There is already a slapdash translation out there in the blogosphere of the extemporaneous remarks by the Pope about his first encylclical. Here is a better translation. The Pope has been talking about working toward Christian unity, even though it is very difficult.
In this sense and with such sentiments, I will follow in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II next Wednesday, 25 January, the Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle of the Gentiles, and go to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to pray with Orthodox and Protestant brethren: to pray in order to give thanks for all the Lord has granted us; to pray that the Lord will guide us along the path to unity.
On the same day, January 25, moreover, there will be published at last my first encyclical whose title is already known, “Deus caritas est,” “God is love”. The theme is not strictly ecumenical, but its framework and background are ecumenical, because God’s love and our love are the preconditions of the unity of Christians. They are the conditions of peace in the world.
In this encyclical, I would like to show this concept of love in its different dimensions. Today, in the terminology we know, “love” often seems quite far from what a Christian thinks if he speaks about “charity”. For my part, I would like to show that it concerns one unique impulse with different dimensions. “Eros”, this gift of love between man and woman, comes from the very source of the Creator’s goodness, as indeed the possibility of a love which renounces itself in favor of the other. “Eros” is transformed into “agape” to the extent in which the two truly love each other and one of them is not seeking rather himself more, seeking his own joy, his own pleasure, but seeks the good of the other above all. And so, this love, which is “eros”, is changed into charity, in the path of purification, of deepening. From one’s own family it opens outward toward the larger family of society, toward the family of the Church, toward the family of the world.
I am seeking also to show how the most personal of act which comes from God is an unequalled act of love. It must also be expressed as an ecclesial, an organizational, act. If it is really true that the Church is the expression of the love of God, of that love which God has for the human creature, it must also be true that the foundational act of faith that creates and unites the Church and which gives us the hope of life eternal life and of the presence of God in the world, generates an ecclesial act. In practical terms, the Church, as a Church, as a community, must love in an institutional way.
And this so-called “Caritas” is not mere organization, as other philanthropical organizations, but the necessary expression of a deeper act of personal love with which God made us, arousing in our hearts the tendency toward love, the reflection of the God/Love which makes us His image.
Some time passed before the text was ready and translated. It seems to me now a gift of Providence that the text will be published the very day on which we will pray for the unity of Christians. I hope that it can shed some light and help our Christian life.