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VATICAN CITY, APR 19 (ZENIT.org).- On Thursday, April 27, the volume "The Social Agenda: A Collection of Magisterial Texts," prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, will be presented to the international press. The press conference will be given by Archbishop François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, president of that Vatican Council, and by Fr. Robert Sirico and Kris Alan Mauren, co-founders of the Acton Institute of Grand Rapids, Michigan. ZE00041908

Indispensable Aid to Catholic Leaders Available Before End of Jubilee

VATICAN CITY, APR 16 (ZENIT.org).- Archbishop François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, president of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace, confirmed that the Holy See is preparing to publish a "Social Catechism" toward the end of the Jubilee.

The document, which will cover the social doctrine of the Church, was first announced by the Vietnamese Archbishop during the Synod of Bishops for Europe, which took place in Rome last October. The Catechism's preparation was entrusted by John Paul II to the Archbishop and the Council he presides. The consultation of Bishops, scholars and experts from around the world has taken much time and turned out to be especially complex.

In exclusive statements to the Spanish newspaper "La Razón," Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân commented today that "this Catechism comprises a very special aspect of this Jubilee celebration, as it can help the world to discover a new perspective of Christian wisdom."

Indispensable Aid for Catholic Leaders The Archbishop explained, "Our starting point is the very many Catholics in the world who hold positions of responsibility and represent the leading classes of their countries: Catholics who are heads of government, ministers, influential politicians, judges, bankers, university professors, businessmen, government officials, engineers, etc. We have discovered that, in spite of being good Catholics, many do not have a clear idea of the social doctrine of the Church, what the Catholic Church upholds and proposes in fields like economics, justice and ethics. We have heard of situations in which certain Catholics work in the opposite direction of what the social doctrine of the Church indicates. And this happens, precisely, because they do not know it sufficiently or because they do not keep it in mind as a profound truth of our faith."

This concern has led the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to hold congresses throughout the world to inform, coordinate and assist in greater understanding and diffusion of social doctrine. Thus, an appeal has been made to recover the spirit of the national "social weeks," which for many decades made possible the study and understanding of the social doctrine and which have been abandoned in many countries, or have entered into frank decline in terms of content, participation and interest.

"This is the first time that the Church has written a succinct and official compendium on the social doctrine in keeping with what has been said in the Catechism, though many studies and thick volumes have been written. We will especially keep in mind the contributions of Karol Wojtyla's writings from when he was a professor in Poland and the volumes of Cardinal Hoffner. Our objective is to make a compendium that will contain the universal principles on which the social doctrine is based and from which one must start to analyze the different individual situations. We must synthesize and extract the conceptual and universal form of the principles," Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân said.

Social Ethic

The Social Catechism promises to be a book of great breadth in terms of topics and contents. It seems that many Bishops are impressed by the quantity of topics covered and, therefore, the detail that Catholics must bring to bear on judgments and criteria of action in situations of social and political life, so affected by the maelstrom of progress and constant innovations.

Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân said that "technological development has improved the situation of the world, but on the other hand it has broadened man's powers to the point that he can think he is independent of God. Here is where the problem of the unity of science and conscience arises. Science and conscience must walk together, they must not be separated. The separation of science and conscience makes humanity, and the contemplation of God and his work, suffer."

Therefore, the Social Catechism will have as one of its key themes "to reestablish the unity between the spirit of men and social development: Jesus Christ has loosed the chains of the soul and body of men." The Social Catechism thus shows with clarity how for a Catholic social action cannot be separated from the announcement of redemption, because "it is the Lord who has reestablished the unity between the soul and social development, and this is the road that we must follow as saving mission," the Archbishop emphasized.

Unity of Work and Life Another point highlighted by the Vietnamese Archbishop responsible for writing this Vatican document is "the concept of work as love toward the created: work as continuation of God's plan, the love of work as a way of conserving, cultivating, contemplating and admiring the beauty of this world."

Finally, Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân revealed that the Social Catechism will insist on "how the human person is ennobled and fulfilled when he collaborates to improve the created, since in this way he assumes a central and just condition in the vertical relation with God." ZE00041606

The foundation permetting to determine the value of human labor is not above all the type of work which is accomplished but the fact that he who accomplishes it, is a person. Laborem Exercens, John-Paul II

The Church and the Holy See in particular, request from your nations and of your governments, to evermore take into consideration a certain number of needs... in the interest of men and women whoever they may be, knowing that liberty, respect for life and of the dignity of persons - who are never instruments -, equity in treatment, professionnal reliability in work and solidarity in the quest for common good, a spirit of reconciliation, opening to spiritual values are fundamental exigences of a harmonious life in society, of the progress of the citizens and their civilisation. Jean Paul II, Audience of the Diplomatic Corps, october 20 1978

Anglophone links...

Catholic Social Teaching
Semaines Sociales de France
Centesimus Annus (1991)
Rerum Novarum (1891)
Woodstock Business Vocation Conference
Ethical funds no nightmare for those who sleep lightly
Socially responsible principles
The Age of Social Transformation, by Peter F. Drucker
The Campaign Against Workplace Bullying
Christifideles Laici
Managing as if faith mattered

The Pope speaks of the dangers and difficulties facing journalists when they undertake to present to readers the events which are happening within the Church: Yes, events are always difficult to read and to have others comprehend. Initially, they are almost always complex. It suffices that an element is forgotten by inadvertency, is voluntarily omitted, minimized or on the contrary overly accentuated, to distort the vision of the present, as well as that of the future. You must however suscitate the interest and attention of the public, whereas your agencies require of you often and mostly: sensationalism. Some are then tempted to fall into anecdotes: this is concrete and perhaps very valid, but provided that the anecdote is significant and in real connection with the nature of the religious fact. Others courageously devote themselves to a very thorough analysis of the problems and motivations of the people of the Church, with the risk of insufficiently accounting for the essential which, you know is not of a political order, but spiritual. Jean-Paul II Meeting with the press, october 21 1978

The problem is to know how to keep, to conserve the behaviour, the attitude of the Good Shepherd. I think of the dangers to which each pastor is exposed, each chaplain. In the absence of a profound religious life, he will imperceptibly change, become an administrator, an employee and his pastoral work will transform itself in a parish office where one "fixes" problems. Jean-Paul II, Mon ami Karol Wotyla, M. Malinski, ed Le Centurion 1980 p90

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