.- The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders has become the first lay organization in the world to give the Vatican an official response to Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Caritas in Veritate.”
“The response provides a beautiful vision of how to practice your Catholic faith in the business world and how that world is supposed to be,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, who is a founding member of the group.
Archbishop Gomez was in Rome as part of a delegation to present the Vatican with a 28-page book that outlines the Latino leaders' response to the Pope’s encyclical.
In “Caritas in Veritate,” translated as “Charity in Truth, Pope Benedict offers an ethical framework for new thinking on social and economic matters. Published in 2009, it made headlines worldwide as it was seen as a Vatican response to the global economic crisis.
“The idea of responding to a papal encyclical – as unusual as that may be – was actually born when we were here for meeting in the Vatican last year,” explained the association's president, Robert Aguirre, who was also in Rome for the handover.
Aguirre told CNA how the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, told them during last year's trip that “encyclicals go out and yet we never hear back from lay people.”
“So we thought it would be a wonderful idea if we took up that responsibility and said here is how we as lay people must respond to the Holy Father’s words and teachings,” said Aguirre.
“So we actually put that into a book which, to me, is actually more like a prayer book than anything else, but we came here to present that text here in Rome.”
The visit by the delegation to Rome has met with some of the Vatican’s most senior departments and personnel over the past few days. At a private meeting with Cardinal Turkson late last week, the group gifted him with two presentation boxes containing their book – one for the cardinal, appropriately red in color, and another for the Pope. The papal book was appropriately white.
Cardinal Turkson told CNA that he found the idea to be “a very commendable venture, that a group of laymen have seriously taken up an encyclical of the Holy Father, read it themselves and then come up with an implementation version that can be applied in society.”
He said he would now like to see other lay groups follow the Catholic Latino association's example.
Established in 2007, the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders is an organization of lay people drawn from the worlds of business and the professions. Also joining their delegation in Rome was Jose Ambrozic, the Director of the St. Malo Retreat Center in Colorado, and Fr. Matthew Munoz, a priest from Orange County in California.
They told Vatican officials how the “Caritas in Veritate” response will now be studied in the local chapters throughout the U.S. They also hope it will help the Pope’s encyclical achieve a greater influence upon an economic system still struggling to emerge from financial crisis.
Jose Gonzales, a Wall Street businessman and member of the group's Roman delegation, said that in the process of writing their response they found that the encyclical “makes clear that in order to understand what this crisis means you have to think beyond the crisis – (beyond) merely its economic and financial implications – and towards its human implications.
Gonzales also said that “Caritas in Veritate” applies to “the way we have to rebuild this economic system which, without being overly dramatic, is more or less crumbling.”