On December 3, 2019, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the publication of Pope Benedict XVI’s Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, an International Conference was held under the theme “Theory and Practice of Development.”
The Conference took place in the Vatican’s Casina Pius IV of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and was organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Those intervening in the opening session were Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Dicastery’s Prefect, and Monsignor Silvano Maria Tomasi, President of the Caritas in Veritate Foundation.
According to a press release of the Holy See Press Office, intended in the one-day special study session was a further reflection — with representatives of the Church, experts of the economic realm, academics and representatives of international and non-governmental organizations –, on the impact the Encyclical continues to have on contemporary society.
Among the renown personalities that contributed to the discussion were Jeffrey Sachs, Tony Castleman, Anna Rowlands, Mukhisa Kituyi, Maria Luisa Silva and Wanda Rodriguez.
Cardinal Turkson’s Statements
In statements to “Vatican News” regarding this day of study, Cardinal Turkson explained how, since its creation, the Dicastery he heads has contributed to “integral human development” and how much reference has been made to Pope Benedict XVI’s known Encyclical.
The Cardinal also said that it’s “a document that follows Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio on development, and has its roots in the fact that true development is not only the development of peoples but the development of each person. This development is a vocation of every person, a vocation that is carried out when we all love and when, imitating God’s love, we offer freely what we do and our resources to promote the wellbeing of others with solidarity.”
Caritas in Veritate
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI promulgated this Encyclical on June 29, 2009. Its roots are found in Pope Paul VI’s Magisterium, who wrote the Encyclical Populorum Progressio in 1967. The latter focused on the development of solidarity among men, rooted in a transcendent humanism that puts the true meaning of human life at the center and cultivates the social significance of fraternity.
In 2009, some 40 years later, Pope Benedict XVI decided to update Populorum Progressio not only focusing on the topic of “human ecology” but also stressing that genuine “human development concerns the whole person in all his dimensions” (CIV, 11).
Social Anthropological Questions
According to the press release, the background for Benedict XVI were the events of those years and, to a large extent, those of today’s world: the persistence of poverty, hunger, exploitation, the rise of environmental problems, globalization and planetary inter-dependence, new means of communication, growing difficulty of national policies and of governments to address the world powers and multi-nationals, the financial crisis and monetary institutions, etc.
Consequently, for the Pope Emeritus the “social questions” were and have become essentially anthropological questions (Cf. CIV, 75). They refer to the truth of the human person, who must discover himself in the truth of his being: in Christ, who is charity in truth and who is “the main engine of the true development of each person and of the whole of humanity” (CIV, 1).
Therefore, if development is understood as vocation of every person, its realization must be inspired in Christ’s charity and in the consequent virtue of gratitude.
Ten years after the Encyclical’s publication, the teachings expressed on man’s development — from an integral perspective and respect of the person beyond the merely economic and material aspects –, are, in fact, more relevant than ever.