XIV. SOCIAL JUSTICE
48. Social Justice: Purpose and Ways and Means; Peace; Economic Development; Culture
- The Church should take an active role in striving to provide for “the common good”, ensuring the human person is at the heart of all social institutions, thus striving for economic balance and development, and also seeking world peace based on justice and charity.
A. The Common Good, Social Institutions, the Human Person.
a. The Common Good. The Church and Society must always strive for the “common good”, which is “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members (men, families, and associations) relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment” or “more adequately and readily . . . attain their own perfection” (GS26; GS74).
b. Social Institutions.
i. The Human Person: Goal. Now “the subject and the goal of all social institutions is and must be the human person” (GS25).
ii. The Social Order: Trust, Justice, Love, Freedom. This being so, the social order “must be founded on truth, built on justice and animated by love [and] in freedom it should grow every day toward a more humane balance” (GS26).
iii. Spiritual Aim: in Hierarchy. Now all “human institutions [must] be accommodated by degrees to the highest of all realities – spiritual ones” (GS29).
iv. Equality of Distribution: Governments. As for governments, they must remember that “the right of having a share of earthly goods sufficient for oneself and one's family belongs to everyone” (GS69), and thus should ensure the “shar[ing] [of] earthly goods [and] support [of] individuals or peoples with the aid by which they may be able to help and develop themselves” (GS69).
v. Universal Concern. This necessitates that they “take account of the needs and legitimate aspirations of other groups, and even of the general welfare of the entire human family” (GS26).
vi. Empowerment. But all must strive to give “internal strength to human associations which are just” (GS42).
vii. Research. Christians must also “initiate research on social and public practices which should be improved in line with the spirit of the Gospel” (AA14).
viii. Moral Authority Necessary. The only way to accomplish this is through the establishment of “an authority to direct the energies of all citizens toward the common good”. However, it cannot be accomplished “in a mechanical or despotic fashion, but by acting above all as a moral force which appeals to each one's freedom and sense of responsibility” (GS74). This is a role which the Church must take upon Herself, though it would be helpful to unite with other Religions and Men of Good Will to achieve this goal.
c. Human Individuals.
i. The Human Person: Goal. Likewise, “it remains each man's duty to retain an understanding of the whole human person in which the [spiritual] values of intellect, will, conscience and fraternity are preeminent” (GS61).
ii. Equality of Distribution. Individuals too must ensure that “attention . . . always be paid to this universal destination of earthly goods” (GS69). Thus each “man should regard the external things that he legitimately possesses not only as his own but also as common in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others” (GS69). Therefore, “[all] individuals [should] share and employ their earthly goods, according to the ability of each, especially by supporting individuals or peoples with the aid by which they may be able to help and develop themselves” (GS69).
d. Works. The faithful should engage in “rightly regulating the affairs of social and economic life [such as] working toward the uplifting of human dignity, and toward better living conditions” (AG12), as well as join and help “peoples who, waging war on famine, ignorance, and disease, are struggling to better their way of life and to secure peace in the world” (AG12). They should also “be eager to offer prudent aid to projects sponsored by [various groups]” (AG12).
e. Cooperation with Men of Good Will. Finally, “the faithful [should] exert their influence in their own milieu to arouse a ready willingness to cooperate with the international community” to achieve social justice, “motivated solely by the desire to be of service to all” (GS89).
B. Economic Development.
a. Economic Equality. Because of the “demands of justice and equity”, “the immense economic inequalities” must be removed (GS66).
i. Scandal. Furthermore, “countries with a majority of citizens who are counted as Christians [should never] have an abundance of wealth, whereas others are deprived of the necessities of life” (GS88), for this is completely contrary to the Gospel and is a “scandal”.
ii. Development. It is through such “socio-economic development” that all involved will “make a great contribution to the prosperity of mankind” (GS72).
iii. Peace: Goal. For all this “contributes” to “the peace of the world” (GS72).
b. Duties and Roles of Advanced Nations.
i. Aid: Human and Financial. “Advanced nations”, for their part, must grant “human and financial aids” with the “aid of foreign specialists” (GS 85). They should also provide “gifts, loans or investments” (GS85) ensuring all assistance given be given “with generosity and without greed” (GS85). They should also set up a procedure for “collecting and distributing aids” (GS88).
ii. Organizations. They should also “set up [organizations] to foster and regulate international business affairs” and to “compensate for . . . excessive inequality” (GS86c).
