4Page Need 4 page summary of Pope Benedict’s “Caritas in Veritate.” The Holy See ENCYCLICAL LETTER CARITAS IN VERITATE OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF BENEDICT XV

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Need 4 page summary of Pope Benedict’s “Caritas in Veritate.”

The Holy See









1. Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death
and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person
and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for
courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its
origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. Each person finds his good by adherence to God’s
plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this
truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:32). To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction,
and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity,
in fact, “rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). All people feel the interior impulse to love authentically:
love and truth never abandon them completely, because these are the vocation planted by God in
the heart and mind of every human person. The search for love and truth is purified and liberated
by Jesus Christ from the impoverishment that our humanity brings to it, and he reveals to us in all
its fullness the initiative of love and the plan for true life that God has prepared for us. In Christ,
charity in truth becomes the Face of his Person, a vocation for us to love our brothers and sisters
in the truth of his plan. Indeed, he himself is the Truth (cf. Jn 14:6).

2. Charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine. Every responsibility and every
commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of
Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law (cf. Mt 22:36- 40). It gives real substance to the personal
relationship with God and with neighbour; it is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with
friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social,
economic and political ones). For the Church, instructed by the Gospel, charity is everything
because, as Saint John teaches (cf. 1 Jn 4:8, 16) and as I recalled in my first Encyclical Letter,
“God is love” (Deus Caritas Est): everything has its origin in God’s love, everything is shaped by it,
everything is directed towards it. Love is God’s greatest gift to humanity, it is his promise and our

I am aware of the ways in which charity has been and continues to be misconstrued and emptied
of meaning, with the consequent risk of being misinterpreted, detached from ethical living and, in
any event, undervalued. In the social, juridical, cultural, political and economic fields — the
contexts, in other words, that are most exposed to this danger — it is easily dismissed as
irrelevant for interpreting and giving direction to moral responsibility. Hence the need to link charity
with truth not only in the sequence, pointed out by Saint Paul, of veritas in caritate (Eph 4:15), but
also in the inverse and complementary sequence of caritas in veritate. Truth needs to be sought,
found and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be
understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth. In this way, not only do we do a service to
charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive
and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living. This is a matter of no small
account today, in a social and cultural context which relativizes truth, often paying little heed to it
and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its existence.

3. Through this close link with truth, charity can be recognized as an authentic expression of
humanity and as an element of fundamental importance in human relations, including those of a
public nature. Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived.
Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity. That light is both the light of reason and
the light of faith, through which the intellect attains to the natural and supernatural truth of charity:
it grasps its meaning as gift, acceptance, and communion. Without truth, charity degenerates into
sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without
truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to contingent subjective emotions and opinions,
the word “love” is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite. Truth
frees charity from the constraints of an emotionalism that deprives it of relational and social
content, and of a fideism that deprives it of human and universal breathing-space. In the truth,
charity reflects the personal yet public dimension of faith in the God of the Bible, who is both
Agápe and Lógos: Charity and Truth, Love and Word.

4. Because it is filled with truth, charity can be understood in the abundance of its values, it can be
shared and communicated. Truth, in fact, is lógos which creates diá-logos, and hence


communication and communion. Truth, by enabling men and women to let go of their subjective
opinions and impressions, allows them to move beyond cultural and historical limitations and to
come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things. Truth opens and unites our
minds in the lógos of love: this is the Christian proclamation and testimony of charity. In the
present social and cultural context, where there is a widespread tendency to relativize truth,
practising charity in truth helps people to understand that adhering to the values of Christianity is
not merely useful but essential for building a good society and for true integral human
development. A Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a
pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance. In other words, there
would no longer be any real place for God in the world. Without truth, charity is confined to a
narrow field devoid of relations. It is excluded from the plans and processes of promoting human
development of universal range, in dialogue between knowledge and praxis.

5. Charity is love received and given. It is “grace” (cháris). Its source is the wellspring of the
Father’s love for the Son, in the Holy Spirit. Love comes down to us from the Son. It is creative
love, through which we have our being; it is redemptive love, through which we are recreated.
Love is revealed and made present by Christ (cf. Jn 13:1) and “poured into our hearts through the
Holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5). As the objects of God’s love, men and women become subjects of charity,
they are called to make themselves instruments of grace, so as to pour forth God’s charity and to
weave networks of charity.

