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Critical Comments Selected by Gerald Darring

Wall Street Journal (30 March 1967) 14. “Pope Paul’s encyclical lends the mantle of religion to certain ideas which are profoundly secular in origin, and advocates programs of a type now undergoing widespread reappraisal by their one-time secular sponsors…. The trouble with making religious tenets of this warmed-over Marxism is that it is highly unlikely to help the bulk of poor nations (which) suffer not from an excess of capitalism, but from a paucity of it…. It is both curious and sad that these mistaken attitudes toward foreign aid should now be advanced from the realm of religion. For the realm of history, as more people are starting to recognize, shows that they impede rather than advance the development of peoples.”

National Catholic Reporter (5 April 1967) 3. “The central message of the encyclical is a call for social and economic justice on a global scale…. If the Pope had contented himself with voicing this ideal, he would not have launched a battle; everybody is nominally for freedom and against hunger. What makes the encyclical meaningful, and therefore a sign of contradiction, is that it specifies some of the concrete and controversial actions that have to be taken to reach the ideal higher taxes in the rich nations, regulated commodity prices, more money and more power to supranational bodies like the U.N.”

John Leo. National Catholic Reporter (5 April 1967) 8. “The assumptions behind Pope Paul’s new encyclical are even more remarkable and sophisticated than what he actually said. Amongst the most basic, one which pokes its head through almost every passage of the text, is that the ‘cold war’ is by no means the most important confrontation or problem facing us today. Indeed, it is almost trivial in comparison with the looming confrontation between the very rich white nations (United States, Russia, Western Europe) and the desperately poor, largely nonwhite majorities of the world.”

Time (7 April 1967) 70. The encyclical has a “radical tone,” and parts of it “had the strident tone of an early 20th century Marxist polemic.” Its “blunt attack on capitalism” is aimed at an old-style capitalism that is dead. “It was surprising that he did not acknowledge the way in which business enterprise has developed into a creative, socially conscious component of the industrial West.” Populorum Progressio was humanistic, “but its perspective was that of another time.”

Tablet (8 April 1967) 367. Unlike earlier encyclicals, “this encyclical is consistently concerned less with the duties of individuals than of whole communities, is global in its outlook, and is thinking of social justice less as between classes inside national communities, and more as between whole communities. This is an eminently fitting role for the spokesman for a universal religion by whose tenets all members of the human race belong to one society, and should share the same fundamental faith in the revelation made to and for all men.”

Economist (8 April 1967) 114. Some communist papers claimed that Pope Paul gives the imprimatur to Marx’s works, justifies revolutions, and condemns all capitalist and imperialist exploitation. Some right-wing newspapers seem unable to find words to discuss the encyclical at all. “Naturally the long papal message permits some picking and choosing. The communists who hailed it flatly ignored its equally flat condemnation of materialist ideologies. In other quarters there was a tendency to ignore such crisp passages as that in which the Pope condemns rich men in poor countries who ‘selfishly transfer a large part of their funds abroad, heedless of the damage thus done to their own country.'”

Commonweal (14 April 1967) 108. “Perhaps it would be accurate to say that the Pope’s new humanism is not so much anti-Marxist or anti-capitalist as it is super-Marxist and super-capitalist; it goes beyond both by refusing to turn impersonal economic processes into graven images.”

Mary McGrory. America (15 April 1967) 552. “Pope Paul’s new encyclical initially received little public attention in Washington. Congress was in its Easter recess when it was published…. The humanist manifesto of the Holy Father was read, however, with much quiet satisfaction at the White House. Members of the Administration welcomed this new and fervent voice for social reform in the underdeveloped countries. Those concerned with poverty programs and foreign aid realize they have gained a valuable new witness and expect to cite the ringing phrases about the ‘intolerable scandal’ of the difference between the haves and have-nots of this world.”

Philip Burnham. Triumph (May 1967) 10. “There is much richness in the encyclical, but above all it is a call to action in the work of curing hunger and misery. The following steps appear as diagnosis and prescription: 1) the material and moral problem is one and worldwide; 2) local and individual efforts are not enough; 3) the problem calls not simply for gifts from current stores, but for ‘development’ which can have a lasting and deeply human effect; 4) the magnitude and complexity of the job call for organized, coordinated planning; 5) ‘public authorities,’ the governments of the nations, are primarily responsible; 6) beyond the national states, worldwide collaboration … is necessary for success.”

Robert McAfee Brown. Commonweal (19 May 1967) 263-64. Protestants have noticed a sound of caution emanating from Rome, calling for a slower pace of internal change following Vatican II. But in the extramural concerns of the pope, a different voice is heard in Populorum Progressio, which moves ahead of previous documents. “What this suggests ecumenically, I believe, is that on the front of common concern for mankind, Pope Paul is taking vigorous and dynamic leadership, and that in this increasingly central part of the ecumenical task, non-Catholics will have to scramble simply to keep up with him.”

Benjamin L. Masse. America (5 August 1967) 129. Populorum Progressio “brings to a climax an evolution of the Church’s social teaching … that has proceeded from an almost exclusive emphasis on justice within nations to an overriding concern for justice among them.”

Joseph Joblin, S.J. International Labor Review (September 1967) 239. “Some people have protested against what they consider a demagogic move on behalf of the mass of underdeveloped peoples. Others see it as a manifesto and an unequivocal statement of support for the poor; they cherish the hope that concrete measures will follow this statement of principle. The reason for these diverse interpretations is that the document deals with development, one of the most controversial topics in the world today. It is not the legitimacy of development or the need for it that is questioned, but its nature and the means for achieving it.”

Peter J. Riga. The Church and Revolution (1967) 165. “‘The way to peace lies in the area of development’ (par. 83). With one stroke the Pope cuts through the semantics of the ‘cold war’ and its cliches to the very heart of the true problem alive in the world of 1967. The conflict today, the greatest danger to peace today, says the Pope, is not ‘Communism vs. freedom’ or ‘free enterprise vs. socialism’ or any other slogan so often heard in the western and eastern propaganda machine: it is the problem of poverty, of the rich and the poor nations where the fate for the future survival of mankind resides.”

Jose de Broucker. New Blackfriars (1968) 540. In paragraphs 30 and 31, the pope states that revolutions engender new injustices “except in the case of manifest and prolonged tyranny that attacks fundamental rights of the person and endangers the common good of the country.” “These two paragraphs have in general been received as a faithful expression of the traditional thought of the church. The new factor here is therefore not at the level of thought or of expression; it lies in the welcome it has received and in the way in which it has been interpreted at the hands of a Christian public that is as inclined to justify ‘revolutionary insurrection’ now as it was formerly to discourage or condemn it.”


Back to: Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Populorum progressio is the encyclical written by Pope Paul VI on the topic of “the development of peoples” and that the economy of the world should serve mankind and not just the few. It was released on March 26, 1967.

It touches on a variety of principles of Catholic social teaching: the right to a just wage; the right to security of employment; the right to fair and reasonable working conditions; the right to join a union; and the universal destination of resources and goods.

Twenty years later Pope John Paul II issued another encyclical, Sollicitudo rei socialis, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Populorum progressio.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI published the encylical Caritas in veritate which again addressed many of the themes discussed in Populorum progressio.

In 2004, the UK-based nongovernmental development organisation Catholic Institute for International Relations, (CIIR), changed its name to Progressio and established Progressio Ireland in Dublin. The organisation takes its name from this document and is based on Catholic Social Teaching espoused in the encyclical.


Back to: Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples)

A Summary Article by Gerald Darring

Paul VI notes that today the social question has become world-wide (a. 3), and social conflicts have taken on world dimensions (a. 9). His international concerns are several. He is disturbed by the capitalist system accompanying industrialization, a system which contains such abuses as profit being the key motive for economic progress, competition the supreme law of economics, and private ownership of the means of production an absolute and unlimited right (a. 26). He worries that the destitution of whole populations tempts people to have recourse to violence (a. 30), although a revolutionary uprising produces new injustices unless there is an established tyranny damaging human rights and harming the common good (a. 31). He notes with disapproval that with so many people hungry and destitute, lacking education and health care, money is squandered on national or personal ostentation and the arms race (a. 53).

One of his major concerns is the gap between the rich and the poor: glaring inequalities exist not only in possessions but also in power (a. 9). The hard reality of modern economics works to widen differences: rich peoples enjoy rapid growth while the poor develop slowly (a. 8). The distance is growing that separates the progress of some and the stagnation and regression of others (a. 29), and as a result of uneven trade relations, the poor nations remain ever poor while the rich ones become still richer (a. 57). The pope warns that in promoting development, we must avoid the risk of adding to the wealth of the rich, the misery of the poor, and the servitude of the oppressed (a. 33), and he insists that programs to increase production should reduce inequalities (a. 34 ).

There exists in this the traditional Christian concern for the poor, and Paul reminds us that Christ cited the preaching of the Gospel to the poor as a sign of his mission (a. 12). He teaches that our goal is not just to eliminate hunger or reduce poverty: the goal is to build a world in which the poor man Lazarus can sit down at the same table with the rich person (a. 47). But there is in addition a strong concern for problems in developing countries. The pope worries that industrialization is breaking down traditional structures which do not adapt themselves to the new conditions (a. 10). He notes that there is some evidence of a neo-colonialism, in the form of political and economic pressures aimed at complete dominance (a. 52). Within the underdeveloped countries, he calls attention to two problems: nationalism and racism. Asserting that the Church offers people what is her characteristic attribute: a global vision of humanity (a. 13), he says that legitimate feelings of concern for national unity and pride in cultural heritage should not be demeaned by an isolating nationalism (a. 62), and that racism is an obstacle to collaboration among disadvantaged nations and a cause of division and hatred within countries (a. 63).

The pope had experienced first-hand the problem of development during travels to Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (a. 4), and he seeks to convey a sense of the seriousness of the problem. He says that the world is sick, its illness consisting of the lack of kinship among individuals and peoples (a. 66). More and more people seek to do more, know more and have more in order to be more, but their living conditions prevent them (a. 6). In whole continents countless people experience hunger, infant mortality, retarded mental development, and depressing despondency (a. 45). He insists that no one can remain indifferent to the lot of those still buried in wretchedness, the victims of insecurity and the slaves of ignorance (a. 74). People need to grasp their serious problem in all its dimensions (a. 1). The present situation must be faced with courage and the injustices linked with it must be fought against and overcome (a. 32). The present moment is crucial, and the work to be done is urgent (a. 80). We must make haste: too many are suffering (a. 29).

