Pacem In Terris 35-36: Social Life in Truth, Justice, Charity and Freedom

Truth is paramount. Mark Shea finds himself getting hammered by select persons on the Catholic Right about it. But hey–they might have gone to war with Pope John, too:

35. Hence, before a society can be considered well-ordered, creative, and consonant with human dignity, it must be based on truth. St. Paul expressed this as follows: “Putting away lying, speak ye the truth every(one) with (their) neighbor, for we are members one of another.”( Eph. 4:25) And so will it be, if each (person) acknowledges sincerely (their) own rights and (their) own duties toward others.

Human society, as We here picture it, demands that (people) be guided by justice, respect the rights of others and do their duty. It demands, too, that they be animated by such love as will make them feel the needs of others as their own, and induce them to share their goods with others, and to strive in the world to make all (people) alike heirs to the noblest of intellectual and spiritual values. Nor is this enough; for human society thrives on freedom, namely, on the use of means which are consistent with the dignity of its individual members, who, being endowed with reason, assume responsibility for their own actions.

36. And so, dearest (children) and brothers, we must think of human society as being primarily a spiritual reality. By its means enlightened (individuals) can share their knowledge of the truth, can claim their rights and fulfill their duties, receive encouragement in their aspirations for the goods of the spirit, share their enjoyment of all the wholesome pleasures of the world, and strive continually to pass on to others all that is best in themselves and to make their own the spiritual riches of others. It is these spiritual values which exert a guiding influence on culture, economics, social institutions, political movements and forms, laws, and all the other components which go to make up the external community of (humankind) and its continual development.

These two sections are pretty rich, and I don’t have a lot of time to reflect and comment today. PiT 36 strikes me as pretty audacious to suggest that human society is primarily a spiritual reality. Spirituality is the engine that drives the good among human beings. Or at least, it is the means by which we cooperate with God most fully and fruitfully. Spiritual, but not religious? Interesting. What do you say?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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