This dynamic of charity received and given is what gives rise to the Church’s social teaching,
which is caritas in veritate in re sociali: the proclamation of the truth of Christ’s love in society. This
doctrine is a service to charity, but its locus is truth. Truth preserves and expresses charity’s power
to liberate in the ever-changing events of history. It is at the same time the truth of faith and of
reason, both in the distinction and also in the convergence of those two cognitive fields.
Development, social well-being, the search for a satisfactory solution to the grave socio-economic
problems besetting humanity, all need this truth. What they need even more is that this truth
should be loved and demonstrated. Without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is
no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the
logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalized society at difficult times
like the present.

6. “Caritas in veritate” is the principle around which the Church’s social doctrine turns, a principle
that takes on practical form in the criteria that govern moral action. I would like to consider two of
these in particular, of special relevance to the commitment to development in an increasingly
globalized society: justice and the common good.

First of all, justice. Ubi societas, ibi ius: every society draws up its own system of justice. Charity
goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never
lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his


being or his acting. I cannot “give” what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains
to him in justice. If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is
justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is
inseparable from charity[1], and intrinsic to it. Justice is the primary way of charity or, in Paul VI’s
words, “the minimum measure” of it[2], an integral part of the love “in deed and in truth” (1 Jn
3:18), to which Saint John exhorts us. On the one hand, charity demands justice: recognition and
respect for the legitimate rights of individuals and peoples. It strives to build the earthly city
according to law and justice. On the other hand, charity transcends justice and completes it in the
logic of giving and forgiving[3]. The earthly city is promoted not merely by relationships of rights
and duties, but to an even greater and more fundamental extent by relationships of
gratuitousness, mercy and communion. Charity always manifests God’s love in human
relationships as well, it gives theological and salvific value to all commitment for justice in the

7. Another important consideration is the common good. To love someone is to desire that
person’s good and to take effective steps to secure it. Besides the good of the individual, there is a
good that is linked to living in society: the common good. It is the good of “all of us”, made up of
individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society[4]. It is a good that is
sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can
only really and effectively pursue their good within it. To desire the common good and strive
towards it is a requirement of justice and charity. To take a stand for the common good is on the
one hand to be solicitous for, and on the other hand to avail oneself of, that complex of institutions
that give structure to the life of society, juridically, civilly, politically and culturally, making it the
pólis, or “city”. 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,
in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in
the pólis. This is the institutional path — we might also call it the political path — of charity, no less
excellent and effective than the kind of charity which encounters the neighbour directly, outside the
institutional mediation of the pólis. When animated by charity, commitment to the common good
has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have. Like all commitment to
justice, it has a place within the testimony of divine charity that paves the way for eternity through
temporal action. Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the
building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family. In an
increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume
the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations[5],
in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an
anticipation and a prefiguration of the undivided city of God.

8. In 1967, when he issued the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, my venerable predecessor Pope
Paul VI illuminated the great theme of the development of peoples with the splendour of truth and
the gentle light of Christ’s charity. He taught that life in Christ is the first and principal factor of


development[6] and he entrusted us with the task of travelling the path of development with all our
heart and all our intelligence[7], that is to say with the ardour of charity and the wisdom of truth. It
is the primordial truth of God’s love, grace bestowed upon us, that opens our lives to gift and
makes it possible to hope for a “development of the whole man and of all men”[8], to hope for
progress “from less human conditions to those which are more human”[9], obtained by overcoming
the difficulties that are inevitably encountered along the way.

At a distance of over forty years from the Encyclical’s publication, I intend to pay tribute and to
honour the memory of the great Pope Paul VI, revisiting his teachings on integral human
development and taking my place within the path that they marked out, so as to apply them to the
present moment. This continual application to contemporary circumstances began with the
Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, with which the Servant of God Pope John Paul II chose to mark
the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Populorum Progressio. Until that time, only Rerum
Novarum had been commemorated in this way. Now that a further twenty years have passed, I
express my conviction that Populorum Progressio deserves to be considered “the Rerum Novarum
of the present age”, shedding light upon humanity’s journey towards unity.

