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Development and Underdevelopment

The demands of the common good on the international level include: the avoidance of all forms of unfair competition between the economies of different countries; the fostering of mutual collaboration and good will; and effective co-operation in the development of economically less advanced communities.

Mater et Magistra (“Mother and Teacher”), Pope John XXIII, 1961 #80.

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 inhuman 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 on armaments.

Mater et Magistra (“Mother and Teacher”), Pope John XXIII, 1961 #69-70.


 

The demands of the common good on the international level include: the avoidance of all forms of unfair competition between the economies of different countries; the fostering of mutual collaboration and good will; and effective co-operation in the development of economically less advanced communities.

Mater et Magistra (“Mother and Teacher”), Pope John XXIII, 1961 #80.


 

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.

Mater et Magistra (“Mother and Teacher”), Pope John XXIII, 1961 #157.


 

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.

Mater et Magistra (“Mother and Teacher”), Pope John XXIII, 1961 #163.


 

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. 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. 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. 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.

Mater et Magistra (“Mother and Teacher”), Pope John XXIII, 1961 #169-172.


 

Likewise it can happen that one country surpasses another in scientific progress, culture and economic development. But this superiority, far from permitting it to rule others unjustly, imposes the obligation to make a greater contribution to the general development of the people.

Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”), Pope John XXIII, 1963 #88.


 

Given these conditions, it is obvious that individual countries cannot rightly seek their own interests and develop themselves in isolation from the rest, for the prosperity and development of one country follows partly in the train of the prosperity and progress of all the rest and partly produces that prosperity and progress.

Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”), Pope John XXIII, 1963 #131.


 

Economic development must … not be left to the sole judgment of a few individuals or groups, possessing excessive economic power, or of the political community alone, or of certain powerful nations. It is proper, on the contrary, that at every level the largest number of people have an active share in directing that development.

Gaudium et Spes (“The Church in the Modern World”), Vatican II, 1965 #65.


 

We want to be clearly understood: the present situation must be faced with courage and the injustices linked with it must be fought against and overcome. Development demands bold transformations, innovations that go deep. Urgent reforms should be undertaken without delay. It is for each one to take a share in them with generosity, particularly those whose education, position and opportunities afford them wide scope for action.

Populorum Progressio (“On the Development of Peoples”), Pope Paul VI, 1967 #32.


 

Individual initiative alone and the mere free play of competition could never assure successful development. One must avoid the risk of increasing still more the wealth of the rich and the dominion of the strong, whilst leaving the poor in their misery and adding to the servitude of the oppressed.

Populorum Progressio (“On the Development of Peoples”), Pope Paul VI, 1967 #33.


 

To speak of development, is in effect to show as much concern for social progress as for economic growth. It is not sufficient to increase overall wealth for it be distributed equitably. It is not sufficient to promote technology to render the world a more human place in which to live. … Economics and technology have no meaning except from the human person whom they should serve. And people are only truly human in as far as, masters of their own acts and judges of their worth, they are authors of their own advancement, in keeping with the nature given to them by their Creator.

Populorum Progressio (“On the Development of Peoples”), Pope Paul VI, 1967 #34.


 

But, as we have often stated, the most important duty in the realm of justice is to allow each country to promote its own development, within the framework of a cooperation free from any spirit of domination, whether economic or political. The complexity of the problems raised is certainly great, in the present intertwining of mutual dependences. Thus it is necessary to have the courage to undertake a revision of the relationships between nations, whether it is a question of the international division of production, the structure of exchanges, the control of profits, the monetary system- without forgetting the actions of human solidarity-to question the models of growth of the rich nations and change people’s outlooks, so that they may realize the prior call of international duty, and to renew international organizations so that they may increase in effectiveness.

Octogesima Adveniens (“A Call to Action”), Pope Paul VI, 1971 #43.


 

In the last twenty-five years a hope has spread through the human race that economic growth would bring about such a quantity of goods that it would be possible to feed the hungry at least with the crumbs falling from the table, but this has proved a vain hope in underdeveloped areas and in pockets of poverty in wealthier areas, because of the rapid growth of population and of the labor force, because of rural stagnation and the lack of agrarian reform, and because of the massive migratory flow to the cities, where the industries, even though endowed with huge sums of money, nevertheless provide so few jobs that not infrequently one worker in four is left unemployed. These stifling oppressions constantly give rise to great numbers of “marginal” persons, ill-fed, inhumanly housed, illiterate and deprived of political power as well as of the suitable means of acquiring responsibility and moral dignity.

Justicia in Mundo (“Justice in the World”), World Synod of Catholic Bishops, 1971 #10.


