Friday, March 23, 2007


Bio: The late Pope John XXIII, one of the greatest spiritual and social influences in the century, left a great legacy in his encyclical Pacem in Terris, an excerpt of which is printed below, and in the spirit of Vatican Council II which he convened and which was continued by his successor Pope Paul VI, a portion of whose encyclical The Development of Peoples is also given. Included here too are excerpts from Vatican Council II's Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, the National Council of Catholic Bishops’ Justice in the World, and a statement of American bishops made in the fall of 1971.


THE DEVELOPMENT OF PEOPLES - "God intended the earth and all that it con­tains for the use of every human being and people. Thus, as all men follow justice and unite in charity, created goods should abound for them on a reasonable basis.” All other rights whatsoever, including those of property and of free commerce, are to be subordinated to this principle."


To quote Saint Ambrose: “You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given in common for the use of all, you have arrogated to yourself. The world has given to all, and not only to the rich.” That is, private property does not constitute for anyone an absolute and unconditioned right. No one is justified in keeping for his exclusive use what he does not need, when others lack necessities. In a word, “according to the traditional doctrine as found in the Fathers of the Church and the great theologians, the right to property must never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.” If there should arise a conflict “between acquired private rights and primary community exigencies,” it is the responsibility of public authorities “to look for a solution, with the active participation of individuals and social groups.” "


"Let recognition be given to the fact that international order is rooted in the inalienable rights and dignity of the human being. Let the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights be ratified by all governments who have not yet adhered to it, and let it be fully observed by all."

"War / Nonviolence

Ancient divisions between nations and empires, between races and classes, today possess new technological instruments of destruction. The arms race is a threat to man’s highest good, which is life; it makes poor peoples and individuals yet more miserable, while making richer those already powerful; it creates a continuous danger of conflagration, and in the case of nuclear arms it threatens to destroy all life from the face of the earth."


Our faith demands of us a certain sparingness in use, and the Church is obliged to live and administer its own goods in such a way that the Gospel is proclaimed to the poor. If instead the Church appears to be among the rich and the powerful of this world its credibility is diminished.

We have nevertheless been able to perceive the serious injustices which are building around the world of men a network of domi­nation, oppression and abuses which stifle freedom and which keep the greater part of humanity from sharing in the building up and enjoyment of a more just and more fraternal world.

Unless combatted and overcome by social and political action, the influence of the new industrial and technological order favors the concentration of wealth, power and decision-making in the hands of a small public or private controlling group."

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