Catholic approach to development looks at body and soul, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, handout

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Catholic approach to development
aims at helping people achieve both physical and spiritual well-being and
promotes both individual responsibility and community ties, Pope Francis said.

A development that is “fully human” recognizes
that being a person means being in relationship; it affirms “inclusion and
not exclusion,” upholds the dignity of the person against any form of
exploitation, and struggles for freedom, the pope said April 4 at a Vatican
conference marking the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical on
integral human development, “Populorum Progressio.”

Holistic or integral development, Pope Francis said,
involves “integrating” all people into one human family, integrating
individuals into communities, integrating the individual and communal
dimensions of life and integrating body and soul.

“The duty of solidarity obliges us to seek proper ways
of sharing so that there is no longer that dramatic inequality between those
who have too much and those who have nothing, between those who discard and those
who are discarded,” he said.

Social integration recognizes that each individual has
“a right and an obligation” to participate in the life of the
community, bringing his or her gifts and talents to share for the good of all,
the pope said. But it also recognizes that well-being is not something that can
be improved or measured only with economic indicators; it includes “work,
culture, family life and religion.”

“None of these can be absolutized and none can be
excluded from the concept of integral human development,” he said, because
“human life is like an orchestra that plays well if all the different
instruments are in tune with each other and follow a score shared by all.”

One of the major challenges to integral development today,
he said, is the tendency to focus either exclusively on the value of the
individual or to ignore that value completely.

In the West, he said, culture “has exulted the
individual to the point of making him an island, as if one could be happy

“On the other hand,” the pope said, “there is
no lack of ideological visions and political powers who have squashed the person,”
or treat people as a mass without individual dignity. The modern global
economic system tends to do the same, he said.

Because human beings are both body and soul, working for
their well-being must include respecting their faith and helping it grow.

The Catholic Church’s approach to development is modeled on
Jesus’ approach to human flourishing, an approach that included spiritual and
physical healing, liberating and reconciling people, the pope said.

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