July 7 was the first anniversary of the release of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth). In this landmark document, our Holy Father discusses globalization and its accompanying economic and social issues in the brilliant light of Catholic teaching. At the center of his discussion is the human person, redeemed by Christ. The Pope explains that God calls each man and woman to develop himself or herself fully in every aspect--spiritually, culturally, educationally, socially, economically, and so forth--and that this individual development takes place within the shared context of the family, the Church, the nation and international society. This exchange involves not merely relationships of rights and duties, points out the pontiff, but also relationships of gratuitousness, mercy and communion. In other words, human development is not built simply on justice, on doing your job and fulfilling your religious, social and political obligations, but it is also built on charity, on freely going out of your way to do good things for other people, for the Church, for your country and for your fellowmen in other countries. Moreover, this development must be built on truth, which together with charity unites human beings into a true family of God. Into this discussion the Pope brings the "economy of gift." Human life and all creation are free gifts out of love from God, who is the source of all charity and truth. He calls us to freely answer this love with gifts of love for him and for our neighbor. To the extent that we share God's love with others, we contribute to "integral human development," which is God's Will for the human race. Part of this development is science, in which man discovers more about the good things God has made, and technology, in which he eases life's burdens, making it more worthy of man. Science, technology, economics, politics and all other fields must serve the true good of the human person and of all humanity, not the selfish interests of individuals and small groups, or else they run the risk of causing great damage to human development and interpersonal relations. With jewel-like clarity Pope Benedict shows how this all fits together and makes sense.
I cannot say enough about this outstanding encyclical. It is a priceless gift to the Church and humanity, and I have only given a poor summary of its rich contents here. I am planning to write more articles about it in the near future. In the meantime, if you like you can check out a piece I've already written about it entitled A New Vision of Globalization, which is in the list of published articles in my blog sidebar.