CARITAS IN VERITATE
is a masterpiece. Like a symphony conductor, Pope Benedict XVI was woven together many threads of Magisterial teaching from sexual to economic to political and social life. He synthesizes Catholic morality on a spectrum of ethical issues and basically says that real Christian charity (love) presupposes and demands the truth. As he has said before again and again, Catholicism is the great religion of the BOTH ... AND (et ... et) and not the EITHER ... OR (aut ... aut) of the secular humanist world. In other words, morality is grounded in what is TRUE, hence it is REAL. False or artificial charity ignores, exaggerates, distorts or denies the truth, as in the case of misguided compassion when good moral people remain silent as grave evils such as abortion and euthanasia proliferate day by day.
While being neither a political or economic liberal or conservative (as neither was Pope John Paul the Great), B16 poignantly points out that charity and truth work hand in hand and when one is deprived of the other, there is misery and unhappiness. The human soul has two faculties, the rational intellect and the free will. The object of the intellect is to seek the TRUTH, to know what is TRUE. The object of the will is to find and possess the GOOD. Ultimately, as we know, only God alone can fully satisfy our yearnings since He alone is TRUTH itself and He alone is the Summum Bonum (supreme good). Before the Beatific vision, however, we humans enjoy the pursuit of truth and goodness as reflected in God's creation and in divine revelation. Divine grace allow us to know what is true and to be able to do that which is good.
Man's relationship to God, to his spouse, his family, his neighbors, his state and to his civilization are determined by what is true and what is good. The division and false dichotomy dissident moralists have created over time glamorize good intentions at best and at worse excuse immoral means as long as the effects are good or at least tolerable. Situation ethics, consequentialism, etc., have infiltrated the moral perspective on sexuality, marriage, family, environment, economy, politics, medicine, science, et al. B16 is no socialist and certainly not a communist but neither is he a laissez-faire capitalist. Neither Karl Marx or Adam Smith could appreciate the realty that human persons have rights and responsibilities. It is not the government nor the company; neither nationalism nor profit which best serves man, rather, it is providing the means and opportunities for persons to actualize their potential and to do so responsibly and always for the common good. Each person is made in the image and likeness of God, not the state nor the corporation. At the same time, we live as children of God and have a moral duty to help those less fortunate than we are. Family members help each other. Family also challenges and calls to task the members who take advantage or who abuse the kindness and generosity of others. Social responsibility is not providing birth control to Third-World nations and it is not deifying the planet as if it were some living being. God asked us to take care of the world and to subdue it, but not to worship it (Gaia) nor to abuse and rape it, either.
Economic stability is as critical today as was military stability during the Cold War. Both are important to our survival but so is justice, from protecting the defenseless innocent unborn human lives in their mother's wombs to eliminating the threat of violence upon innocent citizens by radical extremist terrorists. There is no economic or political solution by itself. Nations exist FOR the people they govern and are not ends in themselves. They do provide for the protection, safety, education and welfare of their citizens. But citizens cannot surrender their obligation to oversee their governments and make sure ther are acting responsibly and morally correct because that is the only way the common good can be served. Corporate greed has been no different than political ambition. When people do and say what is necessary to achieve and sustain ther comfort level, they overlook their responsibility to help those in true need. Bottom line, as the Pope points out, is that real charity motivates us to love God and neighbor enough to seek, share and defend the truth and that which is genuinely good for us and for all.