Friday, June 22, 2007

Papal Message to Social Sciences Academy

"There Will Always Be a Place for Charity"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2007 ( Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, on the occasion of the plenary session of the academy held April 27-May 1. The theme of the meeting was "Charity and Justice in the Relations Among Peoples and Nations."

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To Her Excellency
Professor Mary Ann Glendon
President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

As the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences gathers for its thirteenth Plenary Session, I am pleased to greet you and your distinguished confreres and to convey my prayerful good wishes for your deliberations.

The Academy's meeting this year is devoted to an examination of the theme: "Charity and Justice in the Relations among Peoples and Nations." The Church cannot fail to be interested in this subject, inasmuch as the pursuit of justice and the promotion of the civilization of love are essential aspects of her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Certainly the building of a just society is the primary responsibility of the political order, both in individual States and in the international community. As such, it demands, at every level, a disciplined exercise of practical reason and a training of the will in order to discern and achieve the specific requirements of justice in full respect for the common good and the inalienable dignity of each individual. In my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, I wished to reaffirm, at the beginning of my Pontificate, the Church's desire to contribute to this necessary purification of reason, to help form consciences and to stimulate a greater response to the genuine requirements of justice. At the same time, I wished to emphasize that, even in the most just society, there will always be a place for charity: "there is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love" (No. 28).

The Church's conviction of the inseparability of justice and charity is ultimately born of her experience of the revelation of God's infinite justice and mercy in Jesus Christ, and it finds expression in her insistence that man himself and his irreducible dignity must be at the centre of political and social life. Her teaching, which is addressed not only to believers but to all people of good will, thus appeals to right reason and a sound understanding of human nature in proposing principles capable of guiding individuals and communities in the pursuit of a social order marked by justice, freedom, fraternal solidarity and peace. At the heart of that teaching, as you well know, is the principle of the universal destination of all the goods of creation. According to this fundamental principle, everything that the earth produces and all that man transforms and manufactures, all his knowledge and technology, is meant to serve the material and spiritual development and fulfilment of the human family and all its members.

From this integrally human perspective we can understand more fully the essential role which charity plays in the pursuit of justice. My predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was convinced that justice alone is insufficient to establish truly humane and fraternal relations within society. "In every sphere of interpersonal relationships," he maintained, "justice must, so to speak, be 'corrected' to a considerable extent by that love which, as Saint Paul proclaims, 'is patient and kind' or, in other words, possesses the characteristics of that merciful love which is so much of the essence of the Gospel and Christianity" (Dives in Misericordia, 14). Charity, in a word, not only enables justice to become more inventive and to meet new challenges; it also inspires and purifies humanity's efforts to achieve authentic justice and thus the building of a society worthy of man.

At a time when "concern for our neighbour transcends the confines of national communities and has increasingly broadened its horizon to the whole world" (Deus Caritas Est, 30), the intrinsic relationship between charity and justice needs to be more clearly understood and emphasized. In expressing my confidence that your discussions in these days will prove fruitful in this regard, I would like briefly to direct your attention to three specific challenges facing our world, challenges which I believe can only be met through a firm commitment to that greater justice which is inspired by charity.

The first concerns the environment and sustainable development. The international community recognizes that the world's resources are limited and that it is the duty of all peoples to implement policies to protect the environment in order to prevent the destruction of that natural capital whose fruits are necessary for the well-being of humanity. To meet this challenge, what is required is an interdisciplinary approach such as you have employed. Also needed is a capacity to assess and forecast, to monitor the dynamics of environmental change and sustainable growth, and to draw up and apply solutions at an international level. Particular attention must be paid to the fact that the poorest countries are likely to pay the heaviest price for ecological deterioration. In my Message for the 2007 World Day of Peace, I pointed out that "the destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the earth's resources … are the consequences of an inhumane concept of development. Indeed, if development were limited to the technical-economic aspect, obscuring the moral-religious dimension, it would not be an integral human development, but a one-sided distortion which would end up by unleashing man's destructive capacities" (No. 9). In meeting the challenges of environmental protection and sustainable development, we are called to promote and "safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic 'human ecology'" (Centesimus Annus, 38). This in turn calls for a responsible relationship not only with creation but also with our neighbours, near and far, in space and time, and with the Creator.

This brings us to a second challenge which involves our conception of the human person and consequently our relationships with one other. If human beings are not seen as persons, male and female, created in God's image (cf. Gen 1:26) and endowed with an inviolable dignity, it will be very difficult to achieve full justice in the world. Despite the recognition of the rights of the person in international declarations and legal instruments, much progress needs to be made in bringing this recognition to bear upon such global problems as the growing gap between rich and poor countries; the unequal distribution and allocation of natural resources and of the wealth produced by human activity; the tragedy of hunger, thirst and poverty on a planet where there is an abundance of food, water and prosperity; the human suffering of refugees and displaced people; the continuing hostilities in many parts of the world; the lack of sufficient legal protection for the unborn; the exploitation of children; the international traffic in human beings, arms and drugs; and numerous other grave injustices.

