Pontiff: Primacy of People Comes First

Reflects on Social Doctrine of St. John Chrysostom

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Echoing the thought of St. John Chrysostom, Benedict XVI encouraged building a civilization founded upon the primacy of the human person and oriented toward solidarity.

The Pope said this today at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, as he continued his reflections on St. John Chrysostom, who was born around the year 349 and died in 407.

The Holy Father called Chrysostom “one of the great fathers of the Church’s social doctrine,” and explained how the saint intended to purify the idea of the Greek “polis,” with a Christian concept of the city.

He explained: “Chrysostom affirmed with Paul the primacy of the individual Christian, of the person as a person, including the slave and the poor man.

“His project corrected the traditional Greek view of the ‘polis,’ of the city, in which large portions of the population were excluded from the rights of citizenship. In the Christian city, all are brothers and sisters with equal rights.”

Benedict XVI affirmed that civilization should rest on the foundation of the person and his dignity.

“In the Greek ‘polis,’ on the other hand, the country was more important than the individual, who was totally subordinated to the city as a whole,” he explained. “In this way, with Chrysostom, the vision of a society built by the Christian conscience begins. And he tells us that our ‘polis’ is another, ‘our homeland is in heaven’ and this homeland of ours, even on this earth, renders us all equals, brothers and sisters, and obligates us to solidarity.”

The Pope also recalled what St. John Chrysostom taught about God’s plan for humanity: that it is inspired by the Creator’s love for his creatures.

“This is our certainty,” the Holy Father affirmed. “Even if we cannot decode the details of personal and collective history, we know that God’s plan is always inspired by love. Therefore, despite his sufferings, John Chrysostom reaffirmed the discovery that God loves every one of us with an infinite love, and therefore he desires the salvation of all.”

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