iii. Other Aids (Technical, Cultural). They should provide “technical” and “cultural” aid as well (GS86c).
iv. Education. Assistance should not end with aid, but citizens of nations should be prepared “by education and professional training to discharge the various tasks of economic and social life” (GS85).
v. Profit: Assistance in Obtaining. Thus, people should be “helped both to increase and to market what they produce, and to introduce the necessary development and renewal and also obtain a fair income” (GS66).
vi. Labour Standards: Goal. It is hoped by all of this that “income may grow, working conditions . . . be improved, security in employment increased, and an incentive to working on one's own initiative given” (GS71).
vii. Relationship. Finally, such nations should act as “helpers and fellow-workers”, not as “overlords” (GS85), for “relations among peoples should be a genuine fraternal exchange in which each party is at the same time a giver and a receiver” (AA14).
c. Duties and Roles of Developing Nations.
i. Self-Help and Self-Reliance. “Developing nations”, on the other hand, must rely less on “foreign aid” and more on their own “labor and genius” and the “full utilization of their own resources” and the “development of their own culture and traditions” (GS86).
ii. Ways and Means. They must receive assistance “with complete honesty”, and all which that entails, and remain “outstanding” in their “influence on other [nations]” (GS85).
d. Widespread Participation. But “at every level the largest possible number of people and . . . all nations [should] have an active share in directing [economic] development” (GS65).
a. Based on Justice. Since “peace results from [just] order structured into human society” (GS78), the Church must pursue and aim for justice.
b. Fruit of Love. “Peace is likewise the fruit of love, which goes beyond what justice can provide”, and thus, “Christians [must] do in love what the truth requires” (GS78). Thus “peace [must be] based on justice and love” (GS77).
c. Instruments of Peace. Christians must also help in “setting up the instruments of peace” (GS77).
d. Participation and Example. Christians must “give a shining example” of pursuing “peace” through taking an “active part in present socio-economic development and fight for justice and charity” (GS72).
i. Universal Respect and Brotherhood. This justice requires that “personal well-being [be] safeguarded” and that all “respect other men and peoples and their dignity, as well as the studied practice of brotherhood” (GS78).
e. Cooperation with Men of Good Will. They must also “join with all true peacemakers in pleading for peace and bringing it about” (GS78).
a. Fulfillment of Man. “Human culture must . . . both develop the whole human person and aid man in those duties to whose fulfillment all are called (GS 56), such as “growth of the faculty of admiration, of intuition, of contemplation, of making personal judgment, [and] of developing a religious, moral and social sense” (GS59).
i. Unity. It should “especially” lead to man’s fulfillment in fostering “Christians fraternally united in one human family” (GS56).
b. Subordinated to Man and Society. Thus, “culture is to be subordinated to the integral perfection of the human person, to the good of the community and of the whole society” (GS59).
i. Role of Christians. Christians should be “working diligently for fundamental decisions to be taken in economic and political affairs . . . which will everywhere recognize and satisfy the right of all to a human and social culture in conformity with the dignity of the human person” (GS60) as well as “provide all with quantity of cultural benefits” (GS60).
c. Leisure. Finally, all should ensure “leisure be used properly to relax, to fortify the health of soul and body through spontaneous study and activity, through tourism which refines man's character and enriches him with understanding of others, through sports activity which helps to preserve equilibrium of spirit even in the community, and to establish fraternal relations among men of all conditions, nations and races” (GS61).
a. Respect for the Human Person. Employers must make sure that labour does not consist of “the mere increase of products nor profit or control but rather [be at] the service of man . . . with regard for the full range of his material needs and the demands of his intellectual, moral, spiritual, and religious life” (GS64).
b. Sufficient Wages. Thus, the employer must first of all make it his primary concern that his employee is paid so he can “cultivate worthily his own material, social, cultural, and spiritual life and that of his dependents . . . ” (GS67)
c. Providing for Rest and Leisure. . . . and secondly, ensure he “enjoys sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate [his] familial, cultural, social and religious life” (GS67).
d. Providing Opportunities. In relation to the job itself, labourers must be given “the opportunity . . . to unfold their own abilities and personality through the performance of their work [and] to develop the energies and potentialities which perhaps they cannot bring to much fruition in their professional work” (GS67).
e. Involvement and Participation. Finally, employers should promote “the active sharing of all in the administration and profits” in various ways (GS68) make sure “the workers . . . have a share also in determining [economic and social] conditions in person or through freely elected delegates” (GS68).