Paul’s response to the demands of this crucial moment is contained in the concept of development, and he says that his encyclical is a solemn appeal for concrete action towards people’s complete development and the development of all people (a. 5). He notes that the Church’s interest in development focuses primarily on the hungry and miserable, the diseased and ignorant, those who share less in the benefits of civilization (a. 1). He teaches that development must be integral, promoting the good of every person and of the whole person (a. 14), and that authentic development involves a transition from less human to more human conditions (a. 20), from the less human conditions of poverty, selfishness, oppression and exploitation to the more human conditions of faith and unity in the love of Christ (a. 21). Development should mean social progress as well as economic growth (a. 34), and in fact economic growth depends in the first place on social progress, such as education (a. 35). He asserts that development is not assured by private initiative and competition (a. 33), and that it calls for more technical work as well as more reflection on higher values (a. 20).

The pope makes sure we understand that the solution is not merely economic, but human development (a. 73), and a major theme of his encyclical is the fully human, the truly human. He speaks of the construction of a more human world (a. 54), of being on the road towards a greater humanity (a. 79). Time and again he returns to this theme: the Church fosters the human progress of nations (a. 12); through the use of intellect and will a person can grow in humanity (a. 15); newly independent nations seek to assure their citizens a full human enhancement (a. 6); technology alone cannot render the world a more human place in which to live (a. 34); people are truly human only when they are the authors of their own advancement (a. 34); better-off nations should work to bring about a world that is more human towards everyone (a. 44); the goal is not just to eliminate hunger or reduce poverty: the goal is to build a world in which everyone can live a fully human life (a. 47).

The pope translates this into a call for humanism: what must be aimed at is complete humanism: the fully-rounded development of the whole person and of all people. It must be a humanism open to the values of the spirit and to God who is their source (a. 42). Wise people are in search of a new humanism (a. 20), and the highest goal of personal development is a transcendent humanism achieved through union with Christ (a. 16).

The development of which Paul speaks demands the simultaneous development of all humanity in the spirit of solidarity (a. 43), and the encyclical refers to the formation of a world which is better organized toward a universal solidarity (a. 62) and the desire to build a civilization founded on world solidarity (a. 73). The reality of human solidarity means that we have obligations towards everyone, even those who will come after us (a. 17), and better-off nations have obligations that reflect the duty of human solidarity (a. 44).

The sign of human solidarity is peace, and it is no wonder that Pope Paul VI, writing at the height of both the Cold War and the Vietnam War, would have peace in the forefront of his thoughts. The pope notes that in the struggle for development, civil peace in developing countries and world peace itself are at stake (a. 55). Excessive economic, social and cultural inequalities among peoples arouse tensions and conflicts, and are a danger to peace (a. 76). Paul expresses the hope that the violence which often characterized international relationships will be replaced with mutual respect and friendship as well as interdependence in collaboration (a. 65). He teaches that peace is not the mere absence of war: it is built up day after day in pursuit of a more just order among people (a. 76), an international morality based on justice and equity (a. 81). He expresses his conviction that the way to peace lies in the area of development (a. 83); that the new name for peace is development (a. 87); and that the person who struggles against underdevelopment is a creator of peace (a. 75).

In the course of presenting his thoughts on development, solidarity, and peace, Paul VI touches on several economic issues which impact on the pursuit of development. Aid. Human solidarity obligates the better-off nations to aid the developing countries (a. 44). There needs to be a dialogue between the donor nations and the receiving countries to insure proper terms of loans without political strings attached (a. 54).

Trade. Unfavorable trade relations between rich and poor countries cannot be allowed to nullify any aid that might be given (a. 56). The industrialized nations have an advantage, because their exports–for the most part manufactured goods–have steadily rising prices, while the under-developed countries’ exports–mostly food and raw materials–are under-priced and subject to wild fluctuations (a. 57). Social justice obligates the better-off nations to rectify inequitable trade relations (a. 44). The rule of free trade, taken by itself, is no longer able to govern international relations because economic conditions differ too much from country to country (a. 58); freedom of trade is fair only if it is subject to the demands of social justice (a. 59). Without abolishing the international competitive market, it should be kept within the limits which make it just and moral, and therefore human (a. 61).

Property. The desire for necessities is legitimate, but acquiring property can lead to greed (a. 18), which is the most evident form of moral underdevelopment (a. 19). Everyone has the right to obtain what is necessary, and all other rights are subordinate to this right, including the rights of property and free trade (a. 22). In other words, private property is not an absolute and unconditioned right, and one is not justified in keeping for oneself what one does not need, when others lack necessities (a. 23). Sometimes the common good may even demand the expropriation of landed estates (a. 24).

Work. Work is willed and blessed by God, but it can be given exaggerated significance (a. 27). Everyone who works is a creator, and work with others unites people as brothers and sisters (a. 27). Work is human only if it remains intelligent and free, and sometimes it produces undesirable effects in people (a. 28).

Unions. All social action involves an ideology (a. 39). Many professional organizations and trade unions are acceptable, but only those whose ideology is not materialistic and atheistic (a. 39).

Immigrants, migrant workers. Human solidarity and Christian charity oblige us to welcome immigrants (a. 67), and this same welcome should be extended to migrant workers (a. 69).

Family. Rigid family frameworks are gradually relaxing their hold on the people in developing nations, but it is important that the natural family remain as willed by God: monogamous and stable (a. 36). Population increases can create problems, but parents should be free to decide on the number of children they will have, following their consciences enlightened by God’s law authentically interpreted (a. 37).

Earlier we noted the negative international indicators which caused Paul VI to be so concerned. There were also some positive international circumstances and activities which seemed to please the pope and give him some hope. Among these positive indicators: private individuals, public authorities, and international organizations are doing good work in promoting literacy (a. 35); the Food and Agriculture Organization is being supported, and Caritas Internationalis is at work everywhere (a. 46); experts are being sent on development missions by institutions and private organizations (a. 71); young people are undertaking social service in developing nations (a. 74). Buoyed by these activities, Paul VI concludes that in spite of its ignorance, its mistakes and even its sins, its relapses into barbarism and its wanderings from the road of salvation, the world is taking slow but sure steps towards its Creator (a. 79).

Having identified the negative and positive aspects of the world problem of underdevelopment, the pope issues some challenges to rich people and rich countries, pointing out that peoples in hunger are making a dramatic appeal to peoples blessed with abundance (a. 3). The wealthy should come to realize that the poor stand outside their doors waiting to receive some left-overs from their banquets (a. 83). Those with education, position and opportunities for action should respond with generosity and give of their own possessions (a. 32). Let all examine their consciences: are they ready to pay, through charitable donations, higher taxes, and higher tariffs in order to help the destitute (a. 47)? Better-off nations have obligations that reflect the duties of human solidarity, social justice, and universal charity (a. 44). A developed nation should devote a part of its production to meet the needs of under-developed nations (a. 48); the superfluous wealth of rich countries should be placed at the service of poor nations (a. 49). Industrialists entering less developed countries should display the same social sensitivity in those countries as they do in their own country (a. 70).

Paul VI also issues challenges to developing countries. He says that developing nations must know how to assess critically and eliminate those things which would lower the human ideal, and to accept those values that are sound and beneficial (a. 41). People in these countries must be helped and persuaded to work for their own betterment (a. 55). They should organize among themselves areas for concerted development (a. 64), establishing regional agreements among themselves for mutual support (a. 77)

In the end, the pope tells everyone that the world situation demands action based on a clear vision of all economic, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects (a. 13). The present situation calls for concerted planning (a. 50), especially in the form of a worldwide collaboration in the establishment of a development fund (a. 51) and in the establishment of equality in discussions and negotiations between rich and poor countries (a. 61). The goal is not just to eliminate hunger or reduce poverty: the goal is to build a world in which everyone can live a fully human life, in which freedom is not an empty word and the poor man Lazarus can sit down at the same table with the rich person (a. 47).


Back to: Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples)


MARCH 26, 1967


To the Blshops, Priests, Religious, and Faithful of the Whole Catholic World, and to All Men of Good Will.

Honored Brothers and Dear Sons, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

The progressive development of peoples is an object of deep interest and concern to the Church. This is particularly true in the case of those peoples who are trying to escape the ravages of hunger, poverty, endemic disease and ignorance; of those who are seeking a larger share in the benefits of civilization and a more active improvement of their human qualities; of those who are consciously striving for fuller growth.

The Church’s Concern

With an even clearer awareness, since the Second Vatican Council, of the demands imposed by Christ’s Gospel in this area, the Church judges it her duty to help all men explore this serious problem in all its dimensions, and to impress upon them the need for concerted action at this critical juncture.

2. Our recent predecessors did not fail to do their duty in this area. Their noteworthy messages shed the light of the Gospel on contemporary social questions. There was Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum, (1) Pius XI’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, (2) Pius XII’s radio message to the world, (3) and John XXIII’s two encyclicals, Mater et Magistra (4) and Pacem in Terris. (5)

A Problem for All Men

3. Today it is most important for people to understand and appreciate that the social question ties all men together, in every part of the world. John XXIII stated this clearly, (6) and Vatican II confirmed it in its Pastoral Constitution on The Church in the World of Today. (7) The seriousness and urgency of these teachings must be recognized without delay.

The hungry nations of the world cry out to the peoples blessed with abundance. And the Church, cut to the quick by this cry, asks each and every man to hear his brother’s plea and answer it lovingly.

Our Journeys

4. Before We became pope, We traveled to Latin America (1960) and Africa (1962). There We saw the perplexing problems that vex and besiege these continents, which are otherwise full of life and promise. On being elected pope, We became the father of all men. We made trips to Palestine and India, gaining first-hand knowledge of the difficulties that these age-old civilizations must face in their struggle for further development. Before the close of the Second Vatican Council, providential circumstances allowed Vs to address the United Nations and to plead the case of the impoverished nations before that distinguished assembly.

Justice and Peace

5. Even more recently, We sought to fulfill the wishes of the Council and to demonstrate the Holy See’s concern for the developing nations. To do this, We felt it was necessary to add another pontifical commission to the Church’s central administration . The purpose of this commission is “to awaken in the People of God full awareness of their mission today. In this way they can further the progress of poorer nations and international social justice, as well as help less developed nations to contribute to their own development.” (8)

The name of this commission, Justice and Peace, aptly describes its program and its goal. We are sure that all men of good will want to join Our fellow Catholics and fellow Christians in carrying out this program. So today We earnestly urge all men to pool their ideas and their activities for man’s complete development and the development of all mankind.


6. Today we see men trying to secure a sure food supply, cures for diseases, and steady employment. We see them trying to eliminate every ill, to remove every obstacle which offends man’s dignity. They are continually striving to exercise greater personal responsibility; to do more, learn more, and have more so that they might increase their personal worth. And yet, at the same time, a large number of them live amid conditions which frustrate these legitimate desires.

Moreover, those nations which have recently gained independence find that political freedom is not enough. They must also acquire the social and economic structures and processes that accord with man’s nature and activity, if their citizens are to achieve personal growth and if their country is to take its rightful place in the international community.

Effects of Colonialism

7. Though insufficient for the immensity and urgency of the task, the means inherited from the past are not totally useless. It is true that colonizing nations were sometimes concerned with nothing save their own interests, their own power and their own prestige; their departure left the economy of these countries in precarious imbalance—the one-crop economy, for example, which is at the mercy of sudden, wide-ranging fluctuations in market prices. Certain types of colonialism surely caused harm and paved the way for further troubles.

On the other hand, we must also reserve a word of praise for those colonizers whose skills and technical know-how brought benefits to many untamed lands, and whose work survives to this day. The structural machinery they introduced was not fully developed or perfected, but it did help to reduce ignorance and disease, to promote communication, and to improve living conditions.

The Widening Gap

8. Granted all this, it is only too clear that these structures are no match for the harsh economic realities of today. Unless the existing machinery is modified, the disparity between rich and poor nations will increase rather than diminish; the rich nations are progressing with rapid strides while the poor nations move forward at a slow pace.

The imbalance grows with each passing day: while some nations produce a food surplus, other nations are in desperate need of food or are unsure of their export market.

Signs of Social Unrest

9. At the same time, social unrest has gradually spread throughout the world. The acute restlessness engulfing the poorer classes in countries that are now being industrialized has spread to other regions where agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. The farmer is painfully aware of his “wretched lot.” (9)

Then there are the flagrant inequalities not merely in the enjoyment of possessions, but even more in the exercise of power. In certain regions a privileged minority enjoys the refinements of life, while the rest of the inhabitants, impoverished and disunited, “are deprived of almost all possibility of acting on their own initiative and responsibility, and often subsist in living and working conditions unworthy of the human person.” (10) Cultural Conflicts

10. Moreover, traditional culture comes into conflict with the advanced techniques of modern industrialization; social structures out of tune with today’s demands are threatened with extinction. For the older generation, the rigid structures of traditional culture are the necessary mainstay of one’s personal and family life; they cannot be abandoned. The younger generation, on the other hand, regards them as useless obstacles, and rejects them to embrace new forms of societal life.

The conflict between generations leads to a tragic dilemma: either to preserve traditional beliefs and structures and reject social progress; or to embrace foreign technology and foreign culture, and reject ancestral traditions with their wealth of humanism. The sad fact is that we often see the older moral, spiritual and religious values give way without finding any place in the new scheme of things.

Concomitant Dangers

11. In such troubled times some people are strongly tempted by the alluring but deceitful promises of would-be saviors. Who does not see the concomitant dangers: public upheavals, civil insurrection, the drift toward totalitarian ideologies?

These are the realities of the question under study here, and their gravity must surely be apparent to everyone.

The Church and Development

12. True to the teaching and example of her divine Founder, who cited the preaching of the Gospel to the poor as a sign of His mission, (12) the Church has never failed to foster the human progress of the nations to which she brings faith in Christ. Besides erecting sacred edifices, her missionaries have also promoted construction of hospitals, sanitariums, schools and universities. By teaching the native population how to take full advantage of natural resources, the missionaries often protected them from the greed of foreigners.

We would certainly admit that this work was sometimes far from perfect, since it was the work of men. The missionaries sometimes intermingled the thought patterns and behavior patterns of their native land with the authentic message of Christ. Yet, for all this, they did protect and promote indigenous institutions; and many of them pioneered in promoting the country’s material and cultural progress.

We need only mention the efforts of Pere Charles de Foucauld: he compiled a valuable dictionary of the Tuareg language, and his charity won him the title, “everyone’s brother.” So We deem it fitting to praise those oft forgotten pioneers who were motivated by love for Christ, just as We honor their imitators and successors who today continue to put themselves at the generous and unselfish service of those to whom they preach the Gospel.

The Present Need

13. In the present day, however, individual and group effort within these countries is no longer enough. The world situation requires the concerted effort of everyone, a thorough examination of every facet of the problem—social, economic, cultural and spiritual.

The Church, which has long experience in human affairs and has no desire to be involved in the political activities of any nation, “seeks but one goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth; to save, not to judge; to serve, not to be served.” (12)

Founded to build the kingdom of heaven on earth rather than to acquire temporal power, the Church openly avows that the two powers—Church and State—are distinct from one another; that each is supreme in its own sphere of competency. (13) But since the Church does dwell among men, she has the duty “of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.” (14) Sharing the noblest aspirations of men and suffering when she sees these aspirations not satisfied, she wishes to help them attain their full realization. So she offers man her distinctive contribution: a global perspective on man and human realities.

Authentic Development

14. The development We speak of here cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man. As an eminent specialist on this question has rightly said: “We cannot allow economics to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place. What counts for us is man—each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole.” (15)

Personal Responsibility

15. In God’s plan, every man is born to seek self-fulfillment, for every human life is called to some task by God. At birth a human being possesses certain aptitudes and abilities in germinal form, and these qualities are to be cultivated so that they may bear fruit. By developing these traits through formal education of personal effort, the individual works his way toward the goal set for him by the Creator.

Endowed with intellect and free will, each man is responsible for his self-fulfillment even as he is for his salvation. He is helped, and sometimes hindered, by his teachers and those around him; yet whatever be the outside influences exerted on him, he is the chief architect of his own success or failure. Utilizing only his talent and willpower, each man can grow in humanity, enhance his personal worth, and perfect himself.

Man’s Supernatural Destiny

16. Self-development, however, is not left up to man’s option. Just as the whole of creation is ordered toward its Creator, so too the rational creature should of his own accord direct his life to God, the first truth and the highest good. Thus human self-fulfillment may be said to sum up our obligations.

Moreover, this harmonious integration of our human nature, carried through by personal effort and responsible activity, is destined for a higher state of perfection. United with the life-giving Christ, man’s life is newly enhanced; it acquires a transcendent humanism which surpasses its nature and bestows new fullness of life. This is the highest goal of human self-fulfillment.

Ties With All Men

17. Each man is also a member of society; hence he belongs to the community of man. It is not just certain individuals but all men who are called to further the development of human society as a whole. Civilizations spring up, flourish and die. As the waves of the sea gradually creep farther and farther in along the shoreline, so the human race inches its way forward through history.

We are the heirs of earlier generations, and we reap benefits from the efforts of our contemporaries; we are under obligation to all men. Therefore we cannot disregard the welfare of those who will come after us to increase the human family. The reality of human solidarity brings us not only benefits but also obligations.

Development in Proper Perspective

18. Man’s personal and collective fulfillment could be jeopardized if the proper scale of values were not maintained. The pursuit of life’s necessities is quite legitimate; hence we are duty-bound to do the work which enables us to obtain them: “If anyone is unwilling to work, do not let him eat.” (l6) But the acquisition of worldly goods can lead men to greed, to the unrelenting desire for more, to the pursuit of greater personal power. Rich and poor alike—be they individuals, families or nations—can fall prey to avarice and soulstifling materialism.

Latent Dangers

19. Neither individuals nor nations should regard the possession of more and more goods as the ultimate objective. Every kind of progress is a two-edged sword. It is necessary if man is to grow as a human being; yet it can also enslave him, if he comes to regard it as the supreme good and cannot look beyond it. When this happens, men harden their hearts, shut out others from their minds and gather together solely for reasons of self-interest rather than out of friendship; dissension and disunity follow soon after.

Thus the exclusive pursuit of material possessions prevents man’s growth as a human being and stands in opposition to his true grandeur. Avarice, in individuals and in nations, is the most obvious form of stultified moral development.

A New Humanism Needed

20. If development calls for an ever-growing number of technical experts, even more necessary still is the deep thought and reflection of wise men in search of a new humanism, one which will enable our contemporaries to enjoy the higher values of love and friendship, of prayer and contemplation, (17) and thus find themselves. This is what will guarantee man’s authentic development—his transition from less than human conditions to truly human ones.

The Scale of Values

21. What are less than human conditions? The material poverty of those who lack the bare necessities of life, and the moral poverty of those who are crushed under the weight of their own self-love; oppressive political structures resulting from the abuse of ownership or the improper exercise of power, from the exploitation of the worker or unjust transactions.

What are truly human conditions? The rise from poverty to the acquisition of life’s necessities; the elimination of social ills; broadening the horizons of knowledge; acquiring refinement and culture. From there one can go on to acquire a growing awareness of other people’s dignity, a taste for the spirit of poverty, (l8) an active interest in the common good, and a desire for peace. Then man can acknowledge the highest values and God Himself, their author and end. Finally and above all, there is faith—God’s gift to men of good will—and our loving unity in Christ, who calls all men to share God’s life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men.

Issues and Principles

22. In the very first pages of Scripture we read these words: “Fill the earth and subdue it.”(19) This teaches us that the whole of creation is for man, that he has been charged to give it meaning by his intelligent activity, to complete and perfect it by his own efforts and to his own advantage.

Now if the earth truly was created to provide man with the necessities of life and the tools for his own progress, it follows that every man has the right to glean what he needs from the earth. The recent Council reiterated this truth: “God intended the earth and everything in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should flow fairly to all.” (20)

All other rights, whatever they may be, including the rights of property and free trade, are to be subordinated to this principle. They should in no way hinder it; in fact, they should actively facilitate its implementation. Redirecting these rights back to their original purpose must be regarded as an important and urgent social duty.

The Use of Private Property

23. “He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (21) Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: “You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.” (22) These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional.

No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life. In short, “as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.” When “private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another,” it is for the public authorities “to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups.” (23)

The Common Good

24. If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.

Vatican II affirms this emphatically. (24) At the same time it clearly teaches that income thus derived is not for man’s capricious use, and that the exclusive pursuit of personal gain is prohibited. Consequently, it is not permissible for citizens who have garnered sizeable income from the resources and activities of their own nation to deposit a large portion of their income in foreign countries for the sake of their own private gain alone, taking no account of their country’s interests; in doing this, they clearly wrong their country. (25)

The Value of lndustrialization

25. The introduction of industrialization, which is necessary for economic growth and human progress, is both a sign of development and a spur to it. By dint of intelligent thought and hard work, man gradually uncovers the hidden laws of nature and learns to make better use of natural resources. As he takes control over his way of life, he is stimulated to undertake new investigations and fresh discoveries, to take prudent risks and launch new ventures, to act responsibly and give of himself unselfishly.

Unbridled Liberalism

26. However, certain concepts have somehow arisen out of these new conditions and insinuated themselves into the fabric of human society. These concepts present profit as the chief spur to economic progress, free competition as the guiding norm of economics, and private ownership of the means of production as an absolute right, having no limits nor concomitant social obligations.

This unbridled liberalism paves the way for a particular type of tyranny, rightly condemned by Our predecessor Pius XI, for it results in the “international imperialism of money.”(26)

Such improper manipulations of economic forces can never be condemned enough; let it be said once again that economics is supposed to be in the service of man. (27)

But if it is true that a type of capitalism, as it is commonly called, has given rise to hardships, unjust practices, and fratricidal conflicts that persist to this day, it would be a mistake to attribute these evils to the rise of industrialization itself, for they really derive from the pernicious economic concepts that grew up along with it. We must in all fairness acknowledge the vital role played by labor systemization and industrial organization in the task of development.

Nobility of Work

27. The concept of work can turn into an exaggerated mystique. Yet, for all that, it is something willed and approved by God. Fashioned in the image of his Creator, “man must cooperate with Him in completing the work of creation and engraving on the earth the spiritual imprint which he himself has received.” (25) God gave man intelligence, sensitivity and the power of thought—tools with which to finish and perfect the work He began. Every worker is, to some extent, a creator—be he artist, craftsman, executive, laborer or farmer.

Bent over a material that resists his efforts, the worker leaves his imprint on it, at the same time developing his own powers of persistence, inventiveness and concentration. Further, when work is done in common—when hope, hardship, ambition and joy are shared—it brings together and firmly unites the wills, minds and hearts of men. In its accomplishment, men find themselves to be brothers. (29)

Dangers and Ideals

28. Work, too, has a double edge. Since it promises money, pleasure and power, it stirs up selfishness in some and incites other to revolt. On the other hand, it also fosters a professional outlook, a sense of duty, and love of neighbor. Even though it is now being organized more scientifically and efficiently, it still can threaten man’s dignity and enslave him; for work is human only if it results from man’s use of intellect and free will.

Our predecessor John XXIII stressed the urgent need of restoring dignity to the worker and making him a real partner in the common task: “Every effort must be made to ensure that the enterprise is indeed a true human community, concerned about the needs, the activities and the standing of each of its members.” (30)

Considered from a Christian point of view, work has an even loftier connotation. It is directed to the establishment of a supernatural order here on earth, (31) a task that will not be completed until we all unite to form that perfect manhood of which St. Paul speaks, “the mature measure of the fullness of Christ.” (32)

Balanced Progress Required

29. We must make haste. Too many people are suffering. While some make progress, others stand still or move backwards; and the gap between them is widening. However, the work must proceed in measured steps if the proper equilibrium is to be maintained. Makeshift agrarian reforms may fall short of their goal. Hasty industrialization can undermine vital institutions and produce social evils, causing a setback to true human values.

Reform, Not Revolution

30. The injustice of certain situations cries out for God’s attention. Lacking the bare necessities of life, whole nations are under the thumb of others; they cannot act on their own initiative; they cannot exercise personal responsibility; they cannot work toward a higher degree of cultural refinement or a greater participation in social and public life. They are sorely tempted to redress these insults to their human nature by violent means.

31. Everyone knows, however, that revolutionary uprisings—except where there is manifest, longstanding tyranny which would do great damage to fundamental personal rights and dangerous harm to the common good of the country—engender new injustices, introduce new inequities and bring new disasters. The evil situation that exists, and it surely is evil, may not be dealt with in such a way that an even worse situation results.

A Task for Everyone

32. We want to be clearly understood on this point: The present state of affairs must be confronted boldly, and its concomitant injustices must be challenged and overcome. Continuing development calls for bold innovations that will work profound changes. The critical state of affairs must be corrected for the better without delay.

Everyone must lend a ready hand to this task, particularly those who can do most by reason of their education, their office, or their authority. They should set a good example by contributing part of their own goods, as several of Our brother bishops have done. (33) In this way they will be responsive to men’s longings and faithful to the Holy Spirit, because “the ferment of the Gospel, too, has aroused and continues to arouse in man’s heart the irresistible requirements of his dignity. (34)

Programs and Planning

33. Individual initiative alone and the interplay of competition will not ensure satisfactory development. We cannot proceed to increase the wealth and power of the rich while we entrench the needy in their poverty and add to the woes of the oppressed. Organized programs are necessary for “directing, stimulating, coordinating, supplying and integrating” (35) the work of individuals and intermediary organizations.

It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity. But they must also see to it that private initiative and intermediary organizations are involved in this work. In this way they will avoid total collectivization and the dangers of a planned economy which might threaten human liberty and obstruct the exercise of man’s basic human rights.

The Ultimate Purpose

34. Organized programs designed to increase productivity should have but one aim: to serve human nature. They should reduce inequities, eliminate discrimination, free men from the bonds of servitude, and thus give them the capacity, in the sphere of temporal realities, to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments. When we speak of development, we should mean social progress as well as economic growth.

It is not enough to increase the general fund of wealth and then distribute it more fairly. It is not enough to develop technology so that the earth may become a more suitable living place for human beings. The mistakes of those who led the way should help those now on the road to development to avoid certain dangers. The reign of technology—technocracy, as it is called—can cause as much harm to the world of tomorrow as liberalism did to the world of yesteryear. Economics and technology are meaningless if they do not benefit man, for it is he they are to serve. Man is truly human only if he is the master of his own actions and the judge of their worth, only if he is the architect of his own progress. He must act according to his God-given nature, freely accepting its potentials and its claims upon him.

Basic Education

35. We can even say that economic growth is dependent on social progress, the goal to which it aspires; and that basic education is the first objective for any nation seeking to develop itself. Lack of education is as serious as lack of food; the illiterate is a starved spirit. When someone learns how to read and write, he is equipped to do a job and to shoulder a profession, to develop selfconfidence and realize that he can progress along with others. As We said in Our message to the UNESCO meeting at Teheran, literacy is the “first and most basic tool for personal enrichment and social integration; and it is society’s most valuable tool for furthering development and economic progress.” (36)

We also rejoice at the good work accomplished in this field by private initiative, by the public authorities, and by international organizations. These are the primary agents of development, because they enable man to act for himself.

Role of the Family

36. Man is not really himself, however, except within the framework of society and there the family plays the basic and most important role. The family’s influence may have been excessive at some periods of history and in some places, to the extent that it was exercised to the detriment of the fundamental rights of the individual. Yet time honored social frameworks, proper to the developing nations, are still necessary for awhile, even as their excessive strictures are gradually relaxed. The natural family, stable and monogamous—as fashioned by God (37) and sanctified by Christianity—”in which different generations live together, helping each other to acquire greater wisdom and to harmonize personal rights with other social needs, is the basis of society.” (38)

Population Growth

37. There is no denying that the accelerated rate of population growth brings many added difficulties to the problems of development where the size of the population grows more rapidly than the quantity of available resources to such a degree that things seem to have reached an impasse. In such circumstances people are inclined to apply drastic remedies to reduce the birth rate.

There is no doubt that public authorities can intervene in this matter, within the bounds of their competence. They can instruct citizens on this subject and adopt appropriate measures, so long as these are in conformity with the dictates of the moral law and the rightful freedom of married couples is preserved completely intact. When the inalienable right of marriage and of procreation is taken away, so is human dignity.

Finally, it is for parents to take a thorough look at the matter and decide upon the number of their children. This is an obligation they take upon themselves, before their children already born, and before the community to which they belong—following the dictates of their own consciences informed by God’s law authentically interpreted, and bolstered by their trust in Him. (39)

Professional Organizations

38. In the task of development man finds the family to be the first and most basic social structure; but he is often helped by professional organizations. While such organizations are founded to aid and assist their members, they bear a heavy responsibility for the task of education which they can and must carry out. In training and developing individual men, they do much to cultivate in them an awareness of the common good and of its demands upon all.

39. Every form of social action involves some doctrine; and the Christian rejects that which is based on a materialistic and atheistic philosophy, namely one which shows no respect for a religious outlook on life, for freedom or human dignity. So long as these higher values are preserved intact, however, the existence of a variety of professional organizations and trade unions is permissible. Variety may even help to preserve freedom and create friendly rivalry. We gladly commend those people who unselfishly serve their brothers by working in such organizations.

Cultural Institutions

40. Cultural institutions also do a great deal to further the work of development. Their important role was stressed by the Council: “. . . the future of the world stands in peril unless wiser men are forthcoming. It should also be pointed out that many nations, poorer in economic goods, are quite rich in wisdom and can offer noteworthy advantages to others.” (40)

Every country, rich or poor, has a cultural tradition handed down from past generations. This tradition includes institutions required by life in the world, and higher manifestations— artistic, intellectual and religious—of the life of the spirit. When the latter embody truly human values, it would be a great mistake to sacrifice them for the sake of the former. Any group of people who would consent to let this happen, would be giving up the better portion of their heritage; in order to live, they would be giving up their reason for living. Christ’s question is directed to nations also: “What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his own soul?” (41)

Avoiding Past Temptations

41. The poorer nations can never be too much on guard against the temptation posed by the wealthier nations. For these nations, with their favorable results from a highly technical and culturally developed civilization, provide an example of work and diligence with temporal prosperity the main pursuit. Not that temporal prosperity of itself precludes the activity of the human spirit. Indeed, with it, “the human spirit, being less subjected to material things, can be more easily drawn to the worship and contemplation of the Creator.” (42) On the other hand, “modern civilization itself often complicates the approach to God, not for any essential reason, but because it is so much engrossed in worldly affairs . ” (43)

The developing nations must choose wisely from among the things that are offered to them. They must test and reject false values that would tarnish a truly human way of life, while accepting noble and useful values in order to develop them in their own distinctive way, along with their own indigenous heritage.

A Full-Bodied Humanism

42. The ultimate goal is a fullbodied humanism. (44) And does this not mean the fulfillment of the whole man and of every man? A narrow humanism, closed in on itself and not open to the values of the spirit and to God who is their source, could achieve apparent success, for man can set about organizing terrestrial realities without God. But “closed off from God, they will end up being directed against man. A humanism closed off from other realities becomes inhuman.” (45)

True humanism points the way toward God and acknowledges the task to which we are called, the task which offers us the real meaning of human life. Man is not the ultimate measure of man. Man becomes truly man only by passing beyond himself. In the words of Pascal: “Man infinitely surpasses man.” (46)


43. Development of the individual necessarily entails a joint effort for the development of the human race as a whole. At Bombay We said: “Man must meet man, nation must meet nation, as brothers and sisters, as children of God. In this mutual understanding and friendship, in this sacred communion, we must also begin to work together to build the common future of the human race.” (47) We also urge men to explore concrete and practicable ways of organizing and coordinating their efforts, so that available resources might be shared with others; in this way genuine bonds between nations might be forged.

Three Major Duties

44. This duty concerns first and foremost the wealthier nations. Their obligations stem from the human and supernatural brotherhood of man, and present a three-fold obligation: 1) mutual solidarity—the aid that the richer nations must give to developing nations; 2) social justice—the rectification of trade relations between strong and weak nations; 3) universal charity—the effort to build a more humane world community, where all can give and receive, and where the progress of some is not bought at the expense of others. The matter is urgent, for on it depends the future of world civilization.

Aid to Developing Nations

45. “If a brother or a sister be naked and in want of daily food,” says St. James, “and one of you say to them, ‘Go in peace, be warm and filled,’ yet you do not give them what is necessary for the body, what does it profit?” (48) Today no one can be unaware of the fact that on some continents countless men and women are ravished by hunger and countless children are undernourished. Many children die at an early age; many more of them find their physical and mental growth retarded. Thus whole populations are immersed in pitiable circumstances and lose heart.

46. Anxious appeals for help have already been voiced. That of Our predecessor John XXIII was warmly received. (49) We reiterated his sentiments in Our Christmas message of 1963, (50) and again in 1966 on behalf of India. (51) The work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been encouraged by the Holy See and has found generous support. Our own organization, Caritas Internationalis, is at work all over the world. Many Catholics, at the urging of Our brother bishops, have contributed unstintingly to the assistance of the needy and have gradually widened the circle of those they call neighbors.

A World of Free Men

47. But these efforts, as well as public and private allocations of gifts, loans and investments, are not enough. It is not just a question of eliminating hunger and reducing poverty. It is not just a question of fighting wretched conditions, though this is an urgent and necessary task. It involves building a human community where men can live truly human lives, free from discrimination on account of race, religion or nationality, free from servitude to other men or to natural forces which they cannot yet control satisfactorily. It involves building a human community where liberty is not an idle word, where the needy Lazarus can sit down with the rich man at the same banquet table. (52)

On the part of the rich man, it calls for great generosity, willing sacrifice and diligent effort. Each man must examine his conscience, which sounds a new call in our present times. Is he prepared to support, at his own expense, projects and undertakings designed to help the needy? Is he prepared to pay higher taxes so that public authorities may expand their efforts in the work of development? Is he prepared to pay more for imported goods, so that the foreign producer may make a fairer profit? Is he prepared to emigrate from his homeland if necessary and if he is young, in order to help the emerging nations?

A National Duty

48. The duty of promoting human solidarity also falls upon the shoulders of nations: “It is a very important duty of the advanced nations to help the developing nations . . .” (53) This conciliar teaching must be implemented. While it is proper that a nation be the first to enjoy the God-given fruits of its own labor, no nation may dare to hoard its riches for its own use alone. Each and every nation must produce more and better goods and products, so that all its citizens may live truly human lives and so that it may contribute to the common development of the human race.

Considering the mounting indigence of less developed countries, it is only fitting that a prosperous nation set aside some of the goods it has produced in order to alleviate their needs; and that it train educators, engineers, technicians and scholars who will contribute their knowledge and their skill to these less fortunate countries.

Superfluous Wealth

49. We must repeat that the superfluous goods of wealthier nations ought to be placed at the disposal of poorer nations. The rule, by virtue of which in times past those nearest us were to be helped in time of need, applies today to all the needy throughout the world. And the prospering peoples will be the first to benefit from this. Continuing avarice on their part will arouse the judgment of God and the wrath of the poor, with consequences no one can foresee. If prosperous nations continue to be jealous of their own advantage alone, they will jeopardize their highest values, sacrificing the pursuit of excellence to the acquisition of possessions. We might well apply to them the parable of the rich man. His fields yielded an abundant harvest and he did not know where to store it: “But God said to him, ‘Fool, this very night your soul will be demanded from you . . .’ ” (54)

Concerted Planning

50. If these efforts are to be successful, they cannot be disparate and disorganized; nor should they vie with one another for the sake of power or prestige. The times call for coordinated planning of projects and programs, which are much more effective than occasional efforts promoted by individual goodwill.

As We said above, studies must be made, goals must be defined, methods and means must be chosen, and the work of select men must be coordinated; only then will present needs be met and future demands anticipated. Moreover, such planned programs do more than promote economic and social progress. They give force and meaning to the work undertaken, put due order into human life, and thus enhance man’s dignity and his capabilities.

A World Fund

51. A further step must be taken. When We were at Bombay for the Eucharistic Congress, We asked world leaders to set aside part of their military expenditures for a world fund to relieve the needs of impoverished peoples. (55) What is true for the immediate war against poverty is also true for the work of national development. Only a concerted effort on the part of all nations, embodied in and carried out by this world fund, will stop these senseless rivalries and promote fruitful, friendly dialogue between nations.

52. It is certainly all right to maintain bilateral and multilateral agreements. Through such agreements, ties of dependence and feelings of jealousy—holdovers from the era of colonialism —give way to friendly relationships of true solidarity that are based on juridical and political equality. But such agreements would be free of all suspicion if they were integrated into an overall policy of worldwide collaboration. The member nations, who benefit from these agreements, would have less reason for fear or mistrust. They would not have to worry that financial or technical assistance was being used as a cover for some new form of colonialism that would threaten their civil liberty, exert economic pressure on them, or create a new power group with controlling influence.

53. Is it not plain to everyone that such a fund would reduce the need for those other expenditures that are motivated by fear and stubborn pride? Countless millions are starving, countless families are destitute, countless men are steeped in ignorance; countless people need schools, hospitals, and homes worthy of the name. In such circumstances, we cannot tolerate public and private expenditures of a wasteful nature; we cannot but condemn lavish displays of wealth by nations or individuals; we cannot approve a debilitating arms race. It is Our solemn duty to speak out against them. If only world leaders would listen to Us, before it is too late!

Dialogue Between Nations

54. All nations must initiate the dialogue which We called for in Our first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam. (56) A dialogue between those who contribute aid and those who receive it will permit a well-balanced assessment of the support to be provided, taking into consideration not only the generosity and the available wealth of the donor nations, but also the real needs of the receiving countries and the use to which the financial assistance can be put. Developing countries will thus no longer risk being overwhelmed by debts whose repayment swallows up the greater part of their gains. Rates of interest and time for repayment of the loan could be so arranged as not to be too great a burden on either party, taking into account free gifts, interest-free or low-interest loans, and the time needed for liquidating the debts.

The donors could certainly ask for assurances as to how the money will be used. It should be used for some mutually acceptable purpose and with reasonable hope of success, for there is no question of backing idlers and parasites. On the other hand, the recipients would certainly have the right to demand that no one interfere in the internal affairs of their government or disrupt their social order. As sovereign nations, they are entitled to manage their own affairs, to fashion their own policies, and to choose their own form of government. In other words, what is needed is mutual cooperation among nations, freely undertaken, where each enjoys equal dignity and can help to shape a world community truly worthy of man.

An Urgent Task

55. This task might seem impossible in those regions where the daily struggle for subsistence absorbs the attention of the family, where people are at a loss to find work that might improve their lot during their remaining days on earth. These people must be given every possible help; they must be encouraged to take steps for their own betterment and to seek out the means that will enable them to do so. This common task undoubtedly calls for concerted, continuing and courageous effort. But let there be no doubt about it, it is an urgent task. The very life of needy nations, civil peace in the developing countries, and world peace itself are at stake.

Equity in Trade Relations

56. Efforts are being made to help the developing nations financially and technologically. Some of these efforts are considerable. Yet all these efforts will prove to be vain and useless, if their results are nullified to a large extent by the unstable trade relations between rich and poor nations. The latter will have no grounds for hope or trust if they fear that what is being given them with one hand is being taken away with the other.

Growing Distortion

57. Highly industrialized nations export their own manufactured products, for the most part. Less developed nations, on the other hand, have nothing to sell but raw materials and agricultural crops. As a result of technical progress, the price of manufactured products is rising rapidly and they find a ready market. But the basic crops and raw materials produced by the less developed countries are subject to sudden and wide-ranging shifts in market price; they do not share in the growing market value of industrial products.

This poses serious difficulties to the developing nations. They depend on exports to a large extent for a balanced economy and for further steps toward development. Thus the needy nations grow more destitute, while the rich nations become even richer.

Free Trade Concept Inadequate

58. It is evident that the principle of free trade, by itself, is no longer adequate for regulating international agreements. It certainly can work when both parties are about equal economically; in such cases it stimulates progress and rewards effort. That is why industrially developed nations see an element of justice in this principle.

But the case is quite different when the nations involved are far from equal. Market prices that are freely agreed upon can turn out to be most unfair. It must be avowed openly that, in this case, the fundamental tenet of liberalism (as it is called), as the norm for market dealings, is open to serious question.

Justice at Every Level

59. The teaching set forth by Our predecessor Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum is still valid today: when two parties are in very unequal positions, their mutual consent alone does not guarantee a fair contract; the rule of free consent remains subservient to the demands of the natural law. (57) In Rerum Novarum this principle was set down with regard to a just wage for the individual worker; but it should be applied with equal force to contracts made between nations: trade relations can no longer be based solely on the principle of free, unchecked competition, for it very often creates an economic dictatorship. Free trade can be called just only when it conforms to the demands of social justice.

60. As a matter of fact, the highly developed nations have already come to realize this. At times they take appropriate measures to restore balance to their own economy, a balance which is frequently upset by competition when left to itself. Thus it happens that these nations often support their agriculture at the price of sacrifices imposed on economically more favored sectors. Similarly, to maintain the commercial relations which are developing among themselves, especially within a common market, the financial, fiscal and social policy of these nations tries to restore comparable opportunities to competing industries which are not equally prospering.

One Standard for All

61. Now in this matter one standard should hold true for all. What applies to national economies and to highly developed nations must also apply to trade relations between rich and poor nations. Indeed, competition should not be eliminated from trade transactions; but it must be kept within limits so that it operates justly and fairly, and thus becomes a truly human endeavor.

Now in trade relations between the developing and the highly developed economies there is a great disparity in their overall situation and in their freedom of action. In order that international trade be human and moral, social justice requires that it restore to the participants a certain equality of opportunity. To be sure, this equality will not be attained at once, but we must begin to work toward it now by injecting a certain amount of equality into discussions and price talks.

Here again international agreements on a broad scale can help a great deal. They could establish general norms for regulating prices, promoting production facilities, and favoring certain infant industries. Isn’t it plain to everyone that such attempts to establish greater justice in international trade would be of great benefit to the developing nations, and that they would produce lasting results?

