Friday, 31 July 2009

Album of Pope Benedict XVI singing to be released for Christmas

A record deal has been signed to release an album of Pope Benedict XVI singing chants in the Vatican. It will feature the Pope singing litanies and chants in honour of the Virgin Mary, as well as reciting passages and prayers in Latin, Italian, Portuguese, French and German.

Pope Benedict XVI releases album for Christmas
The recordings were made in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, with the Pope accompanied by The Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome.
They will be blended with modern classical recordings by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which is recording its contribution at the Abbey Road studios in London.
It will be released on CD on November 30 on Universal's Geffen label, which was behind Donna Summer's gold-selling disco record The Wanderer as well as John Lennon's last album, Double Fantasy.
Producers at Vatican Radio came up with the idea and invited music executives to Rome to consider signing His Holiness.
Colin Barlow, the president of Geffen, admitted to being "sceptical" about the Pontiff's musical appeal before hearing him.
But he said: "When you are sitting in the Basilica listening to it, you suddenly think that you are hearing something that could be incredibly special.
"It's a beautiful a piece of music as the soundtrack to the film The Mission.
"The Pope has got almost a lullaby tone to the way he sings," he said.
He thought the album would make "a great Christmas present".
One aspect of the album will be reassuringly traditional – it will not be sold as a digital download.
"I think this is going to be something that you would like to own," explained Mr Barlow. "To break up a beautiful album digitally would be wrong."
He hoped it would sell in large numbers globally, noting: "There's quite a huge Catholic fan base out there."
A proportion of profits will go to a charity that will provide musical education for poor children around the world. The remainder is expected to be split between the Vatican and Universal. Details have yet to be finalised.
The music executive said Geffen also had plans to re-record an album of Pope John Paul II praying in 1999, called Abba Pater, which he said had been put to an "odd" keyboard accompaniment, with classical backing tracks instead.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Shroud of Turin

Pope confirms visit to Shroud of Turin; new evidence on shroud emerges

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI confirmed his intention to visit the Shroud of Turin when it goes on public display in Turin's cathedral April 10-May 23, 2010.

Cardinal Severino Poletto of Turin, papal custodian of the Shroud of Turin, visited the pope July 26 in Les Combes, Italy, where the pope was spending part of his vacation. The Alpine village is about 85 miles from Turin.

The cardinal gave the pope the latest news concerning preparations for next year's public exposition of the shroud and the pope "confirmed his intention to go to Turin for the occasion," said the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, in a written statement July 27.

The specific date of the papal visit has yet to be determined, the priest added.

The last time the Shroud of Turin was displayed to the public was in 2000 for the jubilee year. The shroud is removed from a specially designed protective case only for very special spiritual occasions, and its removal for study or display to the public must be approved by the pope.

The shroud underwent major cleaning and restoration in 2002.

According to tradition, the 14-foot-by-4-foot linen cloth is the burial shroud of Jesus. The shroud has a full-length photonegative image of a man, front and back, bearing signs of wounds that correspond to the Gospel accounts of the torture Jesus endured in his passion and death.

The church has never officially ruled on the shroud's authenticity, saying judgments about its age and origin belonged to scientific investigation. Scientists have debated its authenticity for decades, and studies have led to conflicting results.

A recent study by French scientist Thierry Castex has revealed that on the shroud are traces of words in Aramaic spelled with Hebrew letters.

A Vatican researcher, Barbara Frale, told Vatican Radio July 26 that her own studies suggest the letters on the shroud were written more than 1,800 years ago.

She said that in 1978 a Latin professor in Milan noticed Aramaic writing on the shroud and in 1989 scholars discovered Hebrew characters that probably were portions of the phrase "The king of the Jews."

Castex's recent discovery of the word "found" with another word next to it, which still has to be deciphered, "together may mean 'because found' or 'we found,'" she said.

What is interesting, she said, is that it recalls a passage in the Gospel of St. Luke, "We found this man misleading our people," which was what several Jewish leaders told Pontius Pilate when they asked him to condemn Jesus.

She said it would not be unusual for something to be written on a burial cloth in order to indicate the identity of the deceased.

Frale, who is a researcher at the Vatican Secret Archives, has written a new book on the shroud and the Knights Templar, the medieval crusading order which, she says, may have held secret custody of the Shroud of Turin during the 13th and 14th centuries.

She told Vatican Radio that she has studied the writings on the shroud in an effort to find out if the Knights had written them.

"When I analyzed these writings, I saw that they had nothing to do with the Templars because they were written at least 1,000 years before the Order of the Temple was founded" in the 12th century, she said.


Friday, 24 July 2009

Adult stem cells quietly surging ahead

Adult stem cells
Only a year ago, the stem cell wars were cemented into America's culture wars. In the lead-up to national and state elections, the media was full to the gunnels with articles about the merits of human embryonic stem cells versus adult stem cells. But that was an eternity ago. Without the election to pour petrol onto the fire, the controversy has died down. Hardly any stories about stem cells make the inside pages, let alone the front page.
Out of the spotlight, however, scientists are still working away -- and are becoming more and more convinced that adult stem cells, made from a patient's own tissue which come without the ethical problems of destroying embryos, represent the future of stem cell medicine.
A glowing investigation in US News and World Report suggests that adult stem cells are zooming ahead, while the controversial embryonic cells are just plodding along. "I have never been in a field that is moving at this pace," says Jonathan Chernoff, deputy scientific director at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. And Steven Stice, director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia, says that "In the short termsay, the next five yearsmost of the therapeutic applications from stem cells will be from adult stem cells." In his opinion, their most likely uses will be disorders of the blood and blood vessels, bone, and immune systems.
Despite their fascinating potential, embryonic stem cells are difficult to train and are potentially cancerous. Patients who use them will have to use immunosuppressant drugs because the stem cells do not have exactly the same genetic make-up as the patient.
While stem cell scientists are reluctant to concede defeat -- they continue to argue that embryonic stem cells are a "gold standard" for research -- prospects for miraculous cures are fading. The health columnist for the US News & World Report, Bernadine Healy, commented in March that "during the first six weeks of Obama's term, several events reinforced the notion that embryonic stem cells, once thought to hold the cure for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and diabetes, are obsolete". Dr Healy is not a hack journalist, either. She is a cardiologist who is the former head of the National Institutes of Health, the American Red Cross, and the College of Medicine and Public Health at Ohio State University. ~ US News and World Report, July 2

