MATER ET MAGISTRA ENCYCLICAL OF POPE JOHN XXIII ON MAY 15, 1961 To His Venerable Brethren
MATER ET MAGISTRA ENCYCLICAL OF POPE JOHN XXIII ON MAY 15, 1961
To His Venerable Brethren the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops,
and all other Local Ordinaries that are at Peace and in Communion with
the Apostolic See, and to the Clergy and Faithful of the entire Catholic
Venerable Brethren and Dearest Sons, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
Mother and Teacher of all nations--such is the Catholic Church in the
mind of her Founder, Jesus Christ; to hold the world in an embrace of
love, that men, in every age, should find in her their own completeness
in a higher order of living, and their ultimate salvation. She is "the
pillar and ground of the truth." To her was entrusted by her holy
Founder the twofold task of giving life to her children and of teaching
them and guiding them--both as individuals and as nations--with maternal
care. Great is their dignity, a dignity which she has always guarded most
zealously and held in the highest esteem.
2. Christianity is the meeting-point of earth and heaven. It lays claim
to the whole man, body and soul, intellect ant will, inducing him to
raise his mind above the changing conditions of this earthly existence
and reach upwards for the eternal life of heaven, where one day he will
find his unfailing happiness and peace.
3. Hence, though the Church's first care must be for souls, how she can
sanctify them and make them share in the gifts of heaven, she concerns
herself too with the exigencies of man's daily life, with his livelihood
and education, and his general, temporal welfare and prosperity.
4. In all this she is but giving effect to those principles which Christ
Himself established in the Church He founded. When He said "I am the way,
and the truth, and the life," "I am the light of the world," it was
doubtless man's eternal salvation that was uppermost in His mind, but He
showed His concern for the material welfare of His people when, seeing
the hungry crowd of His followers, He was moved to exclaim: "I have
compassion on the multitude." And these were no empty words of our
divine Redeemer. Time and again He proved them by His actions, as when He
miraculously multiplied bread to alleviate the hunger of the crowds.
5. Bread it was for the body, but it was intended also to foreshadow that
other bread, that heavenly food of the soul, which He was to give them on
"the night before He suffered."
6. Small wonder, then, that the Catholic Church, in imitation of Christ
and in fulfillment of His commandment, relies not merely upon her
teaching to hold aloft the torch of charity, but also upon her own
widespread example. This has been her course now for nigh on two thousand
years, from the early ministrations of her deacons right down to the
present time. It is a charity which combines the precepts and practice of
mutual love. It holds fast to the twofold aspect of Christ's command to
give, and summarizes the whole of the Church's social teaching and
7. An outstanding instance of this social teaching and action carried on
by the Church throughout the ages is undoubtedly that magnificent
encyclical on the christianizing of the conditions of the working
classes, Rerum Novarum, published seventy years ago by Our Predecessor,
8. Seldom have the words of a Pontiff met with such universal acclaim. In
the weight and scope of his arguments, and in the forcefulness of their
expression, Pope Leo XIII can have but few rivals. Beyond any shadow of
doubt, his directives and appeals have established for themselves a
position of such high importance that they will never, surely, sink into
oblivion. They opened out new horizons for the activity of the universal
Church, and the Supreme Shepherd, by giving expression to the hardships
and sufferings and aspirations of the lowly and oppressed, made himself
the champion and restorer of their rights.
9. The impact of this remarkable encyclical is still with us even today,
so many years after it was written. It is discernible in the writings of
the Popes who succeeded Pope Leo. In their social and economic teaching
they have frequent recourse to the Leonine Encyclical, either to draw
inspiration from it and clarify its application, or to find in it a
stimulus to Catholic action. It is discernible too in the subsequent
legislation of a number of States. What further proof need we of the
permanent validity of the solidly grounded principles, practical
directives and fatherly appeals contained in this masterly encyclical? It
also suggests new and vital criteria by which men can judge the magnitude
of the social question as it presents itself today, and decide on the
course of action they must take.
10. Leo XIII spoke in a time of social and economic upheaval, of
heightening tensions and actual revolt. Against this dark background, the
brilliance of his teaching stands out in clear relief.
11. As is well known, the outlook that prevailed on economic matters was
for the most part a purely naturalistic one, which denied any correlation
between economics and morality. Personal gain was considered the only
valid motive for economic activity. In business the main operative
principle was that of free and unrestricted competition. Interest on
capital, prices--whether of goods or of services--profits and wages, were
to be determined by the purely mechanical application of the laws of the
market place. Every precaution was to be taken to prevent the civil
authority from intervening in any way in economic matters. The status of
trade unions varied in different countries. They were either forbidden,
tolerated, or recognized as having private legal personality only.
12. In an economic world of this character, it was the might of the
strongest which not only arrogated to itself the force of law, but also
dominated the ordinary business relationships between individuals, and
thereby undermined the whole economic structure.
13. Enormous riches accumulated in the hands of a few, while large
numbers of workingmen found themselves in conditions of ever-increasing
hardship. Wages were insufficient even to the point of reaching
starvation level, and working conditions were often of such a nature as
to be injurious alike to health, morality and religious faith. Especially
inhuman were the working conditions to which women and children were
sometimes subjected. There was also the constant specter of unemployment
and the progressive disruption of family life.
14. The natural consequence of all this was a spirit of indignation and
open protest on the part of the workingman, and a widespread tendency to
subscribe to extremist theories far worse in their effects than the evils
they purported to remedy.
15. It was at such a time and under pressure of such circumstances as
these that Leo XIII wrote his social encyclical, Rerum Novarum, based on
the needs of human nature itself and animated by the principles and
spirit of the Gospel. His message, not unnaturally, aroused opposition in
some quarters, but was received by the majority of people with the
greatest admiration and enthusiasm.
It was not, of course, the first occasion on which the Apostolic See had
come out strongly in defense of the earthly interests of the poor;
indeed, Leo himself had made other pronouncements which in a sense had
prepared the way for his encyclical. But here for the first time was a
complete synthesis of social principles, formulated with such historical
insight as to be of permanent value to Christendom. It is rightly
regarded as a compendium of Catholic social and economic teaching.
16. In this Leo XIII showed his complete mastery of the situation. There
were those who presumed to accuse the Church of taking no interest in
social matters other than to preach resignation to the poor and
generosity to the rich, but Leo XIII had no hesitation in proclaiming and
defending the legitimate rights of the workers. As he said at the
beginning of his exposition of the principles and precepts of the Church
in social matters: "We approach the subject with confidence, and in the
exercise of the rights which manifestly appertain to Us, for no practical
solution of this question will be found apart from the counsel of
religion and of the Church."
17. You know well enough, Venerable Brethren, the basic economic and
social principles for the reconstruction of human society enunciated so
clearly and authoritatively by this great Pope.
18. They concern first of all the question of work, which must be
regarded not merely as a commodity, but as a specifically human activity.
In the majority of cases a man's work is his sole means of livelihood.
Its remuneration, therefore, cannot be made to depend on the state of the
market. It must be determined by the laws of justice and equity. Any
other procedure would be a clear violation of justice, even supposing the
contract of work to have been freely entered into by both parties.
19. Secondly, private ownership of property, including that of productive
goods, is a natural right which the State cannot suppress. But it
naturally entails a social obligation as well. It is a right which must
be exercised not only for one's own personal benefit but also for the
benefit of others.
20. As for the State, its whole raison d'etre is the realization of the
common good in the temporal order. It cannot, therefore, hold aloof from
economic matters. On the contrary, it must do all in its power to promote
the production of a sufficient supply of material goods, "the use of
which is necessary for the practice of virtue." It has also the duty
to protect the rights of all its people, and particularly of its weaker
members, the workers, women and children. It can never be right for the
State to shirk its obligation of working actively for the betterment of
the condition of the workingman.
21. It is furthermore the duty of the State to ensure that terms of
employment are regulated in accordance with justice and equity, and to
safeguard the human dignity of workers by making sure that they are not
required to work in an environment which may prove harmful to their
material and spiritual interests. It was for this reason that the Leonine
encyclical enunciated those general principles of rightness and equity
which have been assimilated into the social legislation of many a modern
State, and which, as Pope Pius XI declared in the encyclical Quadragesimo
Anno, have made no small contribution to the rise and development of
that new branch of jurisprudence called labor law.
22. Pope Leo XIII also defended the worker's natural right to enter into
association with his fellows. Such associations may consist either of
workers alone or of workers and employers, and should be structured in a
way best calculated to safeguard the workers' legitimate professional
interest. And it is the natural right of the workers to work without
hindrance, freely, and on their own initiative within these associations
for the achievement of these ends.
23. Finally, both workers and employers should regulate their mutual
relations in accordance with the principle of human solidarity and
Christian brotherhood. Unrestricted competition in the liberal sense, and
the Marxist creed of class warfare, are clearly contrary to Christian
teaching and the nature of man.
24. These, Venerable Brethren, are the basic principles upon which a
genuine social and economic order must be built.
25. The response of good Catholics to this appeal and the enterprise they
showed in reducing these principles into practice is hardly surprising.
But others too, men of good will from every nation in the world, were
impelled, under pressure of human necessity, to pursue the same course.
26. Hence, the Leonine encyclical is rightly regarded, even today, as the
Magna Charta of social and economic reconstruction.
27. Forty years after the appearance of this magnificent summary of
Christian social principles, Our Predecessor, Pius XI, published his own
encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno.
28. In it the Supreme Pontiff confirmed the right and duty of the
Catholic Church to work for an equitable solution of the many pressing
problems weighing upon human society and calling for a joint effort by
all the people. He reiterated the principles of the Leonine encyclical
and stressed those directives which were applicable to modern conditions.
In addition, he took the opportunity not only to clarify certain points
of this teaching which had given rise to difficulties even in the minds
of Catholics, but also to reformulate Christian social thought in the
light of changed conditions.
29. The difficulties referred to principally concerned the Catholic's
attitude to private property, the wage system, and moderate Socialism.
30. With regard to private property, Our Predecessor reaffirmed its
origin in natural law, and enlarged upon its social aspect and the
obligations of ownership.
31. As for the wage system, while rejecting the view that it is unjust of
its very nature, he condemned the inhuman and unjust way in which is it
so often implemented, and specified the terms and conditions to be
observed if justice and equity are not to be violated.
32. In this connection, as Our Predecessor clearly points out, it is
advisable in the present circumstances that the wage-contract be somewhat
modified by applying to it elements taken from the contract of
partnership, so that "wage-earners and other employees participate in the
ownership or the management, or in some way share in the profits."
33. Of special doctrinal and practical importance is his affirmation that
"if the social and individual character of work be overlooked, it can be
neither justly valued nor equitably recompensed." In determining
wages, therefore, justice demands that account be taken not only of the
needs of the individual workers and their families, but also of the
financial state of the business concern for which they work and of "the
economic welfare of the whole people."
34. Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between
Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could
subscribe even to moderate Socialism. The reason is that Socialism is
founded on a doctrine of human society which is bounded by time and takes
no account of any objective other than that of material well-being.
Since, therefore, it proposes a form of social organization which aims
solely at production, it places too severe a restraint on human liberty,
at the same time flouting the true notion of social authority.
