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Dr. Paul Griffiths Conducts Sessions on "Charity in Truth" Encyclical

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More than 200 members of parish staffs from 54 churches joined members of the Diocesan Catholic Center to hear a presentation by Dr. Paul Griffiths on Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth). Dr. Griffiths, the William K. Warren Foundation Professor of Catholic Theology at Duke Divinity School, offered the session twice; on February 24 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Raleigh and on February 27 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Newton Grove.

The presentation was sponsored by the Diocesan Offices of Catholic Formation and Evangelization and Catholic Charities to assist parishes in incorporating the encyclical into parish life and to help the faithful understand and embrace the document.

Dr. Griffith pointed out that the encyclical, the third by the Holy Father, is “the longest and most difficult conceptually as well as organizationally in its attempt to cover just about everything in Catholic social doctrine.” He added Caritas in Veritate deals with the fundamental questions of our day.

The encyclical explores the significant issues of our time and provides moral guidance in our search for answers. The 30,000-plus word document delves into a broad range of issues from human development to the principles which should form the moral basis for a global economy. One of Pope Benedict’s major goals was to connect charity and truth to the pursuit of justice.

The Holy Father writes, “Charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine.... It is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones).”

On the issue of the sanctity of life, Pope Benedict explains:  “If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology.”

He delves into the growing concern for the environment, reminding us of our role in caring for God’s creation and how that applies to each of us. “The environment is God’s gift to everyone,” he writes, “and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.” Pope Benedict notes that charity, love, is not an option for Christians, but must be a way of life, pointing out it is “essential for building a good society and for true integral development.”

 It is the Holy Father’s intention that the encyclical serve as a gauge for individuals, businesses and governments to weigh their actions and philosophies in a moral context with an eye toward serving the common good.

In his one-hour presentation, Dr. Griffiths divided the encyclical into eight components, providing insight into topics such as “Globalism’s Ambiguity”, “The Common Good”,  “Technology in General and Biotechnology in Particular”, and “Thinking Justice and Love Together.”

Following the presentation, those in attendance asked questions and participated in discussions about how best to teach and implement the principles of the encyclical in their parishes.

Dr. Griffith’s presentation is provided below, divided into the eight sections.  A DVD copy of Dr. Griffiths’ talk is available by contacting the Diocesan Communications Department in care of anjanette.wiley@raldioc.org.