EXTRA: Presentation of Compendium of Church's Social Doctrine
"A Text That Had No Precedent"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2004 (Catholic Online) - Here is the presentation of the "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church," made today in a press conference by Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
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I am particularly pleased to make public today the long-awaited document "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church." This document has been prepared -- at the request of the Holy Father, to whom it is dedicated -- by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which is fully responsible for its content. It is now made available to all -- Catholics, other Christians, people of good will -- who seek sure signs of truth in order to better promote the social good of persons and societies. This work began five years ago under the presidency of my venerated predecessor Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân. An unavoidable delay in the work was caused by the sickness and death of Cardinal Van Thuân and by the subsequent change in presidency of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
The drafting of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church was not a simple undertaking. The most complex problems that had to be dealt with were essentially those determined by: a) the fact that this amounted to compiling a text that had no precedent in the Church's history; b) the attempt to bring into focus certain complex epistemological questions inherent in the nature of the Church's Social Doctrine; c) the need to give a unified and universal dimension to the document notwithstanding the countless facets and unlimited variety of social realities in the world and of the world; and d) the desire to offer a teaching that loses nothing of its luster over time, in an historical period marked by very rapid and radical social, economic and political changes.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church offers a complete overview of the fundamental framework of the doctrinal corpus of Catholic social teaching. Faithful to the authoritative recommendation made by the Holy Father John Paul II in No. 54 of the postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in America," the document presents "in a complete and systematic manner, even if by means of an overview, the Church's social teaching, which is the fruit of careful Magisterial reflection and an expression of the Church's constant commitment in fidelity to the grace of salvation wrought in Christ and in loving concern for humanity's destiny" (Compendium, 8).
The Compendium has a simple and straightforward structure. After an introduction, there follow three parts. The first, composed of four chapters, deals with the fundamental presuppositions of Social Doctrine -- God's plan of love for humanity and society, the Church's mission and the nature of social doctrine, the human person and human rights, and the principles and values of Social Doctrine.
The second part, composed of seven chapters, deals with the contents and classical themes of social doctrine -- the family, human work, economic life, the political community, the international community, the environment and peace.
The third part, which is quite brief, with just one chapter, contains a series of recommendations for the use of Social Doctrine in the pastoral activity of the Church and in the life of Christians, above all the lay faithful. The conclusion, entitled "For a Civilization of Love," is an expression of the underlying purpose of the entire document.
The work is accompanied by extensive indexes that make for easy and very useful consultation.
The Compendium has a specific goal and is characterized by certain objectives spelled out in No. 10 of the introduction. The document "is presented as an instrument for the moral and pastoral discernment of the complex events that mark our time; as a guide to inspire, at the individual and community levels, attitudes and choices that will permit all people to look to the future with greater trust and hope; as an aid for the faithful concerning the Church's teaching in the area of social morality" (Compendium, 10).
It is moreover an instrument put together for the precise purpose of promoting "new strategies suited to the demands of our time and in keeping with human needs and resources. But above all there can arise the motivation to rediscover the vocation proper to the different charisms within the Church that are destined to the evangelization of the social order, because 'all the members of the Church are sharers in this secular dimension'1" (Compendium, 10).
A point worth emphasizing, because it is found in various parts of the document, is the following: the text is presented as an instrument for fostering ecumenical and interreligious dialogue on the part of Catholics with all who sincerely ...
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