35. Pius XI was not unaware of the fact that in the forty years that had
supervened since the publication of the Leonine encyclical the historical
scene had altered considerably. It was clear, for example, that
unregulated competition had succumbed to its own inherent tendencies to
the point of practically destroying itself. It had given rise to a great
accumulation of wealth, and, in the process, concentrated a despotic
economic power in the hands of a few "who for the most part are not the
owners, but only the trustees and directors of invested funds, which they
administer at their own good pleasure."
36. Hence, as the Pope remarked so discerningly, "economic domination has
taken the place of the open market. Unbridled ambition for domination has
succeeded the desire for gain; the whole economic regime has become hard,
cruel and relentless in frightful measure.'' As a consequence, even
the public authority was becoming the tool of plutocracy, which was thus
gaining a stranglehold on the entire world.
37. Pius XI saw the re-establishment of the economic world within the
framework of the moral order and the subordination of individual and
group interests to the interest of the common good as the principal
remedies for these evils. This, he taught, necessitated an orderly
reconstruction of society, with the establishment of economic and
vocational bodies which would be autonomous and independent of the State.
Public authority should resume its duty of promoting the common good of
all. Finally, there should be co-operation on a world scale for the
economic welfare of all nations.
38. Thus Pius XI's teaching in this encyclical can be summed up under two
heads. First he taught what the supreme criterion in economic matters
ought not to be. It must not be the special interests of individuals or
groups, nor unregulated competition, economic despotism, national
prestige or imperialism, nor any other aim of this sort.
39. On the contrary, all forms of economic enterprise must be governed by
the principles of social justice and charity.
40. The second point which We consider basic in the encyclical is his
teaching that man's aim must be to achieve in social justice a national
and international juridical order, with its network of public and private
institutions, in which all economic activity can be conducted not merely
for private gain but also in the interests of the common good.
41. For all that he did to render more precise the Christian definition
of social rights and duties, no small recognition is due to Our late
Predecessor, Pius XII. On Pentecost Sunday, June 1st, 1941, he broadcast
his message "to call to the attention of the Catholic world a memory
worthy of being written in letters of gold on the Church's Calendar: the
fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the epoch-making social
encyclical of Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum," and "to render to Almighty
God from the bottom of Our heart, Our humble thanks for the gift, which .
. . He bestowed on the Church in that encyclical of His vicar on earth,
and to praise Him for the life-giving breath of the Spirit which through
it, in ever-growing measure from that time on, has blown on all
42. In that broadcast message the great Pontiff claimed for the Church
"the indisputable competence" to "decide whether the bases of a given
social system are in accord with the unchangeable order which God our
Creator and Redeemer has shown us through the Natural Law and
Revelation." He confirmed the perennial validity and inexhaustible
worth of the teaching of Rerum Novarum, and took occasion "to give some
further directive moral principles on three fundamental values of social
and economic life. These three fundamental values, which are closely
connected one with the other, mutually complementary and dependent, are:
the use of material goods, work, and the family."
43. Concerning the use of material goods, Our Predecessor declared that
the right of every man to use these for his own sustenance is prior to
every other economic right, even that of private property. The right to
the private possession of material goods is admittedly a natural one;
nevertheless, in the objective order established by God, the right to
property cannot stand in the way of the axiomatic principle that "the
goods which were created by God for all men should flow to all alike,
according to the principles of justice and charity."
44. On the subject of work, Pius XII repeated the teaching of the Leonine
encyclical, maintaining that a man's work is at once his duty and his
right. It is for individuals, therefore, to regulate their mutual
relations where their work is concerned. If they cannot do so, or will
not do so, then, and only then, does "it fall back on the State to
intervene in the division and distribution of work, and this must be
according to the form and measure that the common good properly
45. In dealing with the family the Supreme Pontiff affirmed that the
private ownership of material goods has a great part to play in promoting
the welfare of family life. It "secures for the father of a family the
healthy liberty he needs in order to fulfill the duties assigned him by
the Creator regarding the physical, spiritual and religious welfare of
the family.'' It is in this that the right of families to migrate is
rooted. And so Our Predecessor, in speaking of migration, admonished both
parties involved, namely the country of departure and the country
receiving the newcomers, to seek always "to eliminate as far as possible
all obstacles to the birth and growth of real confidence" between the
nations. In this way both will contribute to, and share in, the increased
welfare of man and the progress of culture.
46. But in the twenty years which have elapsed since the changing
economic climate noted at that time by Pius XII the economic scene has
undergone a radical transformation, both in the internal structure of the
various States and in their relations with one another.
47. In the field of science, technology and economics we have the
discovery of nuclear energy, and its application first to the purposes of
war and later, increasingly, to peaceful ends; the practically limitless
possibilities of chemistry in the production of synthetic materials; the
growth of automation in industry and public services; the modernization
of agriculture the easing of communications, especially by radio and
television; faster transportation and the initial conquest of
48. In the social field we have the development of social insurance and,
in the more economically advanced communities, the introduction of social
security systems. Men in labor unions are showing a more responsible
awareness of the major social and economic problems. There is a
progressive improvement in basic education, a wider distribution of
essential commodities, greater opportunities for advancement in industry
and the consequent breaking down of class barriers, and a keener interest
in world affairs shown by people of average education.
At the same time, however, this assessment of the increased efficiency of
social and economic systems in a growing number of communities serves
also to bring to light certain glaring discrepancies. There is, in the
first place, a progressive lack of balance between agriculture on the one
hand, and industry and public services on the other. Secondly, there are
areas of varying economic prosperity within the same political
communities. Finally--to take a world view--one observes a marked
disparity in the economic wealth possessed by different countries.
49. To turn to the political field, We observe many changes. In a number
of countries all classes of citizens are taking a part in public life,
and public authorities are injecting themselves more each day into social
and economic matters. We are witnessing the break-away from colonialism
and the attainment of political independence by the peoples of Asia and
Africa. Drawn together by their common needs nations are becoming daily
more interdependent. There is, moreover, an ever extending network of
societies and organizations which set their sights beyond the aims and
interests of individual countries and concentrate on the economic,
social, cultural and political welfare of all nations throughout the
50. As We pass all this in review, We are aware of Our responsibility to
take up this torch which Our great predecessors lighted, and hand it on
with undiminished flame. It is a torch to lighten the pathways of all who
would seek appropriate solutions to the many social problems of our
times. Our purpose, therefore, is not merely to commemorate in a fitting
manner the Leonine encyclical, but also to confirm and make more specific
the teaching of Our predecessors, and to determine clearly the mind of
the Church on the new and important problems of the day.
51. It should be stated at the outset that in the economic order first
place must be given to the personal initiative of private citizens
working either as individuals or in association with each other in
various ways for the furtherance of common interests.
52. But--for reasons explained by Our predecessors--the civil power must
also have a hand in the economy. It has to promote production in a way
best calculated to achieve social progress and the well-being of all
53. And in this work of directing, stimulating, co-ordinating, supplying
and integrating, its guiding principle must be the "principle of
subsidiary function" formulated by Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno,
"This is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, unshaken and
unchangeable. . . Just as it is wrong to withdraw from the individual and
commit to a community what private enterprise and industry can
accomplish, so too it is an injustice, a grave evil and a disturbance of
right order, for a larger and higher association to arrogate to itself
functions which can be performed efficiently by smaller and lower
societies. Of its very nature the true aim of all social activity should
be to help members of the social body, but never to destroy or absorb
54. The present advance in scientific knowledge and productive technology
clearly puts it within the power of the public authority to a much
greater degree than ever before to reduce imbalances which may exist
between different branches of the economy or between different regions
within the same country or even between the different peoples of the
world. It also puts into the hands of public authority a greater means
for limiting fluctuations in the economy and for providing effective
measures to prevent the recurrence of mass unemployment. Hence the
insistent demands on those in authority--since they are responsible for
the common good--to increase the degree and scope of their activities in
the economic sphere, and to devise ways and means and set the necessary
machinery in motion for the attainment of this end.
55. But however extensive and far-reaching the influence of the State on
the economy may be, it must never be exerted to the extent of depriving
the individual citizen of his freedom of action. It must rather augment
his freedom while effectively guaranteeing the protection of his
essential personal rights. Among these is a man's right and duty to be
primarily responsible for his own upkeep and that of his family. Hence
every economic system must permit and facilitate the free development of
56. Moreover, as history itself testifies with ever-increasing clarity,
there can be no such thing as a well-ordered and prosperous society
unless individual citizens and the State co-operate in the economy. Both
sides must work together in harmony, and their respective efforts must be
proportioned to the needs of the common good in the prevailing
circumstances and conditions of human life.
57. Experience has shown that where personal initiative is lacking,
political tyranny ensues and, in addition, economic stagnation in the
production of a wide range of consumer goods and of services of the
material and spiritual order--those, namely, which are in a great measure
dependent upon the exercise and stimulus of individual creative talent.
58. Where, on the other hand, the good offices of the State are lacking
or deficient, incurable disorder ensues: in particular, the unscrupulous
exploitation of the weak by the strong. For men of this stamp are always
in evidence, and, like cockle among the wheat, thrive in every land.
59. Certainly one of the principal characteristics which seem to be
typical of our age is an increase in social relationships, in those
mutual ties, that is, which grow daily more numerous and which have led
to the introduction of many and varied forms of associations in the lives
and activities of citizens, and to their acceptance within our legal
framework. Scientific and technical progress, greater productive
efficiency and a higher standard of living are among the many present-day
factors which would seem to have contributed to this trend.
60. This development in the social life of man is at once a symptom and a
cause of the growing intervention of the State, even in matters which are
of intimate concern to the individual, hence of great importance and not
devoid of risk. We might cite as examples such matters as health and
education, the choice of a career, and the care and rehabilitation of the
physically and mentally handicapped.
It is also partly the result, partly the expression of a natural,
well-nigh irresistible urge in man to combine with his fellows for the
attainment of aims and objectives which are beyond the means or the
capabilities of single individuals. In recent times, this tendency has
given rise to the formation everywhere of both national and international
movements, associations and institutions with economic, cultural, social,
sporting, recreational, professional and political ends.
61. Clearly, this sort of development in social relationships brings many
advantages in its train. it makes it possible for, the individual to
exercise many of his personal rights, especially those which we call
economic and social and which pertain to the necessities of life, health
care, education on a more extensive and improved basis, a more thorough
professional training, housing, work, and suitable leisure and
recreation. Furthermore, the progressive perfection of modern methods of
thought-diffusion--the press, cinema, radio, television--makes it
possible for everyone to participate in human events the world over.
62. At the same time, however, this multiplication and daily extension of
forms of association brings with it a multiplicity of restrictive laws
and regulations in many departments of human life. As a consequence, it
narrows the sphere of a person's freedom of action. The means often used,
the methods followed, the atmosphere created, all conspire to make it
difficult for a person to think independently of outside influences, to
act on his own initiative, exercise his responsibility and express and
fulfill his own personality. what then? Must we conclude that these
increased social relationships necessarily reduce men to the condition of
being mere automatons? By no means.
