The Catholic Church and the Globalization of Solidarity
Cardinal Rodriguez leads a delegation to meet the German Chancellor before the G7 in 2007
by Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez
We continue to live in a world full of flagrant inequalities, and despite the production and the wealth, the latter is increasingly concentrated in fewer hands. Actually, a world is being created where the greediness of a few is leaving the majority on the margin of history.
There is a need to put an end to this scandal and take steps towards a sustainable model by humanizing globalization.
Since the 1960s, the social doctrine of the Church has incorporated the theme of DEVELOPMENT as one of the key dimensions of contemporary social ethics.
Blessed John XXIII already denounced the grave inequalities between the different regions of the planet and criticized the anti-birth policies that some wanted to use in order to tackle them. In this way he highlighted the worldwide dimension of the “social questions” which, until that time, had been overly limited to the industrialized countries.
This new viewpoint was expressed forcefully in the Constitution Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council: all the traditional themes of the social doctrine (labour, propriety, etc.) went on to occupy second place, while in first place the ethical category of “development” appeared to be the one that had to serve as the guiding principle for all the rest.
The Council defines authentic development with two requirements: it must be integral (i.e., it must respond not only to the economic and material needs, but also to the cultural, affective, ethical and spiritual needs of the human being), and it must have solidarity (so that it will reach all men and all peoples).
The positive, optimistic viewpoint of the Council is in contrast with the Encyclical Populorum Progressio of Paul VI, which, in a certain way, acts as its counterpoint.
Conceived as a document meant to explain the doctrine outlined earlier by Gaudium et Spes, it appeared to the conscience of humanity as an urgent call to action.
The encyclical denounces the commercial mechanisms that bring about the exploitation of the less advanced peoples; it criticizes rigid capitalism with its unlimited desire for profit; it calls for a radical, planned transformation of the economies of the Third World (also to keep them from ultimately finding a justification for the alternatives of violent revolution).
However, there are two points on which Paul VI insists in particular:
The obligation of the industrialized countries to help the poorest as compensation for unjustifiable behaviours in past eras and the need to build an international order based on justice, since development is the new name for peace.
The collegial effort, among others, of the Latin American Episcopate at its four general conferences, to apply Vatican II to the situation on that continent have to be situated along the lines of Populorum Progressio.
We, the Latin American Bishops, are the spokesmen for our peoples’ deep aspiration for liberation, and we see in this the voice of the poor that the Christians of the whole continent and the rest of the world cannot ignore.
The synthesis of human liberation and Christian salvation, of promotion and evangelization, has been adopted by various Synods during the papacies of Paul VI and John Paul II.
Unhappily, since John Paul II published Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 20 years after Populorum Progressio, things have not evolved towards anything better.
In seeking the causes of the scandalous contrast between the over development of the north and the underdevelopment of the south, the Pope pointed to the confrontation between the blocs existing at that time. The confrontation was multifaceted: political, economic, ideological and military. The mutual mistrust between the blocs led them to try and expand their areas of influence continuously by subjecting the peoples of the south to the dictates of their economic and strategic interests (neo-imperialism).
The eagerness for profit and the longing for power, which became the supreme, absolute values of our society, are in fact the most generalized, innate criteria of behaviour: they regulate both the spontaneous relations between individuals and groups, and relations between nations.
Pope John Paul II set a new system based on solidarity against this system of values that has competition as its backbone.
Caritas Internationalis has the responsibility to be the hands and heart of God in many parts of the world, especially among the most disadvantaged.
Its disinterested service, which is the fruit of acknowledging God’s love, is a guarantee that life, every life, has value. Hence the first way to globalize solidarity is TO GLOBALIZE RESPECT FOR LIFE and, I insist, every life.
RESOURCESAnnual Report 2010Strategic framework 2011-2015How Caritas works: Economic JusticeCSO development effectivenessEconomic justice on Caritas Blog