Pope Francis’ Call for Sustainable, Integral Development

Check out these highlights from this excellent speech by the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, at the Global Responsibility 2030 conference meeting in Germany:

  • Sustainable development is one of the greatest challenges facing the human family.
  • It is no longer sufficient to measure human progress only in terms of a growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP was always an inadequate measure of well-being. As a gross measure, it ignored significant variations of outcomes among sub-populations – and we now have disastrous gaps between the super-rich and the utterly destitute. As a single measure, it always ignored other essential foundations of well-being.
  • Social inclusion and environmental sustainability are intrinsic to true development.
  • True development must be sustainable development. It must rest on three legs—economic, social, and environmental. And if one leg is neglected, then the entire structure collapses.
  • Sustainable development calls for a world in which economic progress is widespread, poverty is eliminated, the resources of the earth are shared fairly, the environment is protected from human-induced degradation, and all people can flourish.
  • The problem, says Pope Francis, is not so much the market economy itself, but the ideology that too often lies behind it—the “deified market” or the “magical conception of the market” which resist the necessary political oversight and regulation.
  • The solution, according to Catholic social teaching, is to choose solidarity over self-interest, the common good over profit maximization, integral human development over materialism, and sustainability over short-termism. That does not mean rejecting the market; it does mean recognizing its clear limits, and keeping it under human and ethical control.
  • In Catholic social teaching, integral human development refers to the development of the whole person and every person. Such multi-faceted development goes well beyond an ever-expanding GDP, even a better-distributed one, and merely economic or material progress. It encompasses the cultural, social, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, and religious dimensions. It is an invitation for each person on the planet to flourish, to use the gifts given to them by God to become who they were meant to be.
  • Pope Francis is calling on all people to pursue a kind of progress that is more integral, more sustainable, and ultimately more worthwhile.
  • Rapacious profits are not intrinsic to well-functioning markets; corruption, bribery, and cruelty are not intrinsic to well-functioning markets. Indeed, the opposite is true.
  • Overcoming the interrelated social and environmental crises will require a wholly different attitude—a cultural revolution, he says. By this, the Holy Father does not mean a naïve rejection of technology and the benefits of modern society. No, he means putting human ingenuity in the service of a better kind of progress—one that is healthier, more human, more social, and more integral. In turn, this calls for us to overturn what he calls the myths of modernity—individualism, unlimited progress, competition, consumerism, a market without rules.
  • Pope Francis is calling for sustainable development, yes, but ultimately for a deeper vision of what is to be served by that development: the Earth returned to its health and beauty, home for all our future generations.

Pope Encourages Integral Development, Solidarity, and Economic Redistribution by the State

Pope Francis met with a number of representatives from the United Nations today, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Here are some of the key points he made in his address to the UN delegation.

Pope Francis explained how future development goals should reflect a commitment to integral development:

Future Sustainable Development Goals must therefore be formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the “economy of exclusion”, the “throwaway culture” and the “culture of death” which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.

He argues that it is the spirit of solidarity and sharing, along with recognition of the dignity of all, that should guide us:

The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions? Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others…Equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level.

Finally, he explicitly highlighted the responsibility of the state to engage in economic redistribution, while also highlighting the responsibilities of the international community, private sector, and civil society:

A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.


Quote of the Day

Ambassador Samantha Power: “A woman in a poor country is still fifteen times more likely to die giving birth than her wealthier counterpart. That is just wrong: for any mother anywhere, a bank account should never spell the difference between death and life.”

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Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Subsidiarity and Libertarian “Small Government” by James Baresel, The Distributist Review

“Subsidarity is suspicious of centralized big business even more than it is suspicious of centralized big government. Subsidiarity would, in fact, prefer an expansion of government to the expansion of big business.”

All Good Things by David Frum

“Here are five essential tasks to commence before conservative reform truly rolls forward…Conservative reformers need to do a better job of starting with the problem and working forward, not starting with the answer and working backward…But one of the lessons I think conservatives should take from the 2012 Romney defeat is that the increasing concentration of wealth in America has dangerous political and intellectual consequences…Conservative reformers must not absent themselves from the environmental debate…Conservative reformers should make their peace with universal health coverage…conservative reformers should admit, if only to themselves, the harm that has been done by the politics of total war over the past five years.”

President of USCCB Joins Other Bishops’ Conferences in Letter to Leaders of G8 Nations; Urges Them to Protect the Poor, Address Fair Trade, Transparency

“Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, joined the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the Group of 8 nations (G8) to urge national leaders to protect the poor and assist developing countries at the upcoming G8 Summit in the United Kingdom”

Vatican’s U.N. observer stresses need to eradicate world hunger By Catholic News Service

“Finding a solution to the ‘ongoing scandal’ of worldwide hunger should be a top priority, said the Vatican’s representative to the United Nations.”

Things Modesty Hasn’t a Damn Thing to Do With by Bad Catholic, Patheos

“But almost everyone who has the courage to lift their heads above apathy’s drowning pool and talk about modesty at all — Christian, feminist, atheist, the lot — expresses the virtue as a thing primarily determined by its effect on the other, as if total modesty was, by way of dress, the ability to not tempt a man into lust. Thus seems to me the saddest, most hopeless definition of them all.”

Pope nixes ‘boring’ practice of reading text to students, uses Q&A by CNS

“He urged everyone to try to live more simply saying, ‘In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it’s incomprehensible how there can be so many hungry children, so many children without an education, so many poor.’

Extreme poverty in the world ‘is a scandal’ and ‘a cry’ for help, he said. That is why ‘each one of us must think how we can become a little bit poorer’ and more like Christ.”

Is comic Jim Gaffigan the Catholic Church’s newest evangelizer?  by Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post

“Gaffigan seems to effortlessly embody the idea the Catholic Church and other denominations are desperately promoting: You can be a devout member of mainstream American life. You don’t have to leave God in order to live in the regular world.”

The City of God? by Archbishop Vincent G. Nichols

“Our relationships are an intrinsic part of who we are. As human beings we are not just individuals. We are each born into a human community and find our deepest fulfillment as persons in relationship to others, and I would add, to God. This idea is central to the Judeo-Christian vision of humanity created in the image and likeness of God, who is a communion of persons.”

It’s Cuomo vs. Dolan in NY Abortion Fight by Kevin Clarke, America

“The governor is now set on a course toward an epic confrontation with the state’s leading Catholic prelate, N.Y. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who previously promised Cuomo that he would do all in his power to prevent an expansion of abortion rights in New York.”

Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan, Advocate for the Poor, Dies at 83 by NY Times

“In the late 1980s, as whole neighborhoods were being ravaged by AIDS, drug abuse and crime, Bishop Sullivan went to Washington to testify before Congress about the plight many people were facing.”

Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes by BBC News

“For 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It’s like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.”