The Pope's Road Map
- Fr. Cedric Prakash sj *
The Pope has done it! This time, however, in a way far different, with which he is generally characterized. In a stand, which is bound to have far reaching implications on the global moral, social, economic and political order, Benedict XVI made public on July 7th, 2009, his latest Encyclical letter entitled "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth).
The document aims to delve more deeply into certain aspects of the integral development of our age in the light of charity and truth. In the very opening para, the Holy Father emphasizes that, "love caritas - is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace". Further, in the introductory remarks, the Pope considers two important criteria which are of special relevance to the commitment to development in an increasingly globalised society and these are justice and the common good. Justice, for him, is the primary way of charity; and "to desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity".
He underlines the indispensable importance to build a society according to freedom and justice and he emphatically states that "it is necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination".
In a blunt reference to globalization and the current economic crisis, the Pope asserts "that traditional principles of social ethics like transparency, honesty and responsibility cannot be ignored or attenuated" and further, "that justice must be applied to every phase of economic activity because this is always concerned with man and his needs".
World leaders at the G-8 Summit in Italy will surely pay close attention to the Chapter devoted to the cooperation of the human family, where he calls upon the rich nations "to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid". He makes no bones of the fact that the United Nations Organization needs to be reformed with "real teeth" and "would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice and respect for rights". It is also imperative for him that "poor nations have an important voice in shared decision making on issues of global importance".
With this major Charter, Pope Benedict has truly provided not only the Christians, but "all people of goodwill" with a road map for the challenges ahead. In his concluding para, he reiterates that "as we contemplate the vast amount of work to be done, we are sustained by our faith that God is present alongside all those who come together in his name to work for justice".
The point is, are those in governance actually listening?
8th July, 2009
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash sj, is the Director of PRASHANT, the Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, Ahmedabad)
' PRASHANT ',
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