Paul VI's Social Encyclical Still "Urgent"

Dublin Archbishop Recalls Letter's Focus on Person

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NEW YORK, OCT. 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Dublin told members of the United Nations that Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Populorum Progressio" is just as valid today as it was when written 40 years ago.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin made that statement Wednesday at a U.N side event co-sponsored by the Holy See's Permanent Observer Mission, noting that in "Populorum Progessio," Paul VI showed a "vision for the future that should lead beyond ideologies and power struggles toward the concept of what he calls authentic development."

The Irish prelate spoke of the cultural and ecclesial context of 1967, the year the encyclical was written. Noting the various complexities of the time, Archbishop Martin said that Paul VI focused on a key element of Catholic social doctrine: the primacy of the person.

The concept "is a very simple one," the archbishop said. "Authentic development 'must foster the development of each person and of the whole person.' In authentic development, economics are not to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place.

"What counts is the person -- each individual person, each human group, and humanity as a whole."

Integrity

"Development is person-centered," Archbishop Martin affirmed, "but it looks at the human person in his or her integrity and within the communities in which he or she lives and in terms of humanity as a whole.

"It is not possible to talk about human development without talking about spiritual development and the person’s relationship with God. The Church would not be true to its mission if in the area of development it did not draw attention to this aspect of the identity of the human person.

"Authentic development must be concerned about the development of the person in his or her integrity; that means not just their economic development. […] It would be wrong to separate social teaching from the Church’s teaching on the human person, male and female; it would be wrong to limit social teaching to the merely social, political or economic. The fostering of the family is essential if we are aim at a type of development that is truly rooted in the deepest reality of what it is to be a human person."

Capitalism

Archbishop Martin also focused on the encyclical's evaluation of the model of capitalism emerging in the 1960s.

"The thrust of Pope Paul’s thought is that no economic model can be absolutized," the archbishop said. "Capitalism and a market economy have undoubted value, but they too must be written in the conditional."

The archbishop of Dublin said that Paul VI echoed the teaching of the Fathers of the Church in stressing the principle of the universal destination of the goods of creation.

"This principle, which has been applied to themes like land reform, must today find its place in reflection on those common goods of our global world: the environment, water and above all to knowledge and intellectual property," the archbishop said.

World authority

The 62-year-old prelate turned his attention to Paul VI's teaching on an "effective world authority."

"The Pope called for 'institutions that will promote, coordinate and direct' international collaboration among nations 'until a new juridical order is firmly established and fully ratified,'" the archbishop said.

Noting that Paul VI "does not enter more deeply" into what is this effective world authority, the archbishop contended, "We are still very far from having a truly effective world authority for the governance of global goods. The existing structures are often inadequate, politically weighted in one direction or the other, and at times they work against each other."



"Were Pope Paul here with us today," the archbishop said, "he would certainly be saying thanks to all those who have given themselves in the service of humanity within the U.N. system. He would surely also certainly be making remarks on the slow progress of U.N. reform. We need a well-functioning United Nations."

He continued: "On the other hand the concept of an effective world authority is being challenged by disregard for international norms where powerful nations -- I deliberately chose the plural -- place their trust in force.

"We must also note that the door for force is opened when humanitarian or diplomatic opportunities are not followed with vigor. The international political climate which inhibits the United Nations to address a number of the world’s major humanitarian crisis is a source of frustration to so many."

"The 40 years since the publication of 'Populorum Progressio' have in no way reduced the urgency that was in the appeal of Pope Paul VI," Archbishop Martin affirmed. "That urgency still remains undiminished and it requires then, as now, a response from all."