PACEM IN TERRIS
Encyclical Letter Of Pope John XXIII On Establishing Universal Peace In
Truth, Justice, Charity And Liberty To Our Venerable Brothers The
Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops And Other Local Ordinaries In
Peace And Communion With The Apostolic See To The Clergy And Faithful Of
The Whole World And To All Men Of Good Will.
Venerable Brothers and Beloved Children, Health and Apostolic Benediction
1. Peace on earth, which all men of every era have most eagerly yearned
for, can be firmly established only if the order laid down by God be
2. The progress of learning and the inventions of technology clearly show
that, both in living things and in the forces of nature, an astonishing
order reigns, and they also bear witness to the greatness of man, who can
understand that order and create suitable instruments to harness those
forces of nature and use them to his benefit.
3. But the progress of science and the inventions of technology show
above all the infinite greatness of God, Who created the universe and man
himself. He created all things out of nothing, pouring into them the
abundance of His wisdom and goodness, so that the holy psalmist praises
God in these words: O Lord our master, the majesty of thy name fills all
the earth. Elsewhere he says: What diversity, Lord, in thy creatures!
What wisdom has designed them all! God also created man in His own
image and likeness, endowed him with intelligence and freedom, and
made him lord of creation, as the same psalmist declares in the words:
Thou hast placed him only a little below the angels, crowning him with
glory and honor and bidding him rule over the works of thy hands. Thou
hast put all under his dominion.
4. How strongly does the turmoil of individual men and peoples contrast
with the perfect order of the universe! It is as if the relationships
which bind them together could be controlled only by force.
5. But the Creator of the world has imprinted in man's heart an order
which his conscience reveals to him and enjoins him to obey: This shows
that the obligations of the law are written in their hearts; their
conscience utters its own testimony. And how could it be otherwise?
For whatever God has made shows forth His infinite wisdom, and it is
manifested more clearly in the things which have greater perfection.
6. But fickleness of opinion often produces this error, that many think
that the relationships between men and States can be governed by the same
laws as the forces and irrational elements of the universe, whereas the
laws governing them are of quite a different kind and are to be sought
elsewhere, namely, where the Father of all things wrote them, that is, in
the nature of man.
7. By these laws men are most admirably taught, first of all how they
should conduct their mutual dealings among themselves, then how the
relationships between the citizens and the public authorities of each
State should be regulated, then how States should deal with one another,
and finally how, on the one hand individual men and States, and on the
other hand the community of all peoples, should act towards each other,
the establishment of such a community being urgently demanded today by
the requirements of universal common good.
8. First of all, it is necessary to speak of the order which should exist
9. 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, his nature is endowed with intelligence and free
will. Indeed, precisely because he is a person he has rights and
obligations flowing directly and simultaneously from his very nature.
And as these rights and obligations are universal and inviolable so they
cannot in any way be surrendered.
10. If we look upon the dignity of the human person in the light of
divinely revealed truth, we cannot help but esteem it far more highly;
for men are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, they are by grace the
children and friends of God and heirs of eternal glory.
11. Beginning our discussion of the rights of man, we see that every man
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 he is deprived of the means of subsistence
through no fault of his own.
12. By the natural law every human being has the right to respect for his
person, to his good reputation; the right to freedom in searching for
truth and in expressing and communicating his opinions, and in pursuit of
art, within the limits laid down by the moral order and the common good;
and he has the right to be informed truthfully about public events.
13. The natural law also gives man the right to share in the benefits of
culture, and therefore the right to a basic education and to technical
and professional training in keeping with the stage of educational
development in the country to which he belongs. Every effort should be
made to ensure that persons be enabled, on the basis of merit, to go on
to higher studies, so that, as far as possible, they may occupy posts and
take on responsibilities in human society in accordance with their
natural gifts and the skills they have acquired.
14. This too must be listed among the rights of a human being, to honor
God according to the sincere dictates of his own conscience, and
therefore the right to practice his religion privately and publicly. For
as Lactantius so clearly taught: "We were created for the purpose of
showing to the God Who bore us the submission we owe Him, of recognizing
Him alone, and of serving Him. We are obliged and bound by this duty to
God; from this religion itself receives its name." And on this point
Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII, declared: "This genuine,
this honorable freedom of the sons of God, which most nobly protects the
dignity of the human person, is greater than any violence or injustice;
it has always been sought by the Church, and always most dear to Her.
This was the freedom which the Apostles claimed with intrepid constancy,
which the Apologists defended with their writings, and which the Martyrs
in such numbers consecrated with their blood."
15. Human beings have the right to choose freely the state of life which
they prefer, and therefore the right to set up a family, with equal
rights and duties for man and woman, and also the right to follow a
vocation to the priesthood or the religious life.
16. The family, grounded on marriage freely contracted, monogamous and
indissoluble, is and must be considered the first and essential cell of
human society. From this it follows that most careful provision must be
made for the family both in economic and social matters as well as in
those which are of a cultural and moral nature, all of which look to the
strengthening of the family and helping it carry out its function.
17. Parents, however, have a prior right in the support and education of
18. 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.
19. To these rights is certainly joined the right to demand working
conditions in which physical health is not endangered, morals are
safeguarded, and young people's normal development is not impaired. Women
have the right to working conditions in accordance with their
requirements and their duties as wives and mothers.
20. From the dignity of the human person, there also arises the right to
carry on economic activities according to the degree of responsibility of
which one is capable. Furthermore--and this must be specially
emphasized--the worker has a right to a wage determined according to
criterions of justice, and sufficient, therefore, in proportion to the
available resources, to give the worker and his family a standard of
living in keeping with the dignity of the human person. In this regard,
Our Predecessor Pius XII said: "To the personal duty to work imposed by
nature, there corresponds and follows the natural right of each
individual to make of his work the means to provide for his own life and
the lives of his children; so fundamental is the law of nature which
commands man to preserve his life."
21. The right to private property, even of productive goods, also derives
from the nature of man. This right, as We have elsewhere declared, "is an
effective means for safeguarding the dignity of the human person and for
the exercise of responsibility in all fields; it strengthens and gives
serenity to family life, thereby increasing the peace and prosperity of
22. However, it is opportune to point out that there is a social duty
essentially inherent in the right of private property.
23. From the fact that human beings are by nature social, there arises
the right of assembly and association. They have also the right to give
the societies of which they are members the form they consider most
suitable for the aim they have in view, and to act within such societies
on their own initiative and on their own responsibility in order to
achieve their desired objectives.
24. And, as We Ourselves in the encyclical Mater et Magistra have
strongly urged, it is by all means necessary that a great variety of
organizations and intermediate groups be established which are capable of
achieving a goal which an individual cannot effectively attain by
himself. These societies and organizations must be considered the
indispensable means to safeguard the dignity of the human person and
freedom while leaving intact a sense of responsibility.
25. Every human being has the right to freedom of movement and of
residence within the confines of his own country; and, when there are
just reasons for it, the right to emigrate to other countries and take up
residence there. The fact that one is a citizen of a particular State
does not detract in any way from his membership in the human family as a
whole, nor from his citizenship in the world community.
26. 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."
27. The human person is also entitled to a juridical protection of his
rights, a protection that should be efficacious, impartial and inspired
by the true norms of justice. As Our Predecessor Pius XII teaches: "That
perpetual privilege proper to man, by which every individual has a claim
to the protection of his rights, and by which there is assigned to each a
definite and particular sphere of rights, immune from all arbitrary
attacks, is the logical consequence of the order of justice willed by
28. 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.
29. Therefore, to cite a few examples, the right of every man to life is
correlative with the duty to preserve it; his right to a decent standard
of living with the duty of living it becomingly; and his right to
investigate the truth freely, with the duty of seeking it ever more
completely and profoundly.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. 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.
33. The society of men must not only be organized but must also provide
them with abundant resources. This certainly requires that they observe
and recognize their mutual rights and duties; it also requires that they
collaborate in the many enterprises that modern civilization either
allows or encourages or even demands.
34. The dignity of the human person also requires that every man enjoy
the right to act freely and responsibly. For this reason, therefore, in
social relations man should exercise his rights, fulfill his obligations
and, in the countless forms of collaboration with others, act chiefly on
his own responsibility and initiative. This is to be done in such a way
that each one acts on his own decision, of set purpose and from a
consciousness of his obligation, without being moved by force or pressure
brought to bear on him externally. For any human society that is
established on relations of force must be regarded as inhuman, inasmuch
as the personality of its members is repressed or restricted, when in
fact they should be provided with appropriate incentives and means for
developing and perfecting themselves.
35. A civic society is to be considered well-ordered, beneficial and in
keeping with human dignity if it is grounded on truth. As the Apostle
Paul exhorts us: "Away with falsehood then; let everyone speak out the
truth to his neighbor; membership of the body binds us to one
another." This will be accomplished when each one duly recognizes
both his rights and his obligations towards others. Furthermore, human
society will be such as we have just described it, if the citizens,
guided by justice, apply themselves seriously to respecting the rights of
others and discharging their own duties; if they are moved by such fervor
of charity as to make their own the needs of others and share with others
their own goods: if finally, they work for a closer fellowship in the
world of spiritual values. Yet this is not sufficient; for human society
is bound together by freedom, that is to say, in ways and means in
keeping with the dignity of its citizens, who accept the responsibility
of their actions, precisely because they are by nature rational beings.
36. Therefore, Venerable Brothers and beloved children, human society
must primarily be considered something pertaining to the spiritual.
Through it, in the bright light of truth men should share their
knowledge, be able to exercise their rights and fulfill their
obligations, be inspired to seek spiritual values, mutually derive
genuine pleasure from the beautiful of whatever order it be, always be
readily disposed to pass on to others the best of their own cultural
heritage and eagerly strive to make their own the spiritual achievements
of others. These benefits not only influence, but at the same time give
aim and scope to all that has bearing on cultural expressions, economic
and social institutions, political movements and forms, laws, and all
other structures by which society is outwardly established and constantly
37. The order which prevails in society is by nature moral. Grounded as
it is in truth, it must function according to the norms of justice, it
should be inspired and perfected by mutual love, and finally it should be
brought to an ever more refined and human balance in freedom.
38. Now an order of this kind, whose principles are universal, absolute
and unchangeable, has its ultimate source in the one true God, Who is
personal and transcends human nature. Inasmuch as God is the first Truth
and the highest Good, He alone is that deepest source from which human
society can draw its vitality, if that society is to be well ordered,
beneficial, and in keeping with human dignity. As St. Thomas Aquinas
says: "Human reason is the norm of the human will, according to which
its, goodness is measured, because reason derives from the eternal law
which is the divine reason itself. It is evident then that the goodness
of the human will depends much more on the eternal law than on human
39. Our age has three distinctive characteristics.
40. First of all, the working classes have gradually gained ground in
economic and public affairs. They began by claiming their rights in the
socio-economic sphere; they extended their action then to claims on the
political level; and finally applied themselves to the acquisition of the
benefits of a more refined culture. Today, therefore, workers all over
the world refuse to be treated as if they were irrational objects without
freedom, to be used at the arbitrary disposition of others. They insist
that they be always regarded as men with a share in every sector of human
society: in the social and economic sphere, in the fields of learning and
culture, and in public life.
41. Secondly, it is obvious to everyone that women are now taking a part
in public life. This is happening more rapidly perhaps in nations of
Christian civilization, and, more slowly but broadly, among peoples who
have inherited other traditions or cultures. 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 public life.
42. Finally, in the modern world human society has taken on an entirely
new appearance in the field of social and political life. For since all
nations have either achieved or are on the way to achieving independence,
there will soon no longer exist a world divided into nations that rule
others and nations that are subject to others.
43. Men all over the world have today--or will soon have--the rank of
citizens in independent nations. No one wants to feel subject to
political powers located outside his own country or ethnical group. Thus
in very many human beings the inferiority complex which endured for
hundreds and thousands of years is disappearing, while in others there in
an attenuation and gradual fading of the corresponding superiority
complex which had its roots in social-economic privileges, sex or
44. On the contrary, the conviction that all men are equal by reason of
their natural dignity has been generally accepted. Hence racial
discrimination can in no way be justified, at least doctrinally or in
theory. And this is of fundamental importance and significance for the
formation of human society according to those principles which We have
outlined above. For, if a man becomes conscious of his rights, he must
become equally aware of his duties. Thus he who possesses certain rights
has likewise the duty to claim those rights as marks of his dignity,
while all others have the obligation to acknowledge those rights and
45. When the relations of human society are expressed in terms of rights
and duties, men become conscious of spiritual values, understand the
meaning and significance of truth, justice, charity and freedom, and
become deeply aware that they belong to this world of values. Moreover,
when moved by such concerns, they are brought to a better knowledge of
the true God Who is personal and transcendent, and thus they make the
ties that bind them to God the solid foundation and supreme criterion of
their lives, both of that life which they live interiorly in the depths
of their own souls and of that in which they are united to other men in
46. Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it
has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its
institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and
care for the good of all. These however derive their authority from God,
as St. Paul teaches in the words, "Authority comes from God alone."
These words of St. Paul are explained thus by St. John Chrysostom: "What
are you saying? Is every ruler appointed by God? I do not say that, he
replies, for I am not dealing now with individual rulers, but with
authority itself. What I say is, that it is the divine wisdom and not
mere chance, that has ordained that there should be government, that some
should command and others obey." Moreover, since God made men social
by nature, and since no society "can hold together unless some one be
over all, directing all to strive earnestly for the common good, every
civilized community must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no
less than society itself, has its source in nature, and has,
consequently, God for its author."
47. But authority is not to be thought of as a force lacking all control.
Indeed, since it is the power to command according to right reason,
authority must derive its obligatory force from the moral order, which in
turn has God for its first source and final end. Wherefore Our
Predecessor of happy memory, Pius XII, said: "The absolute order of
living beings and man's very destiny (We are speaking of man who is free,
bound by obligations and endowed with inalienable rights, and at once the
basis of society and the purpose for which it exists) also includes the
state as a necessary society invested with the authority without which it
could not come into being or live.... And since this absolute order, as
we learn from sound reason, and especially from the Christian faith, can
have no origin save in God Who is our Creator, it follows that the
dignity of the State's authority is due to its sharing to some extent in
the authority of God Himself."
48. Wherefore, a civil authority which uses as its only or its chief
means either threats and fear of punishment or promises of rewards cannot
effectively move men to promote the common good of all. Even if it did so
move them, this would be altogether opposed to their dignity as men,
endowed with reason and free will. As authority rests chiefly on moral
force, it follows that civil authority must appeal primarily to the
conscience of individual citizens, that is, to each one's duty to
collaborate readily for the common good of all. But since by nature all
men are equal in human dignity, it follows that no one may be coerced to
perform interior acts. That is in the power of God alone, Who sees and
judges the hidden designs of men's hearts.
49. Those therefore who have authority in the State may oblige men in
conscience only if their authority is intrinsically related with the
authority of God and shares in it.
50. By this principle the dignity of the citizens is protected. When in
fact, men obey their rulers it is not at all as men that they obey them,
but through their obedience it is God, the provident Creator of all
things, Whom they reverence, since He has decreed that men's dealings
with one another should be regulated by an order which He Himself has
established. Moreover, in showing this due reverence to God, men not only
do not debase themselves but rather perfect and ennoble themselves. "For
to serve God is to rule."
51. Since the right to command is required by the moral order and has its
source in God, it follows that, if civil authorities pass laws or command
anything opposed to the moral order and consequently contrary to the will
of God, neither the laws made nor the authorizations granted can be
binding on the consciences of the citizens, since "God has more right to
be obeyed than men." Otherwise, authority breaks down completely and
results in shameful abuse. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches: "Human law has
the true nature of law only in so far as it corresponds to right reason,
and in this respect it is evident that it is derived from the eternal
law. In so far as it falls short of right reason, a law is said to be a
wicked law; and so, lacking the true nature of law, it is rather a kind
52. It must not be concluded, however, because authority comes from God,
that therefore men have no right to choose those who are to rule the
state, to decide the form of government, and to determine both the way in
which authority is to be exercised and its limits. It is thus clear that
the doctrine which We have set forth can be fully consonant with any
truly democratic regime.
53. Individual citizens and intermediate groups are obliged to make their
specific contributions to the common welfare. One of the chief
consequences of this is that they must bring their own interests into
harmony with the needs of the community, and must contribute their goods
and their services as civil authorities have prescribed, in accord with
the norms of justice and within the limits of their competence. Clearly
then those who wield power in the state must do this by such acts which
not only have been justly carried out, but which also either have the
common welfare primarily in view or which can lead to it.
54. 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.
55. Assuredly, the ethnic characteristics of the various human groups are
to be respected as constituent elements of the common good, but these
values and characteristics by no means exhaust the content of the common
good. For the common good since it is intimately bound up with human
nature cannot therefore exist fully and completely unless the human
person is taken into consideration and the essential nature and
realization of the common good be kept in mind.
56. In the second place, the very nature of the common good requires that
all members of the state be entitled to share in it, although in
different ways according to each one's tasks, merits and circumstances.
For this reason, every civil authority must take pains to promote the
common good of all, without preference for any single citizen or civic
group. As Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII, has said: "The
civil power must not serve the advantage of any one individual, or of
some few persons, inasmuch as it was established for the common good of
all." Considerations of justice and equity, however, can at times
demand that those involved in civil government give more attention to the
less fortunate members of the community, since they are less able to
defend their rights and to assert their legitimate claims.
57. In this context, We judge that attention should be called to the fact
that the common good touches the whole man, the needs both of his body
and of his soul. Hence it follows that the civil authorities must
undertake to effect the common good by ways and means that are proper to
them; that is, while respecting the hierarchy of values, they should
promote simultaneously both the material and the spiritual welfare of the
58. These principles are clearly contained in the doctrine stated in Our
Encyclical, Mater et Magistra, where We emphasized that the common good
of all "embraces the sum total of those conditions of social living
whereby men are enabled to achieve their own integral perfection more
fully and more easily."
59. Men, however, composed as they are of bodies and immortal souls, can
never in this mortal life succeed in satisfying all their needs or in
attaining perfect happiness. Therefore the common good is to be procured
by such ways and means which not only are not detrimental to man's
eternal salvation but which positively contribute to it.
60. It is agreed that in our time 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."
61. This means that, if any government does not acknowledge the rights of
man or violates them, it not only fails in its duty, but its orders
completely lack juridical force.
62. One of the fundamental duties of civil authorities, therefore, is to
coordinate social relations in such fashion that the exercise of one
man's rights does not threaten others in the exercise of their own rights
nor hinder them in the fulfillment of their duties. Finally, the rights
of all should be effectively safeguarded and, if they have been violated,
63. 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
64. It is therefore necessary that the administration give wholehearted
and careful attention to the social as well as to the economic progress
of the citizens, and to the development, in keeping with the development
of the productive system, of such essential services as the building of
roads, transportation, communications, water supply, housing, public
health, education, facilitation of the practice of religion, and
recreational facilities. It is necessary also that governments make
efforts to see that insurance systems are made available to the citizens,
so that, in case of misfortune or increased family responsibilities, no
person will be without the necessary means to maintain a decent standard
of living. 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. Finally, it should be possible for all the citizens
to share as far as they are able in their country's cultural advantages.
65. The common good requires that civil authorities maintain a careful
balance between coordinating and protecting the rights of the citizens,
on the one hand, and promoting them, on the other. It should not happen
that certain individuals or social groups derive special advantage from
the fact that their rights have received preferential protection. Nor
should it happen that governments in seeking to protect these rights,
become obstacles to their full expression and free use. "For this
principle must always be retained: that State activity in the economic
field, no matter what its breadth or depth may be, ought not to be
exercised in such a way as to curtail an individuals freedom of personal
initiative. Rather it should work to expand that freedom as much as
possible by the effective protection of the essential personal rights of
each and every individual."
66. The same principle should inspire the various steps which governments
take in order to make it possible for the citizens more easily to
exercise their rights and fulfill their duties in every sector of social
67. It is impossible to determine, in all cases, what is the most
suitable form of government, or how civil authorities can most
effectively fulfill their respective functions, i.e., the legislative,
judicial and executive functions of the State.
68. In determining the structure and operation of government which a
State is to have, great weight has to be given to the circumstances of a
given people, circumstances which will vary at different times and in
different places. We consider, however, that it is in keeping with the
innate demands of human nature that the State should take a form which
embodies the three-fold division of powers corresponding to the three
principal functions of public authority. In that type of State, not only
the official functions of government but also the mutual relations
between citizens and public officials are set down according to law,
which in itself affords protection to the citizens both in the enjoyment
of their rights and in the fulfillment of their duties.
69. If, however, this political and juridical structure is to produce the
advantages which may be expected of it, public officials must strive to
meet the problems which arise in a way that conforms both to the
complexities of the situation and the proper exercise of their function.
This requires that, in constantly changing conditions, legislators never
forget the norms of morality, or constitutional provisions, or the common
good. Moreover, executive authorities must coordinate the activities of
society with discretion, with a full knowledge of the law and after a
careful consideration of circumstances, and the courts must administer
justice impartially and without being influenced by favoritism or
pressure. The good order of society also demands that individual citizens
and intermediate organizations should be effectively protected by law
whenever they have rights to be exercised or obligations to be fulfilled.
This protection should be granted to citizens both in their dealings with
each other and in their relations with government agencies.
70. It is unquestionable that a legal structure in conformity with the
moral order and corresponding to the level of development of the state is
of great advantage to achievement of the common good.
71. And yet, social life in the modern world is so varied, complex and
dynamic that even a juridical structure which has been prudently and
thoughtfully established often seems inadequate for the needs of society.
72. It is also true that the relations of the citizens with each other of
citizens and intermediate groups with public authorities, and finally of
the public authorities with one another, are often so complex and so
sensitive that they cannot be regulated by inflexible legal provisions.
Such a situation therefore demands that the civil authorities have clear
ideas about the nature and extent of their official duties if they wish
to maintain the existing juridical structure in its basic elements and
principles, and at the same time meet the exigencies of social life,
adapting their legislation to the changing social scene and solving new
problems. They must be men of great equilibrium and integrity, competent
and courageous enough to see at once what the situation requires and to
take necessary action quickly and effectively.
73. It is in keeping with their dignity as persons that human beings
should take an active part in government, although the manner in which
they share in it will depend on the level of development of the country
to which they belong.
74. Men will find new and extensive advantages in the fact that they are
allowed to participate in government. In this situation, those who
administer the government come into frequent contact with the citizens,
and it is thus easier for them to learn what is really needed for the
common good. And since public officials hold office only for a specified
period of time their authority, far from withering, rather takes on a new
vigor in a measure proportionate to the development of human society.
75. From these considerations it becomes clear that in the juridical
organization of states in our times the first requisite is that a charter
of fundamental human rights be drawn up in clear and precise terms and
that it be incorporated in its entirety in the constitution.
76. The second requisite is that the constitution of each state be drawn
up, phrased in correct juridical terminology, which prescribes the manner
of designating the public officials along with their mutual relations,
the spheres of their competence, the forms and systems they are obliged
to follow in the performance of their office.
77. The last requisite is that the relations between the government and
the governed are then set forth in terms of rights and duties; and 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.
78. It is of course impossible to accept the theory which professes to
find the original and single source of civic rights and duties, of the
binding force of the constitution, and of a government's right to
command, in the mere will of human beings, individually or
79. The tendencies to which We have referred, however, do clearly show
that the men of our time are becoming increasingly conscious of their
dignity as human persons. This awareness prompts them to claim a share in
the public administration of their country, while it also accounts for
the demand that their own inalienable and inviolable rights be protected
by law. It also requires, that government officials be chosen in
conformity with constitutional procedures, and perform their specific
functions within the limits of law.
80. Our Predecessors have constantly maintained, and We join them in
reasserting, that nations are reciprocally subjects of rights and duties.
This means that their relationships also must be harmonized in truth, in
justice, in a working solidarity, in liberty. The same natural law, which
governs relations between individual human beings, serves also to
regulate the relations of nations with one another.
81. This is readily clear to anyone if he would consider that the heads
of states can in no way put aside their natural dignity while they
represent their country and provide for its welfare, and that they are
never allowed to depart from the natural law by which they are bound and
which is the norm of their conduct.
82. Moreover, it is inconceivable that men because they are heads of
government are forced to put aside their human endowments. On the
contrary, they occupy this place of eminence for the very reason that
they have earned a reputation as outstanding members of the body politic
in view of their excellent intellectual endowments and accomplishments.
83. Indeed it follows from the moral order itself that authority is
necessary for civil society, for civil society is ruled by authority; and
that authority cannot be used to thwart the moral order without instantly
collapsing because its foundation has been destroyed. This is the warning
of God Himself: "A word, then, for the kings' ears to hear, kings' hearts
to heed: a message for you, rulers, wherever you be! Listen well, all you
that have multitudes at your command, foreign hordes to do your bidding.
Power is none but comes to you from the Lord, nor any royalty but from
One who is above all. He it is that will call you to account for your
doings with a scrutiny that reads your inmost thoughts."
84. Lastly it is to be borne in mind that also in the regulating of
relations between states, authority is to be exercised for the
achievement of the common good, which constitutes the reason for its
85. But a fundamental factor of the common good is acknowledgment of the
moral order and exact observance of its commands. "A well established
order among nations must be built upon the unshakable and unchangeable
rock of the moral law, made manifest in the order of nature by the
Creator Himself and by Him engraved on the hearts of men with letters
than can never be effaced.... Like the rays of a gleaming beacon, its
principles must guide the plans and policies of men and nations. From its
signals, which give warning and point out the safe and sure course, they
must get their norms and guidance if they would not see all their
laborious efforts to establish a new order condemned to tempest and
86. First among the rules governing the relations between States is that
of truth. This calls, above all, for the elimination of every trace of
racism, and the consequent recognition of the principle that all States
are by nature equal in dignity. Each of them accordingly is vested with
the right to existence, to self-development, to the means fitting to its
attainment, and to be the one primarily responsible for this
self-development. Add to that the right of each to its good name, and to
the respect which is its due.
87. Very often, experience has taught us, individuals will be found to
differ enormously, in knowledge, power, talent and wealth. From this,
however, no justification is ever found for those who surpass the rest to
subject others to their control in any way. Rather they have a more
serious obligation which binds each and everyone to lend mutual
assistance to others in their efforts for improvement.
88. Likewise it can happen that one country surpasses another in
scientific progress, culture and economic development. But this
superiority, far from permitting it to rule others unjustly, imposes the
obligation to make a greater contribution to the general development of
89. In fact, men cannot by nature be superior to others since all enjoy
an equal natural dignity. From this it follows that countries too do not
differ at all from one another in the dignity which they derive from
nature. Individual states are like a body whose members are human beings.
Furthermore, we know from experience that nations are wont to be very
sensitive in all matters which in any way concern their dignity and
honor, and rightly so.
90. Truth further demands that the various media of social communications
made available by modern progress, which enable the nations to know each
other better, be used with serene objectivity. That need not, of course,
rule out any legitimate emphasis on the positive aspects of their way of
life. But methods of information which fall short of the truth, and by
the same token impair the reputation of this people or that, must be
91. Relations between nations are to be further regulated by justice.
This implies, over and above recognition of their mutual rights, the
fulfillment of their respective duties.
92. Since nations have a right to exist, to develop themselves, to
acquire a supply of the resources necessary for their development, to
defend their good name and the honor due to them, it follows that they
are likewise bound by the obligation of effectively guarding each of
these rights and of avoiding those actions by which these rights can be
jeopardized. As men in their private enterprises cannot pursue their own
interests to the detriment of others, so too states cannot lawfully seek
that development of their own resources which brings harm to other states
and unjustly oppresses them. This statement of St. Augustine seems to be
very apt in this regard: "What are kingdoms without justice but large
bands of robbers."
93. Not only can it happen, but it actually does happen that the
advantages and conveniences which nations strive to acquire for
themselves become objects of contention; nevertheless, the resulting
disagreements must be settled, not by force, nor by deceit or trickery,
but rather in the only manner which is worthy of the dignity of man,
i.e., by a mutual assessment of the reasons on both sides of the dispute,
by a mature and objective investigation of the situation, and by an
equitable reconciliation of differences of opinion.
94. Closely related to this point is the political trend which since the
nineteenth century has gathered momentum and gained ground everywhere,
namely, the striving of people of the same ethnic group to become
independent and to form one nation. Since this cannot always be
accomplished for various reasons, the result is that minorities often
dwell within the territory of a people of another ethnic group, and this
is the source of serious problems.
90. In the first place, it must be made clear that justice is seriously
violated by whatever is done to limit the strength and numerical increase
of these lesser peoples; the injustice is even more serious if vicious
attempts of this kind are aimed at the very extinction of these groups.
96. It is especially in keeping with the principles of justice that
effective measures be taken by the civil authorities to improve the lot
of the citizens of an ethnic minority, particularly when that betterment
concerns their language, the development of their natural gifts, their
ancestral customs, and their accomplishments and endeavors in the
97. It should be noted, however, that these minority groups, either
because of their present situation which they are forced to endure, or
because of past experiences, are often inclined to exalt beyond due
measure anything proper to their own people, and to such a degree as to
look down on things common to all mankind as if the welfare of the human
family must yield to the good of their own ethnic group. Reason rather
demands that these very people recognize also the advantages that accrue
to them from their peculiar circumstances: for instance, no small
contribution is made toward the development of their particular talents
and spirit by their daily dealings with people who have grown up in a
different culture since from this association they can gradually make
their own the excellence which belongs to the other ethnic group. But
this will happen only if the minorities through association with the
people who live around them make an effort to share in their customs and
institutions. Such, however, will not be the case if they sow discord
which causes great damage and hinders progress.
98. Since the mutual relations among nations must be regulated by the
norm of truth and justice, they must also derive great advantage from an
energetic union of mind, heart and resources. This can be effected at
various levels by mutual cooperation in many ways, as is happening in our
own time with beneficial results in the economic, social, political,
educational, public health and sports spheres. We must remember that, of
its very nature, civil authority exists, not to confine its people within
the boundaries of their nation, but rather to protect, above all else the
common good of that particular civil society, which certainly cannot be
divorced from the common good of the entire human family.
99. So it happens that civil societies in pursuing their interests not
only must not harm others, but must join their plans and forces whenever
the efforts of an individual government cannot achieve its desired goals;
but in the execution of such common efforts, great care must be taken
lest what helps some nations should injure others.
100. Furthermore, the universal common good requires that in every nation
friendly relations be fostered in all fields between the citizens and
their intermediate societies. Since in many parts of the world there are
groups of people of varying ethnic backgrounds, we must be on our guard
against isolating one ethnic group from its fellow men. This is clearly
inconsistent with modern conditions since distances which separate people
from each other have been almost wiped out. Neither are we to overlook
the fact that men of every ethnic group, in addition to their own
characteristic endowments by which they are distinguished from the rest
of men, have other important gifts of nature in common with their fellow
men by which they can make more and more progress and perfect themselves,
particularly in matters that pertain to the spirit. They have the right
and duty therefore to live in communion with one another.
101. Everyone certainly knows that in some parts of the world there is an
imbalance between the amount of arable land and the size of the
population, and in other parts between the fertility of the soil and
available farm implements. Consequently, necessity demands a cooperative
effort on the part of the people to bring about a quicker exchange of
goods, or of capital, or the migration of people themselves.
102. In this case We think it is most opportune that as far as possible
employment should seek the worker, not vice versa. For then most citizens
have an opportunity to increase their holdings without being forced to
leave their native environment and seek a new home with many a heartache,
and adopt a new state of affairs and make new social contacts with other
103. The sentiment of universal fatherhood which the Lord has placed in
Our heart makes Us feel profound sadness in considering the phenomenon of
political refugees: a phenomenon which has assumed large proportions and
which always hides numberless and acute sufferings.
104. Such expatriations show that there are some political regimes which
do not guarantee for individual citizens a sufficient sphere of freedom
within which their souls are allowed to breathe humanly; in fact, under
those regimes even the lawful existence of such a sphere of freedom is
either called into question or denied. This undoubtedly is a radical
inversion of the order of human society, because the reason for the
existence of public authority is to promote the common good, a
fundamental element of which is the recognition of that sphere of freedom
and the safeguarding of it.
105. At this point it will not be superfluous to recall that such exiles
are persons, and that all their rights as persons must be recognized
since they do not lose those rights on losing the citizenship of the
states of which they are former members.
