Pope Benedict has spoken of the “urgent need” to educate laypeople in Catholic social teaching. In a message to Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace which is meeting to discuss how the Encyclical ‘Caritas in veritate’ has been received in various communities, Pope Benedict said: “It is necessary to prepare lay people capable of dedicating themselves to the common good, especially in complex environments such as the world of politics”. He also hoped that Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace would continue to produce further teaching documents and said it might be necessary to create new centres and institutions to study social doctrine.
“Only with charity, supported by hope and illuminated by the light of faith and reason, is it possible to achieve the goals of the integral liberation of man and universal justice”, the Holy Father writes.
Referring to the “fundamental problems affecting the destiny of peoples and of world institutions, as well as of the human family”, which are examined in ‘Caritas in veritate’, Benedict XVI points out that social and national inequalities “have by no means disappeared. … Co-ordination among States – which is often inadequate because, rather than aiming to achieve solidarity, it aims only at a balance of power – leaves the field open to renewed inequalities, to the danger of the predominance of economic and financial groups which dictate – and intend to continue to do so – the political agenda at the expense of the universal common good”.
The Holy Father stresses the urgent need “for commitment to educating Catholic laity in Church social doctrine”. Lay Catholics “must undertake to promote the correct ordering of social life, while respecting the legitimate autonomy of worldly institutions”…”A profound understanding of the social doctrine of the Church is of fundamental importance, in harmony with all her theological heritage and strongly rooted in affirming the transcendent dignity of man, in defending human life from conception to natural death and in religious freedom. … It is necessary to prepare lay people capable of dedicating themselves to the common good, especially in complex environments such as the world of politics”.
The Pope concludes his Message by expressing the hope that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace may continue “to prepare fresh ‘aggiornamenti’ of Church social doctrine”. In order to globalise this doctrine, he writes, “it may be appropriate to create centres and institutions for its study, dissemination and implementation throughout the world”.
“In collaboration with others, seek more effective ways to transmit the contents of social doctrine, not only in the traditional itineraries of Christian formation and education of all kinds and at all levels, but also in the great centres where world thought is forged – such as the organs of the lay press, universities and economic and social study centres – which in recent times have come into being in every corner of the earth”.