Benedict's first social encyclical predicted for 2007

Pope Benedict will next year release his first social encyclical on globalisation to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Populorum Progressio, an Italian newspaper predicts.

Catholic World News reports that according to an Italian business daily, Il Sole 24 Ore, "unofficial information" points to an encyclical on "ethical and spiritual questions posed by the process of globalisation."

The year 2007 will bring the 20th anniversary of the encyclical Sollicitude Rei Socialis, in which John Paul II commented on world economic affairs, the Italian daily notes.

Pope John Paul II's encyclical, promulgated on 30 December 1987, was itself released on the anniversary of another landmark social encyclical 20 years earlier: Pope Paul VI's Populorum Progressio, inspired by Dominican development pioneer, Fr Louis Joseph Lebret.

The report adds that Vatican offices - particularly the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences - have shown a keen interest in the process of globalisation.

For several months, ranking Church officials have discussed the possibility of a new social encyclical. In March, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the president of the German bishops' conference, said that a papal statement may be necessary "to defend the social market economy" against "the arrogance of neoliberalism."

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga also said that he was "strongly" hoping for a new encyclical on the ethical dimensions of the global market. Cardinal Geraldo Majello Agnelo of Sao Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, said that he thought the insistence that society takes priority over capital will be "a crucial point" of teaching in this pontificate.

The Church is a fierce critic of neoliberalism, called "economic rationalism" in Australia. John Paul II in Eccesia in America has called it one of the "social sins which cry to heaven."

"Based on a purely economic conception of man, this system [neoliberalism] considers profit and the law of the market as its only parameters, to the detriment of the dignity of and the respect due to individuals and peoples," he wrote in 1999.

New social encyclical rumored for 2007 (Catholic World News 20/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Encyclical Populorum Progressio (Pope Paul VI 26/3/1967)
Louis-Joseph Lebret, inspiror (sic) of Populorum Progressio (Justice and peace: An apostolic priority of Dominican preaching, Dominican website)
Brother Louis Joseph Lebret, O.P. (Dominican Spanish language website)
The Church speaking out on Social Justice today (CIDSE Forum 11-12/01/06)
Gregory Baum, Solidarity with the poor, A Roman Catholic idea of development (International Development Research Centre, Canada)
Ecclesia in America. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation (Pope John Paul II 22/1/99)

22 Jun 2006