Pacem In Terris 63-64: Duty of Promoting the Rights of Individuals

Today in Pacem in Terris:

63. In addition, heads of States must make a positive contribution to the creation of an overall climate in which the individual can both safeguard (their) own rights and fulfill (their) duties, and can do so readily. For if there is one thing we have learned in the school of experience, it is surely this: that, in the modern world especially, political, economic and cultural inequities among citizens become more and more widespread when public authorities fail to take appropriate action in these spheres. And the consequence is that human rights and duties are thus rendered totally ineffective.

This experience would seem to be contrary to the beliefs and actions of our more recent American line-ups of political leaders. Both major parties seem more or less willing to let the inequities continue, impinging on rights and pushing duty into the background.

64. The public administration must therefore give considerable care and thought to the question of social as well as economic progress, and to the development of essential services in keeping with the expansion of the productive system. Such services include road-building, transportation, communications, drinking-water, housing, medical care, ample facilities for the practice of religion, and aids to recreation. The government must also see to the provision of insurance facilities, to obviate any likelihood of a citizen’s being unable to maintain a decent standard of living in the event of some misfortune, or greatly increased family responsibilities.

The government is also required to show no less energy and efficiency in the matter of providing opportunities for suitable employment, graded to the capacity of the workers. It must make sure that (workers) are paid a just and equitable wage, and are allowed a sense of responsibility in the industrial concerns for which they work. It must facilitate the formation of intermediate groups, so that the social life of the people may become more fruitful and less constrained. And finally, it must ensure that everyone has the means and opportunity of sharing as far as possible in cultural benefits.

The trick is to make government work as truly representative of all the people, to minimize the bias of lobbying (or to see that it is spread more fairly among all people) and other privileges. If this document were being revisited today, I suspect Pope Francis would address this carefully.

What do you make of public administration assisting in the development of “ample” religious facilities? Pope John doesn’t single out churches, does he?

About catholicsensibility

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