106. Now among the rights of a human person there must be included that
by which a man may enter a political community where he hopes he can more
fittingly provide a future for himself and his dependents. Wherefore, as
far as the common good rightly understood permits, it is the duty of that
State to accept such immigrants and to help to integrate them into itself
as new members.
107. Wherefore, on this occasion, We publicly approve and commend every
undertaking, founded on the principles of human solidarity and Christian
charity, which aims at making migration of persons from one country to
another less painful.
108. And We will be permitted to signal for the attention and gratitude
of all right-minded persons the manifold work which specialized
international agencies are carrying out in this very delicate field.
109. On the other hand it is with deep sorrow that We note the enormous
stocks of armaments that have been and still are being made in more
economically developed countries, with a vast outlay of intellectual and
economic resources. And so it happens that, while the people of these
countries are loaded with heavy burdens, other countries as a result are
deprived of the collaboration they need in order to make economic and
110. The production of arms is allegedly justified on the grounds that in
present-day conditions peace cannot be preserved without an equal balance
of armaments. And so, if one country increases its armaments, others feel
the need to do the same; and if one country is equipped with nuclear
weapons, other countries must produce their own, equally destructive.
111. Consequently, people live in constant fear lest the storm that every
moment threatens should break upon them with dreadful violence. And with
good reason, for the arms of war are ready at hand. Even though it is
difficult to believe that anyone would dare bring upon himself the
appalling destruction and sorrow that war would bring in its train, it
cannot be denied that the conflagration can be set off by some unexpected
and unpremeditated act. And one must bear in mind that, even though the
monstrous power of modern weapons acts as a deterrent, there is
nevertheless reason to fear that the mere continuance of nuclear tests,
undertaken with war in mind, can seriously jeopardize various kinds of
life on earth.
112. Justice, then, right reason and consideration for human dignity and
life urgently demand that the arms race should cease; that the stockpiles
which exist in various countries should be reduced equally and
simultaneously by the parties concerned; that nuclear weapons should be
banned; and finally that all come to an agreement on a fitting program of
disarmament, employing mutual and effective controls. In the words of
Pius XII, our Predecessor of happy memory: "The calamity of a world war,
with the economic and social ruin and the moral excesses and dissolution
that accompany it, must not be permitted to envelop the human race for a
113. All must realize that there is no hope of putting an end to the
building up of armaments, nor of reducing the present stocks, nor, still
less--and this is the main point--of abolishing them altogether, unless
the process is complete and thorough and unless it proceeds from inner
conviction: unless, that is, everyone sincerely cooperated to banish the
fear and anxious expectation of war with which men are oppressed. If this
is to come about, the fundamental principle on which our present peace
depends must be replaced by another, which declares that the true and
solid peace of nations consists not in equality of arms but in mutual
trust alone. We believe that this can be brought to pass, and we consider
that, since it concerns a matter not only demanded by right reason but
also eminently desirable in itself, it will prove to be the source of
114. In the first place, it is an objective demanded by reason. There can
be, or at least there should be, no doubt that relations between states,
as between individuals, should be regulated not by the force of arms but
by the light of reason, by the rule, that is, of truth, of justice and of
active and sincere cooperation.
115. Secondly, We say that it is an objective earnestly to be desired in
itself. Is there anyone who does not ardently yearn to see dangers of war
banished, to see peace preserved and daily more firmly established?
116. And finally, it is an objective which will be a fruitful source of
many benefits, for its advantages will be felt everywhere, by
individuals, by families, by nations, by the whole human family. The
warning of Pius XII still rings in our ears: "Nothing is lost by peace;
everything may be lost by war."
117. Since this is so, We, the Vicar on earth of Jesus Christ, Savior of
the World and Author of Peace, and as interpreter of the very profound
longing of the entire human family, following the impulse of Our heart,
seized by anxiety for the good of all, We feel it Our duty to beseech
men, especially those who have the responsibility of public affairs, to
spare no pain or effort until world events follow a course in keeping
with man's destiny and dignity.
118. In the highest and most authoritative assemblies, let men give
serious thought to the problem of a peaceful adjustment of relations
between political communities on a world level: an adjustment founded on
mutual trust, on sincerity in negotiations, on faithful fulfillment of
obligations assumed. Let them study the problem until they find that
point of agreement from which it will be possible to commence to go
forward towards accords that will be sincere, lasting and fruitful.
119. We, for Our part, will not cease to pray God to bless these labors
so that they may lead to fruitful results.
120. It has also to be borne in mind that relations between States should
be based on freedom, that is to say, that no country may unjustly oppress
others or unduly meddle in their affairs. On the contrary, all should
help to develop in others a sense of responsibility, a spirit of
enterprise, and an earnest desire to be the first to promote their own
advancement in every field.
121. Because all men are joined together by reason of their common
origin, their redemption by Christ, and their supernatural destiny, and
are called to form one Christian family, We appealed in the Encyclical
Mater et Magistra to economically developed nations to come to the aid of
those which were in the process of development.
122. We are greatly consoled to see how widely that appeal has been
favorably received; and We are confident that even more so in the future
it will contribute to the end that the poorer countries, in as short a
time as possible, will arrive at that degree of economic development
which will enable every citizen to live in conditions more in keeping
with his human dignity.
123. But it is never sufficiently repeated that the cooperation, to which
reference has been made, should be effected with the greatest respect for
the liberty of the countries being developed, for these must realize that
they are primarily responsible, and that they are the principal artisans
in the promotion of their own economic development and social progress.
124. Our Predecessor Pius XII already proclaimed that "in the field of a
new order founded on moral principles, there is no room for violation of
freedom, integrity and security of other nations, no matter what may be
their territorial extension or their capacity for defense. It is
inevitable that the powerful States, by reason of their greater potential
and their power, should pave the way in the establishment of economic
groups comprising not only themselves but also smaller and weaker States
as well. It is nevertheless indispensable that in the interests of the
common good they, as all others, should respect the rights of those
smaller states to political freedom, to economic development and to the
adequate protection, in the case of conflicts between nations, of that
neutrality which is theirs according to the natural, as well as
international, law. In this way, and in this way only, will they be able
to obtain a fitting share of the common good, and assure the material and
spiritual welfare of their people."
125. It is vitally important, therefore, that the wealthier states, in
providing varied forms of assistance to the poorer, should respect the
moral values and ethnic characteristics peculiar to each, and also that
they should avoid any intention of political domination. If this is done,
"a precious contribution will be made towards the formation of a world
community, a community in which each member, whilst conscious of its own
individual rights and duties, will work in a relationship of equality
towards the attainment of the universal common good."
126. Men are becoming more and more convinced that disputes which arise
between states should not be resolved by recourse to arms, but rather by
127. We grant indeed that this conviction is chiefly based on the
terrible destructive force of modern weapons and a fear of the calamities
and frightful destruction which such weapons would cause. Therefore, in
an age such as ours which prides itself on its atomic energy it is
contrary to reason to hold that war is now a suitable way to restore
rights which have been violated.
128. Nevertheless, unfortunately, the law of fear still reigns among
peoples, and it forces them to spend fabulous sums for armaments, not for
aggression they affirm--and there is no reason for not believing
them--but to dissuade others from aggression.
129. There is reason to hope, however, that by meeting and negotiating,
men may come to discover better the bonds that unite them together,
deriving from the human nature which they have in common; and that they
may also come to discover that one of the most profound requirements of
their common nature is this: that between them and their respective
peoples it is not fear which should reign but love, a love which tends to
express itself in a collaboration that is loyal, manifold in form and
productive of many benefits.
130. The recent progress of science and technology, since it has
profoundly influenced human conduct, is rousing men everywhere in the
world to more and more cooperation and association with one another.
Today the exchange of goods and ideas, travel from country to another
have greatly increased. Consequently, the close relations of individuals,
families, intermediate associations belonging to different countries have
become vastly more frequent and conferences between heads of states are
held at shorter intervals. At the same time the interdependence of
national economies has grown deeper, one becoming progressively more
closely related to the other, so that they become, as it were, integral
parts of the one world economy. Finally, the social progress, order,
security and peace of each country are necessarily connected with the
social progress, order, security and peace of all other countries.
131. Given these conditions, it is obvious that individual countries
cannot rightly seek their own interests and develop themselves in
isolation from the rest, for the prosperity and development of one
country follows partly in the train of the prosperity and progress of all
the rest and partly produces that prosperity and progress.