63. For actually this growth in the social life of man is not a product
of natural forces working, as it were, by blind impulse. It is, as we
saw, the creation of men who are free and autonomous by nature--though
they must, of course, recognize and, in a sense, obey the laws of
economic development and social progress, and cannot altogether escape
from the pressure of environment.
64. The development of these social relationships, therefore, can and
ought to be realized in a way best calculated to promote its inherent
advantages and to preclude, or at least diminish, its attendant
65. To this end, a sane view of the common good must be present and
operative in men invested with public authority. They must take account
of all those social conditions which favor the full development of human
personality. Moreover, We consider it altogether vital that the numerous
intermediary bodies and corporate enterprises--which are, so to say, the
main vehicle of this social growth ' be really autonomous, and loyally
collaborate in pursuit of their own specific interests and those of the
common good. For these groups must themselves necessarily present the
form and substance of a true community, and this will only be the case if
they treat their individual members as human persons and encourage them
to take an active part in the ordering of their lives.
66. As these mutual ties binding the men of our age one to the other grow
and develop, governments will the more easily achieve a right order the
more they succeed in striking a balance between the autonomous and active
collaboration of individuals and groups, and the timely coordination and
encouragement by the State of these private undertakings.
67. So long as social relationships do in fact adhere to these principles
within the framework of the moral order, their extension does not
necessarily mean that individual citizens will be gravely discriminated
against or excessively burdened. On the contrary, we can hope that they
will help him to develop and perfect his own personal talents, and lead
to that organic reconstruction of society which Our Predecessor Pius XI
advocated in his encyclical Quadragesimo Anno as the indispensable
prerequisite for the fulfillment of the rights and obligations of social
68. We are filled with an overwhelming sadness when We contemplate the
sorry spectacle of millions of workers in many lands and entire
continents condemned through the inadequacy of their wages to live with
their families in utterly sub-human conditions. This is probably due to
the fact that the process of industrialization in these countries is only
in its initial stages, or is still not sufficiently developed.
69. Nevertheless, in some of these lands the enormous wealth, the
unbridled luxury, of the privileged few stands in violent, offensive
contrast to the utter poverty of the vast majority. In some parts of the
world men are being subjected to in human privations so that the output
of the national economy can be increased at a rate of acceleration beyond
what would be possible if regard were had to social justice and equity.
And in other countries a notable percentage of income is absorbed in
building up an ill-conceived national prestige, and vast sums are spent
70. In economically developed countries, relatively unimportant services,
and services of doubtful value, frequently carry a disproportionately
high rate of remuneration, while the diligent and profitable work of
whole classes of honest, hard-working men gets scant reward. Their rate
of pay is quite inadequate to meet the basic needs of life. It in no way
corresponds to the contribution they make to the good of the community,
to the profits of the company for which they work, and to the general
71. We therefore consider it Our duty to reaffirm that the remuneration
of work is not something that can be left to the laws of the marketplace;
nor should it be a decision left to the will of the more powerful. It
must be determined in accordance with justice and equity; which means
that workers must be paid a wage which allows them to live a truly human
life and to fulfill their family obligations in a worthy manner. Other
factors too enter into the assessment of a just wage: namely, the
effective contribution which each individual makes to the economic
effort, the financial state of the company for which he works, the
requirements of the general good of the particular country--having regard
especially to the repercussions on the overall employment of the working
force in the country as a whole--and finally the requirements of the
common good of the universal family of nations of every kind, both large
72. The above principles are valid always and everywhere. So much is
clear. But their degree of applicability to concrete cases cannot be
determined without reference to the quantity and quality of available
resources; and these can--and in fact do--vary from country to country,
and even, from time to time, within the same country.
73. In view of the rapid expansion of national economies, particularly
since the war, there is one very important social principle to which We
would draw your attention. It is this: Economic progress must be
accompanied by a corresponding social progress, so that all classes of
citizens can participate in the increased productivity. The utmost
vigilance and effort is needed to ensure that social inequalities, so far
from increasing, are reduced to a minimum.
74. As Our Predecessor Pius XII observed with evident justification:
"Likewise the national economy, as it is the product of the men who work
together in the community of the State, has no other end than to secure
without interruption the material conditions in which the individual life
of the citizens may fully develop. Where this is secured in a permanent
way, a people will be, in a true sense, economically rich, because the
general well-being, and consequently the personal right of all to the use
of worldly goods, is thus actuated in conformity with the purpose willed
by the Creator." From this it follows that the economic prosperity of
a nation is not so much its total assets in terms of wealth and property,
as the equitable division and distribution of this wealth. This it is
which guarantees the personal development of the members of society,
which is the true goal of a nation's economy.
75. We must notice in this connection the system of self-financing
adopted in many countries by large, or comparatively large firms. Because
these companies are financing replacement and plant expansion out of
their own profits, they grow at a very rapid rate. In such cases We
believe that the workers should be allocated shares in the firms for
which they work, especially when they are paid no more than a minimum
76. We should recall here the principle enunciated by Pius XI in
Quadragesimo Anno: "It is entirely false to ascribe to the property alone
or to the work alone whatever has been obtained through the combined
effort of both, and it is wholly unjust for either, denying the efficacy
of the other, to arrogate to itself whatever has been produced."
77. Experience suggests many ways in which the demands of justice can be
satisfied. Not to mention other ways, it is especially desirable today
that workers gradually come to share in the ownership of their company,
by ways and in the manner that seem most suitable. For today, even more
than in the time of Our Predecessor, "every effort must be made that at
least in future a just share only of the fruits of production be
permitted to accumulate in the hands of the wealthy, and that an ample
sufficiency be supplied to the workers."
78. But a further point needs emphasizing: Any adjustment between wages
and profits must take into account the demands of the common good of the
particular country and of the whole human family.
79. What are these demands? On the national level they include:
employment of the greatest possible number of workers; care lest
privileged classes arise, even among the workers; maintenance of
equilibrium between wages and prices; the need to make goods and services
accessible to the greatest number; elimination, or at least the
restriction, of inequalities in the various branches of the economy--that
is, between agriculture, industry and services; creation of a there
should be the possibility of moderating the contract of work by one of
85. Hence the craftsman's business and that of the family farm, as well
as the co-operative enterprise which aims at the completion and
perfection of both these concerns--all these are to be safeguarded and
encouraged in harmony with the common good and technical progress.
86. We shall return shortly to the question of the family farm. Here We
consider it appropriate to say something about artisan and co-operative
87. First of all it is necessary to emphasize that if these two kinds of
undertaking are to thrive and prosper they must be prepared constantly to
adjust their productive equipment and their productive methods to meet
new situations created by the advance of science and technology and the
changing demands and preferences of the consumer. This adaptation must be
effected principally by the workers themselves and the members of the
88. Both these groups, therefore, need a thoroughgoing technical and
general education, and should have their own professional organizations.
It is equally important that the government take the proper steps
regarding their training, taxation, credit, social security and insurance.
89. Furthermore, these two categories of citizens--craftsmen and members
of cooperatives--are fully entitled to these watchful measures of the
State, for they are upholding true human values and contributing to the
advance of civilization.
90. We therefore paternally invite Our beloved sons--craftsmen and
members of cooperatives throughout the world--to realize the greatness of
this task which is theirs in the State. By the force of their example
they are helping to keep alive in their own community a true sense of
responsibility, a spirit of co-operation, and the constant desire to
create new and original work of outstanding merit.
91. We, no less than Our predecessors, are convinced that employees are
justified in wishing to participate in the activity of the industrial
concern for which they work. It is not, of course, possible to lay down
hard and fast rules regarding the manner of such participation, for this
must depend upon prevailing conditions, which vary from firm to firm and
are frequently subject to rapid and substantial alteration. But We have
no doubt as to the need for giving workers an active part in the business
of the company for which they work--be it a private or a public one.
Every effort must be made to ensure that the enterprise is indeed a true
human community, concerned about the needs, the activities and the
standing of each of its members.
92. This demands that the relations between management and employees
reflect understanding, appreciation and good will on both sides. It
demands, too, that all parties co-operate actively and loyally in the
common enterprise, not so much for what they can get out of it for
themselves, but as discharging a duty and rendering a service to their
All this implies that the workers have their say in, and make their own
contribution to, the efficient running and development of the enterprise.
As Pius XII remarked, "the economic and social function which every man
aspires to fulfill, demands that the carrying on of the activity of each
one is not completely subjected to the others."
Obviously, any firm which is concerned for the human dignity of its
workers must also maintain a necessary and efficient unity of direction.
But it must not treat those employees who spend their days in service
with the firm as though they were mere cogs in the machinery, denying
them any opportunity of expressing their wishes or bringing their
experience to bear on the work in hand, and keeping them entirely passive
in regard to decisions that regulate their activity.
93. We would observe, finally, that the present demand for workers to
have a greater say in the conduct of the firm accords not only with man's
nature, but also with recent progress in the economic, social and
94. For although many unjust and inhuman economic and social imbalances
still exist in our day, and there are still many errors affecting the
activity, aims, structure and operation of economies the world over, it
is an undeniable fact that, thanks to the driving impulse of scientific
and technical advance, productive systems are today rapidly becoming more
modernized and efficient--more so than ever before. Hence a greater
technical skill is required of the workers, and more exacting
professional qualifications. Which means that they must be given more
assistance, and more free time in which to complete their vocational
training as well as to carry out more fittingly their cultural, moral and
95. As a further consequence, the modern youth is enabled to devote a
longer time to his basic schooling in the arts and sciences.
96. All this serves to create an environment in which workers are
encouraged to assume greater responsibility in their own sphere of
employment. In politics, too, it is of no small consequence that citizens
are becoming daily more aware of their responsibility for furthering the
common good in all spheres of life.
97. In modern times we have seen an extensive increase in the number of
workers' associations, and their general recognition in the juridical
codes of single States and on the international level. Members are no
longer recruited in order to agitate, but rather to co-operate,
principally by the method of collective bargaining. But it is worthwhile
stressing here how timely and imperative it is that workers be given the
opportunity to exert their influence throughout the State, and not just
within the limits of their own spheres of employment.
98. The reason for this is that the individual productive concerns,
regardless of their size, efficiency and importance in the State, form
but a part--an integral part--of a nation's entire economic and social
life, upon which their own prosperity must depend.
99. Hence it is not the decisions made within the individual productive
units which have the greatest bearing on the economy, but those made by
public authorities and by institutions which tackle the various economic
problems on a national or international basis. It is therefore very
appropriate, or even necessary, that these public authorities and
institutions bring the workers into their discussions, and those who
represent the rights, demands and aspirations of the workingmen; and not
confine their deliberations to those who merely represent the interests
100. It is Our prerogative to be a Father, and there is a special place
in Our thoughts and in Our heart for those professional groups and
Christian associations of workers which exist and operate in so many
parts of the world. We know the nature and extent of the difficulties
under which these dearest sons of Ours are laboring, as they strive
continually and effectually to promote in their own countries and
throughout the world the material and moral interests of the working
101. They are fully deserving of Our praise. The importance of their work
must be gauged not merely by its immediate and obvious results, but also
by its effect on the working world as a whole, where it helps to spread
sound principles of action and the wholesome influence of the Christian
102. We wish further to praise those dear sons of Ours who in a true
Christian spirit collaborate with other professional groups and workers'
associations which respect the natural law and the freedom of conscience
of their members.
