BENEDICT XVI, 2009
This social encyclical tackles the interrelationship and complementarity between justice, love, and truth. Love must be the foundation of all our efforts to create a more just world: ‘charity demands justice’ but at the same time ‘charity transcends justice and completes it in the logic of giving and forgiving.’ However, Benedict XVI points out that sentimentality and emotionalism arise when charity/love is practiced without truth. He discusses the common good of society as threatened by profit-centered developmental growth, globalization, new forms of colonialism, and a lapse of Christian values and virtues in families, communities, and the marketplace. He asserts that business and developmental activities need to be focused on social relationships and the common good as much as they are on the economic benefits from such activities. Benedict XVI connects personal and structural ethics insisting that both individuals and institutions need to act in economic life with greater attention to moral principles and ethical criteria. He presents a challenging treatment of the moral dimensions of the market and the ethical responsibilities of business. He goes even further by promoting an “economy of gratuitousness,” encouraging a spirit of unselfish generosity, of giving without an expected return, of compassion, and care for others as an essential part of economic life. He extends the scope of “integral development” so that it covers both socio-economic issues and issues related to sexual ethics and bio-ethics. He comments extensively on the moral dimensions of the environment. Finally, he emphasizes the complementary duties of subsidiarity and solidarity, overcoming indifference and avoiding bureaucratic excesses. He addresses many of the critical issues the modern world faces today.