Acton Institute: Pope Benedict’s ‘Caritas in Veritate’ Encyclical Affirms Humane Economy


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (July 7, 2009) -- In his new social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth), Pope Benedict XVI has strongly reaffirmed and deepened the connection between morality and the free economy. In the document, Benedict repudiated practices that led to a global economic crisis in which the love of truth has been abandoned in favor of a crude materialism.

The Acton Institute has launched a special Web-based resource for Caritas in Veritate [/caritas_in_veritate] which provides news and analysis on the first new social encyclical issued by the Vatican in nearly 20 years. New commentary on the encyclical is also available on the Acton Institute’s PowerBlog [http://blog.acton.org/].

Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and cofounder of the Acton Institute, said the new encyclical will disappoint those who had hoped that Benedict would attack the free economy. Instead, the pope rightly focuses on two practical applications of the principle of “truth in charity.” First, this principle takes us beyond earthly demands of justice, defined by rights and duties, and introduces essential moral priorities of giving, mercy, and communion. Second, “truth in charity” is always focused on the common good, which Benedict defines as an extension of individual’s good who lives in society and has broad social responsibilities.

“If people are looking to this document as a blueprint for the political restructuring of the world economy, they will fail to find it,” Rev. Sirico said. “If they look to it as a means for the moral reconstruction of cultures and societies, which in turn influence economic events, they will find plenty.”

Kishore Jayabalan, director of Acton’s Rome office, said the new encyclical tellingly does not proclaim a “third way” between capitalism and socialism. By not using the term capitalism even once, Benedict also recognizes that there is an understanding of market economics that does not reduce the human person to a means of production.

“In his new social encyclical, the pope dispels several popular myths concerning Catholic social teaching,” Jayabalan said. “He understands that while there must be some role for the state in the regulation of the economy and the protection of human rights, a vibrant, diverse civil society is a better way of achieving different economic and social outcomes. With this complex theological and moral reflection, Benedict has left us with much to consider in our common task to build societies that respect God-given human dignity.”

About the Acton Institute
With its commitment to pursue a society that is free and virtuous, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a leading voice in the national environmental and social policy debate. The Acton Institute is uniquely positioned to comment on the sound economic and moral foundations necessary to sustain humane environmental and social policies.

The Acton Institute is a nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Institute works internationally to "promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles." For more on the Acton Institute, please visit www.acton.org.

Interviews with Institute staff may be arranged by contacting John Couretas at (616) 454-3080 or at jcouretas@acton.org.