103. We must also express here Our heartfelt appreciation of the work
that is being done by the International Labor Organization--popularly
known in various countries as the O.I.L. or I.L.O. or O.I.T. For many
years now it has been making an effective and valued contribution to the
establishment in the world of an economics and social order marked by
justice and humanity, an order which recognizes and safeguards the lawful
rights of the workingman.
104. It is well-known that in recent years in the larger industrial
concerns distinction has been growing between the ownership of productive
goods and the responsibility of company managers. This has created
considerable problems for public authorities, whose duty it is to see
that the aims pursued by the leaders of the principal
organizations--especially those which have an important part to play in
the national economy--do not conflict in any way with the interests of
the common good. Experience shows that these problems arise whether the
capital which makes possible these vast undertakings belongs to private
citizens or to public corporations.
105. It is also true that more and more people today, through belonging
to insurance groups and systems of social security, find that they can
face the future with confidence--the sort of confidence which formerly
resulted from their possession of a certain amount of property.
106. And another thing happening today is that people are aiming at
proficiency in their trade or profession rather than the acquisition of
private property. They think more highly of an income which derives from
capital and the rights of capital.
107. And this is as it should be. Work, which is the immediate expression
of a human personality, must always be rated higher than the possession
of external goods which of their very nature are merely instrumental.
This view of work is certainly an indication of an advance that has been
made in our civilization.
108. What, then, of that social and economic principle so vigorously
asserted and defended by Our predecessors: man's natural right to own
private property, including productive goods? Is this no longer operative
today, or has it lost some of its validity in view of the economic
conditions We have described above? This is the doubt that has arisen in
109. There is no reason for such a doubt to persist. The right of private
ownership of goods, including productive goods, has permanent validity.
It is part of the natural order, which teaches that the individual is
prior to society and society must be ordered to the good of the
Moreover, it would be quite useless to insist on free and personal
initiative in the economic field, while at the same time withdrawing
man's right to dispose freely of the means indispensable to the
achievement of such initiative.
Further, history and experience testify that in those political regimes
which do not recognize the rights of private ownership of goods,
productive included, the exercise of freedom in almost every other
direction is suppressed or stifled. This suggests, surely, that the
exercise of freedom finds its guarantee and incentive in the right of
110. This explains why social and political movements for the harmonizing
of justice and freedom in society, though until recently opposed to the
private ownership of productive goods, are today reconsidering their
position in the light of a clearer understanding of social history, and
are in fact now declaring themselves in favor of this right.
111. Accordingly, We make Our own the directive of Our Predecessor Pius
XII: "In defending the principle of private ownership the Church is
striving after an important ethico-social end. She does not intend merely
to uphold the present condition of things as if it were an expression of
the divine Will, or to protect on principle the rich and plutocrats
against the poor and indigent. . . The Church aims rather at securing
that the institution of private property be such as it should be
according to the plan of the divine Wisdom and the dispositions of
Nature." Hence private ownership must be considered as a guarantee of
the essential freedom of the individual, and at the same time an
indispensable element in a true social order.
112. Moreover, in recent years, as we have seen, the productive
efficiency of many national economies has been increasing rapidly.
justice and fairness demand, therefore, that, within the limits of the
common good, wages too shall increase. This means that workers are able
to save more and thus acquire a certain amount of property of their own.
In view of this it is strange that the innate character of a right which
derives its force and validity from the fruitfulness of work should ever
be called in question--a right which constitutes so efficacious a means
of asserting one's personality and exercising responsibility in every
field, and an element of solidity and security for family life and of
greater peace and prosperity in the State.
113. But it is not enough to assert that the right to own private
property and the means of production is inherent in human nature. We must
also insist on the extension of this right in practice to all classes of
114. As Our Predecessor Pius XII so rightly affirmed: The dignity of the
human person "normally demands the right to the use of the goods of the
earth, to which corresponds the fundamental obligation of granting an
opportunity to possess property to all if possible." This demand
arises from the moral dignity of work. It also guarantees "the
conservation and perfection of a social order which makes possible a
secure, even if modest, property to all classes of people."
115. Now, if ever, is the time to insist on a more widespread
distribution of property, in view of the rapid economic development of an
increasing number of States. It will not be difficult for the body
politic, by the adoption of various techniques of proved efficiency, to
pursue an economic and social policy which facilitates the widest
possible distribution of private property in terms of durable consumer
goods, houses, land, tools and equipment (in the case of craftsmen and
owners of family farms), and shares in medium and large business
concerns. This policy is in fact being pursued with considerable success
by several of the socially and economically advanced nations.
116. This, of course, is not to deny the lawfulness of State and public
ownership of productive goods, especially those which "carry with them a
power too great to be left to private individuals without injury to the
community at large."
117. State and public ownership of property is very much on the increase
today. This is explained by the exigencies of the common good, which
demand that public authority broaden its sphere of activity. But here,
too, the "principle of subsidiary function" must be observed. The State
and other agencies of public law must not extend their ownership beyond
what is clearly required by considerations of the common good properly
understood, and even then there must be safeguards. Otherwise private
ownership could be reduced beyond measure, or, even worse, completely
118. It is important, too, not to overlook the fact that the economic
enterprises of the State and other agencies of public law must be
entrusted to men of good reputation who have the necessary experience and
ability and a keen sense of responsibility towards their country.
Furthermore, a strict check should constantly be kept upon their
activity, so as to avoid any possibility of the concentration of undue
economic power in the hands of a few State officials, to the detriment of
the best interests of the community.
119. Our predecessors have insisted rime and again on the social function
inherent in the right of private ownership, for it cannot be denied that
in the plan of the Creator all of this world's goods are primarily
intended for the worthy support of the entire human race.
Hence, as Leo XIII so wisely taught in Rerum Novarum: "whoever has
received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings,
whether they be external and corporeal, or gifts of the mind, has
received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own
nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of
God's Providence, for the benefit of others. 'He that hath a talent,'
says St. Gregory the Great, 'let him see that he hide it not; he that
hath abundance, let him quicken himself to mercy and generosity; he that
hath art and skill, let him do his best to share the use and the utility
thereof with his neighbor."
120. In recent years the State and other agencies of public law have
extended, and are continuing to extend, the sphere of their activity and
initiative. But this does not mean that the doctrine of the social
function of private ownership is out of date, as some would maintain. It
is inherent in the very right of private ownership.
Then, too, a further consideration arises. Tragic situations and urgent
problems of an intimate and personal nature are continually arising which
the State with all its machinery is unable to remedy or assist. There
will always remain, therefore, a vast field for the exercise of human
sympathy and the Christian charity of individuals. We would observe,
finally, that the efforts of individuals, or of groups of private
citizens, are definitely more effective in promoting spiritual values
than is the activity of public authority.
121. We should notice at this point that the right of private ownership
is clearly sanctioned by the Gospel. Yet at the same time, the divine
Master frequently extends to the rich the insistent invitation to convert
their material goods into spiritual ones by conferring them on the poor.
"Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth; where the rust and moth
consume and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to
yourselves treasures in heaven; where neither the rust nor moth doth
consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." And the
Lord will look upon the charity given to the poor as given to Himself.
"Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least
brethren, you did it to me."
122. History shows with ever-increasing clarity that it is not only the
relations between workers and managers that need to be reestablished on
the basis of justice and equity, but also those between the various
branches of the economy, between areas of varying productivity within the
same political community, and between countries with a different degree
of social and economic development.
123. First, with regard to agriculture, it would not appear that the
rural population as a whole is decreasing, but it is an undeniable fact
that many people are moving away from their farms into more thickly
populated areas as well as into the cities themselves. When we realize
that this movement of population is going on in nearly every part of the
world, often on a large scale, we begin to appreciate the complexity of
the human problems involved and their difficulty of solution.
124. We know that as an economy develops, the number of people engaged in
agriculture decreases, while the percentage employed in industry and the
various services rises. Nevertheless, We believe that very often this
movement of population from farming to industry has other causes besides
those dependent upon economic expansion. Among these there is the desire
to escape from confining surroundings which offer little prospect of a
more comfortable way of life. There is the lure of novelty and adventure
which has taken such a hold on the present generation, the attractive
prospect of easy money, of greater freedom and the enjoyment of all the
amenities of town and city life. But a contributory cause of this
movement away from the country is doubtless the fact that farming has
become a depressed occupation. It is inadequate both in productive
efficiency and in the standard of living it provides.
125. Nearly every country, therefore, is faced with this fundamental
problem: What can be done to reduce the disproportion in productive
efficiency between agriculture on the one hand, and industry and services
on the other; and to ensure that agricultural living standards
approximate as closely as possible those enjoyed by city dwellers who
draw their resources either from industry or from the services in which
they are engaged? What can be done to persuade agricultural workers that,
far from being inferior to other people, they have every opportunity of
developing their personality through their work, and can look forward to
the future with confidence?
126. It seems to Us opportune to indicate certain directives that can
contribute to a solution of this problem: directives which We believe
have value whatever may be the historical environment in which one
acts--on condition, obviously, that they be applied in the manner and to
the degree allowed, suggested, or even demanded by the circumstances.
127. In the first place, considerable thought must be given, especially
by public authorities, to the suitable development of essential
facilities in country areas--such as roads; transportation; means of
communication; drinking water; housing; health services; elementary,
technical and professional education; religious and recreational
facilities; and the supply of modern installations and furnishings for
the farm residence. Such services as these are necessary nowadays if a
becoming standard of living is to be maintained. In those country areas
where they are lacking, economic and social progress is either prevented
or greatly impeded, with the result that nothing can be done to retard
the drift of population away from the land, and it even becomes difficult
to make a good appraisal of the numbers involved.
128. If a country is to develop economically, it must do so gradually,
maintaining an even balance between all sectors of the economy.
Agriculture, therefore, must be allowed to make use of the same reforms
in the method and type of production and in the conduct of the business
side of the venture as are permitted or required in the economic system
as a whole. All such reforms should correspond as nearly as possible with
those introduced in industry and the various services.
129. In this way, agriculture will absorb a larger amount of industrial
goods and require a better system of services. But at the same time it
will provide both industry and the services and the country as a whole
with the type of products which, in quantity and quality, best meet the
needs of the consumer and contribute to the stability of the purchasing
power of money--a major consideration in the orderly development of the
entire economic system.
130. One advantage which would result from the adoption of this plan
would be that it would be easier to keep track of the movement of the
working force set free by the progressive modernization of agriculture.
Facilities could then be provided for the training of such people for
their new kind of work, and they would not be left without economic aid
and the mental and spiritual assistance they need to ensure their proper
integration in their new social milieu.
131. In addition, a sound agricultural program is needed if public
authority is to maintain an evenly balanced progress in the various
branches of the economy. This must take into account tax policies,
credit, social insurance, prices, the fostering of ancillary industries
and the adjustment of the structure of farming as a business enterprise.
