05/02/2007, 00.00
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The environment, respect of man’s dignity and recognition of spiritual values are today’s challe

In a message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Benedict XVI says that “everything that the earth produces and all that man transforms and manufactures, all his knowledge and technology, is meant to serve the material and spiritual development and fulfilment of the human family and all its members.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – For Pope Benedict XVI, humanity today faces three challenges: the environment and sustainable development, respect for human rights and man’s dignity, and the recognition and sharing of spiritual values, and they can be met if relations between peoples and nations are based on justice and charity. He made these points in a message, Charity and Justice in the Relations among Peoples and Nations, he sent to the president of Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Mary Ann Glendon, for its 13th Plenary Session.

Certainly the building of a just society is the primary responsibility of the political order, both in individual states and in the international community,” the Pope wrote. And the Church wants to “help form consciences and stimulate a greater response to the genuine requirements of justice,” convinced that “even in the most just society, there will always be a place for charity.”

The Church’s teaching, which is “addressed not only to believers but to all people of good will [. . .] appeals to right reason and a sound understanding of human nature in proposing principles capable of guiding individuals and communities in the pursuit of a social order marked by justice, freedom, fraternal solidarity and peace.

At the heart of that teaching, there “is the principle of the universal destination of all the goods of creation. According to this fundamental principle, everything that the earth produces and all that man transforms and manufactures, all his knowledge and technology, is meant to serve the material and spiritual development and fulfilment of the human family and all its members.

From this perspective, Benedict XVI calls “attention to three specific challenges facing our world, challenges which I believe can only be met through a firm commitment to that greater justice which is inspired by charity.

“The first concerns the environment and sustainable development.” Knowing that the world’s resources are limited, what we need is the “capacity to assess and forecast, to monitor the dynamics of environmental change and sustainable growth, and to draw up and apply solutions at an international level. Particular attention must be paid to the fact that the poorest countries are likely to pay the heaviest price for ecological deterioration. [. . .] In meeting the challenges of environmental protection and sustainable development, we are called to promote and ‘safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic ‘human ecology’ (Centesimus Annus, 38). This in turn calls for a responsible relationship not only with creation but also with our neighbours, near and far, in space and time, and with the Creator.

This brings us to a second challenge “which involves our conception of the human person and consequently our relationships with one other. If human beings are not seen as persons, male and female, created in God’s image (cf. Gen 1:26) and endowed with an inviolable dignity, it will be very difficult to achieve full justice in the world.

A third challenge relates to the values of the spirit. “Pressed by economic worries, we tend to forget that, unlike material goods, those spiritual goods which are properly human expand and multiply when communicated: unlike divisible goods, spiritual goods such as knowledge and education are indivisible, and the more one shares them, the more they are possessed.

Globalisation has increased the interdependence of peoples, hence “the need for a dialogue,” which assumes “a just equality of opportunity, especially in the field of education and the transmission of knowledge, is urgently needed. Regrettably, education, especially at the primary level, remains dramatically insufficient in many parts of the world.

In concluding the Pope noted that “[t]o meet these challenges, only love for [one’s] neighbour can inspire within us justice at the service of life and the promotion of human dignity. Only love within the family, founded on a man and a woman, who are created in the image of God, can assure that inter-generational solidarity which transmits love and justice to future generations. Only charity can encourage us to place the human person once more at the centre of life in society and at the centre of a globalised world governed by justice.

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