The Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Angelo Amato, who worked with then Cardinal Ratzinger at the dicastery, said the first encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI, “Deus caritas est”, is an “invitation to return to the basics of Christianity.”
In excerpts from an interview with the magazine Famiglia Cristiana published by Europa Press, Archbishop Amato explained that the Pope has written the encyclical “to re-launch the idea that the Christian God is a God of charity, and he says so at the beginning when he refers to the world and when in the name of God people speak of vengeance, hatred and violence.”
According to Europa Press, Archbishop Amato is “one of the few who have followed the drafting of the encyclical” and that he does not agree with those who do not consider the document “pragmatic,” as it addresses “the central issue of Christianity,” which is “the religion of charity.”
Archbishop Amato said this first encyclical is different from John Paul II’s, Redemptor hominis, because there the late Pontiff described his agenda for his pontificate. “Benedict XVI, however, explains the essential nucleus of Christianity, that is, charity, love and the reflection of these in the actions of the Church,” he said.
The archbishop also explained that the section of the encyclical that addresses love between man and woman presents “a theology of spousal reality.” “The Pope compares eros and agape together, he does not exclude one in favor of the other but explains that eros need not enclose itself in selfishness, exclusively for pleasure, but rather must become agape, that is, care for one’s neighbor,” he added.