Social Change Hinges on "Small Daily Options"

It Is Not Enough to Criticize, John Paul II Says

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VATICAN CITY, APR. 9, 2001 ( Christians must give «a human face to the global world,» John Paul II said today, as he warned about the challenges posed to society by globalization.

When the Pope addressed 4,000 university professors and students in an audience at the Vatican, he stressed the need «to understand the positive aspects, without ignoring the dangers» of globalization.

«The economy cannot dictate the models and rhythms of development and, although it is a duty to provide for material needs, they must never suffocate the values of the spirit,» the Holy Father said.

«The true must prevail over the useful, good over well-being, liberty over fashions, the person over structures,» he added. «Moreover, it is not enough to criticize: It is necessary to go beyond; it is necessary to be builders.»

According to the Holy Father, «The Christian cannot limit himself to analyzing historical processes as they happen, maintaining a passive attitude, as if they were beyond his capacity to intervene, as if we were led by blind and impersonal forces.

«The believer is convinced that every human event is under God´s provident hand, who asks each one to collaborate with him in the orientation of history toward an end worthy of man.»

In order to respond to the questions posed by globalization, the Pontiff turned the questions around and asked: «How do I live the Christian faith? Is it just a collection of beliefs and devotions enclosed in the private sphere, or is it also a force which calls for translation into options that affect my relations with others?»

He added: «It is part of Christian realism to understand that great social changes are the result of small and courageous daily options. You often ask yourselves: When will our world be configured to the Gospel message? The answer is simple: When you, in the first place, act and think permanently like Christ, at least part of that world will be given to him in you.»

This is an antidote for what he called one of the clearest effects of globalization: the «uniformity that endangers personal liberties and national cultures themselves.»

The Bishop of Rome offered a solution: «To promote a global culture of those moral absolutes that are a person´s rights, it is necessary that each Christian begin with himself, making the effort to reflect the image of Christ in each one of his thoughts and deeds.»

As he bade farewell to the young people gathered in Paul VI Hall, John Paul II said: «The world is changed with holiness.»

The youths are in Rome at the invitation of the UNIV 2001 congress, a meeting of university students held annually since 1968. The congress is organized by the Institute for University Cooperation, an Italian group which promotes initiatives for development in many countries.

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