VERONA, Italy, JULY 15, 2009 ( Benedict XVI's encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" puts God at the center of the social questions, says the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, who is also the president of the Cardinal Van Thuân International Observatory for the Social Doctrine of the Church, wrote this in an article to appear Thursday in the weekly magazine Tempi. The article, titled "The Pope Knows Where We Have to Go," was posted today on the observatory's Web site.

The archbishop noted that the encyclical reiterates that the social teaching of the Church "sets its sights on the heart of the problem regarding the construction of the world and transforms the social issue [...] into nothing less than the issue of 'integral human development in charity and truth.'"

It is situated, he added, "at the point where the Church and the world encounter one another, where they meet."

"As John Paul II said, the Church’s social doctrine is an instrument of salvation because it is the announcement of Christ in temporal realities," the archbishop noted. "'Caritas in Veritate' reiterates the Christian 'claim': Apart from me you can do nothing."

"Without the force of charity and the light of Christian truths, man is not able to hold himself together, loses pieces of himself, contradicts himself, comes apart at the seams and is 'decomposed,'" Archbishop Crepaldi explained. "The Christian 'claim' is that only Jesus Christ fully reveals man to man and enables him to hold himself together as a single whole."

Labels and separation

He urges a reading of the encyclical without the "separations and reductions" of labels and categories such as "leftwing and rightwing, conservativism and progressivism, capitalism and anti-capitalism, nature and culture," as "reality is more than they are."

The archbishop noted that frequent "expressions of ideological disjunction [include] the separation of the themes of life and the family from those of social justice and peace."

"The encyclical says that all this is to be kept together," he added. "Man is the unity of body and soul. 'Caritas in Veritate' restores to the spirit and to life their rightful place in the construction of the earthly city."

Archbishop Crepaldi continued: "Without denying the diverse levels of truth and competence, and hence without denying its own limits, the Church knows it announces the definitive Word and that this Word is not sort of added on from the outside like an opinion, but professes to be the response to human expectations.

"Thus does God have his place in the world and the Church its 'right of citizenship.' In order for God to have a place in the world requires the world to need him in order to be world, to attain its natural ends; otherwise God is superfluous. Useful, perhaps, but not indispensable.

"If God is only useful, then Christianity is nothing more than ethics. God is indispensable and therefore the faith purifies reason and charity purifies justice. Purify means making them reason and charity in the full and effective sense of the words. It is like saying that reason without faith is unable to be reason, and justice without charity is unable to be justice."

The archbishop noted that the true theme of the encyclical is "the place of God in the world."

He said the encyclical is a "political and social 'stock-taking' of modernism," which he said "takes away from God his place in the world, because God is Charity and Love."

"Without God, as we read in the Conclusion, man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is," Archbishop Crepaldi affirms. "Without God the economy is only economy, nature is nothing more than a deposit of material, the family only a contract, life nothing more than a laboratory product, love only chemistry, and development nothing more than a form of growth."

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