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: