Pope Benedict XVI's new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), breaks new ground on such topics as microfinancing, intellectual property rights, globalization and the concept of putting one's wealth at the service of the poor, according to Catholic scholars and church leaders.
In interviews with Catholic News Service and in statements about the encyclical released July 7 at the Vatican, commentators said the more than 30,000-word document takes on a variety of issues not previously addressed in such a comprehensive way.
"I was surprised ... at how wide-ranging it is," said Kirk Hanson, a business ethics professor at Santa Clara University in California and executive director of the Jesuit-run university's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. "It's not just an updating of 'Populorum Progressio'" ("The Progress of Peoples"), the 1967 social encyclical by Pope Paul VI, he added.
Hanson said he also was struck by Pope Benedict's concept of "gratuitousness" or "giftedness," which reminds people "not to consider wealth ours alone" and asks the wealthy to "be ready to put (their money) in service for the good of others."