Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 2: A Shattered World, Part 1

In looking at the phenomenon of sin and division, John Paul II begins with a gaze into A Shattered World. If we glance back at 1984, we’ll find the synod and the pope of 37 years ago noticing much the same things we would see today:

2. These divisions are seen in the relationships between individuals and groups, and also at the level of larger groups: nations against nations and blocs of opposing countries in a headlong quest for domination. At the root of this alienation it is not hard to discern conflicts which, instead of being resolved through dialogue, grow more acute in confrontation and opposition.

Certainly the large-scale evils of the late twentieth century persist. Perhaps some settings have shifted, lines in the sand moved one way or the other, intensities waxed or waned. The underlying reasons for beginnings of conflict and the continuation of hostility continue, and the Holy Father’s listing here (bullet points mine) show a regard for the whole world, not just his own continent:

Careful observers, studying the elements that cause division, discover reasons of the most widely differing kinds:

  • from the growing disproportion between groups, social classes and-countries,
  • to ideological rivalries that are far from dead;
  • from the opposition between economic interests
  • to political polarization;
  • from tribal differences
  • to discrimination for social and religious reasons.

Moreover, certain facts that are obvious to all constitute as it were the pitiful face of the division of which they are the fruit and demonstrate its seriousness in an inescapably concrete way.

A sad procession of social wrongs that seem all too familiar for this century:

Among the many other painful social phenomena of our times one can noted.

  • The trampling upon the basic rights of the human person, the first of these being the right to life and to a worthy quality of life, which is all the more scandalous in that it coexists with a rhetoric never before known on these same rights.

  • Hidden attacks and pressures against the freedom of individuals and groups, not excluding the freedom which is most offended against and threatened: the freedom to have, profess and practice one’s own faith.

  • The various forms of discrimination: racial, cultural, religious, etc.

  • Violence and terrorism.

  • The use of torture and unjust and unlawful methods of repression.

  • The stockpiling of conventional or atomic weapons, the arms race with the spending on military purposes of sums which could be used to alleviate the undeserved misery of peoples that are socially and economically depressed.

  • An unfair distribution of the world’s resources and of the assets of civilization, which reaches its highest point in a type of social organization whereby the distance between the human conditions of the rich and the poor becomes ever greater.(Cf Pope John Paul II, opening speech at the Third General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate)

The overwhelming power of this division makes the world in which we live a world shattered to its very foundations.

And the footnote here acknowledges that people within the Christian fold and outside of it recognize things are not just broken:

(The idea of a “shattered world” is seen in the works of numerous contemporary writers, both Christian and non-Christian, witnesses of (the human) condition in this tormented period of history.)

This document is Copyright © 1984 – Libreria Editrice Vatican. The link on the Vatican site is here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Reconciliatio et Paenitentia. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s