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Obama meets Pope

US President Obama and the leader of the Catholic Church had a cordial meeting in Rome this week, despite their open differences on key bioethical issues. Pope Benedict XVI presented Mr Obama with copies of a Vatican document on embryo research, "Dignitas Personae", and of his latest encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth).
The Pope's press secretary said that Benedict was "very impressed" by the president and "extremely satisfied" with the talks. Mr Obama told the pope during a picture-taking session: "We look forward to a very strong relationship between our two countries."
The Vatican is an unconditional opponent of abortion and the President a champion of "reproductive rights". However Mr Obama apparently assured the Pope that he was committed to reducing the number of abortions in the US.
The Pope's long-awaited encyclical centres on social justice and the economy, but he touches upon bioethical issues in discussing what constitutes true human development. Here are some passages:
"Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help."
"[Sexuality] cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment, nor can sex education be reduced to technical instruction aimed solely at protecting the interested parties from possible disease or the "risk" of procreation. This would be to impoverish and disregard the deeper meaning of sexuality... It is irresponsible to view sexuality merely as a source of pleasure, and likewise to regulate it through strategies of mandatory birth control."
Ecology -- "It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others."
Artificial reproductive technology - "In vitro fertilization, embryo research, the possibility of manufacturing clones and human hybrids: all this is now emerging and being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture, which believes it has mastered every mystery, because the origin of life is now within our grasp... These practices in turn foster a materialistic and mechanistic understanding of human life. Who could measure the negative effects of this kind of mentality for development? How can we be surprised by the indifference shown towards situations of human degradation, when such indifference extends even to our attitude towards what is and is not human?"

Vatican Statement on Obama Visit

VATICAN CITY, JULY 10, 2009 - Here is the press release the Vatican published today after Benedict XVI received U.S. President Barack Obama in audience.

* * *

This afternoon, Friday 10 July 2009, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in Audience the President of the United States of America, His Excellency Mr. Barack H. Obama. Prior to the Audience, the President met His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, and also His Excellency Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

In the course of their cordial exchanges the conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interests of all and which constitute a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the true progress of peoples, such as the defence and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience.

Reference was also made to immigration with particular attention to the matter of reuniting families.

The meeting focused as well upon matters of international politics, especially in light of the outcome of the G8 Summit. The conversation also dealt with the peace process in the Middle East, on which there was general agreement, and with other regional situations. Certain current issues were then considered, such as dialogue between cultures and religions, the global economic crisis and its ethical implications, food security, development aid especially for Africa and Latin America, and the problem of drug trafficking. Finally, the importance of educating young people everywhere in the value of tolerance was highlighted.

Supreme Knight on Obama-Pope Visit

Marks New Step in US-Vatican Relations

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, JULY 10, 2009 - The first meeting between Benedict XVI and Barack Obama could mark the first step in finding common ground between the U.S. president and the Church on abortion, says the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.

"It is obvious that President Obama has a serious interest in engaging in a meaningful dialogue with the Catholic Church, and with Catholics, who make up one fourth of the U.S. population," Carl Anderson said in a press statement released after Barack Obama's visit to the Vatican today.

"President Obama clearly had much to gain from a successful meeting with the Pope," he continued. "Certainly this is another achievement for Vatican and American diplomacy and represents a positive development for those of us who hoped that this meeting might mark a new opportunity in the important relationship between the Catholic Church and U.S. government."

The supreme knight applauded the U.S. president for "showing sensitivity to the growing consensus among the American people favoring the right to life, restriction of abortion, and the protection of conscience."

Anderson articulated five key issues that will "help provide a true gauge of the progress made on achieving common ground with the Catholic community."

The first is the "adoption of a federal conscience clause regulation that gives real protection to Catholic institutions and individuals."

He also noted "health care legislation that does not contain a back door mandate for abortion," and "abortion-reduction programs that respect pro-life crisis pregnancy and teenage abstinence programs."

A fourth issue is the "preservation of the pro-life riders that currently exist in the annual appropriations legislation."

"These riders," Anderson explained, "which restrict federal abortion funding, also raise conscience protection issues, since their removal would force taxpayers to pay for abortions against their conscience."

Finally, he suggested "dropping any attempts to codify by statute the president's rescission of the Mexico City Policy, which allows international abortion funding by the United States."

"This is an important moment," the supreme knight added. "The Pope and the president have laid the foundation for trying to achieve authentic common ground. How we build on this meeting in a constructive way in the months and years ahead is critical."

Benedict XVI Offers Life Lessons to Obama

US President Makes 1st Visit to Vatican

VATICAN CITY, JULY 10, 2009 - Abortion, conscience protection and bioethics took center stage as Benedict XVI and U.S. President Barack Obama met for the first time today.

The Pope received the president, who was in Italy for the Group of Eight summit that end today in L'Aquila, for about a half hour in a private, closed-door meeting.

In a communiqué issued shortly after the meeting concluded, the Vatican reported that the "conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interests of all and which constitute a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the true progress of peoples, such as the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one's conscience."

"Reference was also made to immigration with particular attention to the matter of reuniting families," the note added. "The meeting focused as well upon matters of international politics, especially in light of the outcome of the G-8 Summit.

"The conversation also dealt with the peace process in the Middle East, on which there was general agreement, and with other regional situations. Certain current issues were then considered, such as dialogue between cultures and religions, the global economic crisis and its ethical implications, food security, development aid especially for Africa and Latin America, and the problem of drug trafficking.

"Finally, the importance of educating young people everywhere in the value of tolerance was highlighted."

Reading material

Benedict XVI gave to the U.S. president a copy of his recently published encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," and a copy of the 2009 letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "Dignitas Personae" (The Dignity of a Person), which deals with questions of bioethics.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, told Vatican Radio after the audience that the Pope's gift of the letter "Dignitas Humane" was "very significant."