132. No era will destroy the unity of the human family since it is made
up of human beings sharing with equal right their natural dignity. For
this reason, necessity, rooted in man's very nature, will always demand
that the common good be sought in sufficient measure because it concerns
the entire human family.
133. In times past, it seemed that the leaders of nations might be in a
position to provide for the universal common good, either through normal
diplomatic channels, or through top-level meetings, or through
conventions or treaties by making use of methods and instruments
suggested by natural law, the law of nations, or international law.
134. In our time, however, relationships between states have changed
greatly. On the one hand, the universal common good poses very serious
questions which are difficult and which demand immediate solution
especially because they are concerned with safeguarding the security and
peace of the whole world. On the other hand the heads of individual
states, inasmuch as they are juridically equal, are not entirely
successful no matter how often they meet or how hard they try to find
more fitting juridical instruments. This is due not to lack of goodwill
and initiative but to lack of adequate power to back up their authority.
135. Therefore, under the present circumstances of human society both the
structure and form of governments as well as the power which public
authority wields in all the nations of the world, must be considered
inadequate to promote the universal common good.
136. Moreover, if we carefully consider the essential nature of the
common good on the one hand, and the nature and function of public
authority on the other, everyone sees that there is an intrinsic
connection between the two. And, indeed, just as the moral order needs
public authority to promote the common good in civil society, it likewise
demands that public authority actually be able to attain it. From this it
follows that the governmental institutions, on which public authority
depends and through which it functions and pursues its end, should be
provided with such structure and efficacy that they can lead to the
common good by ways and methods which are suitably adapted to various
137. Today the universal common good poses problems of worldwide
dimensions, which cannot be adequately tackled or solved except by the
efforts of public authority endowed with a wideness of powers, structure
and means of the same proportions: that is, of public authority which is
in a position to operate in an effective manner on a world-wide basis.
The moral order itself, therefore, demands that such a form of public
authority be established.
138. This public authority, having world-wide power and endowed with the
proper means for the efficacious pursuit of its objective, which is the
universal common good in concrete form, must be set up by common accord
and not imposed by force. The reason is that such an authority must be in
a position to operate effectively; yet, at the same time, its action must
be inspired by sincere and real impartiality: it must be an action aimed
at satisfying the universal common good. The difficulty is that there
would be reason to fear that a supra-national or worldwide public
authority, imposed by force by the more powerful nations might be an
instrument of one-sided interests; and even should this not happen, it
would be difficult for it to avoid all suspicion of partiality in its
actions, and this would take from the force and effectiveness of its
activity. Even though there may be pronounced differences between nations
as regards the degree of their economic development and their military
power, they are all very sensitive as regards their juridical equality
and the excellence of their way of life. For that reason, they are right
in not easily yielding obedience to an authority imposed by force, or to
an authority in whose creation they had no part, or to which they
themselves did not decide to submit by their own free choice.
139. Like the common good of individual states, so too the universal
common good cannot be determined except by having regard for the human
person. Therefore, the public and universal authority, too, must have as
its fundamental objective the recognition, respect, safeguarding and
promotion of the rights of the human person; this can be done by direct
action when required, or by creating on a world scale an environment in
which leaders of the individual countries can suitably maintain their own
140. Moreover, just as it is necessary in each state that relations which
the public authority has with its citizens, families and intermediate
associations be controlled and regulated by the principle of
subsidiarity, it is equally necessary that the relationships which exist
between the world-wide public authority and the public authority of
individual nations be governed by the same principle. This means that the
world-wide public authority must tackle and solve problems of an
economic, social, political or cultural character which are posed by the
universal common good. For, because of the vastness, complexity and
urgency of those problems, the public authorities of the individual
states are not in a position to tackle them with any hope of a positive
141. The world-wide public authority is not intended to limit the sphere
of action of the public authority of the individual state, much less to
take its place. On the contrary, its purpose is to create, on a world
basis, an environment in which the public authorities of each state, its
citizens and intermediate associations, can carry out their tasks,
fulfill their duties and exercise their rights with greater security.
142. As is known, the United Nations Organization (U.N.O.) was
established on June 26, 1945, and to it there were subsequently added
specialized agencies consisting of members designated by the public
authority of the various countries with important international tasks in
the economic, social, cultural, educational and health fields. The United
Nations Organization had as its essential purpose the maintenance and
consolidation of peace between peoples, fostering between them friendly
relations, based on the principles of equality, mutual respect, and
varied forms of cooperation in every sector of human endeavor.
143. An act of the highest importance performed by the United Nations
Organization was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved in
the General Assembly of December 10, 1948. In the preamble of that
Declaration, the recognition and respect of those rights and respective
liberties is proclaimed as a goal to be achieved by all peoples and all
144. We are fully aware that some objections and reservations were raised
regarding certain points in the Declaration, and rightly so. There is no
doubt, however, that the document represents an important step on the
path towards the juridical-political organization of all the peoples of
the world. For in it, in most solemn form, the dignity of a human person
is acknowledged to all human beings; and as a consequence there is
proclaimed, as a fundamental right, the right of every man freely to
investigate the truth and to follow the norms of moral good and justice,
and also the right to a life worthy of man's dignity, while other rights
connected with those mentioned are likewise proclaimed.
145. It is therefore our ardent desire that the United Nations
Organization--in its structure and in its means--may become ever more
equal to the magnitude and nobility of its tasks, and may the time come
as quickly as possible when every human being will find therein an
effective safeguard for the rights which derive directly from his dignity
as a person, and which are therefore universal, inviolable and
inalienable rights. This is all the more to be hoped for since all human
beings, as they take an ever more active part in the public life of their
own country, are showing an increasing interest in the affairs of all
peoples, and are becoming more consciously aware that they are living
members of the whole human family.
146. Once again We exhort Our children 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 man's
perfectioning of himself both in the natural order as well as in the
147. Nevertheless, in order to imbue civilization with right norms and
Christian principles, it is not enough to be illumined with the gift of
faith and enkindled with the desire of forwarding a good cause. For this
end it is necessary to take an active part in the various organizations
and influence them from within.
148. And since our present age is one of outstanding scientific and
technical progress and excellence, one will not be able to enter these
organizations and work effectively from within unless he is
scientifically competent, technically capable and skilled in the practice
of his own profession.
149. We desire to call attention to the fact that scientific competency,
technical capacity and professional experience, although necessary, are
not of themselves sufficient to elevate the relationships of society to
an order that is genuinely human: that is, to an order whose foundation
is truth, whose measure and objective is justice, whose driving force is
Love, and whose method of attainment if freedom.
150. For this end it is certainly necessary that human beings carry on
their own temporal activities in accordance with the laws governing them
and following the methods corresponding to their nature. But at the same
time it is also necessary that they should carry on those activities as
acts within the moral order: therefore, as the exercise or vindication of
a right, as the fulfillment of a duty or the performance of a service, as
a positive answer to the providential design of God directed to our
salvation. In other words, it is necessary that human beings, in the
intimacy of their own consciences, should so live and act in their
temporal lives as to create a synthesis between scientific, technical and
professional elements on the one hand, and spiritual values on the other.
151. It is no less clear that today, in traditionally Christian nations,
secular institutions, although demonstrating a high degree of scientific
and technical perfection, and efficiency in achieving their respective
ends, not infrequently are but slightly affected by Christian motivation
152. It is beyond question that in the creation of those institutions
many contributed and continue to contribute who were believed to be and
who consider themselves Christians; and without doubt, in part at least,
they were and are. How does one explain this? It is Our opinion that the
explanation is to be found in an inconsistency in their minds between
religious belief and their action in the temporal sphere. It is
necessary, therefore, that their interior unity be re-established, and
that in their temporal activity Faith should be present as a beacon to
give light, and Charity as a force to give life.
153. It is Our opinion, too, that the above-mentioned inconsistency
between the religious faith in those who believe and their activities in
the temporal sphere, results--in great part--from the lack of a solid
Christian education. Indeed, it happens in many quarters and too often
that there is no proportion between scientific training and religious
instruction: the former continues and is extended until it reaches higher
degrees, while the latter remains at elementary level. It is
indispensable, therefore, that in the training of youth, education should
be complete and without interruption, namely, that in the minds of the
young religious values should be cultivated and the moral conscience
refined in a manner to keep pace with the continuous and ever more
abundant assimilation of scientific and technical knowledge. And it is
indispensable, too, that they be instructed regarding the proper way to
carry out their actual tasks.
