01/18/2006, 00.00
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Pope: encyclical "Deus Caritas Est", dedicated to the single source of love

Benedict XVI announced that it will be published on January 25.  Love is a single movement that has various dimensions and leads to concern for and self-giving to the other, the family, society, the Church and the world.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Love has a single source and "various dimensions"; it is "a very personal act" of God, which, in man, can go beyond the moment of egoism, the search for one's own good, to transform itself from eros into agape, in which "one no longer looks for oneself, but for the good of the other."  Charity, he went on to explain, is "love that renounces itself in favour of the other."  "Eros turns into agape if one looks for the good of the other; it turns into charity when it opens up to one's own family and to the entire human family, to the Church."  In announcing that his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, will be published on January 25, this is the outline that Benedict XVI himself set out in off-the-cuff remarks to the 8 thousand people attending his general audience in the Paul VI auditorium.

"Today," Benedict XVI explained, "love seems very distant from what the Church teaches and that, i.e., it is a single movement which has various dimensions."  Coming from God, instead, it translates into various realities.  According to the Pope's own words, the encyclical "also seeks to demonstrate that the very personal act of love must express itself in the Church also as an act of organization: if it is true that the Church is an expression of God, it must be true that love becomes an ecclesial act" and also "generates" the Church.  For the very reason that it is a fruit of love, there is love in it, and thus it must not be seen only as an organization."

Referring then to the "providential gesture" that delayed the publication of the encyclical   due to translation problems and has brought its release to coincide with "the very day that we pray for Christian unity," ("I hope," the Pope said in this regard, "that it may enlighten our Christian life."), Benedict XVI linked the announcement regarding the encyclical to the theme of his speech for the audience itself, which he dedicated to ecumenism, saying in this regard, "May we thank the Lord for the new state of affairs created, not without difficulties, from ecumenical relations between Christians in the renewed brotherhood by the strong ties of solidarity that have been established, the advancement of communion and the convergences achieved – certainly, to varying degrees – among the various dialogue efforts taking place.  The future stands before us."

Speaking of inter-Christian relations, the Pope then stressed their uniqueness with respect to those with persons of other faiths.  "The elements that, despite permanent division, still join Christians together," he said, "are the basis for the possibility of raising a common prayer to God.  This communion in Christ sustains the entire ecumenical movement and indicates the very goal of the search for unity of all Christians in the Church of God.  This distinguishes the ecumenical movement from any other initiative of dialogue and of relations with other religions and ideologies." (FP)

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