"In the United States," he explained, "there is currently a great debate on the fundamental value of the defense of life, and in this the perspective of the Church and the politics of President Obama show differences, at time quite significant."

Father Lombardi revealed that the president confirmed that "he has every intention, with the commitment of the government, to reduce as much as possible, the number of abortions."

The two also discussed "moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church’s contribution in developing countries," added Father Lombardi, and the "the importance of the education of tolerance in every country."

Obama gave to Benedict XVI a stole that had been placed on the remains of St. John Neumann (1811-1860), a Redemptorist who is currently the only canonized bishop of the United States.

An honor

Upon meeting Benedict XVI, Obama told that him that it was a "great honor" to meet him.

The Pontiff asked Obama how the G-8 meetings had gone, and Obama answered that they were "very productive."

After the private meeting, the Holy Father greeted Obama's wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

Michelle and the two Obama daughters arrived to the Vatican an hour before the president to visit St. Peter's Basilica.

After the audience with the Pope, the family visited the Vatican Grottoes and the Sistine Chapel, which is currently closed to the public.


Friday, 10 July 2009

A summary of Pope Benedict's new Encyclical

by Dr. Jeff Mirus, July 9, 2009

What the Encyclical Says:


The purpose of the introduction is to recall that charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine and that charity is inseparable from truth:

Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practiced in the light of truth. In this way, not only do we do a service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living. This is a matter of no small account today, in a social and cultural context which relativizes truth, often paying little heed to it and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its existence. (2)

The Pope explains that without truth, “charity degenerates into sentimentality” and “love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way.” This is a fatal risk facing love today, by which it is distorted through mere emotion and opinion. In contrast, it is only through truth that we are enabled to overcome opinions, impressions and cultural limitations to “come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things.” Thus the authentic social doctrine of the Church hinges on the principle of “charity in truth”. (3)

The Pope goes on to identify the two key social concepts which drive the Church’s social teaching, namely justice and the common good. He reminds us that justice is intrinsic to charity—that is, justice is not divorced from charity but presupposed by it, for we would never perform an act of charity for someone we love while at the same time doing him an injustice. So too with the social context: In addition to loving and willing the good of another, we must also will the good of all of us, “made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society.” In other words, “to desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity.” (6-7)

Closing his introduction, Benedict notes that in an increasingly globalized society, the common good includes the whole human family, the community of peoples and nations, “in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and a prefiguration of the undivided city of God.” In this quest, the Church does not offer technical solutions but a witness of the truth about man:

Open to the truth, from whichever branch of knowledge it comes, the Church’s social doctrine receives it, assembles into a unity the fragments in which it is often found, and mediates it within the constantly changing life-patterns of the society of peoples and nations. (9)

Chapter One: The Message of Populorum Progressio

Since the encyclical is both a tribute to and an updating of Populorum Progressio, Benedict begins (# 11) by summarizing several key principles set forth in that encyclical, quoted briefly below:

1. ”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.”
2. ”Authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension.”
3. ”Integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone” (i.e., it is a work not confined only to institutions).
4. ”Such development requires a transcendent vision of the person, it needs God.”

In the light of this Pope’s repeated emphasis on the “hermeneutic of continuity” in interpreting Magisterial documents, it is noteworthy that he takes pains to make the same point with regard to the Church’s social teaching:

Clarity is not served by certain abstract subdivisions of the Church’s social doctrine, which apply categories to Papal social teaching that are extraneous to it. It is not a case of two typologies of social doctrine, one pre-conciliar and one post-conciliar, differing from one another: on the contrary, there is a single teaching, consistent and at the same time ever new. (12)

To place his predecessor’s teaching in full perspective, Benedict briefly examines not just Populorum Progressio but Paul VI’s overall body of social teaching. He touches on the Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens in which Paul VI warned against utopian ideological visions, and in so doing Benedict touches on the twin errors of “idealizing technical progress, or contemplating the utopia of a return to humanity’s original natural state”, both of which detach the idea of progress from consistent moral evaluation. He also touches on Humanae Vitae, in which Paul VI emphasized the strong link between life ethics and social ethics, a connection which led directly to John Paul II’s insistence that society crumbles when it asserts values such as dignity, justice and peace on the one hand, while acting radically to the contrary by tolerating or even encouraging the devaluation of human life, especially in the weak and marginalized.

Finally, touching on Pope Paul’s apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, Benedict notes the strong links between evangelization and human advancement. He argues again that integral human development is a vocation from God that demands responsible freedom, respect for truth, and charity that will blossom into authentic fraternity in the social order. “The importance of this goal,” Benedict writes, “is such as to demand our openness to understand it in depth and to mobilize ourselves at the level of the ‘heart’, so as to ensure that current economic and social processes evolve towards fully human outcomes.” (20)

Chapter Two: Human Development in Our Time

Having reviewed and organized for his own purposes the principles explained and developed by Paul VI, Benedict proceeds in the second chapter to assess the trends and problems which characterize our current social situation, as they have developed over the past forty years. He discusses the collapse of the economic and political systems of the Communist block and the immense difficulty of replacing them with structures conducive to authentic development; the paradoxical limitations of State sovereignty in the face of the new context of international trade and finance; the reduction of social systems of protection and welfare in order to gain a competitive edge; the growing difficulties of trade unions; the problematic mobility of labor; the emphasis on financial capital at the expense of human capital; the damage wrought by cultural relativism and cultural eclecticism; and the growing separation of human culture from human nature. He briefly discusses each of these developments.

