Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Musings on Pope Benedict XVI’s Papacy: Benedict XVI – Social Justice and the Faith

By Father Juan Molina, OSST

(Photo courtesy Catholic News Service)
Pope Benedict XVI has had a sensitivity to the wide discrepancy between the rich and poor of this world and has urged people to come together to address human needs. He has talked about solidarity among churches and continents, for example. As part of doing so, he has addressed the world’s economic system and urged more ethical action on the part of businesses. He also has talked about environmental issues and made the connection between spirituality and care for the earth.
Among his key concerns are the faith and how Catholics can live their faith in Christ more fully. He holds that non-believers can come to have Faith in Christ if Catholics proclaim it and live it more fully—that the Truth will appeal to people. His efforts to energize Catholics in their relationship with God in the person of Jesus Christ have brought him much praise.

He is not without criticism, however. Some have found him too strong in asking the faithful and bishops to stay on what they see as the more conservative side of the Church. Some criticize him for his positions on social issues and others on his positions on ecclesial ones.

He really cannot be pigeon-holed, however. He turned out to be more pastoral than people expected when he was elected in 2005 after decades as head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His first encyclical, Deus caritas est, was about the nature of God and human relationships. He also has worked hard to bring about more transparency and accountability in the Church. 

In the future it is likely that historians will deem him a pope who sought the revival of the faith especially in areas of the world where people no longer believe in anything. This is surely a wonderful and noble contribution.
Father Juan Molina, OSST is director for the Church in Latin America of the National Collections Office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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