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Thursday, 22 November 2007


I am particularly pleased to greet the participants in this Second World Congress of Ecclesial Organizations Working for Justice and Peace, convoked by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

I thank Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council, and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, Secretary, for this important initiative - now being held for the second time - and especially for choosing to reflect during it on Populorum Progressio on its 40th anniversary.

The "development of the whole man and of all men" (Populorum Progressio, n. 42): 40 years ago Paul VI wrote this shrewd insight, summing up what has always been the main concern of the Church, called to serve man, her principal "route", in accordance with the plan of love and truth of the divine Trinity.

I also thank all of you who are present here; your faces represent the many people and Organizations that work throughout the world to bring the light, word and hand of Christ to wherever justice and peace are endangered.

In addressing you, I also have in mind the "fruitful activity of many millions of people who, spurred on by the social Magisterium, have sought [and are seeking] to make that teaching the inspiration for their involvement in the world" (Centesimus Annus, n. 3) in defence of the human person and to build a more just and peaceful society.

Populorum Progressio has been an urgent appeal to broaden our horizons and face the global dimension of the social issue or, rather, the social question as a global issue.

The Encyclical also expressed very clearly the contribution the Church can make to the problem of development, which has now become a global problem.

The Church can give two fundamental things: a global vision of the human being and the commandment of love.

The first gift that the Church makes to the world belongs to the context of the truth: "Sharing the noblest aspirations of men and suffering when she sees these aspirations not satisfied, she wishes to help them attain their full realization. So she offers man her distinctive contribution: a global perspective on man and human realities (Populorum Progressio, n. 13).

This is a vision of reason, but above all of faith. Actually, the Church sees the entire process of development as oriented to God himself, or, as Populorum Progressio says, to "the acknowledgement by man of supreme values, and of God their source and their finality" (ibid., n. 21).

John Paul II wrote: "No authentic progress is possible without respect for the natural and fundamental right to know the truth and live according to that truth" (Centesimus Annus, n. 29).

The second gift belongs to the context of charity: "unity in the charity of Christ, who calls us all to share as sons in the life of the living God, the Father of all men" (Populorum Progressio, n. 21).

Together with the truth about man and his destiny, charity is the driving force for development, since "the individual who is animated by true charity labours skilfully to discover the causes of misery, to find the means to combat it, to overcome it resolutely" (Populorum Progressio, n. 75).

Truth and charity emanate from a single reality because, as Benedict XVI has taught us in Deus Caritas Est, God is Love and Truth.

In looking at the world reality as Populorum Progressio asks, at the truth about man and of love for man, we must never separate our attention for this individual person whom we have before us, for this specific situation of suffering and need, from attention to the broadest international and structural dynamics.

Man, who is the way of the Church, is not "man "in the abstract' but the "concrete' man", every individual human being (cf. Centesimus Annus, n. 53).

At the same time, however, he is linked to all men, his brothers, as is testified by the Church which gathers all her children into the one Body of Christ.

Reconciliation is one context of increasing commitment for the world's Christians in which this double, individual and universal, dimension is very obvious: reconciliation between ethnic groups and tribes in conflict on border regions or for the exploitation of natural resources; reconciliation between human groups on the outskirts of the megalopolises, growing at a dizzy pace; reconciliation between countries at war.

Many Christians are involved on this front: some act concretely, establishing structures for cooperation and development to solve the acute problems that divide people and factions and set them against one another; some act at the broader level of international relations, of the action of international organizations and even of governments.

Reconciliation frequently has development problems behind it and those who work for development also work for reconciliation.

Populorum Progressio also launched a great appeal for cooperation. The Encyclical called for "concerted action" (n. 13), meant both in the ethical sense as an expression of solidarity and in the social and economic sense as the ability to work together for a productive or commercial purpose.

This great proposal of the Encyclical is also entirely timely, both at the level of concrete and individual situations and at the wider level of international relations.

The capacity to cooperate is a positive force in development. In some areas, especially in Africa, backwardness is partly due to the difficulties the indigenous peoples have with internal cooperation in the area of finance and production.

On the other hand, people who, thanks to their culture, are more open to cooperation and hence to the reduction of entrepreneurial risk to large-scale economies, succeed in developing with greater ease.

Reconciliation promotes development because it encourages cooperation. It is easy to see this in individual concrete situations, but it is also evident in the large-scale international relations between peoples, nations and States.

International cooperation is not only the active assistance offered by the more developed countries to those that are less developed, but also cooperation between developing countries, or South-South development, as it is also called.

It is multilateralism as well, understood as a result of the ability to patiently build together a network of common regulations which favours growth and justice; it is also the productive economic encounter of the civil societies in countries which, in order to build together, do not wait for the "green light" from their respective governments but act autonomously.

Populorum Progressio's pressing invitation to cooperation, understood in this multiple sense, is another important factor of justice and peace.

Development, reconciliation and cooperation: in addition to these great messages, the Encyclical contains another one which I would like to point out to you and which I know is very present in your work at the service of justice and peace.

Populorum Progressio teaches that development does not only concern material aspects (cf. n. 14); it is necessary to consider culture too as a primary factor of development. Culture includes teaching, knowledge and technology, but especially a vision of the human being and of the community.

Cultural indifferentism does nothing for development because it does not encourage true intercultural dialogue. Development can be a valid arena for dialogue but it cannot advance if differences are concealed by superficial agreement.

It is imperative that the processes for justice and peace of our Organizations are never merely "action" but are nourished by Christian faith, by Christian prayer, by Christian theology and by a culture inspired by the teachings of Jesus Christ.