The Pope then proceeds to identify four critical areas which must now be addressed in any effective plan for integral human development:

* Hunger: Food and water shortages are still critical in too many regions, and this is caused primarily not by a lack of material things but a lack of social resources—“the network of economic institutions capable of guaranteeing regular access to sufficient food and water for nutritional needs”. Access to food and water must be considered a fundamental human right. (27)
* Respect for Life: The Pope points to various practices of demographic control, the promotion of contraception, the imposition of abortion, the practice of sterilization (often linked to dubious and deceitful health care policies), and the effort to “export this mentality to other States as if it were a form of cultural progress.” This is unacceptable, for “openness to life is at the center of true development.” Without this openness, the whole society withers away. (28)
* Religious Freedom: The Pope’s discussion of the right to religious freedom is extremely interesting; it continues themes he has developed previously concerning the relationship between faith and reason. He decries both religious fanaticism and the promotion of religious indifference, explaining that “God is the guarantor of man’s true development, inasmuch as, having created him in his image, he also establishes the transcendent dignity of men and women and feeds their innate yearning to ‘be more’.” (29)
* Disciplinary Collaboration: Benedict argues that for true development to take place, there must be a fruitful collaboration among faith, theology, metaphysics and science. This is because the cause of underdevelopment is not just lack of technical expertise, but a serious lack of “wisdom and reflection, a lack of thinking capable of formulating a guiding synthesis, for which a clear vision of all economic, social, cultural and spiritual aspects is required.” (30-31)

This section of the encyclical closes by emphasizing that the greatest change since Paul VI’s time is the explosion of worldwide interdependence, that is, globalization:

Without the guidance of charity in truth, this global force could cause unprecedented damage and create new divisions within the human family. Hence charity and truth confront us with an altogether new and creative challenge, one that is certainly vast and complex. It is about broadening the scope of reason and making it capable of knowing and directing these powerful new forces, animating them within the perspective of that “civilization of love” whose seed God has planted in every people, in every culture. (33)

Chapter Three: Fraternity, Economic Development and Civil Society

In his third chapter, Benedict develops a key concept of Catholic social teaching, one which he makes more explicit in Caritas in Veritate, probably in part because of John Paul II’s more recent emphasis on the “law of the gift”. Each new social encyclical enshrines a certain fresh genius which more deeply penetrates the internal logic of the Church’s teaching. I believe that this unique contribution is most characteristic of chapter three. Benedict explains:

Charity in truth places man before the astonishing experience of gift. Gratuitousness is present in our lives in many different forms, which often go unrecognized because of a purely consumerist and utilitarian view of life. The human being is made for gift, which expresses and makes present his transcendent dimension. Sometimes modern man is wrongly convinced that he is the sole author of himself, his life and society. This is a presumption that follows from being selfishly closed in upon himself, and it is a consequence—to express it in faith terms—of original sin. (34)

The Pope argues that a false conviction of self-sufficiency causes people to confuse happiness and salvation with material prosperity, and leads them to choose economic strategies which, by removing God and gift from the equation, end up impoverishing the weak and diminishing personal and social freedom and responsibility. At the center of this discussion is Benedict’s assertion that the market itself must incorporate this same gratuitous spirit which God displays in his dealings with man. The market must not limit itself to the commutative justice represented by the contract, but must also incorporate in its very foundations certain elements of distributive and social justice which bring all parties together in an ever-stronger fraternal community.

Indeed, the market is not some infallible machinery that always produces the right result, such that it is necessary to keep God and values out of it. Nor is the market evil, and it is equally foolish to condemn it as a source of evil. Thus does the Pope dispatch ideologies of right and left. Rather, the market is a neutral instrument which is directed this way and that by the moral decisions of human persons. Every economic decision has a moral consequence. Though it may have been understandable at one time, the Pope says, it is not adequate to entrust the creation of wealth to the economy on the one hand while entrusting the task of distributing wealth to politics on the other. Instead, commercial practice itself, like all human activity, must be directed toward the common good. “Hence the canons of justice must be respected from the outset, as the economic process unfolds, and not just afterwards or incidentally.” (37)

Benedict teaches that solidarity is the alternative to our current “exclusively binary model of market-plus-State”. For example, it is utterly insufficient for businesses to operate as if they are exclusively answerable to their investors, often with no stable director who feels responsible for the long-term impact on all of the stakeholders—“namely the workers, the suppliers, the consumers, the natural environment and broader society.” (40) All of these stakeholders have a claim on business, a claim that is far easier to understand and provide for if the principle of gratuitousness is kept in mind, for it is this principle of the gift that enables us to transcend ourselves and truly operate in solidarity with others. Applying this to the global scene:

What should be avoided is a speculative use of financial resources that yields to the temptation of seeking only short-term profit, without regard for the long-term sustainability of the enterprise, its benefit to the real economy and attention to the advancement, in suitable and appropriate ways, of further economic initiatives in countries in need of development. It is true that the export of investments and skills can benefit the populations of the receiving country. Labor and technical knowledge are a universal good. Yet it is not right to export these things merely for the sake of obtaining advantageous conditions, or worse, for purposes of exploitation, without making a real contribution to local society by helping to bring about a robust productive and social system, an essential factor for stable development. (40)

In order to effect a more sustainable model, the Pope also calls for a greater “articulation” of political authority, by which he mains a collaborative effort, based on subsidiarity, of various institutions, organizations and levels of government combining to guide the process of economic globalization. Between the inadequacy of the United Nations (the Pope calls for its reform later in the encyclical) and the realities of contemporary political power, Benedict comments wryly that “both wisdom and prudence suggest not being too precipitous in declaring the demise of the State. In terms of the resolution of the current crisis, the State’s role seems destined to grow.” Hence “the articulation of political authority at the local, national and international levels is one of the best ways of giving direction to the process of economic globalization. It is also the way to ensure that it does not actually undermine the foundations of democracy.” (41) The encyclical discusses the necessary principle of subsidiarity at some length, emphasizing again the principle of gratuitousness which must animate these varied relationships.

Finally, Benedict cautions that it is completely false and counter-productive to view globalization as a pre-determined process over which man has no control. Because it is a human reality, it is product of cultural tendencies which must be subjected to a process of discernment. A sustained commitment is needed to “promote a person-based and community-oriented cultural process of world-wide integration that is open to transcendence”. In this way, it will be possible to “steer the globalization of humanity in relational terms, in terms of communion and the sharing of goods.” (42)

We will see this reference to “relational terms” developed more fully in chapter five, and once again we will see at its heart the idea of “gift”. For Benedict, the incorporation of the spirit of gratuitousness—the law of the gift—into all of our plans and programs is the key to success. In this spirit alone can the market itself, along with all the institutions and persons which guide it, contribute to integral human development.

