Love and Charity at Heart of Pope's First Encyclical

Article excerpt

Pope Benedict XVI declared love to be the key note of his papacy yesterday as he delivered his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, or God is Love, to the 1.1billionmembersof the Catholic Church.

In the long-awaited letter, he praised the "ecstasy" of physical love with in marriage leading to the divine love of God and attacked the modern obsessions with the "commodity" of sex.

"In a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence, this message (of love and charity) is both timely and significant," he said of the theme.

The soft tone of his inaugural encyclical, which suggests his priorities for his early pontificate, contrasts with the austere reputation the Pope gained during 24 years in the role of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, enforcing doctrinal orthodoxy on behalf of the Vatican.

The 71-page letter was applauded by theologians and church officials.

Hans Kueng, a Swiss theologian who was disciplined by Pope Benedict's predecessor, said that Catholics should be happy it is "not a manifesto of cultural pessimism or restrictive sxual morality". …