HIS MOST REVEREND EXCELLENCY MONSIGNOR MARIO TOSO
Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
(Rome, Auditorium of Conciliation, November 24, 2010)
YOUNG: WITNESSES IN CHARITY AND TRUTH
Reflections in the light of Caritas in Veritate
Bishop Mario Toso sdb
God sends young people to witness the truth and charity in the social
Few persons show a confident trust in young people. God has shown most of it. He calls every person, every young person to live – as Benedict XVI says in his last social encyclical – according to charity in truth, that is according to a more human than divine existence! In fact, the Charity and Truth of which the Pontiff speaks primarily, are the life of Jesus Christ, and not so much even if important, “Diocesan Caritas”, and not even the truth of a mathematical kind (1 + 1 = 2).
Not only does Jesus give us himself, like charity and truth, but he also sends us to announce and witness them. Dear young people, therefore, God has a great project for each of us; he thinks big and invests heavily – he sends us His Son, so that he lives with us and we live with Him, of Him -, in order for us to be announcers and witnesses, in the world, apostles of His charity/love and His truth in that, new man and new Adam.
Only if we are His, if we abide in Him, we will be able to transform, rather to transfigure, our and the others’ existence.
1. Charity in truth, a condition of existence
The beginning of Caritas in Veritate (= CIV) indicates a way of knowledge, but above all a state of being, through which we can access a more adequate and a good, virtuous life.
Only if we live in, with, through Jesus Christ, we can be beneficiaries and bearers of a new thought about the family, the economy and society – Paul VI and Benedict XVI remind us that, among the leading causes of under-development, there is the lack of knowledge, of thought and of a humanistic guiding synthesis…, – about the integral development of individuals and peoples. Only if we possess his truth, his feelings, his love for God and for humanity, for the true good of the people, we can achieve them with determination and perseverance.
The union with Jesus, the acceptance of what He says, widen my mind not only to a rational but also to a super-rational (not irrational) knowledge.
Living in Jesus, trusting in him, accepting his word, our intelligence is opened to a more than human knowledge, the knowledge of God on Himself and man. Such knowledge does not exclude the various branches of human knowledge, but transcends them, inscribes them into a wider, all-encompassing horizon, re-signifying them in a certain way, within a synthesis of higher learning.
Therefore, the perspective offered to us by the revelation of God puts us on the highest point of knowledge, that reason cannot reach with its own strength. From there we embrace the broader possible horizon, including other smaller horizons, corresponding to the branches of human knowledge. While it is located within the revealed knowledge, reason rather than being crushed or diminished in its potentialities, is strengthened and urged to transcend itself. Human reason, which is already endowed with the capacity to know the overall reality – and, therefore, able to be implemented according to the various degrees of human knowledge, starting with the sensory and empirical and arriving to the intuitive, speculative and discursive ones – is healed from eventual blindness and, moreover, is challenged to explore all the knowledge given to her by God.
Well, in a context of faith, reason is driven to practice according to all its ways, so that it can arrive to know the person, finance, technology, economics, politics and development, through a harmonious synthesis of branches of knowledge, and therefore, not only from the point of view of quantity and material, but also from the qualitative point of view; not only from the point of view of phenomenal appearance, but also from the point of view of their being human and ethical. In short, it is possible to have a more thorough, not one-dimensional but multi-dimensional knowledge of people and things, on the basis of an organic synthesis of branches of knowledge, which allows to overcome segmentation and fragmentation.
Moreover, the union with Jesus, communion with Him, loving Him above all things, with all our heart and mind, with all our being, allows to love the family, work, finance, economics, politics, integral development – the first moral principle – according to their proper essence, that is according to a correct scale of values-goods, so that they are not worshiped, but not even undersized. The union of my mind and my heart to Jesus – he is my Everything, the One whom I recognize to and offer the first place, the priority over everything else – permits me not to give absolute value, for example, to profit, technology (whatever it allows me to do, I do it, even if I produce monstrosities…), power; but to live them subordinate to the good of the people, to the good of all.
