Populorum Progressio 62-63: Nationalism And Racism

Under the heading of “The Obstacles of Nationalism,” we have two sections that treat a problem very much in the US forefront these days. We’ve probably always had it with us, but crazy anti-Christian sentiment is rife within groups that would see themselves as faithful believers.

62. There are other obstacles to creation of a more just social order and to the development of world solidarity: nationalism and racism. It is quite natural that nations recently arrived at political independence should be quite jealous of their new-found but fragile unity and make every effort to preserve it. It is also quite natural for nations with a long-standing cultural tradition to be proud of their traditional heritage. But this commendable attitude should be further ennobled by love, a love for the whole family of (humankind). Haughty pride in one’s own nation disunites nations and poses obstacles to their true welfare.

The key adjective here is “haughty.” When pride turns a person, a community, or a nation inward on itself and looks away as others struggle and suffer, any sort of human heritage (let alone a godly one) is frittered away.

It is especially harmful where the weak state of the economy calls for a pooling of information, efforts and financial resources to implement programs of development and to increase commercial and cultural interchange. . . . and Racism

63. Racism is not the exclusive attribute of young nations, where sometimes it hides beneath the rivalries of clans and political parties, with heavy losses for justice and at the risk of civil war. During the colonial period it often flared up between the colonists and the indigenous population, and stood in the way of mutually profitable understanding, often giving rise to bitterness in the wake of genuine injustices. It is still an obstacle to collaboration among disadvantaged nations and a cause of division and hatred within countries whenever individuals and families see the inviolable rights of the human person held in scorn, as they themselves are unjustly subjected to a regime of discrimination because of their race or their color.

This is a curious paragraph to me. I’ve always lived in a First World nation and for decades I’ve seen in cities, suburbs, and rural America a tragic disregard for people “not like us.” Europe had serious problems in the last century, and that still persists today, especially when native populations perceive a threat from people of other cultures.

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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