In his newest column, Archbishop of San Antonio José H. Gomez has discussed Pope Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical “Caritas In Veritate.” Highlighting some of its main points, he exhorted all Catholics to read this “valuable contribution” to Catholic social doctrine, since it cannot be captured by media sound-bites.
Writing in his column for his archdiocesan newspaper Today’s Catholic, Archbishop Gomez said Caritas In Veritate is “not only a true source of guidance for all Catholics, but it is also a valuable contribution to the building of the fundamental structure of society that is the social doctrine of the Church.”
Neither the secular media nor supporters of different economic theories have given a “proper interpretation” of the encyclical, he wrote.
“Some have tried to find in the Pope’s third encyclical a reaffirmation of their own ideological and political tendencies, others, including some journalists who, in good faith, have only reported on selected principles in the encyclical in a way that makes it sound more like ‘news’, linking it to some fleeting events.”
However, the encyclical is best understood “in the full context of the social doctrine of the Church,” Archbishop Gomez said.
“I believe that each Catholic should read it, ponder it, and live it,” he wrote, highlighting five points.
First, he remarked, it is important to know that the Church has a “social doctrine,” a set of proposals for the organization of public life that emanate from Christian charity under the governance of truth. Archbishop Gomez quoted Pope Benedict’s words that a Christianity that has charity without truth would be interchangeable with “a pool of good sentiments” but without any real place for God in the world.
The second point that the archbishop drew from the Pope's encyclical was that Catholic social doctrine places the human person and his “true development” at its center, a progress that “cannot be limited to material success.”
He linked Caritas In Veritate with Pope Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio, which said wise reflection and a “new humanism” are even more necessary than technical experts to help people enjoy love, friendship, prayer and contemplation.
Archbishop Gomez then mentioned his third point, saying that Catholic social doctrine cannot be separated from the defense of the right to life and the “explicit proclamation” of the Gospel.
The fourth insight the archbishop noted was that “all the aspects of the contemporary world, such as globalization or the accelerated development of technology, can and should be analyzed and judged from the foundation of Faith and reason, to promote what is good and to prevent what is harmful to human beings.”
Finally, the San Antonio archbishop emphasized that Christians have the right and the duty to take the Gospel to the public sphere because “the building of a world without God necessarily leads to the building of systems that go against the human person.”
This is reflected in Pope Benedict’s encyclical, which says authentic development requires prayerful Christians moved by the knowledge that “truth-filled love” is given to us from God.
“I strongly encourage not only all the Catholics of the Archdiocese but all Christians and men and women of good will to read the Pope’s encyclical letter to rediscover the perennial wisdom of the teachings of the Church and the deep and innovating theology of Pope Benedict XVI,” Archbishop Gomez’s column concluded.