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Pope Benedict XVI on the Church’s Role in Public Life

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has collected a variety of resources on Pope Benedict XVI’s views on public policy issues. The resources include links to his homilies and other writings on such issues as social justice, the participation of Catholics in political life, proposals to give legal recognition to same-sex unions, and the role of women in public life.

(Updated 11.14.07)

Biography of Pope Benedict XVI

Encyclical – ‘Deus Caritas Est’ Pope Benedict’s first encyclical meditates on the concept of divine love and its relation to the church’s charitable activities.

Letter to Catholics in China In 2007 Pope Benedict sent a letter to the Chinese Catholic community “to offer some guidelines concerning the life of the Church and the task of evangelization in China.”

Reactions to the Choice of the New Pope Excerpts of reactions to the selection of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the world’s 265th pope, Benedict XVI.

News Stories about Pope Benedict XVI Selected headlines and other online resources produced by the Religion Newswriters Association.

Homily at the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff Cardinal Ratzinger used his homily at the Mass dedicated to electing the next Pope, on April 18, 2005, to warn against the “dictatorship of relativism.”

Homily on Social Justice Cardinal Ratzinger gave this homily at St. Peter’s Basilica on March 18, 2005, to mark the 40th anniversary of Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles In June 2004, five months before the U.S. presidential election, Cardinal Ratzinger sent a letter to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., and Bishop Wilton Gregory of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the question of whether it is permissible to deny communion to Catholic politicians whose positions on abortion and other issues contradict church teachings.

Congregation for the Doctrine Of the Faith

Cardinal Ratzinger served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees Roman Catholic Church doctrine, prior to his appointment as pope. The following documents were issued by the Congregation during his tenure.

1. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World (July 31, 2004) This letter speaks to the “active collaboration” between men and women in society, the family and the Church.

2. Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons (July 31, 2003) This document emphasizes the protection and promotion of marriage as the foundation of the family and the stability of society.

3. Doctrinal Note: The Participation of Catholics in Political Life (January 16, 2003) This Note is directed to the bishops of the Catholic Church and to “Catholic politicians and all lay members of the faithful called to participate in the political life of democratic societies.”

4. Instruction on Christian freedom and liberation – Libertatis conscientia (March 22, 1986) Second part of Cardinal Ratzinger’s two-part discussion of liberation theology.

5. Instruction on certain aspects of the “Theology of Liberation” – Libertatis nuntius (August 6, 1984) First part of Cardinal Ratzinger’s two-part discussion of liberation theology.

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