Papal Encyclicals: Spotlighting a century of Catholic social teaching

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For more than 100 years, Catholic social teaching has tried to help people face the world’s social, political and economic challenges with the power of the Gospel.

Pope Benedict XVI announced June 29 that he had signed his first formal contribution to the list of papal encyclical letters on social themes and that it was titled “Caritas in Veritate” (“Love in Truth”). Although dated June 29, the letter was released July 7.

The letter looks at modern problems in the field of promoting development, and the pope asked for prayers for “this latest contribution that the church offers humanity in its commitment for sustainable progress in full respect for human dignity and the real needs of all.”

Instead of focusing on theological beliefs, the social encyclicals written by most modern-day popes have tried to shape the way Christians and all people of good will can better serve the common good.

Each social encyclical was unique in that it sought to respond to the most pressing social realities at the time.

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