Monday, March 12, 2012

Love, Our Moral Witness

"Love is the necessary condition of justice" Caritas in Veritate, by Pope Benedict

In a world increasingly influenced by the click of a mouse and the "viral" transmission of ideas, some ideas still, even today, travel slowly. Writing in his recent encyclical [essay], the current Pope and spiritual leader of the world's 1.3 billion Roman Catholics, Pope Benedict, writes in Caritas in Veritate [Love in Truth] that not only is God love, but that we too are to love one another. This is not news for many who are familiar with the Christian teachings. But then in this piece of writing he goes on further to say, "the development of peoples depends, above all, upon a recognition that the human race is a single family."

Well, many would have not even considered this a teaching originating from this community; they will be surprised to know its continuing work for justice. The exhortation that the human family is one is in fact, a long time teaching coming from this body, the same body that is instrumental in shaping the now standard and accepted "human rights" doctrine embraced by the United Nations and most others world-wide. It is this same institution to whom the Pope addresses himself, as well as to others, christian or otherwise.

As a Catholic Christian, Benedict wishes to clarify that the teaching of his brethren is inclusive; it is encompassing race, and culture. He reminds his reader that 'anyone who says, I love God, and then hates his brother is a liar.' 1John 4:20
The takeaway from Caritas in Veritate is summed up as something like: the fundamental attitude we take towards others is akin to our regard for a brother, our neighbor and family. He reminds and instructs that this fraternal attitude is not limited to one's intimates and family, but to society in general. This attitude he insists, is fundamental to the economic development of a just, civil society.

While some will dismiss this notion out of hand as mere sentimentalism, the Pope is steadfast. A highly educated scholar, he makes salient argument in areas beyond and including theology for the good of all, his prime interest. Recalling the struggles of those living under a-theistic communist regimes, the struggles for racial justice in the United States and elsewhere, Benedict echoes the words of  Martin Luther King who said, "Justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which [would want] revolts against love."
As these two world leaders teach, love is indeed the necessary condition of justice. On a person to person level, if we love someone, will will likely insist that they be treated fairly, both within personal relationships and within the larger community. This realization brings us to affirm that love is at the very heart of a true and faithful witness.

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