The Obstacles of Nationalism . . .

62. There are other obstacles to creation of a more just social order and to the development of world solidarity: nationalism and racism. It is quite natural that nations recently arrived at political independence should be quite jealous of their new-found but fragile unity and make every effort to preserve it. It is also quite natural for nations with a long-standing cultural tradition to be proud of their traditional heritage. But this commendable attitude should be further ennobled by love, a love for the whole family of man. Haughty pride in one’s own nation disunites nations and poses obstacles to their true welfare. It is especially harmful where the weak state of the economy calls for a pooling of information, efforts and financial resources to implement programs of development and to increase commercial and cultural interchange. . . . and Racism

63. Racism is not the exclusive attribute of young nations, where sometimes it hides beneath the rivalries of clans and political parties, with heavy losses for justice and at the risk of civil war. During the colonial period it often flared up between the colonists and the indigenous population, and stood in the way of mutually profitable understanding, often giving rise to bitterness in the wake of genuine injustices. It is still an obstacle to collaboration among disadvantaged nations and a cause of division and hatred within countries whenever individuals and families see the inviolable rights of the human person held in scorn, as they themselves are unjustly subjected to a regime of discrimination because of their race or their color.

Hopes for the Future

64. This state of affairs, which bodes ill for the future, causes Us great distress and anguish. But We cherish this hope: that distrust and selfishness among nations will eventually be overcome by a stronger desire for mutual collaboration and a heightened sense of solidarity. We hope that the developing nations will take advantage of their geographical proximity to one another to organize on a broader territorial base and to pool their efforts for the development of a given region. We hope that they will draw up joint programs, coordinate investment funds wisely, divide production quotas fairly, and exercise management over the marketing of these products. We also hope that multilateral and broad international associations will undertake the necessary work of organization to find ways of helping needy nations, so that these nations may escape from the fetters now binding them; so that they themselves may discover the road to cultural and social progress, while remaining faithful to the native genius of their land.

The Artisans of Destiny

65. That is the goal toward which we must work. An ever more effective world solidarity should allow all peoples to become the artisans of their destiny. Up to now relations between nations have too often been governed by force; indeed, that is the hallmark of past history.

May the day come when international relationships will be characterized by respect and friendship, when mutual cooperation will be the hallmark of collaborative efforts, and when concerted effort for the betterment of all nations will be regarded as a duty by every nation. The developing nations now emerging are asking that they be allowed to take part in the construction of a better world, a world which would provide better protection for every man’s rights and duties. It is certainly a legitimate demand, so everyone must heed and fulfill it.

Worldwide Brotherly Love

66. Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations.

Welcoming the Stranger

67. We cannot insist too much on the duty of giving foreigners a hospitable reception. It is a duty imposed by human solidarity and by Christian charity, and it is incumbent upon families and educational institutions in the host nations.

Young people, in particular, must be given a warm reception; more and more families and hostels must open their doors to them. This must be done, first of all, that they may be shielded from feelings of loneliness, distress and despair that would sap their strength. It is also necessary so that they may be guarded against the corrupting influence of their new surroundings, where the contrast between the dire poverty of their homeland and the lavish luxury of their present surroundings is, as it were, forced upon them. And finally, it must be done so that they may be protected from subversive notions and temptations to violence, which gain headway in their minds when they ponder their “wretched plight.” (58) In short, they should be welcomed in the spirit of brotherly love, so that the concrete example of wholesome living may give them a high opinion of authentic Christian charity and of spiritual values.

68. We are deeply distressed by what happens to many of these young people. They come to wealthier nations to acquire scientific knowledge, professional training, and a high-quality education that will enable them to serve their own land with greater effectiveness. They do get a fine education, but very often they lose their respect for the priceless cultural heritage of their native land.

69. Emigrant workers should also be given a warm welcome. Their living conditions are often inhuman, and they must scrimp on their earnings in order to send help to their families who have remained behind in their native land in poverty.

A Social Sense

70. We would also say a word to those who travel to newly industrialized nations for business purposes: industrialists, merchants, managers and representatives of large business concerns. It often happens that in their own land they do not lack a social sense. Why is it, then, that they give in to baser motives of self-interest when they set out to do business in the developing countries? Their more favored position should rather spur them on to be initiators of social progress and human betterment in these lands. Their organizational experience should help them to figure out ways to make intelligent use of the labor of the indigenous population, to develop skilled workers, to train engineers and other management men, to foster these people’s initiative and prepare them for offices of ever greater responsibility. In this way they will prepare these people to take over the burden of management in the near future.

In the meantime, justice must prevail in dealings between superiors and their subordinates. Legitimate contracts should govern these employment relations, spelling out the duties involved. And no one, whatever his status may be, should be unjustly subjected to the arbitrary whim of another.

Development Missions

71. We certainly rejoice over the fact that an ever increasing number of experts are being sent on development missions by private groups, bilateral associations and international organizations. These specialists must not “act as overlords, but as helpers and fellow workers.” (59) The people of a country soon discover whether their new helpers are motivated by good will or not, whether they want to enhance human dignity or merely try out their special techniques. The expert’s message will surely be rejected by these people if it is not inspired by brotherly love.

The Role of Experts

72. Technical expertise is necessary, but it must be accompanied by concrete signs of genuine love. Untainted by overbearing nationalistic pride or any trace of racial discrimination, experts should learn how to work in collaboration with everyone. They must realize that their expert knowledge does not give them superiority in every sphere of life. The culture which shaped their living habits does contain certain universal human elements; but it cannot be regarded as the only culture, nor can it regard other cultures with haughty disdain. If it is introduced into foreign lands, it must undergo adaptation.

Thus those who undertake such work must realize they are guests in a foreign land; they must see to it that they studiously observe its historical traditions, its rich culture, and its peculiar genius. A rapprochement between cultures will thus take place, bringing benefits to both sides.

Service to the World

73. Sincere dialogue between cultures, as between individuals, paves the way for ties of brotherhood. Plans proposed for man’s betterment will unite all nations in the joint effort to be undertaken, if every citizen—be he a government leader, a public official, or a simple workman—is motivated by brotherly love and is truly anxious to build one universal human civilization that spans the globe. Then we shall see the start of a dialogue on man rather than on the products of the soil or of technology.

This dialogue will be fruitful if it shows the participants how to make economic progress and how to achieve spiritual growth as well; if the technicians take the role of teachers and educators; if the training provided is characterized by a concern for spiritual and moral values, so that it ensures human betterment as well as economic growth. Then the bonds of solidarity will endure, even when the aid programs are past and gone. It is not plain to all that closer ties of this sort will contribute immeasurably to the preservation of world peace?

An Appeal to Youth

74. We are fully aware of the fact that many young people have already responded wholeheartedly to the invitation of Our predecessor Pius XII, summoning the laity to take part in missionary work. (60) We also know that other young people have offered their services to public and private organizations that seek to aid developing nations. We are delighted to learn that in some nations their requirement of military duty can be fulfilled, in part at least, by social service or, simply, service. We commend such undertakings and the men of good will who take part in them. Would that all those who profess to be followers of Christ might heed His plea: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; naked and you covered me; sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.” (61)

No one is permitted to disregard the plight of his brothers living in dire poverty, enmeshed in ignorance and tormented by insecurity. The Christian, moved by this sad state of affairs, should echo the words of Christ: “I have compassion on the crowd.” (62)

Prayer and Action

75. Let everyone implore God the Father Almighty that the human race, which is certainly aware of these evils, will bend every effort of mind and spirit to their eradication. To this prayer should be added the resolute commitment of every individual. Each should do as much as he can, as best he can, to counteract the slow pace of progress in some nations. And it is to be hoped that individuals, social organizations and nations will join hands in brotherly fashion—the strong aiding the weak—all contributing their knowledge, their enthusiasm and their love to the task, without thinking of their own convenience.

It is the person who is motivated by genuine love, more than anyone else, who pits his intelligence against the problems of poverty, trying to uncover the causes and looking for effective ways of combatting and overcoming them. As a promoter of peace, “he goes on his way, holding aloft the torch of joy and shedding light and grace on the hearts of men all over the world; he helps them to cross the barriers of geographical frontiers, to acknowledge every man as a friend and brother.” (63)

Development, the New Name for Peace

76. Extreme disparity between nations in economic, social and educational levels provokes jealousy and discord, often putting peace in jeopardy. As We told the Council Fathers on Our return from the United Nations: “We have to devote our attention to the situation of those nations still striving to advance. What We mean, to put it in clearer words, is that our charity toward the poor, of whom there are countless numbers in the world, has to become more solicitous, more effective, more generous.” (64)

When we fight poverty and oppose the unfair conditions of the present, we are not just promoting human well-being; we are also furthering man’s spiritual and moral development, and hence we are benefiting the whole human race. For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men. (65)

77. Nations are the architects of their own development, and they must bear the burden of this work; but they cannot accomplish it if they live in isolation from others. Regional mutual aid agreements among the poorer nations, broaderbased programs of support for these nations, major alliances between nations to coordinate these activities—these are the road signs that point the way to national development and world peace.

Toward an Effective World Authority

78. Such international collaboration among the nations of the world certainly calls for institutions that will promote, coordinate and direct it, until a new juridical order is firmly established and fully ratified. We give willing and wholehearted support to those public organizations that have already joined in promoting the development of nations, and We ardently hope that they will enjoy ever growing authority. As We told the United Nations General Assembly in New York: “Your vocation is to bring not just some peoples but all peoples together as brothers. . . Who can fail to see the need and importance of thus gradually coming to the establishment of a world authority capable of taking effective action on the juridical and political planes?” (66)

Hope for the Future

79. Some would regard these hopes as vain flights of fancy. It may be that these people are not realistic enough, and that they have not noticed that the world is moving rapidly in a certain direction. Men are growing more anxious to establish closer ties of brotherhood; despite their ignorance, their mistakes, their offenses, and even their lapses into barbarism and their wanderings from the path of salvation, they are slowly making their way to the Creator, even without adverting to it.

This struggle toward a more human way of life certainly calls for hard work and imposes difficult sacrifices. But even adversity, when endured for the sake of one’s brothers and out of love for them, can contribute greatly to human progress. The Christian knows full well that when he unites himself with the expiatory sacrifice of the Divine Savior, he helps greatly to build up the body of Christ, (67) to assemble the People of God into the fullness of Christ.

A Final Appeal

80. We must travel this road together, united in minds and hearts. Hence We feel it necessary to remind everyone of the seriousness of this issue in all its dimensions, and to impress upon them the need for action. The moment for action has reached a critical juncture. Can countless innocent children be saved? Can countless destitute families obtain more human living conditions? Can world peace and human civilization be preserved intact? Every individual and every nation must face up to this issue, for it is their problem.