132. In a system of taxation based on justice and equity it is
fundamental that the burdens be proportioned to the capacity of the
133. But the common good also requires the public authorities, in
assessing the amount of tax payable, take cognizance of the peculiar
difficulties of farmers. They have to wait longer than most people for
their returns, and these are exposed to greater hazards. Consequently,
farmers find greater difficulty in obtaining the capital necessary to
134. For this reason, too, investors are more inclined to put their money
in industry rather than agriculture. Farmers are unable to pay high rates
of interest. Indeed, they cannot as a rule make the trading profit
necessary to furnish capital for the conduct and development of their own
business. It is therefore necessary, for reasons of the common good, for
public authorities to evolve a special credit policy and to form credit
banks which will guarantee such capital to farmers at a moderate rate of
135. In agriculture the existence of two forms of insurance may be
necessary: one concerned with agricultural produce, the other with the
farm workers and their families. We realize that agricultural workers
earn less per capita than workers in industry and the services, but that
is no reason why it should be considered socially just and equitable to
set up systems of social insurance in which the allowances granted to
farm workers and their families are substantially lower than those
payable to other classes of workers. Insurance programs that are
established for the general public should not differ markedly whatever be
the economic sector in which the individuals work or the source of their
136. Systems of social insurance and social security can make a most
effective contribution to the overall distribution of national income in
accordance with the principles of justice and equity. They can therefore
be instrumental in reducing imbalances between the different classes of
137. Given the special nature of agricultural produce, modern economists
must devise a suitable means of price protection. Ideally, such price
protection should be enforced by the interested parties themselves,
though supervision by the public authority cannot be altogether dispensed
138. On this subject it must not be forgotten that the price of
agricultural produce represents, for the most part, the reward of the
farmer's labor rather than a return on invested capital.
139. Hence, in Quadragesimo Anno Pope Pius XI rightly observed that "a
proper proportion between different wages is also a matter of
importance." He continued: "And intimately connected with this is a
proper proportion between the prices charged for the products of the
various economic groups, agricultural, industrial, and so forth."
140. While it is true that farm produce is mainly intended for the
satisfaction of man's primary needs, and the price should therefore be
within the means of all consumers, this cannot be used as an argument for
keeping a section of the population--farm workers--in a permanent state
of economic and social inferiority, depriving them of the wherewithal for
a decent standard of living. This would be diametrically opposed to the
141. Moreover, the time has come to promote in agricultural regions the
establishment of those industries and services which are concerned with
the preservation, processing and transportation of farm products.
Enterprises relating to other sectors of the economy might also be
established there. In this case the rural population would have another
means of income at their disposal, a means which they could exploit in
the social milieu to which they are accustomed.
142. It is not possible to determine a priori what the structure of farm
life should be, since rural conditions vary so much from place to place
and from country to country throughout the world. But if we hold to a
human and Christian concept of man and the family, we are bound to
consider as an ideal that form of enterprise which is modeled on the
basis of a community of persons working together for the advancement of
their mutual interests in accordance with the principles of justice and
Christian teaching. We are bound above all to consider as an ideal the
kind of farm which is owned and managed by the family. Every effort must
be made in the prevailing circumstances to give effective encouragement
to farming enterprises of this nature.
143. But if the family farm is not to go bankrupt it must make enough
money to keep the family in reasonable comfort. To ensure this, farmers
must be given up-to-date instruction on the latest methods of
cultivation, and the assistance of experts must be put at their disposal.
They should also form a flourishing system of cooperative undertakings,
and organize themselves professionally to take an effective part in
public life, both on the administrative and the political level.
144. We are convinced that the farming community must take an active part
in its own economic advancement, social progress and cultural betterment.
Those who live on the land can hardly fail to appreciate the nobility of
the work they are called upon to do. They are living in close harmony
with Nature--the majestic temple of Creation. Their work has to do with
the life of plants and animals, a life that is inexhaustible in its
expression, inflexible in its laws, rich in allusions to God the Creator
and Provider. They produce food for the support of human life, and the
raw materials of industry in ever richer supply.
145. Theirs is a work which carries with it a dignity all its own. It
brings into its service many branches of engineering, chemistry and
biology, and is itself a cause of the continued practical development of
these sciences in view of the repercussions of scientific and technical
progress on the business of farming. It is a work which demands a
capacity for orientation and adaptation, patient waiting, a sense of
responsibility, and a spirit of perseverance and enterprise.
146. It is important also to bear in mind that in agriculture, as in
other sectors of production, association is a vital need today especially
in the case of family farms. Rural workers should feel a sense of
solidarity with one another, and should unite to form co-operatives and
professional associations. These are very necessary if farm workers are
to benefit from scientific and technical methods of production and
protect the prices of their products. They are necessary, too, if they
are to attain an equal footing with other professional classes who, in
most cases, have joined together in associations. They are necessary,
finally, if farm workers are to have their proper voice in political
circles and in public administration. The lone voice is not likely to
command much of a hearing in times such as ours.
147. In using their various organizations, agricultural workers--as
indeed all other classes of workers--must always be guided by moral
principles and respect for the civil law. They must try to reconcile
their rights and interests with those of other classes of workers, and
even subordinate the one to the other if the common good demands it. If
they show themselves alive to the common good and contribute to its
realizations, they can legitimately demand that their efforts for the
improvement of agricultural conditions be seconded and complemented by
148. We therefore desire here to express Our satisfaction with those sons
of Ours the world over who are actively engaged in co operatives, in
professional groups and in worker movements intent on raising the
economic and social standards of the agricultural community.
149. In the work on the farm the human personality finds every incentive
for self-expression, self-development and spiritual growth. It is a work,
therefore, which should be thought of as a vocation, a God-given mission,
an answer to God's call to actuate His providential, saving plan in
history. It should be thought of, finally, as a noble task, undertaken
with a view to raising oneself and others to a higher degree of
150. Among citizens of the same political community there is often a
marked degree of economic and social inequality. The main reason for this
is the fact that they are living and working in different areas, some of
which are more economically developed than others.
Where this situation obtains, justice and equity demand that public
authority try to eliminate or reduce such imbalances. It should ensure
that the less developed areas receive such essential public services as
their circumstances require, in order to bring the standard of living in
these areas into line with the national average. Furthermore, a suitable
economic and social policy must be devised which will take into account
the supply of labor, the drift of population, wages, taxes, credit, and
the investing of money, especially in expanding industries. In short, it
should be a policy designed to promote useful employment, enterprising
initiative, and the exploitation of local resources.
151. But the justification of all government action is the common good.
Public authority, therefore, must bear in mind the interests of the state
as a whole; which means that it must promote all three areas of
production--agriculture, industry and services--simultaneously and
evenly. Everything must be done to ensure that citizens of the less
developed areas are treated as responsible human beings, and are allowed
to play the major role in achieving their own economic, social and
152. Private enterprise too must contribute to an economic and social
balance in the different areas of the same political community. Indeed,
in accordance with "the principle of subsidiary function," public
authority must encourage and assist private enterprise, entrusting to it,
wherever possible, the continuation of economic development.
153. It is not out of place to remark here on a problem which exists in
quite a number of countries, namely, a gross disproportion between land
and population. In some countries arable land abounds, but there is a
scarcity of population; whereas in other countries the position is
reversed: the population is large, arable land scarce.
154. Again, some countries use primitive methods of agriculture, with the
result that, for all their abundance of natural resources, they are not
able to produce enough food to feed their population; whereas other
countries, using modern methods of agriculture, produce a surplus of food
which has an adverse effect on the economy.
155. It is therefore obvious that the solidarity of the human race and
Christian brotherhood demand the elimination as far as possible of these
discrepancies. With this object in view, people all over the world must
co-operate actively with one another in all sorts of ways, so as to
facilitate the movement of goods, capital and men from one country to
another. We shall have more to say on this point later on.
156. Here We would like to express Our sincere appreciation of the work
which the F.A.0. has undertaken to establish effective collaboration
among nations, to promote the modernization of agriculture especially in
less developed countries, and to alleviate the suffering of
157. Probably the most difficult problem today concerns the relationship
between political communities that are economically advanced and those in
the process of development. Whereas the standard of living is high in the
former, the latter are subject to extreme poverty The solidarity which
binds all men together as members of a common family makes it impossible
for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and
poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even
elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and
more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a
lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.
158. Mindful of Our position as the father of all peoples, We feel
constrained to repeat here what We said on another occasion: "We are all
equally responsible for the undernourished people" [Hence], it is
necessary to educate one's conscience to the sense of responsibility
which weighs upon each and every one, especially upon those who are more
blessed with this world's goods.''
159. The Church has always emphasized that this obligation of helping
those who are in misery and want should be felt most strongly by
Catholics, in view of the fact that they are members of the Mystical Body
of Christ. "In this we have known the charity of God," says St. John,
"because he has laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our
lives for the brethren. He that hath the substance of this world and
shall see his brother in need and shall shut up his bowels from him; how
doth the charity of God abide in him?"
160. It is therefore a great source of joy to Us to see those nations
which enjoy a high degree of economic wealth helping the nations not so
well provided, so that they may more effectively raise their standard of
161. Justice and humanity demand that those countries which produce
consumer goods, especially farm products, in excess of their own needs
should come to the assistance of those other countries where large
sections of the population are suffering from want and hunger. It is
nothing less than an outrage to justice and humanity to destroy or to
squander goods that other people need for their very lives.
162. We are, of course, well aware that overproduction, especially in
agriculture, can cause economic harm to a certain section of the
population. But it does not follow that one is thereby exonerated from
extending emergency aid to those who need it. On the contrary, everything
must be done to minimize the ill effects of overproduction, and to spread
the burden equitably over the entire population.
163. Of itself, however, emergency aid will not go far in relieving want
and famine when these are caused--as they so often are--by the primitive
state of a nation's economy. The only permanent remedy for this is to
make use of every possible means of providing these citizens with the
scientific, technical and professional training they need, and to put at
their disposal the necessary capital for speeding up their economic
development with the help of modern methods.
164. We are aware how deeply the public conscience has been affected in
recent years by the urgent need of supporting the economic development
and social progress of those countries which are still struggling against
poverty and economic disabilities.
165. International and regional organizations, national and private
societies, all are working towards this goal, increasing day to day the
measure of their own technical co operation in all productive spheres. By
their combined efforts thousands of young people are being given
facilities for attending the universities of the more advanced countries,
and acquiring an up-to-date scientific, technical and professional
training. World banking institutes, individual States and private persons
are helping to furnish the capital for an ever richer network of economic
enterprises in the less wealthy countries. It is a magnificent work that
they are doing, and We are most happy to take this occasion of giving it
the praise that it deserves. It is a work, however, which needs to be
increased, and We hope that the years ahead will see the wealthier
nations making even greater efforts for the scientific, technical and
economic advancement of those political communities whose development is
still only in its initial stages.
166. We consider it Our duty to give further advice on this matter.
167. In the first place, those nations which are still only at the
beginning of their journey along the road to economic development would
do well to consider carefully the experiences of the wealthier nations
which have traversed this road before them.
