Populorum Progressio 42: A Full-Bodied Humanism

In some church circles, “humanism” is a dirty word. But it’s not. Eminently Christian, given how we are made.

42. The ultimate goal is a full-bodied humanism. (Cf., for example, J. Maritain,L’humanisme intégral, Paris: Aubier (1936) [Eng. tr. True Humanism, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons (1938)].) And does this not mean the fulfillment of the whole (person) and of every (person)?

Fulfillment is the essence of God’s intent for us, as a species and as individuals.

A narrow humanism, closed in on itself and not open to the values of the spirit and to God who is their source, could achieve apparent success, for (people) can set about organizing terrestrial realities without God. But “closed off from God, they will end up being directed against (others). A humanism closed off from other realities becomes inhuman.” (Cf. H. de Lubac, S.J., Le drame de l’humanisme athée, 3rd ed., Paris: Spes (1945), 10 [Eng. tr. The Drama of Atheistic Humanism, London: Sheed and Ward (1949), 7])

God has made us for higher purposes than we would find on our own as individuals, apart from the Almighty:

True humanism points the way toward God and acknowledges the task to which we are called, the task which offers us the real meaning of human life. (Humankind) is not the ultimate measure of (human). (A person) becomes truly (human) only by passing beyond (*themselves). In the words of Pascal: “Man infinitely surpasses man.” (Pensées, ed. Brunschvicg, n. 434; cf. Maurice Zundel, L’homme passe l’homme, Le Caire: Editions du lien (1944).)

This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link.

The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.

About catholicsensibility

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