“Only the path of integration between peoples guarantees a future of peace and hope to humanity.” Pope Francis drew a line of continuity with his Predecessor Paul VI who, 50 years ago, wrote the encyclical Populorum Progression, in which the meaning was specified of “integral development,” stressed Francis. It was in fact the concept of integration that Francis wished to examine in his address to the participants in the Congress promoted by the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, whom he received yesterday, April 4, 2017, on the occasion of the anniversary of Montini’s encyclical.
“It is about integrating the different peoples of the earth,” stressed the Pope, explaining that “the duty of solidarity” imposes the search for “just ways of sharing” to not create inequalities. “Only the path of integration between peoples guarantees a future of peace and hope to humanity,” affirmed the Pontiff.
“It is about offering practicable models of social integration.” Important here is “the principle of subsidiarity,” which guarantees “the necessity of everyone’s contribution, either as individuals or as groups.”
However, integrated in development are all the different elements that render it truly such, added Francis: “the economy, finance, work, culture, family life, religion. According to the Holy Father, “none of them can be absolutized and none of them can be excluded from the concept of integral human development, which takes into account, namely, that human life is like an orchestra that sounds well if the different instruments are in accord with and follow one score shared by all.”
“It is also about integrating the individual and communal dimension,” he added. The Pontiff acknowledged that our Western culture ”has exalted the individual to the point of making him an island, almost as if one could be happy on one’s own.” Stemming from it are ideological visions and political powers” that “have squeezed the person, have standardized him, thus making room for “economic powers that wish to exploit globalization, instead of fostering greater sharing among men, simply to impose a global market of which they themselves dictate the rules and draw the profits.”
Francis reminded, instead, that “the I and the community are not concurrent between them, but the I can mature only in the presence of genuine interpersonal relations and the community is generator when is components are all and individually so.” A discourse that is “even more” valid for the family, “first cell of society in which one learns to live together.”
Finally, the Pontiff reflected on the integration between body and soul. Quoting Paul VI, he recalled that development is not only material goods and economic growth. To integrate the body and soul means, however, that no development endeavor can truly attain its purpose if it does not respect the place in which `God is present to us and speaks to our heart,” added Francis.
The Holy Father highlighted that “God made himself known fully in Jesus Christ: in Him God and man are not divided and separated between themselves. See, then, that with the Incarnation human life becomes “a concrete way of salvation.”
So “the manifestation of God in Christ,” including “His gestures of healing, liberation, reconciliation that today we are called to propose again to the many wounded on the side of the road” — continued the Pope –, the path and the way of the service that the Church intends to offer to the world: in its light one can understand what ‘integral’ development means, which does no wrong to God or to man, because it assumes all the consistency of both.”
In this context, “the concept of person, born and matured in Christianity, helps in fact to pursue a fully human development.” Moreover, the word “person” always means relation, not individualism; it affirms inclusion, not exclusion, a unique and inviolable dignity and not exploitation, freedom and not constriction.” Therefore, “the Church does not tire of offering this wisdom and her work to the world, in the awareness that integral development is the way of the good that the human family is called to follow,” he said.
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