A third challenge relates to the values of the spirit. Pressed by economic worries, we tend to forget that, unlike material goods, those spiritual goods which are properly human expand and multiply when communicated: unlike divisible goods, spiritual goods such as knowledge and education are indivisible, and the more one shares them, the more they are possessed. Globalization has increased the interdependence of peoples, with their different traditions, religions and systems of education. This means that the peoples of the world, for all their differences, are constantly learning about one another and coming into much greater contact. All the more important, then, is the need for a dialogue which can help people to understand their own traditions vis-à-vis those of others, to develop greater self-awareness in the face of challenges to their identity, and thus to promote understanding and the acknowledgement of true human values within an intercultural perspective. To meet these challenges, a just equality of opportunity, especially in the field of education and the transmission of knowledge, is urgently needed. Regrettably, education, especially at the primary level, remains dramatically insufficient in many parts of the world.

To meet these challenges, only love for neighbour can inspire within us justice at the service of life and the promotion of human dignity. Only love within the family, founded on a man and a woman, who are created in the image of God, can assure that inter-generational solidarity which transmits love and justice to future generations. Only charity can encourage us to place the human person once more at the centre of life in society and at the centre of a globalized world governed by justice.

With these considerations, dear Members of the Academy, I encourage you as you carry forward your important work. Upon you and your loved ones I cordially invoke God's blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.

From the Vatican, 28 April 2007


© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Mary Ann Glendon's Concluding Speech
"Benedict XVI Highlighted 3 Challenges"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2007 ( Here is the message Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, gave today on concluding the plenary session of the academy held April 27-May 1. The theme of the meeting was "Charity and Justice in the Relations Among Peoples and Nations."

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At the conclusion of our XIII Plenary Session, I am pleased to share with you some of what we in the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences have learned over the past four days of intense meetings. In the name of the academy and its chancellor, His Excellency Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, I thank you journalists for your interest in our work this past week since we last met.

I am joined here today by Professor Juan Llach of Argentina, the principal organizer of our plenary session this year. After my introductory remarks, Professor Llach will speak to you about some of what we heard and discussed in our meetings. I will limit myself to comments of a more general character.

Our meeting this year on the theme of "Charity and Justice in the Relations Among People and Nations" is part of a broader project of the academy on questions arising from globalization. Over several years, these meetings have provided academy members with much data and creative thinking. While we are not in a position today to speak about any final conclusions, I hope to give you a sense of what we have been doing this week. In the coming months, academy members will further discuss what we have heard here, and be in a position to arrive at some conclusions for a final report. We cannot present to you today, therefore, final conclusions of the academy.

As I mentioned at the outset of our meeting, we had a record number of invited guests this year to share with us their understanding of issues related to charity and justice among nations. I would just give a few examples of what we heard.

Professor Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista, former foreign minister of Mexico, spoke about the vulnerability of poorer countries to sudden swings in world capital markets, and the need to mitigate the damage from such exposure. Doctor Jacques Diouf, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, spoke to us about the very practical issue of access to safe water. Doctor José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, addressed us the strengths and weaknesses of international law in building peaceful relations between states. Doctor Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state of the United States, spoke about how globalization is weakening the power of nation-states, precisely as their own citizens expect them to do more to mitigate the effects of that same globalization.

The meetings of the academy are also a privileged place for the Church to listen to and converse with the world of scholarship. We were honored with a substantial address from His Eminence, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, who spoke about the weaknesses of multilateral institutions.

He clarified for us that the Holy See strongly supports international institutions, but does not subscribe to an uncritical internationalism, any more that the Holy See subscribes to an uncritical nationalism in defending the rights of nations.

We also had the participation of several other curial cardinals, as well as His Eminence Cardinal Pierre Sfeir Nasrallah, patriarch of the Maronites, and His Beatitude Monsignor Antonios Naguib, patriarch of Alexandria. The latter two spoke with great passion and emotion about the challenges and crises of interreligious dialogue as a critical part of peace between nations. As one of our invited guests, Rabbi David Rosen, said: "Without peace between religions, there cannot be peace between nations."

In his message to us for our plenary session, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI highlighted three challenges: i) the environment and sustainable development, ii) respect for the rights and dignity of persons, and iii) the danger of losing spiritual values in a technical world.

The Holy Father also wrote in general about the work of the social sciences in the relations between nations. He reminded us that the "building of a just society is the primary responsibility of the political order," and therefore the questions before us are those largely of "practical reason and a training of the will in order to discern and achieve the specific requirements of justice."

To this work of practical reason, the Church offers a "purification of reason," permitting the light of the Gospel to illuminate the social order. In other words, relations between states cannot remain only a matter of technical skill; they must be animated by ethical concerns.

The work of the social sciences lies between the principles and practice. We heard some practical ideas about how the priority of ethical concerns might be concretely achieved, as you will hear presently from Professor Llach.

A final note about the question of subsidiarity. As I noted last week, that was one aspect of international relations which we were asked to think about.

In Catholic social thinking, the concept of subsidiarity allows space for individuals, families and communities to practice the virtues of charity and justice without being usurped by an all-powerful state. At the level of nations, is there room to allow for charity and justice to be exercised as virtues?

The nation-state, for all of its weaknesses, allows great numbers of peoples to live together in peace and freedom, with space allowed for the exercise of virtues which promote the common good. Can we say that international institutions do the same?

There can be no doubt that the Catholic Church, in its teachings on the unity of the human race and the universal destination of material goods, stands on the side of institutions which promote peace and harmony between nations. But the challenge is for those institutions to allow ample space for the virtues of charity and justice as well. The work of our Academy in the months ahead is to look at concrete proposals in that regard.

Professor Llach will now share with you some of the proposals that we heard.

Thank you again for your interest in our work.

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