Thursday, February 28, 2013

Musings on Pope Benedict XVI’s Papacy: Pope Benedict: On Poverty and the Economy

By Kathy Saile

One of the legacies of Pope Benedict XVI is his teaching on our Christian responsibility to care for poor and vulnerable people with Christian love. Pope Benedict XVI wrote three encyclicals, and two of them were dedicated to the social mission of the Church and our obligation to serve the “least of these:”

- In his first encyclical, God is Love, he wrote….love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to her as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word. (DCE 22)

- In his encyclical, Charity in Truth, he wrote…To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity.... The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively we love them. Every Christian is called to practise this charity... (CV 7)

Although Pope Benedict is most known for his scholarly writings, these encyclicals were very pastoral. He wrote them when the world was going through a devastating economic crisis. He identified with those who were suffering and challenged all people of goodwill to rebuild an economy that allows people to live in dignity and to provide for their families. He taught through his preaching and writing that the human person – not the GDP or profits – should be at the center of economic life.

Kathy Saile, MSW is Director of Domestic Social Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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