Caritas in Veritate was Pope Benedict XVI’s only encyclical to focus exclusively on social justice matters. Published in 2009, it is the first post Cold War social encyclical. Caritas in Veritate is an anniversary encyclical commemorating Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical on development Populorum Progressio. Benedict XVI delayed publishing Caritas in Veritate so that he could address the Global Financial Crisis that was emerging as he drafted it. Pope John Paul II issued Sollicitudo rei Socialis to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Populorum Progressio. This indicates how important Populorum Progressio is in the Catholic Social Teaching tradition. Its major contribution was the concept of integral human development.
Benedict introduces the ideas of gratuity and gift within the economy. He explores the relationship of rights and duties within development, including our duties towards the environment. Benedict explains the need for the cooperation of the human family, and explores the impact and potential of technology. He calls for the exercise of several layers and levels of subsidiary for the effective governance of globalisation.
Benedict XVI begins by examining the relationship between truth and charity. Next he recalls the message of Populorum Progressio, noting its continuing relevance as well as areas of change. Then he looks at the challenges of human development in our time, and explores the moral dimension of the economy and the call to more fraternal relations within it. He concludes with a call to Christian action.
Contribution to Catholic Social Teaching
Benedict XVI presents a powerful synthesis of existing teaching on development. He also introduces a new idea – the logic of gift or gratuity within the economy. He says that space must be made for motivations other than profit within markets themselves rather than added post factum to adjust market outcomes. Rather than simply promoting the expansion of the ‘third sector’ he argues that every aspect of the economy at every stage must become ethical. In this encyclical the best part of a chapter is devoted to the environment. Integral human development must also be sustainable development. Right relationships with the rest of creation are part of the framework within which integral human development can be achieved. Our relationship with the rest of creation is no longer a side issue in Catholic Social Teaching but is central to the framing of the key questions.
Read the Full Text of Caritas in Veritate
Access the full text of the encyclical here
Resources on Caritas in Veritate
Explore the encyclical with this discussion guide by Sandie Cornish.
Globalisation & the Church
This collection of reflections on the encyclical is edited by Neil Ormerod and Paul Islington. It gathers the presentations on Caritas in Veritate from a conference held at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney in 2010. The chapter by Sandie Cornish provides a simple introduction to the encyclical for the general reader.