Thursday, 13 January 2011

Our correspondent from Brussels: "Caritas in Veritate" takes on the European Parliament

Chris is now three months into his internship in the European Parliament in Brussels. He has written a piece about a conference he attended about the Pope Benedict's encyclical Caritas in Veritate and the implications of modern day life and the influence they have in the political sphere.

One of my first experiences in the European Parliament was a conference co-jointly organised by the European People's Party (EPP) and the European Bishops Conference (COMECE). The recently adopted Lisbon Treaty actually provides for a permanent dialogue between the EU and the Church, but along with much of the eurocratic rhetoric it doesn't actually go into any detail as to how this should be implemented.

One year after the publication of Pope Benedict's (BXVI) third encyclical, this conference was to examine the social, economic and environmental implications of modern day life, and the resulting interplay they may have in the political realm. From the outset we heard of how the recent financial crisis doesn't limit itself to mere economics, but rather to a crisis of values. BXVI makes the point that since modern-day society is so geared toward materialistic needs and monetary profit, we lose sight of the real human needs, which sooner or later will provoke a societal crisis.

Commentators on the Encyclical pointed out that the continent we live in today, where an abortion takes place every 27 seconds and 10 million divorces weigh heavily on 15 million children, gives rise to a conception in which the hope of building has been lost: there is nothing that makes life worth living, and there is no truth to which to be committed. The consequence of this is apparent in today's generation which lacks reasons to make a home, to form a family and to bring children into the world.

The discourse continued, debating that it is religion which provides many of the values on which the EU is based- one of which being solidarity, currently put to the test with the controversial measures being taken to bail out less well off member states.

Caritas in Veritate picks up where Paul VI left off in Populorum Progressio, namely in underlining politics as the highest form of charity and how truthful politics can prove to be a formidable instrument for promoting the human person. It was this idea of truthful politics being the highest form of charity as well the concluding remarks by Mario Mauro which have been resounding in my head ever since this inspiring conference: “It is the person that becomes the protagonist of his time, of his country, who perhaps is martyred by the economic difficulties but who, thanks to education in which faith has a relevant function, has the strength to address the problems.”

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