168. Increase in production and productive efficiency is, of course,
sound policy, and indeed a vital necessity. However, it is no less
necessary--and justice itself demands--that the riches produced be
distributed fairly among all members of the political community. This
means that everything must be done to ensure that social progress keeps
pace with economic progress. Again, every sector of the
economy--agriculture, industry and the services--must progress evenly and
169. The developing nations, obviously, have certain unmistakable
characteristics of their own, resulting from the nature of the particular
region and the natural dispositions of their citizens, with their
time-honored traditions and customs.
170. In helping these nations, therefore, the more advanced communities
must recognize and respect this individuality. They must beware of making
the assistance they give an excuse for forcing these people into their
own national mold.
171. There is also a further temptation which the economically developed
nations must resist: that of giving technical and financial aid with a
view to gaining control over the political situation in the poorer
countries, and furthering their own plans for world domination.
172. Let us be quite clear on this point. A nation that acted from these
motives would in fact be introducing a new form of colonialism--cleverly
disguised, no doubt, but actually reflecting that older, outdated type
from which many nations have recently emerged. Such action would,
moreover, have harmful impact on international relations, and constitute
a menace to world peace.
173. Necessity, therefore, and justice demand that all such technical and
financial aid be given without thought of domination, but rather for the
purpose of helping the less developed nations to achieve their own
economic and social growth.
174. If this can be achieved, then a precious contribution will have been
made to the formation of a world community, in which each individual
nation, conscious of its rights and duties, can work on terms of equality
with the rest for the attainment of universal prosperity.
175. Scientific and technical progress, economic development and the
betterment of living conditions, are certainly valuable elements in a
civilization. But we must realize that they are essentially instrumental
in character. They are not supreme values in themselves.
176. It pains Us, therefore, to observe the complete indifference to the
true hierarchy of values shown by so many people in the economically
developed countries. Spiritual values are ignored, forgotten or denied,
while the progress of science, technology and economics is pursued for
its own sake, as though material well-being were the be-all and end-all
of life. This attitude is contagious, especially when it infects the work
that is being done for the less developed countries, which have often
preserved in their ancient traditions an acute and vital awareness of the
more important human values, on which the moral order rests.
177. To attempt to undermine this national integrity is clearly immoral.
It must be respected and as far as possible clarified and developed, so
that it may remain what it is: a foundation of true civilization.
178. The Church is by divine right universal. History itself bears this
out, for the Church is present everywhere on earth, doing all that she
can to embrace all peoples.
179. Now, in bringing people to Christ, the Church has invariably--both
now and in the past--brought them many social and economical advantages.
For true Christians cannot help feeling obliged to improve their own
temporal institutions and environment. They do all they can to prevent
these institutions from doing violence to human dignity. They encourage
whatever is conducive to honesty and virtue, and strive to eliminate
every obstacle to the attainment of this aim.
180. Moreover, in becoming as it were the life-blood of these people, the
Church is not, nor does she consider herself to be, a foreign body in
their midst. Her presence brings about the rebirth, the resurrection, of
each individual in Christ; and the man who is reborn and rises again in
Christ never feels himself constrained from without. He feels himself
free in the very depth of his being, and freely raised up to God. And
thus he affirms and develops that side of his nature which is noblest and
181. "The Church of Jesus Christ," as Our Predecessor Pius XII observed
with such penetration, "is the repository of His wisdom; she is certainly
too wise to discourage or belittle those peculiarities and differences
which mark out one nation from another. It is quite legitimate for
nations to treat those differences as a sacred inheritance and guard them
at all costs. The Church aims at unity, a unity determined and kept alive
by that supernatural love which should be actuating everybody; she does
not aim at a uniformity which would only be external in its effects and
would cramp the natural tendencies of the nations concerned. Every nation
has its own genius, its own qualities, springing from the hidden roots of
its being. The wise development, the encouragement within limits, of that
genius, those qualities, does no harm; and if a nation cares to take
precautions, to lay down rules, for that end, it has the Church's
approval. She is mother enough to befriend such projects with her prayers
provided that they are not opposed to the duties incumbent on men from
their common origin and shared destiny."
182. It is a source of profound satisfaction to Us to see the prominent
part which is being played by Catholic citizens of the less wealthy
countries in the economic and social development of their own State.
183. Then, too, the Catholics of the wealthier States are doing all they
can to increase the effectiveness of the social and economic work that is
being done for the poorer nations. We would give Our special approval to
the increasing assistance they are giving, in all sorts of ways, to
African and Asian students scattered throughout the universities of
Europe and America; and to the care that is being devoted to the training
of those persons who are prepared to go to the less wealthy areas in
order to engage in work of technical and professional nature.
184. To these Our beloved sons in every land who, in promoting genuine
progress and civilization, are a living proof of the Church's perennial
vitality, We wish to extend Our kind and fatherly word of appreciation
185. How can economic development and the supply of food keep pace with
the continual rise in population? This is a question which constantly
obtrudes itself today--a world problem, as well as one for the
186. As a world problem, the case is put thus: According to sufficiently
reliable statistics the next few decades will see a very great increase
in human population, whereas economic development will proceed at a
slower rate. Hence, we are told, if nothing is done to check this rise in
population, the world will be faced in the not too distant future with an
increasing shortage in the necessities of life.
187. As it affects the less developed countries, the problem is stated
thus: The resources of modern hygiene and medicine will very shortly
bring about a notable decrease in the mortality rate, especially among
infants, while the birth rate--which in such countries is unusually
high--will tend to remain more or less constant, at least for a
considerable period. The excess of births over deaths will therefore show
a steep rise, whereas there will be no corresponding increase in the
productive efficiency of the economy. Accordingly, the standard of living
in these poorer countries cannot possibly improve. It must surely worsen,
even to the point of extreme hardship. Hence there are those who hold the
opinion that, in order to prevent a serious crisis from developing, the
conception and birth of children should be secretly avoided, or, in any
event, curbed in some way.
188. Truth to tell, we do not seem to be faced with any immediate or
imminent world problem arising from the disproportion between the
increase of population and the supply of food. Arguments to this effect
are based on such unreliable and controversial data that they can only be
of very uncertain validity.
189. Besides, the resources which God in His goodness and wisdom has
implanted in Nature are well-nigh inexhaustible, and He has at the same
time given man the intelligence to discover ways and means of exploiting
these resources for his own advantage and his own livelihood. Hence, the
real solution of the problem is not to be found in expedients which
offend against the divinely established moral order and which attack
human life at its very source, but in a renewed scientific and technical
effort on man's part to deepen and extend his dominion over Nature. The
progress of science and technology that has already been achieved opens
up almost limitless horizons in this field.
190. As for the problems which face the poorer nations in various parts
of the world, We realize, of course, that these are very real. They are
caused, more often than not, by a deficient economic and social
organization, which does not offer living conditions proportionate to the
increase in population. They are caused, also, by the lack of effective
solidarity among such peoples.
191. But granting this, We must nevertheless state most emphatically that
no statement of the problem and no solution to it is acceptable which
does violence to man's essential dignity; those who propose such
solutions base them on an utterly materialistic conception of man himself
and his life.
192. The only possible solution to this question is one which envisages
the social and economic progress both of individuals and of the whole of
human society, and which respects and promotes true human values. First
consideration must obviously be given to those values which concern man's
dignity generally, and the immense worth of each individual human life.
Attention must then be turned to the need for worldwide co-operation
among men, with a view to a fruitful and well-regulated interchange of
useful knowledge, capital and manpower.
193. We must solemnly proclaim that human life is transmitted by means of
the family, and the family is based upon a marriage which is one and
indissoluble and, with respect to Christians, raised to the dignity of a
sacrament. The transmission of human life is the result of a personal and
conscious act, and, as such, is subject to the all-holy, inviolable and
immutable laws of God, which no man may ignore or disobey. He is not
therefore permitted to use certain ways and means which are allowable in
the propagation of plant and animal life.
194. Human life is sacred--all men must recognize that fact. From its
very inception it reveals the creating hand of God. Those who violate His
laws not only offend the divine majesty and degrade themselves and
humanity, they also sap the vitality of the political community of which
they are members.
195. It is of the utmost importance that parents exercise their right and
obligation toward the younger generation by securing for their children a
sound cultural and religious formation. They must also educate them to a
deep sense of responsibility in life, especially in such matters as
concern the foundation of a family and the procreation and education of
children. They must instill in them an unshakable confidence in Divine
Providence and a determination to accept the inescapable sacrifices and
hardships involved in so noble and important a task as the co-operation
with God in the transmitting of human life and the bringing up of
To the attainment of this end nothing can be more effective than those
principles and that supernatural aid which the Church supplies. On this
score alone the right of the Church to full liberty in the exercise of
her mission must be recognized.
196. Genesis relates how God gave two commandments to our first parents:
to transmit human life--"Increase and mutliply"--and to bring nature
into their service--"Fill the earth, and subdue it." These two
commandments are complementary.
197. Nothing is said in the second of these commandments about destroying
nature. On the contrary, it must be brought into the service of human
198. We are sick at heart, therefore, when We observe the contradiction
which has beguiled so much modern thinking. On the one hand we are shown
the fearful specter of want and misery which threatens to extinguish
human life, and on the other hand we find scientific discoveries,
technical inventions and economic resources being used to provide
terrible instruments of ruin and death.
199. A provident God grants sufficient means to the human race to find a
dignified solution to the problems attendant upon the transmission of
human life. But these problems can become difficult of solution, or even
insoluble, if man, led astray in mind and perverted in will, turns to
such means as are opposed to right reason, and seeks ends that are
contrary to his social nature and the intentions of Providence.
200. The progress of science and technology in every aspect of life has
led, particularly today, increased relationships between nations. and
made the nations more and more dependent on one another.
201. As a rule no single commonwealth has sufficient resources at its
command to solve the more important scientific, technical, economic,
social, political and cultural problems which confront it at the present
time. These problems are necessarily the concern of a whole group of
nations, and possibly of the whole world.
202. Individual political communities may indeed enjoy a high degree of
culture and civilization. They may have a large and industrious
population, an advanced economic structure, great natural resources and
extensive territories. Yet, even so, in isolation from the rest of the
world they are quite incapable of finding an adequate solution to their
major problems. The nations, therefore, must work with each other for
their mutual development and perfection. They can help themselves only in
so far as they succeed in helping one another. That is why international
understanding and co operation are so necessary.
203. Yet although individuals and nations are becoming more and more
convinced of this twofold necessity, it would seem that men in general,
and particularly those with high responsibility in public life, are
showing themselves quite incapable of achieving it. The root of such
inability is not to be sought in scientific, technical or economic
reasons, but in the absence of mutual trust. Men, and consequently
States, are in mortal fear of each other. Each fears that the other
harbors plans of conquest and is only waiting for a favorable moment to
put these plans into effect. Hence each organizes its own defense and
builds up munitions of war as a deterrent against the would-be aggressor.
204. The result is a vast expenditure of human energy and natural
resources on projects which are disruptive of human society rather than
beneficial to it; while a growing uneasiness gnaws at men's hearts and
makes them less responsive to the call of nobler enterprises.
205. The root cause of so much mistrust is the presence of ideological
differences between nations, and more especially between their rulers.
There are some indeed who go so far as to deny the existence of a moral
order which is transcendent, absolute, universal ant equally binding upon
all. And where the same law of justice is not adhered to by all, men
cannot hope to come to open and full agreement on vital issues.
