Its sphere of action, however, is not limited to this. If Paul VI more than once indicated the civilization of love”(Cf. Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XIII (1975), p. 1568 (close of the Holy Year, December 25, 1975)) as the goal towards which all efforts in the cultural and social fields as well as in the economic and political fields should tend. it must be added that this good will never be reached if in our thinking and acting concerning the vast and complex spheres of human society we stop at the criterion of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”(Mt. 5:38) and do not try to transform it in its essence, by complementing it with another spirit. Certainly, the Second Vatican Council also leads us in this direction, when it speaks repeatedly of the need to make the world more human,(Cf. Gaudium et spes 40; Pope Paul VI: Apostolic Exhortation Paterna cum benevolentia, in particular nos. 1-6: AAS 67 (1975), pp. 7-9, 17-23) and says that the realization of this task is precisely the mission of the Church in the modern world. Society can become ever more human only if we introduce into the many-sided setting of interpersonal and social relationships, not merely justice, but also that “merciful love” which constitutes the messianic message of the Gospel.
In embracing divine mercy, we become more fully human. Do you accept this? Or is it just a pious platitude?
My sense is that Vatican II, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Pope Francis are all part of a divine nudge to move the Church toward a more fruitful insertion into the cultures of the world. We’ve never been in more need of mercy or of locating our lost humanity.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana