make our voices heard on behalf of the 47 million who do not have
access to care.
- Open up markets for the people in the poorest
nations. Get information on Fair Trade products and make them available to
faith communities and the general public. The money will directly benefit
the people who produced the goods. A good contact is Catholic Relief
Services/Fair Trade. Contact
- Consider socially responsible investments that
help groups start or operate their business and move toward self-reliance.
An example is Self-Help Credit Union. See
Another is Trillium Asset Management Corporation. See
- Join the green movement and work toward care
for the environment in your local area. See
(Wisconsin Council of Churches)
- Help local farmers to find ways to market
their produce locally.
- Find groups that support the availability of
safe drinking water in the poorest areas of the world.
- Write to legislators and to the UN and urge
them to work for fair trade, respect for workers and care for the
environment and to divert massive amounts of funds used for militarism and
war toward basic human needs.
- Find ways to simplify our lifestyles.
- Write letters to the editor of your local
newspaper and raise questions named in the encyclical and encourage a local
- Study "Community Wealth," by Gar Alperowicz ,
who helps local people develop cooperatives and keep the wealth in the local
- Look up, "Growing Power – Milwaukee and
Chicago" and see how the organization has transformed neighborhoods
- by supporting locally produced foods. Check
As the popular song goes: "Let us build the city of
God" and begin today with courage and hope.