Wednesday, January 25, 2006

DEUS CARITAS EST

Today the Vatican published Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. It is a rich and relatively short document, and I suggest all to read it.

The encyclical begins with a theoretical discussion of love and ends with a teaching on social charity.

The major points are that:

  • Eros love, desire, should not be considered distinct from agape love, giving; they are both halves of a single kind of love that both takes and gives, desires and sacrifices. The opposition between the two was started in the Enlightenment, and has led to the many problems of our current day.

  • Eucharistic communion integrates both kinds of love, and makes all the Church and Christ one body as in a marriage bond.

  • We are to love God and each other. We cannot have one without the other.

  • The three missions of the Church are Evangelization, the Sacraments, and Charity.

  • Christ identifies himself with the poor, sick, and imprisoned, demanding that we are to charitable.

  • Charity must not be confused with Justice; the Church must promote charity above justice.

  • Justice is not the business of the Church, that is the business of society. However, the Church must inform society on justice, using reason guided by faith.

  • The laity has the responsibility to be involved in society.

  • Evangelization and Charity are separate missions and should not be confused.

  • Those who do charity must have a deep prayer life.

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