Octogesima Adveniens Quotations

Let every person examine themselves, to see what they have done up to now, and what they ought to do. It is not enough to recall principles, state intentions, point to crying injustice and utter prophetic denunciations; these words will lack real weight unless they are accompanied for each individual by a livelier awareness of personal responsibility and by effective action.

It is too easy to throw back on others the responsibility for injustice, if at the same time one does not realize how each one shares in it personally, and how personal conversion is needed first. (#48)


In teaching us charity, the Gospel instructs us in the preferential respect due the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others. (#23)


It is up to the Christian communities to analyze with objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country, to shed on it the light of the Gospel’s unalterable words and to draw principles of reflection, norms of judgment and directives for action from the social teaching of the Church. (#4)


Political power, which is the natural and necessary link for ensuring the cohesion of the social body, must have as its aim the achievement of the common good. While respecting the legitimate liberties of individuals, families and subsidiary groups, it acts in such a way as to create, effectively and for the well-being of all, the conditions required for attaining humanity’s true and complete good, including spiritual ends. … … To take politics seriously at its different levels — local, regional, national and worldwide — is to affirm the duty of all people to recognize the concrete reality and the value of the freedom of choice that is offered to them to seek to bring about both the good of the city and of the nation and of all humanity. Politics are a demanding manner — but not the only one — of living the Christian commitment to the service of others. (#46)


The Christian has the duty to take part in this search and in the organization and life of political society. As social beings, human beings build their destiny within a series of particular groupings which demand, as their completion and as a necessary condition for their development, a vaster society, one of a universal character, the political society. All particular activity must be placed within that wider society, and thereby it takes on the dimension of the common good. (#24)


The Church directs her attention to these new poor – the handicapped and the maladjusted, the old, different groups of those on the fringe of society, in order to recognize them, help them, defend their place and dignity in a society hardened by competition and the attraction of success. (#15)


Progress… has become an omnipresent ideology. Yet a doubt arises today regarding both its value and its result What is the meaning of this never-ending, breathless pursuit of a progress that always eludes one just when one believes one has conquered it sufficiently in order to enjoy it in peace? (#41)


Certainly, personal initiative must be maintained and developed. But do not Christians who take this path tend to idealize liberalism in their turn, making it a proclamation in favor of freedom? They would like a new model, more adapted to present-day conditions, while easily forgetting that at the very root of philosophical liberalism is an erroneous affirmation of the autonomy of the individual in his activity, his motivation and the exercise of his liberty. Hence, the liberal ideology likewise calls for careful discernment on their part. (#35)


While very large areas of the population are unable to satisfy their primary needs, superfluous needs are ingeniously created. It can thus rightly be asked if, in spite of all their conquests, people are not turning back against themselves the results of their activity. Having rationally endeavored to control nature, are they not now becoming the slave of the objects which they make? (#9)


Animated by the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Savior of humanity, and upheld by hope, the Christians involves themselves in the building up of the human city, one that is to be peaceful, just and fraternal and acceptable as an offering to God. In fact, “the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one. For here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of foreshadowing of the new age”. (#37)


It is to all Christians that we address a fresh and insistent call to action. In our encyclical on the Development of Peoples we urged that all should set themselves to the task:

“Laymen should take up as their own proper task the renewal of the temporal order. If the role of the hierarchy is to teach and to interpret authentically the norms of morality to be followed in this matter, it belongs to the laity, without waiting passively for orders and directives, to take the initiatives freely and to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws and structures of the community in which they live”. (#48)


Bureaucratic socialism, technocratic capitalism and authoritarian democracy are showing how difficult it is to solve the great human problem of living together in justice and equality. How in fact could they escape the materialism, egoism or constraint which inevitably go with them? This is the source of a protest which is springing up more or less everywhere, as a sign of a deep-seated sickness … (#37)


The quality and truth of human relations, the degree of participation and responsibility, are no less significant and important for the future of society than the quantity and variety of goods produced and consumed. Overcoming the temptation to wish to measure everything in terms of efficiency and of trade, and in terms of
the interplay of forces and interests, people today wish to replace these quantitative criteria with the intensity of communications, the spread of knowledge and culture, mutual service and a combining of efforts for a common task. (#41)


Is it not here that there appears a radical limitation to economics? Economic activity is necessary and, if it is at the service of humanity, it can be “a source of brotherhood and a sign of Providence.” … Yet it runs the risk of taking up too much strength and freedom. This is why the need is felt to pass from economics to politics. It is true that in the term “politics” many confusions are possible and must be clarified, but everyone feels that in the social and economic field, both national and international, the ultimate decision rests with political power. (#46)

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