The International Community Must Work for Peace


The International Community must strive for Peace and Development

The Obligation of the International Community to Advance Peace and Development


Centesimus Annus ends its section on the state and culture with an urgent call on the international community to develop alternatives to war. Also, recognizing that another name for peace is development, it calls for a concerted, worldwide effort to promote development. (Pope St. John Paul II, 48)


In 1999 Pope St. John Paul II identified the need for the international community to actively intervene in human conflicts, despite the fact that issues of sovereignty might be involved.

“I call on the leaders of the Nations and on all people of good will to come to the aid of those involved—especially in Africa—in cruel conflicts, sometimes prompted by external economic interests, and to help them to bring these conflicts to an end.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 11)

A call strongly re-iterated by Benedict in (Caritas in Veritate).

Indeed, at the UN in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI made a direct and, perhaps, not fully appreciated call on the international community when he said: “Every State has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or man-made. If States are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene”.

And, this intervention “should never be interpreted as an unwarranted imposition or a limitation of sovereignty. On the contrary, it is indifference or failure to intervene that do the real damage.” (Meeting with the Members of the General Assembly of the United Nations)

“If States are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene”.

Pope Francis has also endorsed this Catholic approach in his address to the United Nations in September 2015 when he said:

“As I wrote in my letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 9 August 2014, ‘the most basic understanding of human dignity compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities’ and to protect innocent peoples.” (Meeting with the Members of the General Assembly of the United Nations)


Three circles containing symbols of the three principles of catholic social teaching: human dignity, subsidiarity, and solidarity.

Three Key Principles

Catholic social teaching is built on three foundational principles - Human DignitySolidarity and Subsidiarity. Human Dignity, embodied in a correct understanding of the human person, is the greatest. The others flow from it. Good governments and good economic systems find ways of fostering the three principles.

Human Dignity

This means a correct understanding of the human person and of each person’s unique value. All Catholic social teaching flows from this: the inherent dignity of every person that comes from being made in God’s image. 


Solidarity is not “a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of others. It is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good”. (Pope St. John Paul II, 38) Love of God and love of neighbor are, in fact, linked and form one, single commandment.


Subsidiarity “is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry. So, too, it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and a disturbance of right order to transfer to the larger and higher collectivity functions which can be performed and provided for by the lesser and subordinate bodies”. (Pope Pius XI)