Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pope John XXIII: "Pacem in Terris" and World Government

Pacem in Terris - Peace on Earth
Encyclical issued by Pope John XXIII, April 11, 1963

Notable quotations

The common good is chiefly guaranteed when personal rights and duties are maintained. The chief concern of civil authorities must therefore be to ensure that these rights are acknowledged, respected, coordinated with other rights, defended and promoted, so that in this way each one may more easily carry out his duties. For "to safeguard the inviolable rights of the human person, and to facilitate the fulfillment of his duties, should be the chief duty of every public authority." 

This means that, if any government does not acknowledge the rights of the human person or violates them, it not only fails in its duty, but its orders completely lack juridical force. 

This statement of St. Augustine seems to be very apt in this regard: "What are kingdoms without justice but large bands of robbers." 

Beginning our discussion of the rights of man, we see that every person has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and finally the necessary social services. Therefore a human being also has the right to security in cases of sickness, inability to work, widowhood, old age, unemployment, or in any other case in which one is deprived of the means of subsistence through no fault of one's own. 

Any human society, if it is to be well-ordered and productive, must lay down as a foundation this principle, namely, that every human being is a person; that is, human nature is endowed with intelligence and free will. Indeed, precisely because one is a person one has rights and obligations flowing directly and simultaneously from one's very nature. And as these rights and obligations are universal and inviolable, so they cannot in any way be surrendered. 

It is also demanded by the common good that civil authorities should make earnest efforts to bring about a situation in which individual citizens can easily exercise their rights and fulfill their duties as well. For experience has taught us that, unless these authorities take suitable action with regard to economic, political and cultural matters, inequalities between the citizens tend to become more and more widespread, especially in the modern world, and as a result human rights are rendered totally ineffective and the fulfillment of duties is compromised. 

 In our own day, however, mutual relationships between States have undergone a far reaching change. On the one hand, the universal common good gives rise to problems of the utmost gravity, complexity and urgency—especially as regards the preservation of the security and peace of the whole world. On the other hand, the rulers of individual nations, being all on an equal footing, largely fail in their efforts to achieve this, however much they multiply their meetings and their endeavors to discover more fitting instruments of justice. And this is no reflection on their sincerity and enterprise. It is merely that their authority is not sufficiently influential. We are thus driven to the conclusion that the shape and structure of political life in the modern world, and the influence exercised by public authority in all the nations of the world are unequal to the task of promoting the common good of all peoples... One of the fundamental duties of civil authorities, therefore, is to coordinate social relations in such fashion that the exercise of one person's rights does not threaten others in the exercise of their own rights nor hinder them in the fulfillment of their duties. 

There is a social duty essentially inherent in the right of private property. 

The natural rights with which We have been dealing are, however, inseparably connected, in the very person who is their subject, with just as many respective duties; and rights as well as duties find their source, their sustenance and their inviolability in the natural law which grants or enjoins them.... Once this is admitted, it also follows that in human society to one man's right there corresponds a duty in all other persons: the duty, namely, of acknowledging and respecting the right in question. For every fundamental human right draws its indestructible moral force from the natural law, which in granting it imposes a corresponding obligation. Those, therefore, who claim their own rights, yet altogether forget or neglect to carry out their respective duties, are people who build with one hand and destroy with the other. 

Since men are social by nature they are meant to live with others and to work for one another's welfare. A well-ordered human society requires that men recognize and observe their mutual rights and duties. It also demands that each contribute generously to the establishment of a civic order in which rights and duties are more sincerely and effectively acknowledged and fulfilled. It is not enough, for example, to acknowledge and respect every man's right to the means of subsistence if we do not strive to the best of our ability for a sufficient supply of what is necessary for his sustenance. 

It is in keeping with their dignity as persons that human being should take an active part in government. 

If we turn our attention to the economic sphere it is clear that man has a right by the natural law not only to an opportunity to work, but also to go about his work without coercion. 