Chapter Four: The Development of People, Rights and Duties, the Environment

In the fourth chapter, Benedict addresses several specific problems in the contemporary world which make it difficult to guide human development in an integral manner. First, he calls attention to the contemporary tendency to create arbitrary new rights with no basis in the natural law, while at the same time ignoring the most basic of human rights. The solution is to view rights in their proper framework of duties, a perspective “which grants them their full meaning”. Benedict explains that duties set a limit on rights “because they point to the anthropological and ethical framework of which rights are a part.” Thus duties reinforce rights and place their promotion in the context of the service of the common good. “The sharing of reciprocal duties,” Benedict states, “is a more powerful incentive to action than the mere assertion of rights.” (43)

Next, the Pope takes up the matter of population growth and openness to life. He insists that the “primary competence of the family in the area of sexuality” must be upheld against the State and that “morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource.” In contrast, he notes that the attitudes in many nations today “are symptomatic of scant confidence in the future and moral weariness.” Hence it has become socially and economically necessary once more “to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family.” States are called to enact policies promoting “the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society.” (44)

Benedict also explains that “the economy needs ethics in order to function correctly”, but not just any ethics: The proper ethics must be person-centered, for when business departs from personal moral norms it serves only to exploit the inequities of existing financial systems rather than to correct their dysfunctional features. Periodically throughout the encyclical the Pope takes pains to demonstrate why Catholic social teaching has so much to contribute to properly-directed development. In this context of ethics, for example, he notes the following:

Much in fact depends on the underlying system of morality. On this subject the Church’s social doctrine can make a specific contribution, since it is based on man’s creation “in the image of God” (Gen 1:27), a datum which gives rise to the inviolable dignity of the human person and the transcendent value of natural moral norms. (45)

The Pope also deals here with the inadequacy of the distinction between for-profit and non-profit corporations, indicating again that a more complete understanding of the common good needs to lie at the heart of all business activity. In the same light, he calls for the reform of international organizations: “At times it happens that those who receive aid become subordinate to the aid-givers, and the poor serve to perpetuate expensive bureaucracies which consume an excessively high percentage of funds intended for development.” He calls for complete transparency as to the percentage of income allocated to various programs, the actual content of those programs, and the detailed expenditures of each institution.

The chapter concludes with several pages on nature, the environment, and what the Pope calls “human ecology”. Noting two common and equally false attitudes, Benedict writes:

[I]t is contrary to authentic development to view nature as something more important than the human person. This position leads to attitudes of neo-paganism or a new pantheism—human salvation cannot come from nature alone, understood in a purely naturalistic sense. This having been said, it is also necessary to reject the opposite position, which aims at total technical dominion over nature, because the natural environment is more than raw material to be manipulated at our pleasure; it is a wondrous work of the Creator containing a “grammar” which sets forth ends and criteria for its wise use, not its reckless exploitation. (48)

Pursuant to this principle, the Pope condemns the hoarding of non-renewable energy resources, which integral human development demands should be shared, and he condemns massive short-term exploitation of resources as if we have no solidarity with future generations. Along the same lines, Benedict warns against the widespread hedonism and consumerism of the modern world, which does so much harm to those who are poor and so much damage to the environment. He insists that the Church has a grave responsibility to defend “earth, water and air” as gifts that belong to all and, above all, to “protect mankind from self-destruction.”

Benedict’s larger point is that economic incentives and deterrents to effect change are insufficient: “The decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society.” (51) Thus he concludes the chapter by returning once more to the law of the gift. He notes that the ultimate source of truth and love is God, and the vocation to development is an intrinsic part of God’s plan, prior to man himself: “That which is prior to us and constitutes us—subsistent Love and Truth—shows us what goodness is, and in what our true happiness consists. It shows us the road to true development.” (52)

Chapter Five: The Cooperation of the Human Family

The fifth chapter of Caritas in Veritate begins with a deep reflection on the idea of “relation” in human solidarity (analogous to and modeled on the infinitely self-giving and self-fulfilling relations of the three persons of the Blessed Trinity). Benedict notes the extreme isolation characteristic of our times: “One of the deepest forms of poverty a person can experience is isolation.” This includes isolation from not being loved and from rejecting God’s love because of “man’s basic and tragic tendency to close in on himself, thinking himself to be self-sufficient or merely an insignificant and ephemeral fact, a ‘stranger’ in a random universe.” Indeed:

Man is alienated when he is alone, when he is detached from reality, when he stops thinking and believing in a foundation. All of humanity is alienated when too much trust is placed in merely human projects, ideologies and false utopias. Today humanity appears much more interactive than in the past: this shared sense of being close to one another must be transformed into true communion. The development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family working together, in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side. (53)

Benedict sees the solution in a proper understanding of “relation”. Rather than being diminished personally by entering into a relation, each person finds that his identity is enriched and matures through his reciprocity with the other. Just as a family does not submerge but enhances the identities of its individual members, and just as the Church rejoices in each “new creation”, enriching each member and being enriched in return, “so too the unity of the human family does not submerge the identities of individuals, peoples and culture, but makes them more transparent to each other and links them more closely in their legitimate diversity.” (53)

Importantly, Benedict pauses here to note even the problems posed by religious cultures which divide men and women from each other, as well as the proliferation of various forms of religious syncretism which fragment the human family into small groups, each going its own way. In so doing, he makes an important point about religious liberty (a point which will perhaps illuminate all the Church’s previous teachings on this subject, and a point thoroughly consistent with the Pope’s prior context of illuminating the nature and limitations of rights by examining corresponding duties):

For this reason, while it is tree that development needs the religions and cultures of different peoples, it is equally true that adequate discernment is needed. Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal. Discernment is needed regarding the contribution of cultures and religions, especially on the part of those who wield political power, if the social community is to be built up in a spirit of respect for the common good. Such discernment has to be based on the criterion of charity and truth. (55)