154. We deem it opportune to point out how difficult it is to understand
clearly the relation between the objective requirements of justice and
concrete situations, namely, to define the degrees and forms in which
doctrinal principles and directives ought to be applied to reality.
155. And the definition of those degrees and forms is all the more
difficult in our times, which are marked by a pronounced dynamism. For
this reason, the problem of bringing social reality into line with the
objective requirements of justice is a problem which will never admit of
a definitive solution. Meanwhile, Our children must watch over themselves
lest they relax and feel satisfied with objectives already achieved.
156. In fact, all human beings ought rather to reckon that what has been
accomplished is but little in comparison with what remains to be done in
regard to organs of production, trade unions, associations, professional
organizations, insurance systems, legal systems, political regimes,
institutions for cultural, health, recreational or sporting purposes.
These must all be adjusted to the era of the atom and of the conquest of
space: an era which the human family has already entered. Wherein it has
commenced its new advance towards limitless horizons.
157. The doctrinal principles outlined in this document derive from both
nature itself and the natural law. In putting these principles into
practice it frequently happens that Catholics in many ways cooperate
either with Christians separated from this Apostolic See, or with men of
no Christian faith whatever, but who are endowed with reason and adorned
with a natural uprightness of conduct. "In such relations let the
faithful be careful to be always consistent in their actions, so that
they may never come to any compromise in matters of religion and morals.
At the same time, however, let them be, and show themselves to be,
animated by a spirit of understanding and detachment, and disposed to
work loyally in the pursuit of objectives which are of their nature good,
or conducive to good."
158. However, one must never confuse error and the person who errs, not
even when there is question of error or inadequate knowledge of truth in
the moral or religious field. The person who errs is always and above all
a human being, and he retains in every case his dignity as a human
person; and he must be always regarded and treated in accordance with
that lofty dignity. Besides, in every human being, there is a need that
is congenital to his nature and never becomes extinguished, compelling
him to break through the web of error and open his mind to the knowledge
of truth. And God will never fail to act on his interior being, with the
result that a person, who at a given moment of his life lacked the
clarity of faith or even adheres
to erroneous doctrines, can at a future date be enlightened and believe
the truth. For Catholics, if for the sake of promoting the temporal
welfare they cooperate with men who either do not believe in Christ or
whose belief is faulty because they are involved in error, can provide
them either the occasion or the inducement to turn to truth.
159. It is, therefore, especially to the point to make a clear
distinction between false philosophical teachings regarding the nature,
origin, and destiny of the universe and of man, and movements which have
a direct bearing either on economic and social questions, or cultural
matters or on the organization of the state, even if these movements owe
their origin and inspiration to these false tenets. While the teaching
once it has been clearly set forth is no longer subject to change, the
movements, precisely because they take place in the midst of changing
conditions, are readily susceptible of change. Besides, who can deny that
those movements, in so far as they conform to the dictates of right
reason and are interpreters of the lawful aspirations of the human
person, contain elements that are positive and deserving of approval?
160. For these reasons it can at times happen that meetings for the
attainment of some practical results which previously seemed completely
useless now are either actually useful or may be looked upon as
profitable for the future. But to decide whether this moment has arrived,
and also to lay down the ways and degrees in which work in common might
be possible for the achievement of economic, social, cultural, and
political ends which are honorable and useful: these are the problems
which can only be solved with the virtue of prudence, which is the
guiding light of the virtues that regulate the moral life, both
individual and social. Therefore, as far as Catholics are concerned, this
decision rests primarily with those who live and work in the specific
sectors of human society in which those problems arise, always, however,
in accordance with the principles of the natural law, with the social
doctrine of the church, and with the directives of ecclesiastical
authorities. For it must not be forgotten that the Church has the right
and the duty not only to safeguard the principles of ethics and religion,
but also to intervene authoritatively with Her children in the temporal
sphere, when there is a question of judging the application of those
principles to concrete cases.
161. There are some souls, particularly endowed with generosity, who, on
finding situations where the requirements of justice are not satisfied or
not satisfied in full, feel enkindled with the desire to change the state
of things, as if they wished to have recourse to something like a
162. It must be borne in mind that to proceed gradually is the law of
life in all its expressions; therefore in human institutions, too, it is
not possible to renovate for the better except by working from within
them, gradually. Pius XII proclaimed: "Salvation and justice are not to
be found in revolution, but in evolution through concord. Violence has
always achieved only destruction, not construction; the kindling of
passions, not their pacification; the accumulation of hate and ruin, not
the reconciliation of the contending parties. And it has reduced men and
parties to the difficult task of rebuilding, after sad experience, on the
ruins of discord."
163. We must therefore consider this point most closely joined to the
great tasks of magnanimous men, namely, to establish with truth, justice,
charity, and liberty new methods of relationships in human society: the
relations among individual citizens, among citizens and their own
countries, among nations themselves, among individuals, families,
intermediate associations and individual states on the one hand, and with
the community of all mankind on the other. This is a most exalted task,
for it is the task of bringing about true peace in the order established
164. These men, necessarily few in number, but deserving recognition for
their contributions in the field of human relations, We publicly praise
and at the same time We earnestly invite them to persevere in their work
with ever greater zeal. And We are comforted by the hope that their
number will increase, especially among those who believe, for it is an
imperative of duty; it is a requirement of Love. Every believer in this
world of ours must be a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying
leaven amidst his fellowmen: and he will be this all the more perfectly
the more closely he lives in communion with God and in the intimacy of
his own soul.
165. In fact, there can be no peace between men unless there is peace
within each one of them, unless, that is, each one builds up within
himself the order wished by God. Hence St. Augustine asks: "Does your
soul desire to overcome your lower inclinations? Let it be subject to Him
Who is on high and it will conquer the lower self: there will be peace in
you; true, secure and well-ordered peace. In what does that order
consist? God commands the soul; the soul commands the body; and there is
nothing more orderly than this."
166. These words of Ours, which We have wished to dedicate to the
problems that most beset the human family today and on the just solution
of which the ordered progress of society depends, are dictated by a
profound aspiration which We know is shared by all men of good will: the
consolidation of peace in the world.
167. As the humble and unworthy Vicar of Him Whom the Prophet announced
as the Prince of Peace, We have the duty to expend all Our energies
in an effort to protect and strengthen this gift. However, Peace will be
but an empty-sounding word unless it is founded on the order which this
present document has outlined in confident hope: an order founded on
truth, built according to justice, vivified and integrated by charity,
and put into practice in freedom.
168. This is such a noble and elevated task that human resources, even
though inspired by the most praiseworthy good will, cannot bring it to
realization alone. In order that human society may reflect as Faithfully
as possible the Kingdom of God, help from on high is absolutely necessary.
169. For this reason, during these sacred days Our supplication is raised
with greater fervor towards Him Who by His painful Passion and death
overcame sin--the root of discord and the source of sorrows and
inequalities--and by His Blood reconciled mankind to the Eternal Father;
"For he himself is Our peace, he it is that hath made both one . . . and
coming he announced the good tidings of peace to you who were afar off,
and of peace to those who were near."
170. And in the Liturgy of these days we hear the announcement: "Our Lord
Jesus Christ, after His resurrection, stood in the midst of His disciples
and said 'Peace be to you,' alleluia: the disciples rejoiced seeing the
Lord." He leaves us peace, He brings us peace: "Peace I leave with
you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to
171. This is the peace which We implore of Him with the ardent yearning
of Our prayer. May He banish from the hearts of men whatever might
endanger peace, may He transform them into witnesses of truth, justice
and brotherly love. May He enlighten the rulers of peoples so that in
addition to their solicitude for the proper welfare of their citizens,
they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace; may He enkindle
the wills of all, so that they may overcome the barriers that divide,
cherish the bonds of mutual charity, understand others, and pardon those
who have done them wrong; by virtue of his action, may all peoples of the
earth become as brothers, and may the most longed-for peace blossom forth
and reign always among them.
