Writing on the theme of "Charity and Justice in the Relations among Peoples and Nations" in a message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Pope has said the world faces three specific challenges that "can only be met through a firm commitment to that greater justice which is inspired by charity."
1. The environment and sustainable development
Benedict XVI maintained that "If development were limited to the technical-economic aspect, obscuring the moral-religious dimension, it would not be an integral human development, but a one-sided distortion which would end up by unleashing man's destructive capacities."
2. Our conception of the human person and consequently our relationships with one other
The Pope lamented the fact that "Despite the recognition of the rights of the person in international declarations and legal instruments, much progress needs to be made in bringing this recognition to bear upon such global problems as the growing gap between rich and poor countries."
3. The values of the spirit, such as knowledge and education
Speaking about the increased interdependence of peoples arising from globalisation, he called for "a just equality of opportunity, especially in the field of education and the transmission of knowledge, is urgently needed. Regrettably, education, especially at the primary level, remains dramatically insufficient in many parts of the world."
"To meet these challenges, only love for neighbour can inspire within us justice at the service of life and the promotion of human dignity. Only love within the family, founded on a man and a woman, who are created in the image of God, can assure that inter-generational solidarity which transmits love and justice to future generations. Only charity can encourage us to place the human person once more at the center of life in society and at the centre of a globalized world governed by justice."The observant among you may notice an uncanny resemblance between these and "the priorities of a 3G Europe" identified by David Cameron a couple of months ago: Global warming, Global poverty, and Globalisation. This surely represents an incredible consensus, to have both political and religious leaders singing from the same hymn sheet. Assuming they have identified the correct issues, I wonder to what extent the building of a just society is the responsibility of the political order and to what extent the Church and broader civil society need to get involved.
They used to say that "If Jesus Christ were on Earth today, he would be a Marxist revolutionary." Perhaps today he would be a Cameroonian Conservative, encouraging non-conformity in the Church of England?