To Catholics

81. We appeal, first of all, to Our sons. In the developing nations and in other countries lay people must consider it their task to improve the temporal order. While the hierarchy has the role of teaching and authoritatively interpreting the moral laws and precepts that apply in this matter, the laity have the duty of using their own initiative and taking action in this area—without waiting passively for directives and precepts from others. They must try to infuse a Christian spirit into people’s mental outlook and daily behavior, into the laws and structures of the civil community. (68) Changes must be made; present conditions must be improved. And the transformations must be permeated with the spirit of the Gospel.

We especially urge Catholic men living in developed nations to offer their skills and earnest assistance to public and private organizations, both civil and religious, working to solve the problems of developing nations. They will surely want to be in the first ranks of those who spare no effort to have just and fair laws, based on moral precepts, established among all nations.

To Other Christians and Believers

82. All Our Christian brothers, We are sure will want to consolidate and expand their collaborative efforts to reduce man’s immoderate self-love and haughty pride, to eliminate quarrels and rivalries, and to repress demagoguery and injustice—so that a more human way of living is opened to all, with each man helping others out of brotherly love.

Furthermore, We still remember with deep affection the dialogue We had with various non Christian individuals and communities in Bombay. So once again We ask these brothers of Ours to do all in their power to promote living conditions truly worthy of the children of God.

To All Men of Good Will

83. Finally, We look to all men of good will, reminding them that civil progress and economic development are the only road to peace. Delegates to international organizations, public officials, gentlemen of the press, teachers and educators—all of you must realize that you have your part to play in the construction of a new world order. We ask God to enlighten and strengthen you all, so that you may persuade all men to turn their attention to these grave questions and prompt nations to work toward their solution .

Educators, you should resolve to inspire young people with a love for the needy nations. Gentlemen of the press, your job is to place before our eyes the initiatives that are being taken to promote mutual aid, and the tragic spectacle of misery and poverty that people tend to ignore in order to salve their consciences. Thus at least the wealthy will know that the poor stand outside their doors waiting to receive some left-overs from their banquets.

To Government Authorities

84. Government leaders, your task is to draw your communities into closer ties of solidarity with all men, and to convince them that they must accept the necessary taxes on their luxuries and their wasteful expenditures in order to promote the development of nations and the preservation of peace. Delegates to international organizations, it is largely your task to see to it that senseless arms races and dangerous power plays give way to mutual collaboration between nations, a collaboration that is friendly, peaceoriented, and divested of self-interest, a collaboration that contributes greatly to the common development of mankind and allows the individual to find fulfillment.

To Thoughtful Men

85. It must be admitted that men very often find themselves in a sad state because they do not give enough thought and consideration to these things. So We call upon men of deep thought and wisdom—Catholics and Christians, believers in God and devotees of truth and justice, all men of good will—to take as their own Christ’s injunction, “Seek and you shall find.” (69) Blaze the trails to mutual cooperation among men, to deeper knowledge and more widespread charity, to a way of life marked by true brotherhood, to a human society based on mutual harmony.

To All Promoters of Development

86. Finally, a word to those of you who have heard the cries of needy nations and have come to their aid. We consider you the promoters and apostles of genuine progress and true development. Genuine progress does not consist in wealth sought for personal comfort or for its own sake; rather it consists in an economic order designed for the welfare of the human person, where the daily bread that each man receives reflects the glow of brotherly love and the helping hand of God.

87. We bless you with all Our heart, and We call upon all men of good will to join forces with you as a band of brothers. Knowing, as we all do, that development means peace these days, what man would not want to work for it with every ounce of his strength? No one, of course. So We beseech all of you to respond wholeheartedly to Our urgent plea, in the name of the Lord.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, on the feast of the Resurrection, March 26, 1967, in the fourth year of Our pontificate.



LATIN TEXT: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 59 (1967), 257-99.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: The Pope Speaks, 12 (Spring, 1967), 144-72.


(1) Cf. Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 97-148.

(2) Cf. AAS 23 (1931), 177-228.

(3) Cf., for example, Radio message of June 1, 1941, on the 50th anniversary of Leo XIII’s Encyclical letter Rerum novarum: AAS 33 (1941), 195-205; Radio message, Christmas 1942: AAS 35 (1943), 9-24; Allocution to Italian Catholic Workers Association, meeting to commemorate Rerum novarum, May 14, 1953: AAS 45 (1953), 402-408.

(4) Cf. AAS 53 (1961), 401-464.

(5) Cf. AAS 55 (1963), 257-304.

14. (6) Cf. Encyc. letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), 440.

15. (7) Cf. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, no. 63: AAS 58 (1966), 1084 [cf. TPS XI, 302].

(8) Apostolic letter motu proprio, Catholicam Christi Ecclesiam: AAS 59 (1967), 27 [cf. v. 12 of TPS, 103-106].

(9) Cf. Leo XIII, Encyc. letter Rerum novarum: Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 98.

(10) Cf. Church in the World of Today, no. 63: AAS 58 (1966),1085 [cf. TPS XI, 302].

(11) Cf. Lk 7, 22.

(12) Cf. Church in the World of Today, no. 3: AAS 58 (1966), 1026 [cf. TPS XI, 261].

(13) Cf. Leo XIII, Encyc. letter Immortale Dei: Acta Leonis XIII 5 (1885), 127.

(14) Church in the World of Today, no. 4: AAS 58 (1966), 1027 [cf. TPS XI, 261].

(15) Cf. L. J. Lebret, O.P., Dynamique concrète du développement Paris: Economie et Humanisme, Les editions ouvrierès (1961), 28.

(16) 2 Thes 3. 10.

(17) Cf., for example, J. Maritain, Les conditions spintuelles du progrès et de la paix, in an anthology entitled Rencontre des cultures à l’UNESCO sous le signe du Concile Oecuménique Vatican II, Paris: Mame (1966), 66.

(18) Cf. Mt 5. 3.

(19) Gn 1. 28.

(20) Church in the World of Today, no. 69: AAS 58 (1966), 1090 [cf. TPS XI, 306].

(21) 1 Jn 3. 17.

(22) De Nabute, c. 12, n. 53: PL 14. 747; cf. J. R. Palanque, Saint Ambroise et l’empire romain, Paris: de Boccard (1933), 336 ff.

16. (23) Letter to the 52nd Social Week at Brest, in L’homme et la révolution urbaine, Lyon: Chronique sociale (1965), 8-9.

17. (24) Church in the World of Today, no. 71: AAS 58 (1966), 1093 [cf. TPS XI, 308].

(25) Ibid., no. 65: AAS 58 (1966), 1086 [cf. TPS XI, 303].

(26) Encyc.letter Ouadragesimo anno: AAS 23 (1931), 212.

(27) Cf., for example, Colin Clark, The Conditions of Economic Progress, 3rd ed., New York: St. Martin’s Press (1960), 3-6.

(28) Letter to the 51st Social Week at Lyon, in Le travail et les travailleurs dans la societé contemporaine, Lyon: Chronique sociale (1965), 6.

(29) Cf., for example, M. D. Chenu, O.P., Pour une théologie du travail, Paris: Editions du Seuil (1955) [Eng. tr. The Theology of Work, Dublin: Gill, 1963].

(30) Encyc.letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), 423 [cf. TPS VII, 312].

(31) Cf., for example, O. von Nell-Breuning, S.J., Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, vol. 1: Grundfragen, Freiburg: Herder (1956), 183-184.

(32) Eph 4. 13.

(33) Cf., for example, Emmanuel Larrain Errázuriz, Bishop of Talca, Chile, President of CELAM, Lettre pastorale sur le développement et la paix, Paris: Pax Christi (1965).

(34) Church in the World of Today, no. 26: AAS 58 (1966), 1046 [TPS XI, 275]

(35) John XXIII, Encyc.letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), 414.

(36) L’Osservatore Romano, Sept. 11, 1965; La Documentation Catholique, 62 (1965), 1674-1675.

(37) Cf. Mt 19. 6.

(38) Church in the World of Today, no. 52: AAS 58 (1966), 1073 [cf. TPS XI, 294].

(39) Ibid., nos. 50-51, with note 14: AAS 58 (1966), 1070-1073 [cf. TPS XI, 292-293]; also no. 87, p. 1110 [cf. TPS XI, 319-320].

(40) Cf. ibid., no. 15: AAS 58 (1966), 1036 [cf. TPS XI, 268].

(41) Mt 16. 26.

(42) Church in the World of Today, no. 57: AAS 58 (1966), 1078 [cf. TPS XI, 297].

(43) Ibid., no. 19: AAS 58 (1966), 1039 [cf. TPS XI, 270].

(44) Cf., for example, J. Maritain, L’humanisme intégral, Paris: Aubier (1936) [Eng. tr. True Humanism, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons (1938)].

(45) Cf. H. de Lubac, S.J., Le drame de l’humanisme athée, 3rd ed., Paris: Spes (1945), 10 [Eng. tr. The Drama of Atheistic Humanism, London: Sheed and Ward (1949), 7]

(46) Pensées, ed. Brunschvicg, n. 434; cf. Maurice Zundel, L’homme passe l’homme, Le Caire: Editions du lien (1944).

(47) Cf. Address to representatives of non-Christian religions, Dec. 3, 1964: AAS 57 (1965), 132 [cf. TPS X, 153].

(48) Jas 2. 15-16.

(49) Cf. Encyc.letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), 440 ff.

(50) Cf. Christmas message, December 1963: AAS 56 (1964), 57-58.

(51) Cf. Encicliche e discorsi di Paolo VI, vol. IX: ed. Paoline, Rome (1966), 132-136.

(52) Cf. Lk 16. 19-31.

18. (53) Church in the World of Today, no. 86: AAS 58 (1966) 1109 [cf. TPS XI, 319].

19. (54) Lk 12. 20.

(55) Special message to the world, delivered to newsmen during India visit, December 4, 1964: AAS 57 (1965), 135 [cf. TPS X, 158- 159].

(56) Cf. AAS 56 (1964), 639 ff. [cf. TPS X, 275 ff.].

(57) Cf. Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 131.

(58) Cf. Leo XIII, Encyc.letter Rerum novarum: Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 98.

(59) Church in the World of Today, no. 85: AAS 58 (1966), 1108 [cf. TPS XI, 318].

(60) Cf. encyc.letter Fidei donum: AAS 49 (1957), 246.

(61) Mt 25. 35-36.

(62) Mk 8. 2.

(63) John XXIII, Address upon receiving the Balzan Peace Prize, May 10, 1963: AAS 55 (1963), 455.

