Pope Paul VI

    "One cannot dissociate the plan of Creation from the plan of Redemption.  The latter plan touches the very concrete situations of injustice to be combated and of justice to be restored."

--Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, On Evangelization in the Modern World, December 8, 1975

    THE WORLD is given to all, not only to the rich.

--From The Columbia River Watershed: Caring for Creation and the Common Good, 2000.

    THE SECOND Ecumenical Vatican Council has reminded us: 'God destined the earth with all that it contains for the use of all people and nations, in such a way that created things in fair share should accrue to all people under the leadership of justice with charity as a companion.' All other rights, whatever they are, including property rights and the right of free trade must be subordinated to this norm; they must not hinder it, but must rather expedite its application. It must be considered a serious and urgent social obligation to refer these rights to their original purpose.

    The Bible, from the first page on, teaches us that the whole of creation is for humanity, that it is men and women's responsibility to develop it by intelligent effort and by means of their labor to perfect it, so to speak, for their use. If the world is made to furnish each individual with the means of livelihood and the instruments for growth and progress, all people have therefore the right to find in the world what is necessary for them.

-- Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples), March 26, 1967    

    NOW MANY OF our contemporaries seem to fear that a closer bond between human activity and religion will work against the independence of men, of societies, or of the sciences.  If by the autonomy of earthly affairs we mean that created things and societies themselves enjoy their own laws and values which must be gradually deciphered, put to use, and regulated by men, then it is entirely right to demand that autonomy.... But if the expression, the independence of temporal affairs, is taken to mean that created things do not depend on God, and that man can use them without any reference to their Creator, anyone who acknowledges God will see how false such a meaning is.  For without the Creator the creature would disappear.  For their part, however, all believers of whatever religion always hear His revealing voice in the discourse of creatures.  When God is forgotten, however, the creature itself grows unintelligible."

--Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, December 7, 1965

    THE IMAGE OF the Creator must shine forth ever more clearly, not only in his creature Man, but in all of His creation in nature.

-Speech to the Council of the World Wildlife Fund, 1969.

    IT TOOK MILLENNIA for man to learn to dominate, "to subdue the earth," according to the inspired word of the first book of the Bible.  The hour has now come for him to dominate his domination; this essential undertaking requires no less courage and dauntlessness than the conquest of nature itself.

-Speech to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 1970. The Teachings of Pope Paul VI, 1970. (Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1971) 398.

    IT CAN THUS rightly be asked if, in spite of all his conquests, man is not turning back against himself the results of his activity. Having rationally endeavored to control nature, is he not now becoming the slave of the objects which he makes?

    MAN IS SUDDENLY becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation. Not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace - pollution and refuse, new illness and absolute destructive capacity - but the human framework is no longer under man's control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family.

    WHAT IS THE meaning of this never-ending, breathless pursuit of a progress that always eludes one just when one believes one has conquered it sufficiently in order to enjoy it in peace? If it is not attained, it leaves one dissatisfied. Without doubt, there has been just condemnation of the limits and even the misdeeds of a merely quantitative economic growth; there is a desire to attain objectives of a qualitative order also. The quality and the truth of human relations, the degree of participation and of responsibility, are no less significant and important for the future of society than the quantity and variety of the goods produced and consumed.

    Overcoming the temptation to wish to measure everything in terms of efficiency and of trade, and in terms of the interplay of forces and interests, man today wishes to replace these quantitative criteria with the intensity of communication, the spread of knowledge and culture, mutual service and a combining of efforts for a common task. Is not genuine progress to be found in the development of moral consciousness, which will lead man to exercise a wider solidarity and to open himself freely to others and to God? For a Christian, progress necessarily comes up against the eschatological mystery of death. The death of Christ and his resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord help man to place his freedom, in creativity and gratitude, within the context of the truth of all progress and the only hope which does not deceive.

    THERE IS A need to establish a greater justice in the sharing of goods, both within national communities and on the international level. In international exchanges there is a need to go beyond relationships based on force, in order to arrive at agreements reached with the good of all in mind.

    Octogesima Adveniens, A Call to Action, May 14, 1971

 

Authentic Development

    DEVELOPMENT cannot be limited to mere economic growth.  In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every man and of the whole man. 

    In the design of God, every man is called upon to develop and fulfill himself, for every life is a vocation. At birth, everyone is granted, in germ, a set of aptitudes and qualities for him to bring to fruition. Their coming to maturity, which will be the result of education received from the environment and personal efforts, will allow each man to direct himself toward the destiny intended for him by his Creator. Endowed with intelligence and freedom, he is responsible for his fulfillment as he is for his salvation. He is aided, or sometimes impeded, by those who educate him and those with whom he lives, but each one remains, whatever be these influences affecting him, the principal agent of his own success or failure. By the unaided effort of his own intelligence and his will, each man can grow in humanity, can enhance his personal worth, can become more a person.

    However, this self-fulfillment is not something optional.  Just as the whole of creation is ordained to its Creator, so spiritual beings should of their own accord orientate their lives to God, the first truth and the supreme good.  Thus it is that human fulfillment constitutes, as it were, a summary of our duties.  But there is much more: this harmonious enrichment of nature by personal and responsible effort is ordered to a further perfection.  By reason of his union with Christ, the source of life, man attains to new fulfillment of himself, to a transcendent humanism which gives him his greatest possible perfection: this is the highest goal of personal development.

-- Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples), March 26, 1967

 


 

Pope John Paul I:  God Wishes Life

    The world awaits this today: It knows well that the sublime perfection which it has reached by research and technology — in which it is just to recognize the fulfillment of the first command of God: "Fill the earth and make it subject to man" (Gn. 1:28) — has reached a height beyond which dizziness occurs.  It is the temptation of substituting for God one's own decisions, decisions that would prescind from moral law.  The danger for modern man is that he would reduce the earth to a desert, the person to an automaton, brotherly love to a planned collectivization, often introducing death where God wishes life.

        -Text of First Message to College of Cardinals and to the World Given At Conclusion of a Mass Celebrated in the Sistine Chapel, August 27, 1978

 


 

Pope Leo XIII

    FOR GOD IS said to have given the earth to mankind in common, not because He intended indiscriminate ownership of it by all, but because He assigned no part to anyone in ownership, leaving the limits of private possessions to be fixed by the industry of men and the institutions of peoples. Yet, however the earth may be apportioned among private owners, it does not cease to serve the common interest of all, inasmuch as no living being is sustained except by what the fields bring forth.

    The goods of nature and the gifts of divine grace belong in common and without distinction to all human kind.

    Whether you abound in, or whether you lack, riches, and all the other things which are called good, is of no importance in relation to eternal happiness. But how you use them, that is truly of utmost importance.... The well-to-do are admonished that wealth does not give surcease of sorrow, and that wealth is of no avail unto the happiness of eternal life but is rather a hindrance; that the threats pronounced by Jesus Christ, so unusual coming from Him, ought to cause the rich to fear; and that on one day the strictest account for the use of wealth must be rendered to God as Judge.

--Rerum Novarum, Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII issued on May 15, 1891.

 


 

Pope Pius XI

    FOR THEY HAVE always unanimously maintained that nature, rather the Creator Himself, has given man the right of private ownership not only that individuals may be able to provide for themselves and their families but also that the goods which the Creator destined for the entire family of mankind may through this institution truly serve this purpose.

--Quadragesimo Anno, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on Reconstruction of the Social Order, May 15, 1931.

 

 


 

Pope John XXIII

Peace on Earth

    PEACE ON EARTH, which all people of every era have most eagerly yearned for, can be firmly established only if the order laid down by God can be dutifully observed.  The progress of learning and the inventions of technology clearly show that, both in living things and in the forces of nature, an astonishing order reigns, and they also bear witness to the greatness of humankind, who can understand that order and create suitable instruments to harness those forces of nature and use them to their benefit.     

    But the progress of science and the inventions of technology show above all the infinite greatness of God, Who created the universe and humankind.  He created all things out of nothing, pouring into them the abundance of His wisdom and goodness, so that the holy psalmist praises God in these words: 'O Lord our master, the majesty of thy name fills all the earth (Psalm 8:1).'   Elsewhere he says: 'What diversity, Lord, in thy creatures!  What wisdom has designed them all (Psalm 104:24)!'   God also created humankind in His own image and likeness, endowed them with intelligence and freedom, and made them lord of creation, as the same psalmist declares in the words: 'You have made them a little lower than the angels, and crowned them with glory and honor.  You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet (Psalm 8:5-6).

    How strongly does the turmoil of individuals and peoples contrast with the perfect order of the universe!  It is as if the relationships which bind them together could be controlled only by force.  But the Creator of the world has imprinted in humankind's heart an order which their conscience reveals to them and enjoins them to obey: 'This shows that the obligations of the law are written in their hearts; their conscience utters its own testimony (Romans 2:15).'  And how could it be otherwise?  For whatever God has made shows forth His infinite wisdom, and its is manifested more clearly in the things which have greater perfection (Cf. Ps. 18, 8-11).

--PACEM IN TERRIS, Encyclical Letter of Pope John XXIII On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty. 1963

   GENESIS RELATES HOW God gave two commandments to our first parents: to transmit human life--'Increase and multiply'--and to bring nature into their service--'Fill the earth, and subdue it.' These two commandments are complementary.  Nothing is said in the second of these commandments about destroying nature.  On the contrary, it must be brought into the service of human life.

     The Church teaches--and has always taught--that scientific and technical progress and the resultant material well-being are good things and mark an important phase in human civilization. But the Church teaches, too, that goods of this kind must be valued according to their true nature: as instruments used by people for the better attainment of human ends. They help to make men and women better people, both in the natural and the supernatural order....

    We are bound above all to consider as an ideal the kind of farm which is owned and managed by the family. Every effort must be made in the prevailing circumstances to give effective encouragement to farming enterprises of this nature.  But if the family farm is not to go bankrupt it must make enough money to keep the family in reasonable comfort.... Those who live on the land can hardly fail to appreciate the nobility of the work they are called upon to do. They are living in close harmony with Nature -- the majestic temple of Creation. Their work has to do with the life of plants and animals, a life that is inexhaustible in its expression, inflexible in its laws, rich in allusions to God the Creator and Provider. They produce food for the support of human life, and the raw materials of industry in ever richer supply.

--Mater Et Magistra, On Health and Apostolic Benediction, May 15, 1961

 

 


 

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