Authentic Human Development

Because false personal and economic choices led to the global financial crisis, Pope Benedict XVI’s recent encyclical, Caritas in Veritate , addresses the fundamental principles regarding the authentic development of people. The encyclical primarily focuses on solidarity with the billions of people struggling for a dignified life in developing countries, but the same principles apply to those areas of poverty and oppression in the midst of the fully industrialized nations.

The U.S. “Fourth World,” a term referring to those excluded from the mainstream, consists of certain minorities and disadvantaged people in our inner cities, Native American reservations and rural areas like the Delta, the Rio Grande and Appalachia. The dense 28,000 word encyclical demands close examination, but a few points beg consideration regarding the development of people within pockets of poverty in our own country.

“The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility toward the poor, toward future generations and toward humanity as a whole” (par. #48). Yet, in Fourth World U.S.A. we find toxic waste dumps located in poor rural areas and abandoned hazardous manufacturing sites in inner cities. In Appalachia, mountaintop removal assaults the mountains, pollutes the water and destroys the ecosystem. People in these areas stand powerless when economic forces put profits before people.

Benedict reminds us that authentic development does not allow a total technical dominion over nature because “the natural environment is more than raw material to be manipulated at our pleasure” but rather, contains an inbuilt order, or “grammar,” that prescribes the “criteria for its wise use” (par. #48). He elevates this relationship by referring to the “covenant between human beings and the environment” (par. #50).

The answer to economic arguments that strip-mined coal means cheap energy, or toxic waste dumps are the price of progress lies with lifestyles. He advocates new lifestyles, quoting John Paul II, “in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others” should be the basis for consumer choices and investment (par. #51). He means we cannot sacrifice the poor, the environment or future generations for current frivolous consumption.

In Fourth World U.S.A. jobs remain scarce. The global economy has sucked the light manufacturing and fabrication jobs overseas leaving little opportunity for a stable local economy. Benedict writes “the so-called outsourcing of production can weaken the company’s sense of responsibility toward the stakeholders–namely the workers, the suppliers, the consumers, the natural environment and broader society–in favor of the shareholders” (par. #40). While affirming the useful role of profit, he says, “Once profit becomes the exclusive goal…without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty” (par. #21).

His counsel highlights the two principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. Since “the human race is a single family,” i.e. the basis of solidarity (par. #53), subsidiarity, i.e. the assistance to individuals or groups “unable to accomplish something on their own,” must inform the governance of globalization (par. #57). In other words, corporations have a responsibility to local communities and communities have a right to participate in the coordination of economic plans.

The Church’s vision of economics serves all people and not just the better off. From its earliest social encyclicals it taught “that the civil order…needed intervention from the state for purposes of redistribution” (par. #39). Currently, health care reform, comprehensive immigration reform and labor reform all reflect aspects of solidarity promoting authentic human development. These considerations represent moral choices wrapped in economics intended “to build a more human world for all” (par. #39).

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  • noelfitz

    This is a wonderful article, showing the Pope’s and the Church’s solid teaching.

    The ideas in “Caritas in Veritate” deserve our deepest consideration and inspire action.

    It is great to read such sound contributions.

    I have looked up Fr Rausch and Glenmary and see “I think we in the Church have to look around to the sufferings and struggles of the people and nature and take action.”

    Concerns for the poor and nature are at the heart of Catholicism.

    Happy are those who consider the poor; the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.
    New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ps 41:1.

    God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
    New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ge 1:25.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    “Currently, health care reform, comprehensive immigration reform and labor reform all reflect aspects of solidarity promoting authentic human development.”

    This is beyond the pale. Let us examine what each of these means:

    1) Health care reform. In the U.S., this means increased funding for abortion and reduced protection of the conscience rights of health care workers. It also means unsustainable deficits with the current fiscal year’s hanging in there at $1,500,000,000,000. That’s for one year, and it is all gone before we ad in another $900,000,000,000 for health care reform.

    2) Immigration reform. I tend to be quite sympathetic to immigrants. But there are now entire towns in Mexico whose residents are all young or old. The working age men have all left — usually for the U.S. Many of the working age women have now left. The reasons for this can be summed up in a single concept: it is usually cheaper and more feasible for a Mexican worker to open up a new business in Chicago than in Morelia. But that means that the fruits of this development land — and largely stay — in the U.S. Mexico needs its people to develop its own land. Arguments in favor of more liberal immigration laws are boot kicked in the teeth of the foreign poor. It draws off the labors of the most economically capable residents, not just to a local city but to a foreign country. The vast majority of the fruits of these folks’ labors then stays in the foreign country, i.e. the U.S. And the residents left behind stay poor.

    3) Labor reform. In the U.S., this means cad check, whereby the anonymity of the voters in union elections is stripped away. This reduces freedom and opens people up to a whole new area wherein they can be persecuted. Now, both the employer and the union boss know who has voted in favor of the union and who has voted against — all while a final decision is pending. If the union ultimately loses, the employer knows who the rabble rousers were. If the union ultimately wins, the union boss knows who the holdouts were. Guess who loses out? The employees, whose democratic rights have been stripped o them.

    This is a horrible article. It is worse than the typical fare of the usual suspects because it actually twists the words of the Church’s teaching office in order to support an anti-Catholic agenda. Subsidiarity decidedly is not “the assistance to individuals or groups ‘unable to accomplish something on their own.'” Rather, it is the observation that the family is the root of all Catholic social teaching, and the further away from the family that a group finds itself, the less merit that group has in existing. In other words, subsidiarity is about ceding proper control to the family — and to groups close to the family — unless those smaller groups are unable to accomplish something on their own.