206. Yes, both sides speak of justice and the demands of justice, but
these words frequently take on different or opposite meanings according
to which side uses them. Hence, when rulers of nations appeal to justice
and the demands of justice, they not only disagree on terms, but often
increase the tension that exists between their States. And so the belief
is engendered that if a nation is to assert its rights and pursue its own
interests, there is only one way open to it: to have recourse to
violence; ignoring the fact that violence is the source of the very
207. Mutual trust among rulers of States cannot begin nor increase except
by recognition of, and respect for, the moral order.
208. But the moral order has no existence except in God; cut off from God
it must necessarily disintegrate. Moreover, man is not just a material
organism. He consists also of spirit; he is endowed with reason and
freedom. He demands, therefore, a moral and religious order; and it is
this order--and not considerations of a purely extraneous, material order
which has the greatest validity in the solution of problems relating to
his life as an individual and as a member of society, and problems
concerning individual states and their inter-relations.
209. It has been claimed that in an era of scientific and technical
triumphs such as ours man can well afford to rely on his own powers, and
construct a very good civilization without God. But the truth is that
these very advances in science and technology frequently involve the
whole human race in such difficulties as can only be solved in the light
of a sincere faith in God, the Creator and Ruler of man and his world.
210. The almost limitless horizons opened up by scientific research only
go to confirm this truth. More and more men are beginning to realize that
science has so far done little more than scratch the surface of nature
and reality. There are vast hidden depths still to be explored and
adequately explained. Such men are appalled when they consider how these
gigantic forces for good can be turned by science into engines of
destruction. They realize then the supreme importance of spiritual and
moral values, if scientific ant technical progress is to be used in the
service of civilization, and not involve the whole human race in
211. Furthermore, the increasing sense of dissatisfaction with worldly
goods which is making itself felt among citizens of the wealthier
nations, is rapidly destroying the treasured illusion of an earthly
paradise. Men, too, are becoming more and more conscious of their rights
as human beings, rights which are universal and inviolable; and they are
aspiring to more just and more human relations with their fellows. The
effect of all this is to make the modern man more deeply aware of his own
limitations, and to create in him a striving for spiritual values. All of
which encourages Us in the hope that individuals and nations will one day
learn to unite in a spirit of sincere understanding and profitable
212. After all this scientific and technical progress, and even because
of it, the problem remains: how to build up a new order of society based
on a more balanced human relationship between political communities on a
national and international level?
213. The attempt to find a solution to this problem has given birth to a
number of theories. Some of these- were little more than ephemeral;
others have undergone, and are still undergoing, substantial change;
others again are proving themselves less and less attractive to modern
Why is this? It is because these ideologies do not take account of the
whole man, nor even of his most important part. In particular, they take
little account of certain inevitable human weaknesses such as sickness
and suffering, weaknesses which even the most advanced economic and
social systems cannot completely eliminate. Finally, they fail to take
account of that deep-rooted sense of religion which exists in all men
everywhere, and which nothing, neither violence nor cunning, can
214. The most fundamental modern error is that of imagining that man's
natural sense of religion is nothing more than the outcome of feeling or
fantasy, to be eradicated from his soul as an anachronism and an obstacle
to human progress. And yet this very need for religion reveals a man for
what he is: a being created by God and tending always toward God. As we
read in St. Augustine: "Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our
hearts can find no rest until they rest in you."
215. Let men make all the technical and economic progress they can, there
will be no peace nor justice in the world until they return to a sense of
their dignity as creatures and sons of God, who is the first and final
cause of all created being. Separated from God a man is but a monster, in
himself and toward others; for the right ordering of human society
presupposes the right ordering of man's conscience with God, who is
Himself the source of all justice, truth and love.
216. Here is a spectacle for all the world to see: thousands of Our sons
and brothers, whom We love so dearly, suffering years of bitter
persecution in many lands, even those of an ancient Christian culture.
And will not men who see clearly and compare the superior dignity of the
persecuted with that refined barbarity of their oppressors, soon return
to their senses, if indeed they have not already done so?
217. The most perniciously typical aspect of the modern era consists in
the absurd attempt to reconstruct a solid and fruitful temporal order
divorced from God, who is, in fact, the only foundation on which it can
endure. In seeking to enhance man's greatness, men fondly imagine that
they can do so by drying up the source from which that greatness springs
and from which it is nourished. They want, that is, to restrain and, if
possible, to eliminate the soul's upward surge toward God. But today's
experience of so much disillusionment and bloodshed only goes to confirm
those words of Scripture: "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in
vain that build it."
218. The permanent validity of the Catholic Church's social teaching
admits of no doubt.
219. This teaching rests on one basic principle: individual human beings
are the foundation, the cause and the end of every social institution.
That is necessarily so, for men are by nature social beings. This fact
must be recognized, as also the fact that they are raised in the plan of
Providence to an order of reality which is above nature.
220. On this basic principle, which guarantees the sacred dignity of the
individual, the Church constructs her social teaching. She has
formulated, particularly over the past hundred years, and through the
efforts of a very well informed body of priests and laymen, a social
doctrine which points out with clarity the sure way to social
reconstruction. The principles she gives are of universal application,
for they take human nature into account, and the varying conditions in
which man's life is lived. They also take into account the principal
characteristics of contemporary society, and are thus acceptable to all.
221. But today, more than ever, it is essential that this doctrine be
known, assimilated, and put into effect in the form and manner that the
different situations allow and demand. It is a difficult task indeed, yet
a most noble one. To the performance of it We call, not only Our own sons
and brothers scattered throughout the world, but also men of goodwill
222. First, We must reaffirm most strongly that this Catholic social
doctrine is an integral part of the Christian conception of life.
223. It is therefore Our urgent desire that this doctrine be studied more
and more. First of all it should be taught as part of the daily
curriculum in Catholic schools of every kind, particularly seminaries,
although We are not unaware that in some of these latter institutions,
this has been done for a long time now and in an outstanding way. We
would also like to see it added to the religious instruction programs of
parishes and of Association of the Lay Apostolate. it must be spread by
every modern means at our disposal: daily newspapers, periodicals,
popular and scientific publications, radio and television.
224. Our beloved sons, the laity, can do much to help this diffusion of
Catholic social doctrine by studying it themselves and putting it into
practice, and by zealously striving to make others understand it.
225. They should be convinced that the best way of demonstrating the
truth and efficacy of this teaching is to show that it can provide the
solution to present-day difficulties. They will thus win those people who
are opposed to it through ignorance of it. Who knows, but a ray of its
light may one day enter their minds.
226. It is not enough merely to formulate a social doctrine. It must be
translated into reality. And this is particularly true of the Church's
social doctrine, the light of which is Truth, Justice its objective, and
Love its driving force.
227. It is vitally important, therefore, that Our sons learn to
understand this doctrine. They must be educated to it.
228. No Christian education can be considered complete unless it covers
every kind of obligation. It must therefore aim at implanting and
fostering among the faithful an awareness of their duty to carry on their
economic and social activities in a Christian manner.
229. The transition from theory to practice is of its very nature
difficult; and it is especially so when one tries to reduce to concrete
terms a social doctrine such as that of the Church. There are several
reasons why this is so; among them We can mention man's deep-rooted
selfishness, the materialism in which modern society is steeped, and the
difficulty of determining sometimes what precisely the demands of justice
are in a given instance.
230. Consequently, a purely theoretical instruction in man's social and
economic obligations is inadequate. People must also be shown ways in
which they can properly fulfill these obligations.
231. In Our view, therefore, formal instruction, to be successful, must
be supplemented by the students' active co-operation in their own
training. They must gain an experimental knowledge of the subject, and
that by their own positive action.
232. It is practice which makes perfect, even in such matters as the
right use of liberty. Thus one learns Christian behavior in social and
economic matters by actual Christian action in those fields.
233. The Lay Apostolate, therefore, has an important role to play in
social education--especially those associations and organizations which
have as their specific objective the christianization of contemporary
society. The members of these associations, besides profiting personally
from their own day to day experience in this field, can also help in the
social education of the rising generation by giving it the benefit of the
experience they have gained.
234. But We must remind you here of an important truth: the Christian
conception of life demands of all--whether highborn or lowly--a spirit of
moderation and sacrifice. That is what God calls us to by His grace.
235. There is, alas, a spirit of hedonism abroad today which beguiles men
into thinking that life is nothing more than the quest for pleasure and
the satisfaction of human passions. This attitude is disastrous. Its evil
effects on soul and body are undeniable. Even on the natural level
temperance and simplicity of life are the dictates of sound policy. On
the supernatural level, the Gospels and the whole ascetic tradition of
the Church require a sense of mortification and penance which assures the
rule of the spirit over the flesh, and offers an efficacious means of
expiating the punishment due to sin, from which no one, except Jesus
Christ and His Immaculate Mother, is exempt.
236. There are three stages which should normally be followed in the
reduction of social principles into practice. First, one reviews the
concrete situation; secondly, one forms a judgment on it in the light of
these same principles; thirdly, one decides what in the circumstances can
and should be done to implement these principles. These are the three
stages that are usually expressed in the three terms: look, judge, act.
237. It is important for our young people to grasp this method and to
practice it. Knowledge acquired in this way does not remain merely
abstract, but is seen as something that must be translated into action.
238. Differences of opinion in the application of principles can
sometimes arise even among sincere Catholics. When this happens, they
should be careful not to lose their respect and esteem for each other.
Instead, they should strive to find points of agreement for effective and
suitable action, and not wear themselves out in interminable arguments,
and, under pretext of the better or the best, omit to do the good that is
possible and therefore obligatory.
239. In their economic and social activities, Catholics often come into
contact with others who do not share their view of life. In such
circumstances, they must, of course, bear themselves as Catholics and do
nothing to compromise religion and morality. Yet at the same time they
should show themselves animated by a spirit of understanding and
unselfishness, ready to cooperate loyally in achieving objects which are
good in themselves, or can be turned to good. Needless to say, when the
Hierarchy has made a decision on any point Catholics are bound to obey
their directives. The Church has the right and obligation not merely to
guard ethical and religious principles, but also to declare its
authoritative judgment in the matter of putting these principles into
240. These, then, are the educational principles which must be put into
effect. It is a task which belongs particularly to Our sons, the laity,
for it is their lot to live an active life in the world and organize
themselves for the attainment of temporal ends.
241. In performing this task, which is a noble one, they must not only be
well qualified in their trade or profession and practice it in accordance
with its own proper laws, they must also bring their professional
activity into conformity with the Church's social teaching. Their
attitude must be one of loyal trust and filial obedience to
They must remember, too, that if in the transaction of their temporal
affairs they take no account of those social principles which the Church
teaches, and which We now confirm, then they fail in their obligations
and may easily violate the rights of others. They may even go so hr as to
bring discredit on the Church's teaching, lending substance to the
opinion that, in spite of its intrinsic value, it is in fact powerless to
direct men's lives.
