A brief thought on progress. Do we see it in collecting material wealth? Sometimes yes. A couple is able to buy a bigger home to house a growing family. Sometimes not: the family size is the same, but the mansion never has guests and the extra rooms are just for show. Does a person make progress getting promoted from multi-millionaire to billionaire? These would be the questions to ask.
Neither individuals nor nations should regard the possession of more and more goods as the ultimate objective. Every kind of progress is a two-edged sword. It is necessary if (a person)is to grow as a human being; yet it can also enslave (them), if (they) come to regard it as the supreme good and cannot look beyond it. When this happens, (people) harden their hearts, shut out others from their minds and gather together solely for reasons of self-interest rather than out of friendship; dissension and disunity follow soon after.
Thus the exclusive pursuit of material possessions prevents (one’s) growth as a human being and stands in opposition to (a) true grandeur. Avarice, in individuals and in nations, is the most obvious form of stultified moral development.
This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link.