US group gives Vatican ways to put social encyclical into action


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A group of U.S. Catholic Latino business leaders presented Vatican officials detailed reflections on how laypeople can fulfill Pope Benedict XVI’s call to make today’s societies and economies more just.

Four members of the San Antonio-based Catholic Association of Latino Leaders and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez presented a written reflection, “Caritas in Veritate — Charity in Truth: Our Response in Faith,” to a number of Vatican dicasteries Sept. 22-23.

The group was hoping to present a special white leather-bound copy of the booklet to Pope Benedict after his return from his Sept. 22-25 trip to Germany.

The group presented red leather-bound copies of the booklet to the cardinals and archbishops who head the Vatican’s other offices, including Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

The written reflection is meant to provide a way for all women and men of faith to consider what the 2009 social encyclical “is asking us to do differently in our business and profession, in economic and public life and in our role as faithful citizens” as well as “provide a U.S.-Latino perspective of Caritas in Veritate,” the document said.

The 28-page reflection is also meant to be a resource and a tool for the Vatican because CALL’s mission “is to assist our priests, bishops, church and the Holy Father,” the organization’s president and CEO, Robert Aguirre, told Catholic News Service Sept. 23.

The reflection was the result of a series of meetings the group held with Vatican officials in April 2010 in an effort to let the Vatican see that the face of the church in the United States was rapidly changing with the huge growth of Hispanic Catholics, Aguirre said.

“We wanted to let them know how this could raise everybody up in the church” by showing what a vibrant Catholic identity looked like when faith and culture are in harmony, he said. The group also wanted to suggest that new episcopal appointments in the U.S. also be reflective of those changes, he added.

He said it was Cardinal Turkson who encouraged the group to forge a response in faith to the pope’s most recent teaching in “Caritas in Veritate” and show how the encyclical could be lived out by today’s professionals.

Aguirre, who was one of the principal authors of the reflection, said he wanted it to be a resource for all Catholics, not just Hispanics or Americans.

The document outlines key themes in the pope’s encyclical followed by a “consideration” in which readers are asked to consider how the pope’s words are encouraging or challenging one’s current mindset and behavior and how the text calls on people to act differently.

For example, the document summarizes and pulls an excerpt from the encyclical on workers and unemployment in which the pope talks about the need to safeguard the most important asset of any economy: the human being.

It is followed by the question “To what extent are you able to bring together your role as a business or professional person with your responsibility to honor and dignify employees while recognizing their rights as real stakeholders in your enterprise?” as well as a reminder that workers are not are things “to be tolerated and managed,” but respected in their inherent human dignity.

The first printing of 600 copies sold out before the group landed in Rome, Aguirre said. He said new copies can be ordered and a PDF of the reflection will be available at the end of September on the group’s website,

The national lay organization, CALL, was launched in 2008 as a way to help bring “new and culturally relevant ways to preserve and promote the values of their faith,” especially bound in the Latino culture, to the wider mainstream culture in the United States, said the group’s press release.

Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the population in the United States and the Catholic Church; 71 percent of all growth in the U.S. Catholic Church since 1960 has come from the Latino community and of all Catholics 25 years old and younger, more than 50 percent are Hispanic, CALL said in its document.