172. As a pledge of this peace, and with the ardent wish that it may
shine forth on the Christian communities entrusted to your care,
especially for the benefit of those who are most lowly and in the
greatest need of help and defense, We are glad to impart to you,
Venerable Brothers, to the priests both secular and religious, to the
religious men and women and to the faithful of your Dioceses,
particularly to those who make every effort to put these exhortations of
Ours into practice, Our Apostolic Blessing. Finally, upon all men of good
will, to whom this Encyclical Letter is also addressed, We implore from
Almighty God health and prosperity.
173. Given at Rome at St. Peter's, on Holy Thursday, the eleventh day of
April, in the year 1963, the fifth of Our Pontificate.
1. Ps. 8, 1.
2. Ps. 103, 24.
3. Cf. Gen. 1, 26.
4. Ps. 8, 6-8.
5. Rom. 2, 15.
6. Cf. Ps. 18, 8-11.
7. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A.S. XXXV, 1943.
pp. 9-24; and Discourse of John XXIII, Jan. 4, 1963, A.A.S. LV, 1963, pp.
8. Cf. Encycl. Divini Redemptoris of Pius XI, A.A.S. XXIX, 1937, p. 78;
and Radio Message of Pius XII, Pentecost, June 1, 1941, A.A.S. XXXIII,
1941, pp. 195-205.
9. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A.S. XXXV, 1943,
10. Divinae Institutiones, Book IV, ch. 28, 2; Patrologia Latina, 6, 535.
11. Encycl. Libertas Praestantissimum, Acta Leonis XIII, VIII, 1888, pp.
12. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A.S. XXXV,
1943, pp. 9-24.
13. Cf. Encycl. Casti Connubii of Pius XI, A.A.S. XXII, 1930, pp.
539-592; and Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A.S. XXXV,
1943, pp. 9-24.
14. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Pentecost, June 1, 1941, A.A.S.
XXXIII, 1941, p. 201.
15. Cf. Encycl. Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII, Acta Leonis XIII, XI, 1891,
16. Cf. Encycl. Mater et Magistra of John XXIII, A.A.S. Llll, 1961, p.
17. Cf. Radio Message, Pentecost, June 1, 1941, A.A.S. XXXIII, 1941, p.
18 Encycl. Mater et Magistra, A.A.S. Llll, 1961, p. 428.
19. Cf. Ibid., p. 430.
20. Cf. Encycl. Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII, Acta Leonis XIII, XI, 1891,
pp. 134-142; Encycl. Quadragesimo Anno of Pius XI, A.A.S. XXIII, 1931,
pp. 199-200; Encycl. Sertum Laetitiae of Pius XII, A.A.S. XXXI, 1939, pp.
21. Cf. A.A.S. Llll, 1961, p. 430.
22. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1952, A.A.S. XLV, 1953,
23. Cf. Radio Message, Christmas Eve, 1944, A.A.S. XXXVII, 1945, p. 12.
24. Cf. Radio Message, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A.S. XXXV, 1943, p. 21.
25. Eph. 4, 25.
26. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A.S. XXXV, 1943, p.
27. Summa Theol., I-II, q. 19, a. 4; cf. a. 9.
28. Rom. 13, 1-6.
29. In Epist. ad Rom c. 13, vv. 1-2, homil. XXIII: Patrologia Graeca, 60,
30. Encycl. Immortale Dei of Leo XIII, Acta Leonis XIII, V, 1885, p.120.
31. Cf. Radio Message, Christmas Eve, 1944, A.A.S. XXXVII, 1945, p. 15.
32. Cf. Encycl. Diuturnum illud of Leo XIIl, Acta Leonis XIII, II 1881,
33. Cf. Ibid., p. 278; and Encycl. Immortale Dei of Leo XIII, Acta Leonis
XIII, V, 1885, p. 130.
34. Act. 5, 29.
35. Summa Theol., q. 93, a, 3 ad 2; Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII,
Christmas Eve, 1944, A.A.S. XXXVII, 1945, pp. 5-23.
36. Cf. Encyc. Diuturnum illud of Leo XIII, Acta Leonis XIII, II, 1881,
pp. 271-272; and Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1944, A.A.S.
XXXVII, 1945, pp. 5-3.
37. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A.S. XXXV,
1943, p. 13; and Encycl. Immortale Dei of Leo XIII, Acta Leonis XIII, V,
1885, p. 120.
38. Cf. Encycl. Summi Pontificatus of Pius XII, A.A.S. XXXI, 1939, pp.
39. Cf. Encycl. Mit brennender Sorge of Pius XI, A.A.S. XXIX, 1937, p.
159; and Encycl. Divini Redemptoris, A.A.S. XXIX, 1937, pp. 65-106.
40. Encycl. Immortale Dei, Acta Leonis XIII, V, 1885, p. 121.
41. Cf. Encycl. Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII, Acta Leonis XIII, XI, 1891,
42. Cf. Encycl. Summi Pontificatus of Pius XII, A.A.S. XXXI, 1939, p. 433.
43. A.A.S. LIII, 1961, p. 19.
44. Cf. Encycl. Quadragesimo Anno of Pius XI, A.A.S. XXIII, 1931, p. 215.
45. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Pentecost, June 1, 1941, A.A.S.
XXXIII, 1941, p. 200.
46. Cf. Encycl. Mit brennender Sorge of Pius XI, A.A.S. XXIX, 1937, p.
159; and Encycl. Divini Redemptoris, A.A.S. XXIX, 1937, p. 79; and Radio
Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A.S. XXXV, 1943, pp. 9-24.
47. Cf. Encycl. Divini Redemptoris of Pius XI, A.A.S. XXIX, 1937, p. 81;
and Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A S. XXXV, 1943,
48. Encycl. Mater et Magistra of John XXIII, A.A.S. LIII, 1961, p. 415.
49. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A.S. XXXV,
1943, p. 21.
50. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1944, A.A.S. XXXVII,
1945, pp. 15-16.
51. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1942, A.A.S. XXXV,
1943, p. 12.
52. Cf. Apostolic letter Annum ingressi of Leo XIII, Acta Leonis XIII,
XXII, 1902 1903, pp. 52-80.
53. Wis., 6, 14.
54. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1941, A.A S. XXIV,
1942, p. 16.
55. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1940, A.A.S. XXXIII,
1941, pp. 5 14.
56. De civitate Dei, Book IV, ch. 4; Patrologia Latina, 41, 115; cf.
Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1939, A.A.S. XXXII, 1940, pp.
57. Cf. Radio Message of Pius XII, Christmas Eve, 1941, A.A.S. XXXIV,
1942, pp. 10-21.
58. Cf. Encycl. Mater et Magistra of John XXIII, A.A.S. LIII, 1961, p.
59. Cf. Radio Message, Christmas Eve, 1941, A.A.S. XXXIV, 1942, p. 17;
and Exhortation of Benedict XV to the rulers of peoples at war, Aug. 1,
1917, A.A.S. IX, 1917, p. 418.
60. Cf. Radio Message, Aug. 24,1939, A.A.S. XXXI, 1939, p. 334.
61. A.A.S. LIII, 1961, pp. 440-441.
62. Cf. Radio Message, Christmas Eve, 1941, A.A.S. XXXIV, 1942, pp. 16-17.
63. Encycl. Mater et Magistra of John XXIII, A.A.S. LIII, 1961, p. 443.
64. Cf. Address of Pius XII to youths of Catholic Action from the
dioceses of Italy gathered in Rome, Sept. 12,1948, A.A.S. XL p. 412.
65. Cf. Encycl. Mater et Magistra of John XXIII, A.A S. LIII, 1961, p.
66. Ibid., p. 456.
67. Ibid., p. 456; cf. Encycl. Immortale Dei of Leo XIII, Acta Leonis
XIII, V, 1885, p. 128; Encycl. Ubi Arcano of Pius XI, A.A.S. XIV, 1922,
p. 698; and Address of Pius XII to Delegates of the International Union
of Catholic Women's Leagues gathered in Rome for a joint convention,
Sept. 11, 1947, A.A.S. XXXIX, 1947, p. 486.
68. Cf. Address to workers from the dioceses of Italy gathered in Rome,
Pentecost, June 13, 1943, A.A.S. XXXV, 1943, p. 175.
69. Miscellanea Augustiniana . . . Sermones post Maurinos reperti of St.
Augustine, Rome, 1930, p. 633.
70. Cf. Is. 9, 5.
71. Eph 2, 14-17.
72. Responsory at Matins on the Friday after Easter.
73. Jn. 14, 27.
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