What can be expected of the new encyclical "Caritas in veritate"?

The encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth) is scheduled for release this coming July 7. We interviewed Luigino Bruni, Coordinator of the International EOC Commission, about the release.

What can be expected of the new encyclical "Caritas in veritate"?

n28_pag._06_luigno_bruni_1Antonella Ferrucci: From the perspective of the EOC, what do you expect from this new encyclical?

Luigino Bruni: “I don´t expect an encyclical that speaks of the financial crisis, because if it would, it would quickly become out-of-date.  Therefore, I´m certain that the encyclical will recapture the great themes of Populorum Progressio and of Centesimus Annus, and namely, an analysis and critique of the ethical and anthropological foundations of capitalism.  The market is an institution that arises from the heart of medieval Christianity, from Franciscan, Hebrew, and Thomistic thought. Capitalism, instead, is the form that the market economy takes on in modern times. The Church is at the roots of a market that recognizes civil values, but it cannot accept a market logic that becomes the only criteria on which to build a life in common, typical of capitalism. So I expect a critique of capitalism in order to save the market economy, the inheritance of Christian humanism. The main critique towards capitalism today, going beyond Centesimus Annus and bringing back a few central petitions presented in Populorum Progressio, is an anthropological one: the human being is greater than the figure of consumer, of saver, also of entrepreneur and citizen. It´s a person – greater than any ideology, even that of capitalism. The Church, in its institutions and in its charisms, loves the cultural conquests of the market economy (especially when we compare it with a planned or feudal economy). Therefore, those who feel the same must be critical in regards to that fundamentalism of capitalism, which is the most radical atheist religion in post-modernism as it eliminates the need for God at the roots."

A.F.In this context, what is the significance of the EOC?

L.B.The EOC represents an important proposal, and I´m certain that its experience will emerge in it, culturally reinforced. In fact, the EOC does not put itself outside of the market, but works within it. At the same time, proposing the communion of profits radically puts in crisis the assumed principle of the capitalistic economy, the private acquisition of business profits. Since 1991, the EOC (originating together with the last social encyclical) has lived the message of the Second Vatican Council in economy, since it considers the economy as an expression of populace, of fraternity, of reciprocity, of responsible and supportive laity.


A.F.What might be the encyclical´s most explosive message?

L.B.I haven´t read the encyclical but some of the work of Benedict XVI and the debate in these years that have prepared for this document. From this, I expect that it will put back at the center of the market two base principles of Christian tradition – gratuitousness and reciprocity.  Christianity invented gratuitousness, an inflection of agape and grace (charis), and has placed reciprocity at the center of the new people: “love one another”. The figure of Christianity is not altruism or philanthropy but reciprocity. These two categories were those most challenged by capitalism, and I hope that they be put back at the center of markets and enterprises. In fact, without gratuitousness, there is no space for spiritual life, only nihilism. Without gratuitousness, without practices of gratuitousness, one doesn´t have the “muscle” to live the interior life, and for that matter, the faith. And without reciprocity, there is no community. And without agape-based community there is no Christianity. I hope that this encyclical helps those who have based their life economy on gratuitousness and reciprocity, like in the EOC and in many civil and social economies, find theoretical dignity and a strong impulse to go ahead.

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