In other words, faith in Jesus instead of being a source – as claimed by the secularist cultures of today – of obscurantism, ignorance, is, on the contrary, at the origin of a more authentic and complete knowledge; of a more correct moral life and of a true civilization. That is just how Benedict XVI challenges and unmasks the lie of the secularist and immanentist culture of today, that tends to marginalize God from culture and the institutions. In particular, the CIV, based on the assumptions explained above, proposes: a) a concept of development that exceeds the one proposed for example by Amartya Sen and moreover b) it helps to overcome the postmodern ethics dichotomies, built on the premise etsi Deus non daretur of Grotius.
a) According to Amartya Sen, development is not only given by the universalization of economic resources, technical means, cultural institutions, innovations, knowledge, know-how; but it is also necessary to globalize no market institutions, in particular capabilities, that is, opportunities of choice. Ralf Dahrendorf, in turn, talks about the need to globalize life chances. According to CIV, development is not only given by the globalization of capabilities or life chances, this too, but primarily by making good choices, which can be accomplished only if you are in possession of the human telos (a set of goods ordered by the love of God). In essence, according to the CIV it is necessary to globalize the good life. But how does one possess the good life, how does he get access to the human telos? Thanks to a morality that has God as its foundation. Therefore, it is necessary to “globalize” God and Jesus Christ. In fact, by virtue of the creation and incarnation of the Word, they are already such. The seeds of the Word are everywhere, in every nation and in every culture. Therefore, it is a matter of indicating them, announcing them and witnessing them. At this point you then understand the full meaning of the central affirmation of the Populorum progression, made right by Benedict XVI: “The announcement of Christ is the first and principal factor of development” (CIV n. 8).
b) The CIV, helps to overcome the dichotomies of postmodern, nihilistic and immanentist culture… In the CIV, the major aporias of postmodern ethics are registered in the land registry. They are not listed by a kind of intellectual coquetry, but to indicate the path to overcome them. What are they? How does the CIV propose to overcome them?
What are they? They are, eg., the separation between ethics and technology, ethics and economics and social justice, ethics and family, ethics and finance, ethics and politics, life ethics and social ethics.
How to overcome them? They can be overcome if the life of persons is not considered like a “watertight compartment”, as if on the one hand there existed the person with his desires and purposes, and on the other there existed ethics, economics, finance, politics, with targets antithetical to those of the person. For CIV, technical activity, the economy, finance and politics are activities of the person, from the person and, therefore, they must be intended for the person, that is they must serve to assist his human growth in fullness. Therefore, these activities must be organized in a way that they are not put in place of people, taking advantage of them, reducing them to means, things and mere goods.
How can this happen? Through the possession of a proper scale of goods / values, which is possible, as already mentioned, only if you put at the basis of your conduct the recognition of the primacy of God, of the spiritual. In other words: only if I organize and direct my conduct, my choices of the various goods, on the basis of the love to God, the Supreme Truth, the Supreme Good, my Everything.
2. Protagonists not only of the transformation of the human, but of his “transfiguration”
The CIV calls to a job more than just human. It invites to forge the human – culture, facilities, living environment, activities – in Trinitarian terms, because the person was created in the image of God-Love, a communion of persons, that are such – Father, Son, Spirit – thanks to the mutual receiving and giving one another. Human beings, says the CIV, are relational beings. They are accomplished by giving mutually one another, selflessly. Finance, the economy, politics are really human activities if they are organized in relational terms, that is as activities where you live fraternally, according to the principle of the gift and the logic of gratuitousness.
According to Benedict XVI, what does in practice increasing the size of the fraternity in the economy, in the market and in the enterprise mean? Does it means, perhaps, selling your own business and devoting the proceeds to the poor? Does the CIV direct only towards this? Or not, rather and primarily, to being responsible protagonists of their own good and that of others, through creativity and ‘entrepreneurial’ hard work, providing others stable opportunities for growth?
According to CIV, above all, it means living the market, the enterprise not only as places where the principle of the equivalence in value of exchanged goods is carried out, but also as human institutions where people meet, stipulate contracts, exchange goods and services, on the basis of generalized mutual trust, casting the gaze beyond the purely economic dimension, seeing a fellow in the other person, a “help”, a being that is not necessarily an enemy to me, whom I am called not to deceive, not to exploit (most recently the finance, in order to make a profit, has put on the market “lying products “), but to serve with my professionalism and my ethical behavior, with the passion that I put into my work, with the pride of offering in the market the best product at an affordable price, because my brothers deserve the best.
What the CIV wishes to make be understood is that the market protagonists do not act only in that they are economic subjects but also in their capacity as people first of all, which are embedded in a wider social network of relationships, such as the family, the personal Nation and the world. They operate in the market as concrete and historical beings, not divested of their being children of God, with those divine and human qualities of solidarity and trust, which are essential for the market itself to fulfill its own economic function. For this reason, the CIV urges to think about the market – especially in a time in history when you are recording a deficit of trust between persons and financial institutions in which the interdependencies between economic sectors appeared most clearly – as a place where, in addition to commutative justice, social justice must be lived primarily as contributive and not only distributive justice, that is, justice that increases the forms of mutual trust and solidarity on the basis of the generous and continuous gift of the self. Without these expressions with a special sense of brotherhood and dedication, the social cohesion that is necessary if it wants to be itself is missing to the market (cf. No. CIV. 35).
