Italian Muslims approve pope’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate
When Pope Benedict issued his encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth) in July, he addressed it to “the bishops, priests and deacons, men and women religious, the lay faithful and all people of good will”. That list puts Catholics first, but it gets around to a wider audience by the end. Maybe because of that sequence, most of the discussion about the document has been in Catholic circles.
But in the pope’s back yard, i.e. in Italy, the message has attracted a wider audience. In a rare reaction from a non-Christian organisation, the Italian Muslim association Comunità Religiosa Islamica (CO.RE.IS.) Italiana has welcomed the encyclical and drawn parallels between its outlook and that of Islamic economic and social thinking. CO.RE.IS presented its reaction on the occasion of the Ecumenical Day of Christian-Islamic Dialogue in Italy on Tuesday. Following are some excerpts:
“The recent financial crisis, that witnessed an almost worldwide economic crash, should constitute a further confirmation of the impossibility of establishing a presumed society of wellbeing only upon market rules, excluding any transcendence, any metaphysical and religious perspective, as the pontiff has well expressed it … Just like the market cannot find in itself the meta-principles that would discipline it according to nature and to the function that God has entrusted to man on earth, money and capital cannot constitute a value in themselves, regardless of the finality of actions and of the realities that underlie their use…
“Islamic ethics, from its origins, develops the common principles of the Abrahamic civilisation as a whole aimed at providing ‘joint satisfaction in material and spiritual needs’. For example, the Islamic ban on loans with interest (ribâ) also existed in ancient Christianity. As early as the 4th and 5th centuries, the Fathers of the Church, both Greeks and Latins, ardently opposed it based on both the Old Testament and the Gospel… “In the centuries that have passed, the West has wished to forget the economic principles present in religions, basically considering them to be, in modern times, a heritage of archaic thought. However, it is not about ‘turning back’ to some anachronistic and ideal restoration, but to consider, as Benedict XVI has done in his appeal, the real contribution that a religious sensibility can concretely offer in fields such as the economy.”
(Photo: CO.RE.IS Vice President Imam Yahya Pallavicini/CO.RE.IS)
CO.RE.IS says it is not using Caritas in Veritate to call for Islamic law in Western countries, but for an appreciation of religious views also inherent in Islam:
“Rather than implement parts of the sharîa within the current economic order, it is actually a matter of asking legislators to consider with due attention the contribution that economists, financial experts, technical advisors and those knowledgeable in Islam could give for a wider vision of the problems connected to the process of globalisation and governance. It is, therefore, not a matter of inserting Islamic rules into a world that could never entirely be Muslim but to benefit also from the knowledge found in the Islamic perspective on the economy.”
The document argued that an Islam understood according to its true principles and not through the extreme versions often presented by radicals had a contribution to make to the current economic discussion.
“Islam far from any fundamentalist distortions can offer something more, a vision that is not merely ‘moral’, founded on principles of equality and of the search for good for all humanity, and principles that go beyond the simple material plane… “
Therefore, as the pope says, the laws have to create boundaries for an anarchic economy… It is equally important to refer to the supra-personal Truth of God and of his Doctrine of Revelation, beyond any empty formalism: ‘Caritas’ yes but ‘in Veritate’.’Without sincere intentions, the very same Islamic model could in fact risk being manipulated and become counterproductive. The demand by certain radical movements to reinstate an alleged Islamic ‘neo-caliphate’ is extremely far from the true orthodoxy founded on the acceptance of reality as a manifestation of the divine Will and on the intelligence of being able to adapt the eternal spiritual principles to the various eras and continuously evolving situations…
(Photo: Muslims pray at Rome’s mosque, 16 Sept 2008/Chris Helgren)
“We Italian and European Muslims are fully aware of the fact that humanity today needs a new approach to face the challenges of an increasingly globalised and impersonal world, and we fully share the pontiff’s call to not passively accept the globalisation phenomenon, but to maintain our responsibilities even when the impersonal markets give the illusion that the sincerity of intentions can be left to one side.”
Do you think there are parallels between the economic and social teaching of Catholicism and Islam?