In this article, the President of Cor Unum provides keys for understanding the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI’s Encyclical, Deus caritas est, for catechesis on social justice. This article is extracted from a talk the Cardinal gave at the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham England on 8th April 2008.
Pope Benedict XVI’s first Encyclical, Deus caritas est (‘God is Love’), met with an unusually positive reception throughout the world. Newspapers and electronic media devoted extensive coverage and unreservedly affirmative comments to it. The Pope chose to place the central phrase of the New Testament Revelation at the centre of his message.
The Pontifical Council Cor Unum of which I am President is the Vatican office entrusted with the task of the realisation of the Pope’s diakonia. The fact that the Holy Father began his official papal doctrinal activity with the theme of charity has given our office a deeper consciousness of our mission. We wish to contribute to the dissemination of Deus caritas est; we want it to have a vast echo.
Yesterday, I addressed the Bishops of England and Wales on this very topic, and today I am grateful that Maryvale Institute, allows me to direct my comments more specifically to you, the Faculty and students of this Institute, dedicated to formation in evangelisation, catechesis, Catholic theology and philosophy both in this country and abroad. I am especially pleased to know that a particular emphasis of your Institute is to study the teachings of the Popes, most notably their Encyclicals, among which must number Pope Benedict’s Deus caritas est. It is also good to see so many priests and the seminarians studying at the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s Oscott College. What a privilege it is for me to deliver this lecture in the place once lived in by Cardinal Newman, the great prophet and advocate of ‘an intelligent and well-instructed laity’!