Indeed since the whole reason for the existence of civil authorities is the realization of the common good, it is clearly necessary that, in pursuing this objective, they should respect its essential elements, and at the same time conform their laws to the circumstances of the day. (Alan: Consider the overlooked Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." I doubt there is a "conservative" in America who acknowledges that the Constitution's "mission statement" posits the fundament of "promoting the general Welfare.")

Today the universal common good presents us with problems which are world-wide in their dimensions; problems, therefore, which cannot be solved except by a public authority with power, organization and means co-extensive with these problems, and with a world-wide sphere of activity. Consequently the moral order itself demands the establishment of some such general form of public authority.

The dignity of the human person involves the right to take an active part in public affairs and to contribute one's part to the common good of the citizens. For, as Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius XII, pointed out: "The human individual, far from being an object and, as it were, a merely passive element in the social order, is in fact, must be and must continue to be, its subject, its foundation and its end." 

Furthermore--and this must be specially emphasized--the worker has a right to a wage determined according to criteria of justice, and sufficient, therefore, in proportion to the available resources, to give workers and their families a standard of living in keeping with the dignity of the human person. 

Since women are becoming ever more conscious of their human dignity, they will not tolerate being treated as mere material instruments, but demand rights befitting a human person both in domestic and in pubic life. 

It is clearly laid down that the paramount task assigned to government officials is that of recognizing, respecting, reconciling, protecting and promoting the rights and duties of citizens. 

Once again we exhort our people to take an active part in public life, and to contribute towards the attainment of the common good of the entire human family as well as to that of their own country. They should endeavor, therefore, in the light of the Faith and with the strength of love, to ensure that the various institutions--whether economic, social, cultural or political in purpose -- should be such as not to create obstacles, but rather to facilitate or render less arduous people's "perfectioning" of themselves both in the natural order as well as in the supernatural.

The government should make similarly effective efforts to see that those who are able to work can find employment in keeping with their aptitudes, and that each worker receives a wage in keeping with the laws of justice and equity. It should be equally the concern of civil authorities to ensure that workers be allowed their proper responsibility in the work undertaken in industrial organization, and to facilitate the establishment of intermediate groups which will make social life richer and more effective.


"Pacem in Terris" (in its entirety) is available at

Pope Benedict XVI and global political authority -

Vatican Raps “Idolatry of the Market” -  (In addition to humankind's "sinful nature," contemporary moral corruption is disproportionately predicated on Capitalism's promotion of The Seven Deadly Sins. The Military-Industrial Complex is existentially reliant upon Wrath while Capitalism's other tentacles depend on Envy, Avarice, Gluttony and Lust. The inability of conservative Christians to see this truth derives from their refusal to grapple with systemic immorality, insisting instead that all morality is personal and, by extension, that salvation plays out only within an individual's soul. See "Algorithms and The Anti-Christ" -

Conservative Christians cling to "absolutes" - often as absurd as Santorum's new "cause" - in order to justify their ignorance of the world's complexity and the moral onus imposed by complexity itself. The most egregious form of self-imposed ignorance is Global Warming Denial but deliberate ignorance of complexity is the common theme of Christian traditionalists. Within "Christian Traditionalism" the core mandate is to cling to Impossibly Pure Principles so that there will be no need for social and political compromise, which are,  after all, "the work of Satan Himself." And so, they are intransigently persuaded that radical individualism (within the confines of their self-designated "churches") comprises the entire substance of "doing God's Will."

"The terrible thing about our time is precisely the ease with which theories can be put into practice.  The more perfect, the more idealistic the theories, the more dreadful is their realization.  We are at last beginning to rediscover what perhaps men knew better in very ancient times, in primitive times before utopias were thought of: that liberty is bound up with imperfection, and that limitations, imperfections, errors are not only unavoidable but also salutary. The best is not the ideal.  Where what is theoretically best is imposed on everyone as the norm, then there is no longer any room even to be good.  The best, imposed as a norm, becomes evil.”
Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton

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