VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2004 ( For the first time, the Holy See has published a Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

"We do not put forth hypotheses or say anything that has not been said before by the popes," said Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which wrote the work. He presented the volume to the press today.

The compendium, currently available only in Italian and English, is 525 pages long. It includes 190 pages of indexes of references or analyses.

The Doctrine of the Church on Public Life is explained in 583 numbers, which will be helpful for consultations.

"The compendium is not a catechism, as the word catechism gives the idea of something more defined, fixed," Cardinal Martino said during the meeting with journalists in the Vatican press office.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace explained that the dicastery "is responsible for the way in which the volume is presented, but all the content has been said before by the popes."

The idea of the compendium was proposed by John Paul II himself in the 1999 apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in America," in which he said: "It would be very useful to have a compendium of approved synthesis of Catholic social doctrine … which would show the connection between it and the New Evangelization."

Cardinal Martino explained that the work began five years ago under Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, then president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. His illness and death caused unavoidable delay in the writing, the cardinal said.

Various Vatican organizations collaborated in the preparation of the compendium. During the press conference, Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace -- whom Cardinal Martino described as the "soul of the compendium" -- revealed that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith revised the text twice.

The volume begins with a letter of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, in which he explains that its pages will be very useful in today's context in which humanity "seeks greater justice in dealing with the vast phenomenon of globalization."

The compendium begins with an introduction on "An Integral and Solidary Humanism," followed by 12 chapters and a conclusion which advocates "a civilization of love."

Among the most important chapters is the one dedicated to "The Family, the Vital Cell of Society," and others centered on "Human Work," "Economic Life," "The Political Community," "The International Community," "Safeguarding the Environment" and "The Promotion of Peace."

Asked by journalists Cardinal Martino explained that the presentation of the document in this period of the U.S. electoral campaign is purely by chance, as the date was chosen to be able to present it to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which began today in Rome.

For the time being, the compendium is published by the Vatican Publishing House. The Holy See will study, with the episcopal conferences, proposals to publish it in other languages and with other publishers.