Thanks to the tireless devotion of Jamie Love's KEI Online, we are now aware of Pope Benedict VI's Encyclical of July 7, 209 on IP. According to KEI:
Pope Benedict XVI today issued a statement saying that “On the part of rich countries, there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care.” The criticism came in a section of his most recent encyclical letter dealing with social issues, and specifically focusing on international human development and systemic failures of bodies large and small to solve development problems.Further, according to KEI,
While Papal Encyclicals do not determine official doctrine for the Church, they do offer a chance to annunciate the personal thoughts of the Pope and encourage specific priorities that the Pope wishes to set for the Church. Encyclicals such as the Caritas in Veritate are traditionally addressed to church heads, and not to the laiety at large (though the current one seems to be an exception, and all are made available publicly). They are the second most important statement that can be issued by the Pope (after an Apostolic Constitution, which proclaims dogma and/or issues of canon law).Here's the gist of the Encyclical:
22. Today the picture of development has many overlapping layers. The actors and the causes in both underdevelopment and development are manifold, the faults and the merits are differentiated. This fact should prompt us to liberate ourselves from ideologies, which often oversimplify reality in artificial ways, and it should lead us to examine objectively the full human dimension of the problems. As John Paul II has already observed, the demarcation line between rich and poor countries is no longer as clear as it was at the time of Populorum Progressio. The world’s wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase. In rich countries, new sectors of society are succumbing to poverty and new forms of poverty are emerging. In poorer areas some groups enjoy a sort of “superdevelopment” of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation. “The scandal of glaring inequalities” continues. Corruption and illegality are unfortunately evident in the conduct of the economic and political class in rich countries, both old and new, as well as in poor ones. Among those who sometimes fail to respect the human rights of workers are large multinational companies as well as local producers. International aid has often been diverted from its proper ends, through irresponsible actions both within the chain of donors and within that of the beneficiaries. Similarly, in the context of immaterial or cultural causes of development and underdevelopment, we find these same patterns of responsibility reproduced. On the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care. At the same time, in some poor countries, cultural models and social norms of behaviour persist which hinder the process of development.Here's the original document CARITAS IN VERITATE from the Vatican. Note that it is "© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana"
PS - Contrast the above with the Knights of Columbus position on "piracy" as a violation of the seventh commandment.