9. Love in truth — caritas in veritate — is a great challenge for the Church in a world that is
becoming progressively and pervasively globalized. The risk for our time is that the de facto
interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and
minds that would give rise to truly human development. Only in charity, illumined by the light of
reason and faith, is it possible to pursue development goals that possess a more humane and
humanizing value. The sharing of goods and resources, from which authentic development
proceeds, is not guaranteed by merely technical progress and relationships of utility, but by the
potential of love that overcomes evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), opening up the path towards
reciprocity of consciences and liberties.

The Church does not have technical solutions to offer[10] and does not claim “to interfere in any
way in the politics of States.”[11] She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in
every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation.
Without truth, it is easy to fall into an empiricist and sceptical view of life, incapable of rising to the
level of praxis because of a lack of interest in grasping the values — sometimes even the
meanings — with which to judge and direct it. Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which
alone is the guarantee of freedom (cf. Jn 8:32) and of the possibility of integral human
development. For this reason the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly and recognizes
it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never
renounce. Her social doctrine is a particular dimension of this proclamation: it is a service to the
truth which sets us free. Open to the truth, from whichever branch of knowledge it comes, the
Church’s social doctrine receives it, assembles into a unity the fragments in which it is often found,
and mediates it within the constantly changing life-patterns of the society of peoples and




10. A fresh reading of Populorum Progressio, more than forty years after its publication, invites us
to remain faithful to its message of charity and truth, viewed within the overall context of Paul VI’s
specific magisterium and, more generally, within the tradition of the Church’s social doctrine.
Moreover, an evaluation is needed of the different terms in which the problem of development is
presented today, as compared with forty years ago. The correct viewpoint, then, is that of the
Tradition of the apostolic faith[13], a patrimony both ancient and new, outside of which Populorum
Progressio would be a document without roots — and issues concerning development would be
reduced to merely sociological data.

11. The publication of Populorum Progressio occurred immediately after the conclusion of the
Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, and in its opening paragraphs it clearly indicates its close
connection with the Council[14]. Twenty years later, in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, John Paul II, in his
turn, emphasized the earlier Encyclical’s fruitful relationship with the Council, and especially with
the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes[15]. I too wish to recall here the importance of the
Second Vatican Council for Paul VI’s Encyclical and for the whole of the subsequent social
Magisterium of the Popes. The Council probed more deeply what had always belonged to the truth
of the faith, namely that the Church, being at God’s service, is at the service of the world in terms
of love and truth. Paul VI set out from this vision in order to convey two important truths. The first
is that the whole Church, in all her being and acting — when she proclaims, when she celebrates,
when she performs works of charity — is engaged in promoting integral human development. She
has a public role over and above her charitable and educational activities: all the energy she
brings to the advancement of humanity and of universal fraternity is manifested when she is able
to operate in a climate of freedom. In not a few cases, that freedom is impeded by prohibitions and
persecutions, or it is limited when the Church’s public presence is reduced to her charitable
activities alone. The second truth is that authentic human development concerns the whole of the
person in every single dimension[16]. Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in
this world is denied breathing-space. Enclosed within history, it runs the risk of being reduced to
the mere accumulation of wealth; humanity thus loses the courage to be at the service of higher
goods, at the service of the great and disinterested initiatives called forth by universal charity. Man
does not develop through his own powers, nor can development simply be handed to him. In the
course of history, it was often maintained that the creation of institutions was sufficient to
guarantee the fulfilment of humanity’s right to development. Unfortunately, too much confidence
was placed in those institutions, as if they were able to deliver the desired objective automatically.
In reality, institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is
primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the
part of everyone. Moreover, such development requires a transcendent vision of the person, it


needs God: without him, development is either denied, or entrusted exclusively to man, who falls
into the trap of thinking he can bring about his own salvation, and ends up promoting a
dehumanized form of development. Only through an encounter with God are we able to see in the
other something more than just another creature[17], to recognize the divine image in the other,
thus truly coming to discover him or her and to mature in a love that “becomes concern and care
for the other.”[18]