He goes on to affirm that the Christian religion and other religions can make their vital contribution to authentic development “only if God has a place in the public realm”. He notes that the denial of the “right to profess one’s religion in public and the right to bring the truths of faith to bear upon public life has negative consequences for true development”, and he rejects both “the exclusion of religion from the public square” and “religious fundamentalism” because both “exclude the possibility of fruitful dialogue and effective cooperation between reason and religious faith.” Returning to a point he has made repeatedly during his pontificate, Benedict states again:

Reason always stands in need of being purified by faith: this also holds true for political reason, which must not consider itself omnipotent. For its part, religion always needs to be purified by reason in order to show its authentically human face. Any breach in this dialogue comes only at an enormous price to human development. (56)

Then chapter goes on briefly to explore a number of principles which must be used effectively to address a wide range of modern problems, such as subsidiarity, solidarity, and the natural law. Benedict sees the latter not only as a basis for discussion between religions and cultures but also as a necessary basis for true education, which must form the whole man in light of his proper ends—a goal which is rendered problematic by all relativistic cultures, yet is absolutely vital to authentic development.

This chapter also highlights various key problems (e.g., migration, unemployment, and the development of poor nations) and suggests how they ought to be approached. Further, it highlights the need for all stake-holders in international finance, including labor unions and consumer groups, to be open to a new sense of responsibility for all the other stake-holders, instead of being preoccupied only with their own separate concerns. The Pope also expresses the need for a significant reform of the United Nations Organization and other international economic institutions so that “the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.”

To sum up:

The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order. (67)

Chapter Six: The Development of Peoples and Technology

In his final chapter, Benedict focuses on the need to overcome the prejudices of technocracy with a truly human understanding of integral development. He returns again to the concept of the gift: “The development question is not simply the result of natural mechanisms, since as everybody knows, we are all capable of making free and responsible choices. Nor is it merely at the mercy of our caprice, since we all know that we are a gift, not something self-generated.” The Pope continues:

A person’s development is compromised, if he claims to be solely responsible for producing what he becomes. By analogy, the development of peoples goes awry if humanity thinks it can re-create itself through the “wonders” of technology, just as economic development is exposed as a destructive sham if it relies on the “wonders” of finance in order to sustain unnatural and consumerist growth. In the face of such Promethean presumption, we must fortify our love for a freedom that is not merely arbitrary, but is rendered truly human by acknowledgment of the good that underlies it. To this end, man needs to look inside himself in order to recognize the fundamental norms of the natural moral law which God has written on our hearts. (68)

In this context, the Pope emphasizes that technology is a profoundly human reality, revealing man and his aspirations towards development, including the “inner tension that impels him to overcome material limitations.” It is therefore a response to God’s command in Genesis “to till and keep the land.” For this reason, technological development must never become so preoccupied with the “how” questions that it fails to ask and answer the “why” questions which underlie human activity: “When the sole criterion of truth is efficiency and utility, development is automatically denied” and “human freedom is authentic only when it responds to the fascination of technology with decisions that are the fruit of moral responsibility.” (70)

The Pope uses three critical but disparate examples (peace among nations, social communications, and bioethics) to show how preoccupation with technological solutions can distract us from the deeper human values and moral judgments which are required for true development. Returning to one of his favorite themes, he concludes: “Entranced by an exclusive reliance on technology, reason without faith is doomed to flounder in an illusion of its own omnipotence. Faith without reason risks being cut off from everyday life.” (74)

This final chapter ends with a renewed focus on the central argument that runs through the entire encyclical: (1) We now see that “the social question has become a radically anthropological question”; (2) The cultural refusal to attend to these deep anthropological questions results in a materialistic and mechanistic understanding of human life which has a universally negative effect on integral human development; and (3) Therefore, integral human development can never occur without the moral values which arise from an understanding of the importance of the soul of man to his overall well-being.

The Pope laments that the “social and psychological alienation and the many neuroses that afflict affluent societies are attributable in part to spiritual factors” (76) and that “the supremacy of technology tends to prevent people from recognizing anything that cannot be explained in terms of matter alone.” (77) In contrast, true development

requires new eyes and a new heart, capable of rising above a materialistic vision of human events, capable of glimpsing in development the “beyond” that technology cannot give. By following this path, it is possible to pursue the integral human development that takes its direction from the driving force of charity in truth. (77)


In conclusion, the Holy Father emphasizes that “without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is.” Therefore, we can develop the vision and energy for integral human development only by recognizing our calling to be part of the family of God. “A humanism which excludes God is an inhuman humanism,” Benedict writes. “Only a humanism open to the Absolute can guide us in the promotion and building of forms of social and civic life—structures, institutions, culture and ethos—without exposing us to the risk of becoming ensnared by the fashions of the moment.” This is the only way we can move beyond “the limited and the ephemeral”. Ultimately, it is God who “gives us the strength to fight and to suffer for love of the common good.” (78) And so Benedict ends with the law of the gift which he has so effectively unveiled at the heart of Catholic social thought:

Development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us. For this reason, even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God’s love. (78)

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Codex Siniaiticus on line

At this web address

This Bible written between the years 325 and 360 digitized and compiled online for public viewing.

The "Codex Sinaiticus" is a Bible manuscript written in Greek on animal skin, or vellum. It is believed to have been written by order of Roman Emperor Constantine after he embraced Christianity. Divided among several countries for a century, the pages were reunited online Monday and offered to the world for viewing and study. Along with the "Codex Vaticanus," a slightly older manuscript that is housed in the Vatican, this Bible offers an opportunity for studying the text of the Old and New Testaments in their Greek version.

Originally some 1,400 pages long, now only 800 pages and fragments remain.

For many centuries the manuscript was housed in St. Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai, in Egypt. In the 19th century the pages were divided, and now reside in the British Library in London, St. Catherine's Monastery, the Leipzig University Library in Germany, and the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg.

The reunification project was initiated in 2005 with the cooperation of several countries, and made possible by digital technology. The digital Bible can be viewed free in its original form, with modern Greek translations, as well as some English translations.



VATICAN CITY, 8 JULY 2009 - In today's general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about his third Encyclical "Caritas in veritate", which was officially published yesterday.

