The Rome Reports news service recently interviewed me about the new social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. Here’s the segment, and a transcript of the interview.
Rome Reports: Benedict XVI’s encyclical, Charity in Truth is already on the list of best selling books this month. In it, the pope proposes the steps to achieve a sound economy and to avoid another economic crisis in the future.
Kishore Jayabalan: I think he is trying to change our orientation from a moral and ethical perspective, and to address economic and social affairs from a more Catholic moral perspective, sometimes we think catholic morality only has to do with marriage and family issues, or only as something that we hear about on Sundays in church.
RR: Kishore Jayabalan is an economist who directs the Acton Institute in Rome for the study of religion and freedom. He says that one of the most important points the pope stresses in building a new economy is respecting peoples rights to initiative and property.
Jayabalan: What the document refers to as breathing space, you have to let people on the grounds of subsidiarity come up with their our solutions to their own problems, they can’t all be dictated from the top down.
RR: Benedict also says the new economy should entail that globalization be a process that pursues the common good.
Jayabalan: The second thing, is that the rest of us needs to realize that globalization is a process for the good that excluding people from globalization is simply a way of spreading poverty more broadly across the world, which goes against catholic social teaching.
RR: According to Jayabalan, to solve economic problems, the theological aspect must also be included. In his encyclical, the pope explains why a relationship between God and man gives people more freedom.
Jayabalan: It allows for more freedom because it tells us that there is a relationship that the state cannot enter into, and I think this is why the encyclical refers to religious freedom for the first time in a social encyclical.
RR: But Jayabalan says that above all else, the pope seeks to unite two concepts that are often separated, respect for life and social justice. He says the popes gift to President Barack Obama the encyclical Dignitas Personae on Bioethics– clearly shows his agenda.
Jayabalan: The pro-life people tend to be on the right politically and the social justice people tend to be on the left politically and pope Benedict is trying to get us to look beyond those old categories.
RR: In short, according to Jayabalan, “Charity in Truth” is a call to work together for social justice, a goal that cannot be realized without a profound respect for human life in all its stages.