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A Document to Renew Charitable Commitment of Church
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation says Benedict XVI's new encyclical has two objectives: to remind that God is love and to relaunch the Church's "charity service." Archbishop William Levada, who succeeded Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said: "The Holy Father has chosen love as the topic of his first encyclical, as today the word 'love' is very tarnished, spoiled and abused" and, yet, it "is a primordial word."

In this connection, the papal document clarifies that "eros" -- the love of attraction -- and "agape" -- the love of selfless surrender -- "are not opposed, but in harmony," the archbishop said.

Archbishop Levada, 69, former head of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, illustrated to the press today some of the more decisive passages of this pontificate's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est" (God Is Love).

The prelate synthesized the Bishop of Rome's thought, indicating that "love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable and only one commandment."


Confirming that the witness of Christians takes place in environments which include individuals of other spiritualities and religions, as well as nonbelievers, Archbishop Levada said that social action "can become any work in which the connection with the charitable love of God disappears."

In that case, lamented the prelate, "the action is no longer imitation of Christ."

The Vatican prefect told journalists that he was "somewhat surprised" when the Pope asked him and other theologians for advice in reviewing a draft of the encyclical.

"Evidently, it seems to be a normal praxis, even for a theologian, after having written a text, to ask for opinions, observations and also criticisms," he said. "But yes, I was a bit surprised, as I am also new in this task."