Browsing From the Pastor's Desk

Reflecting on PACEM IN TERRIS

Jun 29, 2017

Happy Fourth of July! Again we are blessed to celebrate our freedom. As our Congress is debating a budget for this nation… how much to spend, how much to cut, on what, from what, it is good to think about the truth we hold to be self-evident. Not just those articulated in our Declaration of Independence, but what the Church has articulated. To that end, here are some excerpts from an Encyclical of Pope Saint John XXIII written in 1963. That document is PACEM IN TERRIS: ON ESTABLISHING UNIVERSAL PEACE IN TRUTH, JUSTICE, CHARITY, AND LIBERTY.
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1. Peace on Earth—which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after—can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order.

2. That a marvelous order predominates in the world of living beings and in the forces of nature, is the plain lesson which the progress of modern research and the discoveries of technology teach us. And it is part of the greatness of man that he can appreciate that order, and devise the means for harnessing those forces for his own benefit.

4. And yet there is a disunity among individuals and among nations which is in striking contrast to this perfect order in the universe. One would think that the relationships that bind men together could only be governed by force.

5. But the world’s Creator has stamped man’s inmost being with an order revealed to man by his conscience; and his conscience insists on his preserving it. Men “show the work of the law written in their hearts. Their conscience bears witness to them.” And how could it be otherwise? All created beings reflect the infinite wisdom of God. It reflects it all the more clearly, the higher it stands in the scale of perfection.

11. First, we must speak of man’s rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood.

12. Moreover, man has a natural right to be respected. He has a right to his good name. He has a right to freedom in investigating the truth, and—within the limits of the moral order and the common good—to freedom of speech and publication, and to freedom to pursue whatever profession he may choose. He has the right, also, to be accurately informed about public events.

13. He has the natural right to share in the benefits of culture, and hence to receive a good general education, and a technical or professional training consistent with the degree of educational development in his own country. Furthermore, a system must be devised for affording gifted members of society the opportunity of engaging in more advanced studies, with a view to their occupying, as far as possible, positions of responsibility in society in keeping with their natural talent and acquired skill.

18. In the economic sphere, it is evident that a man has the inherent right not only to be given the opportunity to work but also to be allowed the exercise of personal initiative in the work he does.

19. The conditions in which a man works form a necessary corollary to these rights. They must not be such as to weaken his physical or moral fibre or militate against the proper development of adolescents to manhood. Women must be accorded such conditions of work as are consistent with their needs and responsibilities as wives and mothers.

20. A further consequence of man’s personal dignity is his right to engage in economic activities suited to his degree of responsibility. The worker is likewise entitled to a wage that is determined in accordance with the precepts of justice. This needs stressing. The amount a worker receives must be sufficient, in proportion to available funds, to allow him and his family a standard of living consistent with human dignity.

25. Again, every human being has the right to freedom of movement and of residence within the confines of his own State. When there are just reasons in favor of it, he must be permitted to emigrate to other countries and take up residence there. The fact that he is a citizen of a particular State does not deprive him of membership in the human family, nor of citizenship in that universal society, the common, world-wide fellowship of men.

27. As a human person, he is entitled to the legal protection of his rights, and such protection must be effective, unbiased, and strictly just.

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Lots to think about. Lots to do. Lots to be thankful for. God bless America.

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