Populorum Progressio 47: A World Of Free People

Economic activity, even rooted in a greater good for all, is not sufficient.

47. But these efforts, as well as public and private allocations of gifts, loans and investments, are not enough. It is not just a question of eliminating hunger and reducing poverty. It is not just a question of fighting wretched conditions, though this is an urgent and necessary task. It involves building a human community where (people) can live truly human lives, free from discrimination on account of race, religion or nationality, free from servitude to other (persons) or to natural forces which they cannot yet control satisfactorily. It involves building a human community where liberty is not an idle word, where the needy Lazarus can sit down with the rich man at the same banquet table. (Cf. Luke 16:19-31)

Pope Paul VI speaks here of something summed up in two words: human dignity. In the parable cited, Jesus illustrates the final end for someone best with need. Lazarus finds a place of honor with the most honored patriarch. The rich man is far off, and in pain.

To be sure, it is not just to gesture to that far off parable and suggest that in the end, everyone gets their just desserts at the banquet table. Or away from it. The urging of the present is to look deeper into oneself and check one’s actions and  inactions.

On the part of the rich, it calls for great generosity, willing sacrifice and diligent effort. Each (person) must examine (their) conscience, which sounds a new call in our present times. Is (a person) prepared to support, at (their) own expense, projects and undertakings designed to help the needy? Is (a person) prepared to pay higher taxes so that public authorities may expand their efforts in the work of development? Is (a person) prepared to pay more for imported goods, so that the foreign producer may make a fairer profit? Is (a person) prepared to emigrate from (a) homeland if necessary and if … young, in order to help the emerging nations?

Many people of the sixties were indeed willing to do this, for a set amount of time, and a few permanently. Is that less of a case today?

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.
This entry was posted in Populorum Progressio, social justice. Bookmark the permalink.

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