Encyclical: "a tool to understand the real meaning of human development"
by Santosh Digal
Filipino teachers and religious comment on the latest work of Pope Bendict XVI. In the largest Catholic country of Asia, the contents of the encyclical become an essential guide to the complex dynamics of economic development.
Manila (AsiaNews) – “Development is an essential condition for peace, but what you need now is the sharing of material goods and solidarity among people”. With these words Father Bernard O. Diaz, professor of religion at Adamson University in Manila, comments on the contents of the Pope’s new encyclical "Caritas in Veritate” to AsiaNews.   In a developing country like the Philippines, a wrong economic growth is often the product of poverty, crime, corruption, conflict. Father Diaz says that in this context, the encyclical is an “essential tool for understanding the real meaning of human development”.

In the document, Benedict XVI says that development "if it is to be authentically human", must “make room for the principle of freedom and pursue the achievement of the common good”. In this Father Diaz makes the concrete example of the foundation Bukas Palade (Open Hand), linked to the Focolare movement. It operates through the motto "Freely we receive freely we give" and provides concrete help for the poor, in the most degraded areas of the country. Inspired by the “Economy of Communion” theory of the Focolare movement born in the 60s', Bukas Palade is trying to build an alternative to the excessive use of capitalist ideology.

In this regards Jhonatan P. Reginales, teacher of sociology at the University of Manila, says that “due to the excessive emphasis of the role of the market and its instruments such as competition and schematic contracts, life becomes devoid of values such as gifting and reciprocity in helping”. For those reasons the contents of the encyclical "give people hope and a path to be followed in terms of social issues and development."

Antonio L. Maisong, Professor of Social Doctrine at the Church at St. Thomas Aquinas in Manila, focuses instead on the useful insights of the encyclical for the Filipino State. Indeed, “an appropriate use of the encyclical could lead to a reassessment of the role of the state and to its active involvement in the problems of society”.  He adds that in a country where the poverty rate exceeds 15%, the attention to the poor proclaimed by Pontif is crucial. Professor Maisong concludes that “the authorities must consider the poor an asset and not a burden”.