Thursday, 26 January 2006

Benedict XVI's encyclical: God is love

Just hours ago, Benedict XVI released his much-anticipated first encyclical, entitled “Deus caritas est” (“God Is Love”). He describes the purpose of the encyclical in these words: “To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world—this is the invitation I would like to extend with the present Encyclical.” The first part of the encyclical speaks of the love of God, and the second part speaks of the Church’s call to love. You can read the full text of the encyclical in English here.

One can only hope that the Holy Father will later address specific problems such as marriage, contraception and human sexuality. But regardless of these concerns, this is a profound encyclical, and it holds significant promise for the future. I’d encourage you to read it carefully. Here are some quotes:

“God’s eros for man is also totally agape. This is not only because it is bestowed in a completely gratuitous manner, without any previous merit, but also because it is love which forgives.”

“[Jesus’] death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form.”

“The Spirit is also the energy which transforms the heart of the ecclesial community, so that it becomes a witness before the world to the love of the Father, who wishes to make humanity a single family in his Son. The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of man.”

“Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. It is not a means of changing the world ideologically … but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs.”

“Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends.”

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