Building peace according to the Social Doctrine of the Church


(from Alphonsian Academy blog)

In 1961, in Mater et magistra, John XXIII dealt with a new phenomenon that he called “socialization”, meaning the intensification of relations and interdependence between human beings within the same State and at the global level (nn. 45 ff.).

Within the same State, the Pope noted, for example, the growing share of social spending fueled by taxation, which makes the members of a society increasingly interdependent through education, health care, social security systems and the various other forms that characterize the “welfare state.”

At the international level, at the beginning of the 60s, there were similar developments in the multiplication of states previously colonized, which had gained new independence and which asked to participate in the collective management of the world by joining the UN without, however, for many of them, being able to concretely contribute to really and somewhat influencing the decision-making process (Francis, Address to the UN, 25.09.2015).

The efforts of humanity for greater cooperation and unity and the institutions that manifest this commitment are considered by John XXIII and the subsequent Magisterium “signs of the times” for the Church as “what is good in today’s social dynamism” in terms of movement towards unity, the progress of healthy socialization and civil and economic solidarity,  it corresponds to his intimate mission because the Church is “in Christ almost a sacrament …  of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race”. For this reason, the Church considers with great respect all that is true, good and right in the institutions that humanity has given itself and wants to help its success (Cfr.  Gaudium et Spes, No.  42).

What John XXIII called “socialization”, glimpsing the prodromes of globalization in its positive aspects, later disappeared as a term from the Social Doctrine of the Church. However, the reality of growing interdependence/globalization has not disappeared, which, to maintain its positive aspects, requires being guided by virtue of solidarity.

To this end, beginning with John XXIII, the Church has always insisted on the need for a union of sovereign States that would give life to a true universal public authority, “recognized by all, endowed with effective power capable of ensuring security for all, respect for justice and the guarantee of rights” (Gaudium et Spes,  No.  82) that, according to the principle of subsidiarity, it does not limit or replace States in their sphere of competence, but contributes to the creation in the world of an environment in which each individual political community with its respective citizens, can fulfil its duties and exercise its rights with complete security (Pacem in terris, n.  74). For this reason, in order not to give rise to a dangerous universal power of a monocratic type, this authority should be organized in a subsidiary and polyarchic way, articulated on several levels that collaborate with each other, in order not to harm the freedom of anyone, but also to be concretely effective (Caritas in Veritate, n.  57) in pursuing its sole raison d’être, which is the common good of the human family (Pacem in Terris, no.  51-55;  Sollicitudo rei socialis n.  43), “at the service of human rights, freedom and peace” (John Paul II, 2003).

It is inevitable to note that the difficulties encountered, the indecision, sometimes the impotence of the international community in firmly undertaking the path to give life to such an organism has favoured the current global interdependence characterized by the centrality of capital and the economy, by the madness of the neglect of an increasingly degraded environment, by the multiplication of pandemics, by the destruction of cultures, by the closure to migrants from poor countries in the face of the easy mobility of the richest peoples, from identity populisms, even from hints of de-globalization through economic protectionism, from the growing competition for dominance which, when exasperated, can lead to military conflict, an aspect already lucidly described, without being taken into serious consideration, by Quadragesimo anno in 1931 (cf. n.  108).

In the light of all this and of the grave danger of a nuclear conflict that humanity is running today, it is of absolute urgency to accept the umpteenth call of the Magisterium of the Church, which through the mouth of Pope Francis, prompts us to consider that: “Faced with the design of a globalization imagined as ‘spherical’, which levels differences and stifles localization,  it is easy for both nationalisms and hegemonic imperialisms to re-emerge. For globalization to benefit all, we must think about implementing a “multifaceted” form, supporting a healthy struggle for mutual recognition between the collective identity of each people and nation and globalization itself. At the same time, “The nation-state cannot be considered an absolute, as an island with respect to the surrounding context. In the current situation of globalization [… ], the nation-state is no longer able to procure the common good for its people on its own. The common good has become global, and nations must come together for their own benefit. When a supranational common good is clearly identified, a special legally and unanimously constituted authority is needed to facilitate its implementation” (Francis, 2019).

Leonardo Salutati

(the original is in Italian)


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