(64) AAS 57 (1965), 896 [cf. TPS XI, 64].

(65) Cf. John XXIII, encyc.letter Pacem in terris: AAS 55 (1963), 301.

(66) AAS 57 (1965), 880 [cf. TPS XI, 51].

(67) Eph 4. 12. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 13: AAS 57 (1965), 17 [cf. TPS ^X, 367-68].

(68) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, nos. 7, 13, 24: AAS 58 (1966), 843, 849, 856 [cf. TPS XI, 125, 130, 135].

(69) Lk ll.9.


Back to: Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples)

Pope Paul VI, 1967


Pope Paul VI wrote the encyclical Populorum Progressio in 1967 to address the world economy and its effect on peoples around the world. At this time many nations saw their economic development stall, while others continued to grow at a record pace. In the document he talks about the rights of workers to a just wage, job security, reasonable working conditions, and to join a worker’s association.

The development of nations and peoples is of great interest to the Church, which is especially concerned for those who seek to escape hunger, poverty, disease, and ignorance. While many nations have been blessed with abundance, they need to hear their brother’s cry for help and answer it lovingly.

The Church is committed to advocating for a secure food supply, cures for diseases, and stable employment. Each nation needs the social and economic structure necessary to achieve growth.

The growing gap between rich and poor nations and increasing signs of social unrest demonstrate the severity of the situation. The Church has long made efforts to help nations develop, but their great needs must be answered by their fellow countries.

It has been the duty of humanity to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1. 28) through physical labor. The earth was created to provide each person with the necessities of life. The encyclical continues by discussing the value and peril of industrialization and recommends a balanced approach toward development.

All of humanity is called to lend a hand toward helping those in need. Development as a goal must include both social progress as well as economic growth, allowing men and women to further their moral growth and develop their spiritual endowments. Basic education is necessary for economic development – literacy is “the first and most basic tool for personal enrichment and social integration.” (Paragraph 35)

There are three major duties which must be completed for the world to achieve development. The wealthiest nations must give aid and promote solidarity with developing nations. Fair trading relations between strong and poor nations must be established. The world must also focus on universal charity by building a more humane world community.

We should all pray that God will “bend every effort of mind and spirit to” the eradication of the evils that plague our world. (Paragraph 75) The world must work together for the common good and abolish hunger, poverty, and injustice.

His Holiness concluded the encyclical by calling on Catholic, other Christians, and to all of humanity work together to achieve progress in these endeavors.


See Also:

A Summary Article by Gerald Darring

Populorum Progressio (Wiki)

Critical Comments Selected by Gerald Darring

Re-living the Memories of Pope Paul VI and his encyclical Populorum Progressio

Forty Years Populorum Progressio

The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, was published in 1965 under Pope Paul VI. The preface and introduction to Gaudium establish the basis upon which the document is founded. The preface expresses the desire of the Church to actively communicate with the modern world and focuses specifically on the humankind. As the world was rapidly changing, Gaudium urges a renewal in human society, testifying to the “Godlike seed” which is present in every person. This document proclaims that their only goal is to carry out Christ’s work – to witness to the truth, to withhold judgment, and to serve.

Gaudium emphasizes that the Church has always been obligated to recognize the “signs” of the times and translate its meaning through Jesus’ teachings. Eager to take part in the new changes, the Church reaffirms that she is able and willing to answer humankind’s questions about this life and the next. Gaudium also brings attention to the inequalities still present in such a modern world – hunger and poverty, illiteracy, and new forms of social and psychological “slavery”. Despite the advances – from biological to the social sciences – humankind is giving more thought to the regulation of the population and its growth. Due to this change in attitude, values can be called into question, especially the values of the youth, who often choose to rebel against the ways of their parents or educators. This often comes into play with religion, as during this time it was not an unheard of occurrence for a person to completely abandon God or religion.

Gaudium also cites social inequalities, between men and women as well as races and other kinds of social orders, as a severe imbalance in society. This imbalance only aggravates distrust and conflicts, as humankind are both the cause of this imbalance and also become the victims to it. And yet, there is a change in society because people believe that certain benefits can and should be extended to everyone. At the root of this desire, Gaudium argues, is a deeper yearning that cannot be satisfied by trivial pursuits of material gain. The Church, which continues to remain the same, earnestly wishes to share the knowledge that she has with humankind in order to help them find solutions to the issues that the modern world faces.


Back to: Gaudium et Spes (Hope and Joy)

Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World

By Norman Tanner

Of all Vatican II’s decrees, Gaudium et Spes addresses the situation in the world most directly. Its subtitle, “The Church in the World of Today”, states this intention clearly. The decree also makes a sustained attempt both to dialogue with the “world” and to open up further opportunities for such dialogue in the future. Yet, as I write these lines, in the autumn of 2004, the prospects look bleak regarding both the situation in the world and the possibility of dialogue.

The attack on the twin towers in New York on September 11, 2001—the most publicized event of the new millennium so far—has set in train an escalation of violence in many parts of the world that may well move still further out of control in the future. Alongside the violence, bad enough in itself, a whole range of other injurious forces have been set in motion or accelerated. Christian cohabitation and dialogue with Muslims, who form almost one in seven of the world’s population, has been the most obvious casualty. The gap in wealth between the west and the rest of the world appears ever more glaring. Time, money, and attention that might be directed to building a better and more equitable world are spent rather on defence of the status quo.

The wave of immigrants seeking entry into Europe, as well as the marked decline in the birthrate in many parts of this continent, furnish obvious parallels with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries CE. The civilization of Europe, which was the heartland of the Catholic Church for many centuries, and which bears much of the responsibility for Gaudium et Spes, is undergoing rapid and marked change and this looks set to continue into the future.

There are also the divisions within the Christian community. In this respect, Gaudium et Spes is closely linked to Unitatis Redintegratio and various other decrees of Vatican II in terms of implementation and future influence. Despite much progress in its relations with most other Christian churches since the council, and almost a revolution in basic attitudes, the Catholic Church has not seen the reunions with these churches that many hoped for then and for some time afterwards. Indeed the last twenty years or so have seen, in many ways, a hardening of attitudes on both sides with regard to the possibility of such reunion. Relations with the Orthodox and Anglican churches provide two examples of these difficulties. Among a variety of issues, papal authority has continued to prove a stumbling block for both churches, and the ordination of women to the priesthood within the Anglican communion has raised new obstacles to reunion. As a result of these differences, Christians have been unable to speak with a united voice and appear unlikely to do so in the future.

The continuing divisions among Christians, however, have affected the influence of Gaudium et Spes less than might be expected. The divisions have mainly concerned doctrinal matters, those concerning authority in the churches, and missionary activity. The chief focus of Gaudium et Spes was on social teaching, and what might be called theology “from below,” and the decree has proved to be, rather, a unifying voice and to have revealed a surprising amount of common ground among Christians, more particularly regarding most of the areas covered in Part 2 of the decree.

There are, too, the limitations within the Catholic Church. John-Paul II has provided a powerful voice in support of many of the concerns of Gaudium et Spes. What the next papacy holds lies in the future. Although the teaching of Gaudium et Spes has been generally well-received, the voice of the Catholic Church has been weakened in various ways. The recent scandals involving the sexual abuse of minors, and the negligence of bishops and other church authorities in dealing with the cases, have detracted from the credibility of the Church well beyond these issues. Secularization has taken its toll on the Catholic community, especially in the more traditionally Catholic countries. While the number of Christians continues to grow in many parts of the world, notably in Africa and Asia, the church remains in many of these regions relatively young and even fragile. Among Catholics, too, there is a much greater variety of opinions, indeed polarization, now than at the time of the council. This diversity looks set to continue and probably to grow during the coming century, though it is, of course, to some extent a sign of health and creativity, not just of weakness and division.

It may well be, indeed, that the Catholic Church in the twenty-first century is heading toward another Babylonian captivity. Diminished and shackled in Europe, its principal home for many centuries, it may live as an exile in much of the rest of the world, harassed and threatened.

The Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people in the sixth century BCE produced some of the finest and most prophetic literature of the Old Testament. From this exile came Deutero-Isaiah with its four Songs of the Suffering Servant. If the comparison is allowed, maybe Gaudium et Spes will come to be seen as prophetic and comforting for the church of the coming century. Certainly with its move away from the ideal of a fully Catholic society, toward a more individual approach and one that encourages Catholics to work together with others, the decree provides Christians with a framework that appears relevant to the diverse and often secular situations in which many of them are likely to find themselves for the foreseeable future.

In this respect the overall tone and approach of Gaudium et Spes is as important as the details of what it says. The details have been discussed at some length in the last chapter [1], particularly regarding the five areas covered in Part 2 of the decree: marriage and the family, culture, socio-economic life, the political community, peace and the international community. Despite the richness of the teaching on these topics, we have seen that this could not and was never intended to be comprehensive for the time and still less into the indefinite future. The decree itself recognized that it was treating of issues that change and develop in all sorts of ways and that, correspondingly, an ongoing discernment on the part of Christians is required. New issues, too, or at least new approaches and understandings, have emerged since the council and others will surely surface during the century to come. The roles of women both inside and beyond the church, the many facets of globalization, ecology, the rights of people to migrate from one country to another, are among the issues that are pressing today and in forms that were only partly envisaged by Gaudium et Spes.

The greatest strength of the decree, for the twenty-first century, is that it faced squarely the issues of its day and did so in a way that was faithful to the gospel and the Christian tradition. Its prophetic role for the future lies very much in its historicity. It is a treasure that can be returned to and drawn upon partly because of its contents, but even more importantly because it gives Christians confidence and encouragement to attempt the same kind of exploration in their own day. In these ways it can provide a comfort and support for the future.

A second strength is that the decree was debated at length and approved by much the largest and most international council in the history of Christianity. Despite unease about its imperfections and omissions, in the end it was approved by the overwhelming majority at the council, indeed enthusiastically so by the large majority, it seems. Other official documents of the church, including notably papal encyclicals, remain important. But it seems likely that Gaudium et Spes will remain the more important charter because of the breadth of support for it at the council itself and during the subsequent reception of the council by the Christian community, and because of the wide range of issues it tackled. Gaudium et Spes produced a happy marriage of papal and conciliar teaching.

These points may seem obvious, almost trite. Yet in terms of the church’s councils, and of its history more generally, Gaudium et Spes is somewhat unique. The decree represents the first time that the church, represented in such numbers from all around the globe, sought to enter in detail into such a wide range of issues affecting people in their everyday lives. For this reason above all, it seems likely to remain a point of reference for many years to come.


[1]  of The Church and the Modern World: Gaudium et Spes, Inter Mirifica, Norman Tanner


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