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Thursday, April 26, 2007


VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Five prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Dino De Antoni of Gorizia.

    - Bishop Eugenio Ravignani of Trieste.

    - Archbishop Luigi Bressan of Trento.

    - Bishop Wilhelm Emil Egger O.F.M. Cap., of Bolzano-Bressanone.

    - Archbishop Pietro Brollo of Udine.

 - Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), accompanied by Cardinals Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France, and Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, vice-presidents, and by Msgr. Aldo Giordano, secretary general.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2007 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, a press conference was held to present the 13th plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences which is due to be held in the Vatican from April 27 to May 1 and which has as its theme this year: "Charity and Justice in the Relations among Peoples and Nations."

  Participating in the press conference were Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and professor of law at Harvard University, U.S.A.; Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences; and Juan Jose Llach, counsellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and professor of economics at Austral University, Argentina.

  An English-language note regarding the theme of the forthcoming plenary was made public today. "Although it is at times a common conviction that the pursuit of charity and justice at the international level is of key importance for contemporary society, at the same time we encounter signs that are working in the opposite direction," the note reads, and goes on to list a number of "worrying recent signs of the times" such as "the re-emergence of nationalism," and signs that "economic and social convergence between developed and developing countries is still confined only to a few of this last category."

  Other "worrying signs" include the high "incidence of poverty and extreme poverty" and the fact that "multilateral institutions such as the UN, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank ... are demonstrating signs of weakness and tiredness." Furthermore "there are now well-grounded doubts about the possibility of really implementing" the Millennium Goals of halving the number of poor people in the world by the year 2015.

  A further cause for concern is the fact that "the aid that has been given has fallen far short of the goal of allocating 0.7 percent of the GDP of developed countries to foreign aid," and "has often been inefficiently distributed and utilised." Finally, the note mentions the problem of war and terrorism highlighting how the beginning of the new century was "characterised by a notable increase in the social and moral scourge of terrorism. At the same time, the world is still afflicted on a large scale by wars between countries and wars within countries."

  The text then mentions Benedict XVI's Encyclical "Deus caritas est" as a specific source of inspiration. "In particular," the note says, the Encyclical "reminds us that the theological and human virtue of charity must preside over all of the social teaching and all of the social works of the Church and her members. ... The Pope draws our attention to the fact that this teaching is both timely and significant, 'in a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence.'

  "This," the note adds, "is why 'Deus Caritas est' has been correctly described as being in part a social encyclical. It is love (caritas) that animates the Church's care for the needy, the work of lay women and men for justice and peace in the secular sphere, and is the leavening force of the Church in society."

  "Indeed, 'Deus Caritas est' places itself in the long lineage of other social encyclicals, not only because it addresses the virtue of charity but also because it attributes primary importance to the virtue of justice." In the Encyclical, "Benedict XVI declares: 'In today's complex situation, not least because of the growth of a globalized economy, the Social Doctrine of the Church has become a set of fundamental guidelines offering approaches that are even beyond the confines of the Church'."

  "When discussing the relationship between the Church, a 'Community of Love,' and politics," says the note, "the Pope offers the strongest vision that has ever been formulated in the contemporary age on the relationship between politics and justice: 'The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of politics.' Indeed, 'Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics.' For the Pope, justice (and politics) is not a mere utilitarian or contractual technique but 'by its very nature has to do with ethics'."

  On the other hand, however, the Holy Father "perceives the modern danger of detaching reason from faith" when he states: "if reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effect of power and special interests."

  The note goes on: "This critical work of faith frees reason from its limits: 'Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly.' Not only the historical dimension of the meaning of justice, founded on both the Jewish and Christian traditions and the Roman and Greek inheritance, but also its contemporary meaning, derive from the constant purification that faith brings to reason: 'This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith'."

  The note concludes: "The Holy Father, in conformity with this teaching on charity and justice, thus calls for the structures of charitable service in the social context of the present day to promote the wellbeing of individuals, of peoples and of humanity."
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