    We do not need more federal government intervention pulling yet more resources so far away from the American family.
    This article promotes exactly the opposite. It promotes huge government deficits which, in turn, impose noxious tax obligations onto families who typically respond by reducing their own charitable contributions in order to meet their tax obligations. That is why charitable contributions in the U.S. are so much lower on the two coasts than in the south and midwest: most southern and midwestern states have lower taxes, which impose less burden on families, which then allows true subsidiarity to operate.

  • cpageinkeller

    Excellent article, Fr. Rausch. Your thread focuses much more on solidarity than on subsidiarity: a principle of social doctrine that all social bodies exist for the sake of the individual so that what individuals are able to do, society should not take over, and what small societies can do, larger societies should not take over. In essence, subsidiarity is the devolving of government to the practical level closest to the governed.

    Many of the problems that you describe are a product of the failure of the concept of subsidiarity. Many toxic dumps would not exist if county and state governments had been on the ball, had been aware of the hazards, had informed their citizens, and the citizens made the right decisions through their more local governance. Often failure was a product of a lack of knowing the risk and/or the failure of local government to do its job. The product is elevation to higher levels of government, more distant from the people, and more prone to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution (i.e. federal). The result: persistence of toxic sites and the abject failure of federal megafunds to resolve them.

    Similarly, poverty remains a serious issue in spite of our 45-year, $10 trillion dollar “war” against it (and that is just what we have spent in the USA, not foreign aid). Why has this happened? Why has it not been effective? Some of the answers include: centralized planning and implementation of programs, high overhead, waste, fraud, excessive spending, inflation and consequent devaluation of the purchasing power of the dollar (increased cost of manufactured goods and services including labor). Yes, the poor have gotten poorer (but remain the richest poor in the world). The middle class is disappearing. The wealthy have realized an increase in their “worth” expressed in dollars, but their purchasing power has also diminished (inflation). Inflation will continue until we learn, as a nation, to balance income and spending. So long as we simply recirculate debt, there is no way that we can be of real help to the poor through education and job creation.

    When combined with the burden of ILLEGAL immigration (failure to control our borders and apply our existing laws) makes poverty a moving target and ever larger problem. ILLEGAL immigrants tend to migrate to the portion of the US population to which they are most similar in appearance, culture, and language. Most of these communities are poor, underemployed, and poorly educated. This has almost always been the case for our immigrants, but only for the first generation. The very existence within our borders of the islands of culture and language are indicative of our failure of the “Americanization” of immigrants that routinely took place with mass immigration in the past (e.g Italians, Irish, etc). It is a product of the secular humanist concepts of moral equivalence and a multilingual, multicultural America. In essence, our melting pot has disappeared! Without our melting pot and generally similar moral, linguistic, and cultural outlooks, our opportunity for solidarity and subsidiarity is small. If our culture fails, we take a lot of the world with us. Different things are written on the human heart.

    We have a long way back. The path is obscure. We can only hope to receive guidance through prayer, supplication, individual responsibility, and guidance of the Church.

  • noelfitz


    You wrote “(we) have a long way back. The path is obscure. We can only hope to receive guidance through prayer, supplication, individual responsibility, and guidance of the Church.”

    The Church, in the person of Benedict XVI has given guidance.

    Your post is excellent, showing insight and loyalty to the Church. Congratulations.

    Not everyone would agree with all your views, but many will find fresh insight in your post. Thanks.


    You wrote:
    “This is a horrible article. It is worse than the typical fare of the usual suspects because it actually twists the words of the Church’s teaching office in order to support an anti-Catholic agenda.”

    I wonder do your views represent many Catholics in the US. Perhaps you would like to read Caritas in Veritate carefully. The Pope may have something useful to tell you.

    You might like to read about Fr Rausch and Glenmary. There are several online web sites to guide you.

  • fg

    “Currently, health care reform, comprehensive immigration reform and labor reform all reflect aspects of solidarity promoting authentic human development…”

    The ‘solidarity’ in health care reform that is mentioned in the above article is is apparently not shared with the unborn. Over time, we will find that it is not shared with the elderly as well since they will be an expense that cannot be adequately covered by socialized medicine. And the ‘solidarity’ certainly won’t be shared with those who are terminally ill.

    In general, this is a horrible article. It completely white washes the principle of subsidiary which would be violated by many aspects of the health care reform. The purpose of the encylical was to show the balance between the aspects of solidarity and subsidiary. An extreme in either direction, causes problems.

    A centralized government authority overreaching to meddle into the lives of every individual cannot hope to give individual care or hope to pursue a just distribution of services. This would be by definition, a violation of the principle of subisdiary.

    What other ways might the principle of subsidiary be violated if this ‘reform’ succeeds? Parental rights? Think about Planned Parenthood giving health lessons to children as a government requirement. Structures are in place for government funded ‘education programs’ and details are scarce. The administration’s own science czar has advocated forced sterilization and forced abortion in his recent past. The administration has also made many appointments who have had direct ties to the abortion industry (think Kathleen Selibus, think former Planned Parenthood directors, etc.).

    I usually enjoy reading the articles presented by the Edge. Unfortunately, this was not one of those occasions.