12. The link between Populorum Progressio and the Second Vatican Council does not mean that
Paul VI’s social magisterium marked a break with that of previous Popes, because the Council
constitutes a deeper exploration of this magisterium within the continuity of the Church’s life[19]. In
this sense, clarity is not served by certain abstract subdivisions of the Church’s social doctrine,
which apply categories to Papal social teaching that are extraneous to it. It is not a case of two
typologies of social doctrine, one pre-conciliar and one post-conciliar, differing from one another:
on the contrary, there is a single teaching, consistent and at the same time ever new[20]. It is one
thing to draw attention to the particular characteristics of one Encyclical or another, of the teaching
of one Pope or another, but quite another to lose sight of the coherence of the overall doctrinal
corpus[21]. Coherence does not mean a closed system: on the contrary, it means dynamic
faithfulness to a light received. The Church’s social doctrine illuminates with an unchanging light
the new problems that are constantly emerging[22]. This safeguards the permanent and historical
character of the doctrinal “patrimony”[23] which, with its specific characteristics, is part and parcel
of the Church’s ever-living Tradition[24]. Social doctrine is built on the foundation handed on by the
Apostles to the Fathers of the Church, and then received and further explored by the great
Christian doctors. This doctrine points definitively to the New Man, to the “last Adam [who] became
a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor 15:45), the principle of the charity that “never ends” (1 Cor 13:8). It is
attested by the saints and by those who gave their lives for Christ our Saviour in the field of justice
and peace. It is an expression of the prophetic task of the Supreme Pontiffs to give apostolic
guidance to the Church of Christ and to discern the new demands of evangelization. For these
reasons, Populorum Progressio, situated within the great current of Tradition, can still speak to us

13. In addition to its important link with the entirety of the Church’s social doctrine, Populorum
Progressio is closely connected to the overall magisterium of Paul VI, especially his social
magisterium. His was certainly a social teaching of great importance: he underlined the
indispensable importance of the Gospel for building a society according to freedom and justice, in
the ideal and historical perspective of a civilization animated by love. Paul VI clearly understood
that the social question had become worldwide [25] and he grasped the interconnection between
the impetus towards the unification of humanity and the Christian ideal of a single family of
peoples in solidarity and fraternity. In the notion of development, understood in human and
Christian terms, he identified the heart of the Christian social message, and he proposed Christian
charity as the principal force at the service of development. Motivated by the wish to make Christ’s
love fully visible to contemporary men and women, Paul VI addressed important ethical questions


robustly, without yielding to the cultural weaknesses of his time.

14. In his Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens of 1971, Paul VI reflected on the meaning of
politics, and the danger constituted by utopian and ideological visions that place its ethical and
human dimensions in jeopardy. These are matters closely connected with development.
Unfortunately the negative ideologies continue to flourish. Paul VI had already warned against the
technocratic ideology so prevalent today[26], fully aware of the great danger of entrusting the
entire process of development to technology alone, because in that way it would lack direction.
Technology, viewed in itself, is ambivalent. If on the one hand, some today would be inclined to
entrust the entire process of development to technology, on the other hand we are witnessing an
upsurge of ideologies that deny in toto the very value of development, viewing it as radically anti-
human and merely a source of degradation. This leads to a rejection, not only of the distorted and
unjust way in which progress is sometimes directed, but also of scientific discoveries themselves,
which, if well used, could serve as an opportunity of growth for all. The idea of a world without
development indicates a lack of trust in man and in God. It is therefore a serious mistake to
undervalue human capacity to exercise control over the deviations of development or to overlook
the fact that man is constitutionally oriented towards “being more”. Idealizing technical progress, or
contemplating the utopia of a return to humanity’s original natural state, are two contrasting ways
of detaching progress from its moral evaluation and hence from our responsibility.

15. Two further documents by Paul VI without any direct link to social doctrine — the Encyclical
Humanae Vitae (25 July 1968) and the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December
1975) — are highly important for delineating the fully human meaning of the development that the
Church proposes. It is therefore helpful to consider these texts too in relation to Populorum

The Encyclical Humanae Vitae emphasizes both the unitive and the procreative meaning of
sexuality, thereby locating at the foundation of society the married couple, man and woman, who
accept one another mutually, in distinction and in complementarity: a couple, therefore, that is
open to life[27]. This is not a question of purely individual morality: Humanae Vitae indicates the
strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching
that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II’s
Encyclical Evangelium Vitae[28]. The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and
social ethics, fully aware that “a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts
values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically
acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and
violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.”[29]

The Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, for its part, is very closely linked with development,
given that, in Paul VI’s words, “evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of
the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man’s concrete life, both personal and social.”[30]


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