From the perspective suggested by the CIV, it is natural that the market – as indeed is already happening in many cases – is no longer a place of bullying of the strong over the weak or antisocial environment relationships, but a sphere of relationships based on friendship, solidarity and reciprocity (cf. CIV n. 36). “The great challenge we have before us, accentuated by the problems of development in this global era and made even more demanding by the economic and financial crisis, is to demonstrate, in terms of both thinking and behavior, that not only the traditional principles of social ethics, like transparency, honesty and responsibility cannot be ignored or attenuated, but also that in commercial relationships the principle of gratuitousness and the logic of gift as an expression of fraternity can and must find their place within normal economic activity. This is a human demand at the present time, but it is also a demand of the economic logic itself. It is a requirement for both of charity and of truth “(CIV n. 36).
The principle of fraternity must be salt to the life of the entrepreneur, of the manager, of the relations within enterprises and of those between firms in the market. This principle must become the internal motivation of the action in both fields. In addition to the motivation of producing goods and services with the least expenditure of energy, of pursuing profit, the legitimate end of the enterprise; of paying the worker on the basis of his performance, there must be the motivation that drives one to provide jobs, of paying workers fairly, because they are human beings equal to me, fraternal beings, beings with family responsibilities, to whom is due not only the minimum wage, but a remuneration that takes into account their contribution to the national and world income.
The principle of fraternity, according to Benedict XVI, finds a privileged declension in the intermediate area that is about to be built between profit and non-profit, where profit is pursued as a means for achieving human and social ends. According to the Pontiff, this area must be increased, because it, with its fraternity and solidarity values, constitutes to a certain extent the humus which the very macro enterprises get alimented from. For this reason, the CIV calls for this intermediate area to find broad and appropriate juridical and fiscal structure in every country (cf. No. CIV. 46).
Fraternity, as it is thought by Benedict XVI, that is, not as a vague feeling, but as a taking charge of their similar in order to meet his needs and dignity as Son of God; calls for the strengthening of plural and multivalent entrepreneurship. To meet the multiple needs of citizens and society, in order to achieve more effectively the common good, everyone must become more entrepreneurial, creative and active. It is urgent to create various types of businesses that go beyond the model of the ‘private’ and ‘public’ ones, with an exchange and mutual training between the different types of entrepreneurship and a transfer of skills between them. In all this, the fraternity acts as a powerful incentive: the more numerous are the needs of the individual and society, the more the various types of enterprise must be multiplied, the more you want to make the business system commensurate with the dignity of persons and the needs of the family, of the common good, of the development of the poorest countries, the more we must increase not only what is required by law, but also what is suggested by our feeling and perceiving us as one human family, in which the growth of each depends on the one of the other, in which there are duties that, although they are not required by law, they are equally binding due to the fact that we are all interdependent, in that as sharing in the same humanity.
3. Conclusion: the secret of the personal new vision of reality and of the personal apostolic effectiveness
Therefore, according to the CIV, we are called to be heralds and witnesses of a life animated by the charity and truth of Jesus. One of the basic tools is the social doctrine, defined by Benedict XVI “caritas in veritate in re sociali.” It shows us the essential points of reference in terms of faith, of the principles for reflection, of the criteria for judgment and practical guidelines, in order to have a new and more truthful look about problems, in order to become not only transformers but transfigurers of reality from the perspective of a “civilization of fraternal love.” It is necessary to become not only users but “creator” subjects, building a more worthy new society of God’s children.
But in order to be protagonists of a new evangelization of the social world, prayer is also important.
In the final part of the encyclical Benedict XVI affirms: “Without God man does not know where to go and is not even able to understand who he is. Faced with the enormous problems surrounding the development of peoples, that almost make us yield to discouragement, we find solace in the words of Lord Jesus Christ, who makes us aware: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5) and encourages us: “I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:20). In front of the vastness of work to be done, we are sustained by our faith that God is present alongside those who come together in his name and work for justice. Paul VI in the Populorum Progressio reminded us that man is not able to manage his own progress alone, because he cannot by himself found an authentic humanism. Only if we think we are called as individuals and as a community to be part of God’s family as his children, we will also be able to generate a new vision and muster new energy in the service of a truly integral humanism.”