The Encyclical, explained the Holy Father, highlights the fact that "charity in truth is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. ... Only with charity, illuminated by reason and by faith, is it possible to pursue development goals that possess a more humane and humanising value".

The document, he went on, "intensifies Church analysis and reflection on social themes of vital interest to humankind in our century. In a special way it harks back to what Paul VI wrote more than forty years ago in his 'Populorum progressio'".

"Caritas in veritate", said Benedict XVI, "does not seek to offer technical solutions to the enormous social problems of the modern world. ...What it does do is recall the fundamental principles that are indispensable for building human development over coming years". Among these principles it highlights "concern for the life of man, seen as the centre of all true progress; respect for the right to religious freedom; ... and the rejection of a Promethean vision of human beings which sees them as the sole architects of their own destiny".

"Upright men and women are needed, both in politics and in the economy, people sincerely concerned for the common good", he said. Referring then specifically to "world emergencies", the Pope spoke of the urgent need to call "public opinion to the drama of hunger and of food security", which "must be faced decisively, eliminating the structural causes which produce it and promoting agricultural development in the poorest countries".

"The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly. It needs to recover the important contribution of the principle of gratuitousness and the 'logic of giving' in the economy and in the market, where profit cannot be the only rule. But this is possible only through commitment on the part of everyone, economists and politicians, producers and consumers, and it presupposes a formation of consciences capable of strengthening moral criteria in the elaboration of political and economic projects".

Another necessity, the Holy Father proceeded, "is for all humankind to practice a different lifestyle, one in which each individual's duties towards the environment are linked to his or her duties towards human beings, considered both in themselves and in relation to others".

Finally, "faced with the vast and profound problems of today's world", he said, "I indicated the need for a world political authority regulated by law, one that observes the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity and is firmly directed towards attaining the common good, while respecting the great moral and religious traditions of humanity".

The Pope asked the faithful to pray that "this Encyclical may help humankind to feel itself to be a single family, committed to creating a world of justice and peace". He also called upon them to pray for "the heads of State and government of the G8 who are currently meeting in L'Aquila , Italy . May this important world summit generate decisions and directives that serve the true progress of all peoples, especially the poorest".


Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Pope Benedict's Encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" with commentaries

Go to this site:

For the text of Pope Benedict's Encyclical Letter, go to this site:



VATICAN CITY, On 7 JULY 2009 in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present Benedict XVI's new Encyclical "Caritas in veritate". Participating in the event were Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"; Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, recently appointed as bishop of Trieste, Italy, and Stefano Zamagni, professor of political economy at the University of Bologna, Italy and consultor of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

In his remarks Cardinal Martini spoke of the need for a new social Encyclical twenty years after John Paul II's "Centesimus Annus" of 1991, and dedicated some attention to changes that have taken place over the last two decades.

"The political ideologies that characterised the period prior to 1989 seem to have lost their virulence, but have been replaced by the new ideology of technology", he said. "Various aspects of globalisation have been accentuated, due on the one hand to the fact that there are no longer two opposing power blocs and, on the other, to the worldwide computer network. ... Religions have returned to the centre of the world stage. ... Certain large countries have emerged from a situation of backwardness, notably changing the world geopolitical balance. ... The problem of international governance remains vital".

These "great novelties ... would be enough by themselves to motivate the writing of a new social Encyclical", said the cardinal, "yet there is another reason: ... 'Caritas in veritate' was conceived by the Holy Father as a commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of Paul VI's 'Populorum Progressio'" although the theme of this new Encyclical "is not the 'development of peoples', but 'integral human development'. ... We could say, then, that the perspective of 'Populorum Progressio' has been broadened".

"'Caritas in veritate' clearly shows not only that the pontificate of Paul VI was no 'backward step' for Church social doctrine, as has unfortunately often been said, but that that Pope made a significant contribution to forming a view of the social doctrine of the Church in the wake of 'Gaudium et spes' and earlier tradition, and provided the foundation upon which John Paul II could then build".

For his part, Archbishop Crepaldi spoke of various new topics dealt with in this Encyclical. "For the first time the two fundamental rights: to life and to religious freedom", he said, "are given explicit and extensive space in a social Encyclical. ... They are", he went on, "organically linked to the question of development. ... In 'Caritas in veritate' the so-called 'anthropological question' becomes to all intents and purposes a 'social question'".

Another two themes contained in the Encyclical are: the environment - in which nature is seen not as a "deposit of natural resources" but as "created word" entrusted to the human beings "for the good of everyone" - and technology - "the first time an Encyclical deals with this theme so fully". And the archbishop went on: "The continuous reference to Truth and Love infuses 'Caritas in veritate' with great freedom of thought which cuts through all the ideologies that unfortunately still weigh upon the question of development".

Cardinal Cordes explained how, "if the Pope's first Encyclical 'Deus caritas est' on the theology of charity contained certain indications on social doctrine, we now find ourselves with a text entirely dedicate to this subject".

After highlighting how "the social doctrine of the Church is an element of evangelisation", the cardinal warned against reading it "outside the context of the Gospel and its announcement", because doctrine "is born and must be interpreted in the light of the revelation".

The president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" explained that "the heart of social doctrine is always mankind", and he went on: "The anthropological question requires us to respond to a central question: what kind of man do we wish to promote?. ... Can a civilisation survive without fundamental points of reference, without looking to eternity, denying mankind an answer to his most profound questions? Can there be true development without God?"

Referring finally to the concept of progress, the cardinal highlighted the fact that the Encyclical, "apart from unifying the two dimensions [of human promotion and announcement of the faith], introduces a further element into the concept of progress, that of hope", to which the Pope dedicated his second Encyclical "Spe salvi".

Professor Zamagni pointed out that the Encyclical is favourable "to the concept of the market typical of the civil economy, according to which it possible to experience human coexistence within a normal economic framework, and not outside or on the margins thereof".

"There are", he explained, "three structural factors to the current crisis. The first concerns the radical change in the relationship between finance and the production of goods and services that has become consolidated over the last thirty years. ... The second factor is the spread, at the level of popular culture, of the ethos of efficiency as the ultimate criterion with which to judge and justify economic matters. ... The third cause is connected to the specificity of the cultural environment that has become consolidated over recent decades on the crest, on the one hand, of globalisation and, on the other, of the advent of the third industrial revolution, that of information technology".