242. As We have noted already, modern man has greatly deepened and
extended his knowledge of nature's laws, and has harnessed the forces of
nature, making them subservient to his ends. The magnitude of his
achievements deserves ungrudging admiration; nor is he yet at the end of
Nevertheless, in his striving to master and transform the world around
him he is in danger of forgetting and of destroying himself. As Our
Predecessor, Pope Pius XI, lamented in Quadragesimo Anno: "And so bodily
labor, which even after original sin was decreed by Providence for the
good of man's body and soul, is in many instances changed into an
instrument of perversion; for from the factory dead matter goes out
improved, whereas men there are corrupted and degraded."
243. Similarly, Our Predecessor, Pius XII, rightly asserted that our age
is marked by a clear contrast between the immense scientific and
technical progress and the fearful human decline shown by "its monstrous
masterpiece . . . transforming man into a giant of the physical world at
the expense of his spirit, which is reduced to that of a pygmy in the
supernatural and eternal world."
244. And so the words of the Psalmist about the worshippers of false gods
are strikingly verified today. Men are losing their own identity in their
works, which they admire to the point of idolatry: "The idols of the
Gentiles are silver and gold, the works of the hands of men."
245. In Our paternal care as universal Pastor of souls, We earnestly beg
Our sons, immersed though they be in the business of this world, not to
allow their consciences to sleep; not to lose sight of the true hierarchy
246. Certainly, the Church teaches--and has always taught--that
scientific and technical progress and the resultant material well-being
are good things and mark an important phase in human civilization. But
the Church teaches, too, that goods of this kind must be valued according
to their true nature: as instruments used by man for the better
attainment of his end. They help to make him a better man, both in the
natural and the supernatural order.
247. May these warning words of the divine Master ever sound in men's
ears: "For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and
suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for
248. Allied to what We have said so far is the question of the Sunday
249. To safeguard man's dignity as a creature of God endowed with a soul
in the image and likeness of God, the Church has always demanded a
diligent observance of the third Commandment: "Remember that thou keep
holy the sabbath day." God certainly has the right and power to
command man to devote one day a week to his duty of worshipping the
eternal Majesty. Free from mundane cares, he should lift up his mind to
the things of heaven, and look into the depths of his conscience, to see
how he stands with God in respect of those necessary and inviolable
relationships which must exist between the creature and his Creator.
250. In addition, man has a right to rest a while from, work, and indeed
a need to do so if he is to renew his bodily strength and to refresh his
spirit by suitable recreation. He has also to think of his family, the
unity of which depends so much on frequent contact and the peaceful
living together of all its members.
251. Thus, religion and moral and physical well-being are one in
demanding this periodic rest, and for many centuries now the Church has
set aside Sunday as a special day of rest for the faithful, on which they
participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the memorial and
application of Christ's redemptive work for souls.
252. Heavy in heart, We cannot but deplore the growing tendency in
certain quarters to disregard this sacred law, if not to reject it
outright. This attitude must inevitably impair the bodily and spiritual
health of the workers, whose welfare We have so much at heart.
253. In the name of God, therefore, and for the sake of the material and
spiritual interests of men, We call upon all, public authorities,
employers and workers, to observe the precepts of God and His Church and
to remember their grave responsibilities before God and society.
254. We have only been able to touch lightly upon this matter, but Our
sons, the laity especially, must not suppose that they would be acting
prudently to lessen their personal Christian commitment in this passing
world. On the contrary, We insist that they must intensify it and
increase it continually.
255. In His solemn prayer for the Church's unity, Christ Our Lord did not
ask His Father to remove His disciples from the world: "I pray not that
thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep
them from evil." Let no man therefore imagine that a life of activity
in the world is incompatible with spiritual perfection. The two can very
well be harmonized. It is a gross error to suppose that a man cannot
perfect himself except by putting aside all temporal activity, on the
plea that such activity will inevitably lead him to compromise his
personal dignity as a human being and as a Christian.
256. That a man should develop and perfect himself through his daily
work--which in most cases is of a temporal character--is perfectly in
keeping with the plan of divine Providence. The Church today is faced
with an immense task: to humanize and to Christianize this modern
civilization of ours. The continued development of this civilization,
indeed its very survival, demand and insist that the Church do her part
in the world. That is why, as We said before, she claims the co-operation
of her laity. In conducting their human affairs to the best of their
ability, they must recognize that they are doing a service to humanity,
in intimate union with God through Christ, and to God's greater glory.
And St. Paul insisted: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you
do, do all to the glory of God." "All whatsoever you do in word or in
work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God
and the Father by him."
257. To search for spiritual perfection and eternal salvation in the
conduct of human affairs and institutions is not to rob these of the
power to achieve their immediate, specific ends, but to enhance this
The words of our divine Master are true for all time: "Seek ye therefore
first the kingdom of God and his justice; and all these things shall be
added unto you." The man who is "light in the Lord" and who walks
as a "child of the light" has a sure grasp of the fundamental demands
of justice in all life's difficulties and complexities, obscured though
they may be by so much individual, national and racial selfishness.
Animated, too, by the charity of Christ, he finds it impossible not to
love his fellow men. He makes his own their needs, their sufferings and
their joys. There is a sureness of touch in all his activity in every
field. It is energetic, generous and considerate. For "charity is
patient, is kind; charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not
puffed up, is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to
anger, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with
the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things,
endureth all things."
258. In conclusion, Venerable Brethren, We would remind you of that
sublime truth of Catholic doctrine: our incorporation as living members
in Christ's Mystical Body, the Church, "For as the body is one and hath
many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet
are one body; so also is Christ."
259. We most earnestly beg all Our sons the world over, clergy and laity,
to be deeply conscious of the dignity, the nobility, which is theirs
through being grafted on to Christ as shoots on a vine: "I am the vine;
you the branches." They are thus called to a share in His own divine
life; and since they are united in mind and spirit with the divine
Redeemer even when they are engaged in the affairs of the world, their
work becomes a continuation of His work, penetrated with redemptive
power. "He that abideth in men, and I in him, the same beareth much
Thus is man's work exalted and ennobled--so highly exalted that it leads
to his own personal perfection of soul, and helps to extend to others the
fruits of Redemption, all over the world. It becomes a means whereby the
Christian way of life can leaven this civilization in which we live and
work--leaven it with the ferment of the Gospel.
260. This era in which we live is in the grip of deadly errors; it is
torn by deep disorders. But it is also an era which offers to those who
work with the Church immense possibilities in the field of the
apostolate. And therein lies our hope.
261. Venerable Brethren and dear sons, We began with that wonderful
Encyclical of Pope Leo, and passed in review before you the various
problems of our modern social life. We have given principles and
directives which We exhort you earnestly to think over, and now, for your
part, to put into effect. Your courageous co-operation in this respect
will surely help to bring about the realization of Christ's Kingdom in
this world, "a kingdom of truth and life; a kingdom of holiness and
grace; a kingdom of justice, of love and of peace," which assures the
enjoyment of those heavenly blessings for which we were created and for
which we long most ardently.
262. For here Our concern is with the doctrine of the Catholic and
Apostolic Church. She is the Mother and Teacher of all nations. Her light
illumines, enkindles and enflames. No age but hears her warning voice,
vibrant with heavenly wisdom.
She is ever powerful to offer suitable, effective remedies for the
increasing needs of men, and the sorrows and anxieties of this present
life. Her words re-echo those of the Psalmist of old--words which never
fail to raise our fainting spirits and give us courage: "I will hear what
the Lord God will speak in me: for he will speak peace unto his people.
And unto his saints: and unto them that are converted to the heart.
Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him: that glory may dwell
in our land. Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have
kissed. Truth is sprung out of the earth: and justice hath looked down
from heaven. For the Lord will give goodness: and our earth shall yield
her fruit. Justice shall walk before him: and shall set his steps in the
263. For some considerable time now, Venerable Brethren, Our solicitude
for the Universal Church has been directed into the writing of this
letter; and We wish to conclude it by voicing the following desires: May
man's divine Redeemer "who of God is made unto us wisdom and justice and
sanctification and redemption," reign and triumph gloriously
throughout all ages, in all and over all. And, with the right ordering of
human society, may all nations at last enjoy true prosperity, happiness
264. In earnest of these wishes, and as a pledge of Our fatherly
goodwill, may the Apostolic Blessing, which We give in the Lord with all
Our heart, descend upon you, Venerable Brethren, and upon all the
faithful entrusted to your care, and especially upon those who respond
with generosity to Our appeals.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, on the 15th day of May, in the year 1961,
the third of Our Pontificate.
1. Cf. 1 Tim. 3:15.
2. John 14:6.
3. John 8:12.
4. Mark 8:2.
5. Acta Leonis XIII, XI, 1891, pp. 97-144.
6. Ibid. p. 107.
7. St. Thomas, De regimine principum, I, 15.
8. Cf. AAS 23 (1931) 185.
9. Cf. ibid. p. 189.
10. Ibid. pp. 177-228.
11. Cf. ibid. p. 199.
12. Cf. ibid. p. 200.
13. Cf. ibid. p. 201.
14. Cf. ibid. p. 210 et seq.
15. Cf. ibid. p. 211.
16. Cf. AAS 33 (1941) 196.
17. Cf. ibid. p. 197.
18. Cf. ibid. p. 196.
19. Cf. ibid. p. 198 et seq.
20. Cf. ibid., p. 199.
21. Cf. ibid. p. 201.
22. Cf. ibid. p. 202.
23. Cf. ibid. p. 203.
24. AAS 23 (1931) 203.
25. Ibid. p. 203.
26. Cf. ibid. p. 222 et seq.
27. Cf. AAS 33 (1941) 200.
28. AAS 23 (1931) 195.
29. Ibid. p. 198.
30. Broadcast message, I Sept. 1944; cf. AAS 36 (1944) 254.
31. Allocutio, 8 Oct. 1956; cf. AAS 48 (1956) 799-800. (TPS, m, 4, pp.
32. Broadcast message, I Sept. 1944; cf. AAS 36 (1944) 253.
33. Broadcast message, 24 Dec. 1942; cf. AAS 35 (1943) 17.
34. Cf. ibid. p. 20.
35. Encyclical letter Quadragesimo anno; AAS 23 (1931) 214.
36. Acta Leonis XIII, XI, 1891, p. 114.
37. Matt. 6:19-20.
38. Matt. 25:40.
39. Cf. AAS 23 (1931) 202.
40. Allocutio, 3 May, 1960; cf. AAS 52 (1960) 465.
41. Cf. ibid.
42. 1 John 3:16-17.
43. Encyclical letter Summi Pontificatus: AAS 31 (1939) 428-29.
44. Gen. 1:28.
46. Confessions I, 1.
47. Ps. 126:1.
48. AAS 23 (1931) 221 et seq.
49. Broadcast message, Christmas Eve, 1953; cf. AAS 46 (1954) 10.
50. Ps. 113:4.
51. Matt. 16:26.
52. Exod. 20:8.
53. John 17:15.
54. I Cor. 10:31.
55. Col. 3:17.
56. Matt. 6:33.
57. Eph. 5:8.
58. Cf. ibid.
59. I Cor. 13:4-7.
60. I Cor. 12:12.
61. John 15:5.
63. The Preface of Christ the King.
64. Ps. 84:9 et seq.
65. I Cor. 1:30.
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