Early Word on New Papal Encyclical: Coming by the End of the Year

Early Word on New Papal Encyclical: Coming by the End of the Year August 13, 2007

The Times Online has reported that Pope Benedict XVI will be promulgating a new encyclical to mark the 40th anniversy of Pope Paul VI’s enyclical Populorum Progressio. CathNews also has a write-up based upon the Times story.

Reportedly, the encyclical will have a strong socio-economic theme, condemning as immoral tax evasion and off-shore banking due to their reducing revenues that would benefit societies. The encyclical will also reportedly call more equitable distribution of wealth to underdeveloped societies and peoples by means of economic regulation. Here’s a piece from the Times article:

Pope Benedict XVI is working on a doctrinal pronouncement that will condemn tax evasion as “socially unjust”, according to Vatican sources.

In his second encyclical – the most authoritative statement a pope can issue – the pontiff will denounce the use of “tax havens” and offshore bank accounts by wealthy individuals, since this reduces tax revenues for the benefit of society as a whole.

It will focus on humanity’s social and economic problems in an era of globalisation. Pope Benedict intends to argue for a world trade and economic system “regulated in such a way as to avoid further injustice and discrimination”, Ignazio Ingrao, a Vatican watcher, said yesterday.

The encyclical, drafted during his recent holiday in the mountains of northern Italy, takes its cue from Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples), issued 40 years ago. In it the pontiff focused on “those peoples who are striving to escape from hunger, misery, endemic diseases and ignorance and are looking for a wider share in the benefits of civilisation”. He called on the West to promote an equitable world economic system based on social justice rather than profit.

Given Benedict XVI’s writing patterns, I am sure the encyclical will include other substantial issues, but it is good to have a few details now. Since the encyclical reportedly will commemorate the 40th anniversy of Populorum Progressio (1967), it should be released by the end of this year.

If the Times article is accurate, it will be interesting to see how Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak and Jimmy Akin try to spin this one! I’ll never forget how badly they misinterpreted and butchered John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens and Centisimus Annus, and Benedict’s Deus Caritas Est.

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