Caritas in Veritate Summary: Capstone and New Direction (Part 3 of 5)
Development Must be Integral
Pope Benedict XVI identifies that the Church “above all…works…to protect mankind from self-destruction.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
And in this regard, he said “The decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society.” (CIV, 51)
“[M]an needs to be liberated from material oppressions, but more profoundly he must be saved from the evils that afflict the spirit.” (Homily, Mass in Bruno)
Pope Benedict insists, therefore, that human development (the application and implementation of Catholic social teaching – Catholic social action) must be integral – involving all aspects of our humanity, not just economic and political:
“Authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension.” (CIV, 11)
“Progress of a merely economic and technological kind is insufficient. Development needs above all to be true and integral.” (CIV, 23)
“The question of development is closely bound up with our understanding of the human soul“. (CIV, 76)
CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING’S “BOTTOM LINE”
In referring to “the dramatic crisis of the global economy”, Pope Benedict said: “In my encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I invited everyone to look to the deeper causes of this situation: In the last analysis, they are to be found in a current self-centered and materialistic way of thinking that fails to acknowledge the limitations inherent in every creature”. (Pope Benedict XVI)
Henceforth while continuing to address the political and economic structures of society Catholic social teaching will also require us to focus on true, integral development – not leaving out the spiritual and cultural elements which greatly impact on us.
Even “Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person” because “the book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development.” (CIV, 51)
“Development must include not just material growth but also spiritual growth“. (CIV, 76)
The need for and importance of integral development must be recognized if true, human development is to be possible.
Catholic social teaching is built on three foundational principles - Human Dignity, Solidarity 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.
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)