VATICAN CITY, 7 JUL 2009 ( VIS ) - Given below is a summary of Benedict XVI's new Encyclical "Caritas in veritate" (Charity in Truth) on integral human development in charity and truth.

The Encyclical published today - which comprehends an introduction, six chapters and a conclusion - is dated 29 June 2009, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

A summary of the Encyclical released by the Holy See Press Office explains that in his introduction the Pope recalls how "charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine". Yet, given the risk of its being "misinterpreted and detached from ethical living", he warns how "a Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance".

The Holy Father makes it clear that development has need of truth. In this context he dwells on two "criteria that govern moral action": justice and the common good. All Christians are called to charity, also by the "institutional path" which affects the life of the "polis", that is, of social coexistence.

The first chapter of the Encyclical focuses on the message of Paul VI's "Populorum Progressio" which "underlined the indispensable importance of the Gospel for building a society according to freedom and justice. ... The Christian faith does not rely on privilege or positions of power, ... but only on Christ". Paul VI "pointed out that the causes of underdevelopment are not primarily of the material order". They lie above all in the will, in the mind and, even more so, in "the lack of brotherhood among individuals and peoples".

"Human Development in Our Time" is the theme of the second chapter. If profit, the Pope writes, "becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty". In this context he enumerates certain "malfunctions" of development: financial dealings that are "largely speculative", migratory flows "often provoked by some particular circumstance and then given insufficient attention", and "the unregulated exploitation of the earth's resources". In the face of these interconnected problems, the Pope calls for "a new humanistic synthesis", noting how "development today has many overlapping layers: ... The world's wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase", and new forms of poverty are coming into being.

At a cultural level, the Encyclical proceeds, the possibilities for interaction open new prospects for dialogue, but a twofold danger exists: a "cultural eclecticism" in which cultures are viewed as "substantially equivalent", and the opposing danger of "cultural levelling and indiscriminate acceptance of types of conduct and lifestyles". In this context Pope Benedict also mentions the scandal of hunger and express his hope for "equitable agrarian reform in developing countries".

The Pontiff also dwells on the question of respect for life, "which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples", affirming that "when a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good".

Another question associated with development is that of the right to religious freedom. "Violence", writes the Pope, "puts the brakes on authentic development", and "this applies especially to terrorism motivated by fundamentalism".

Chapter three of the Encyclical - "Fraternity, Economic Development and Civil Society" - opens with a passage praising the "experience of gift", often insufficiently recognised "because of a purely consumerist and utilitarian view of life". Yet development, "if it is to be authentically human, needs to make room for the principle of gratuitousness". As for the logic of the market, it "needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility".

Referring to "Centesimus Annus", this Encyclical highlights the "need for a system with three subjects: the market, the State and civil society" and encourages a "civilising of the economy". It highlights the importance of "economic forms based on solidarity" and indicates how "both market and politics need individuals who are open to reciprocal gift".

The chapter closes with a fresh evaluation of the phenomenon of globalisation, which must not be seen just as a "socio-economic process". Globalisation needs "to promote a person-based and community-oriented cultural process of world-wide integration that is open to transcendence" and able to correct its own malfunctions.

The fourth chapter of the Encyclical focuses on the theme: "The Development of People. Rights and Duties. The Environment". Governments and international organisations, says the Pope, cannot "lose sight of the objectivity and 'inviolability' of rights". In this context he also dedicates attention to "the problems associated with population growth".

He reaffirms that sexuality "cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment". States, he says, "are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family".

"The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly", the Holy Father goes on, and "not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred". This centrality of the human person must also be the guiding principle in "development programmes" and in international co-operation. "International organisations", he suggests, "might question the actual effectiveness of their bureaucratic and administrative machinery, which is often excessively costly".

The Holy Father also turns his attention to the energy problem, noting how "the fact that some States, power groups and companies hoard non-renewable energy resources represents a grave obstacle to development in poor countries. ... Technologically advanced societies can and must lower their domestic energy consumption", he says, at the same time encouraging "research into alternative forms of energy".

"The Co-operation of the Human Family" is the title and focus of chapter five, in which Pope Benedict highlights how "the development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family". Hence Christianity and other religions "can offer their contribution to development only if God has a place in the public realm".

The Pope also makes reference to the principle of subsidiarity, which assists the human person "via the autonomy of intermediate bodies". Subsidiarity, he explains, "is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state" and is "particularly well-suited to managing globalisation and directing it towards authentic human development".

Benedict XVI calls upon rich States "to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid", thus respecting their obligations. He also express a hope for wider access to education and, even more so, for "complete formation of the person", affirming that yielding to relativism makes everyone poorer. One example of this, he writes, is that of the perverse phenomenon of sexual tourism. "It is sad to note that this activity often takes place with the support of local governments", he says.

The Pope then goes on to consider the "epoch-making" question of migration. "Every migrant", he says, "is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance".

The Pontiff dedicates the final paragraph of this chapter to the "strongly felt need" for a reform of the United Nations and of "economic institutions and international finance. ... There is", he says, "urgent need of a true world political authority" with "effective power".

The sixth and final chapter is entitled "The Development of Peoples and Technology". In it the Holy Father warns against the "Promethean presumption" of humanity thinking "it can re-create itself through the 'wonders' of technology". Technology, he says, cannot have "absolute freedom".

"A particularly crucial battleground in today's cultural struggle between the supremacy of technology and human moral responsibility is the field of bioethics", says Benedict XVI, and he adds: "Reason without faith is doomed to flounder in an illusion of its own omnipotence". The social question has, he says, become an anthropological question. Research on embryos and cloning is "being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture which believes it has mastered every mystery". The Pope likewise expresses his concern over a possible "systematic eugenic programming of births".

In the conclusion to his Encyclical Benedict XVI highlights how "development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer", just as it needs "love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace".


Pope Benedict's new Encyclical: Caritas in veritate