 

If the developing nations and regions do not attain liberation through development, there is a real danger that the conditions of life created especially by colonial domination may evolve into a new form of colonialism in which the developing nations will be the victims of the interplay of international economic forces. That right to development is above all a right to hope according to the concrete measure of contemporary humanity.

Justicia in Mundo (“Justice in the World”), World Synod of Catholic Bishops, 1971 #16.


 

Let the aims of the Second Development Decade be fostered. These include the transfer of a precise percentage of the annual income of the richer countries to the developing nations, fairer prices for raw materials, the opening of the markets of the richer nations and, in some fields, preferential treatment for exports of manufactured goods from the developing nations. These aims represent first guidelines for a graduated taxation of income as well as for an economic and social plan for the entire world. We grieve whenever richer nations turn their backs on this ideal goal of worldwide sharing and responsibility.

Justicia in Mundo (“Justice in the World”), World Synod of Catholic Bishops, 1971 #66.


 

Concerning our relationship to other nations, our Christian faith suggests several principles. First, racial difference should not interfere with our dealing justly and peacefully with all other nations. Secondly, those nations which possess more of the world’s riches must, in justice, share with those who are in serious need. Finally, the private sector should be aware of its responsibility to promote racial justice, not subordination or exploitation, to promote genuine development in poor societies, not mere consumerism and materialism.

Brothers and Sisters to Us, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1979.


 

We are aware that the precise relationship between disarmament and development is neither easily demonstrated nor easily reoriented. But the fact of a massive distortion of resources in the face of crying human need creates a moral question. In an interdependent world, the security of one nation is related to the security of all. When we consider how and what we pay for defense today, we need a broader view than the equation of arms with security.

The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1983 #270.


 

We must not look at the welfare of U.S. citizens as the only good to be sought. Nor may we overlook the disparities of power in the relationships between this nation and the developing countries. The United States is the major supplier of food to other countries, a major source of arms sales to developing nations, and a powerful influence in multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United Nations. What Americans see as a growing interdependence is regarded by many in the less developed countries as a pattern of domination and dependence.

Economic Justice for All, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1986 #13.


 

Developing countries engage in arms races that they can ill afford, often with the encouragement of the superpowers. Some of the poorest countries of the world use scarce resources to buy planes, guns and other weapons when they lack the food, education and healthcare their people need. Defense policies must be evaluated and assessed, in light of their real contribution to freedom, justice and peace for the citizens of our own and other nations.

Economic Justice for All, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1986 #20.


 

The poor, the disabled, and the unemployed too often are simply left behind. This pattern is even more severe beyond our borders in the least-developed countries. Whole nations are prevented from fully participating in the international economic order because they lack the power to change their disadvantaged position. Many people within the less developed countries are excluded from sharing in the meager resources available in their homelands by unjust elites and unjust governments. These patterns of exclusion are created by free human beings. In this sense they can be called forms of social sin.

Economic Justice for All, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1986 #77.


 

These perspectives constitute a call for fundamental reform in the international economic order. Whether the problem is preventing war and building peace, or addressing the needs of the poor, Catholic teaching emphasizes not only the only the individual conscience, but also the political, legal, and economic structures through which policy is determined and issues are adjudicated…We urge, as a basic and overriding consideration, that both empirical and moral evidence, especially the precarious situation of the developing countries, calls for the renewal of the dialogue between the industrialized countries of the North and the developing countries of the South, with the aim of reorganizing international economic relations to establish greater equity and help meet the basic human needs of the poor majority.

Economic Justice for All, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1986 #259.


 

Next to the underdevelopment of the many, there is a superdevelopment for the few. Superdevelopment leads to a throwaway society and to enormous waste. Excessive access to all kinds of things, — sometimes called consumerism — enslaves people and does not make them happy. The more one possesses, the more one wants, while the deeper human hopes remain unsatisfied and even stifled. “Having” more things does not necessarily mean ‘being” more or being better. “Having” only helps us when it contributes to a more complete “being.”

Solicitudo Rei Socialis (“On Social Concern,” Donders translation), Pope John Paul II, 1987 #28.


 

An insane arms race swallowed up the resources needed for the development of national economies and for assistance to the less developed nations…The logic of power blocs or empires…led to a situation in which controversies and disagreements among Third World countries were systematically aggravated and exploited in order to create difficulties for the adversary.

Centesimus Annus (“The Hundredth Year,” Donders translation), Pope John Paul II, 1991 #18.


 

What is called for is a special effort to mobilize resources, which are not lacking in the world as a whole, for the purpose of economic growth and common development, redefining the priorities and hierarchies of values on the basis of which economic and political choices are made…[I]t will be necessary above all to abandon a mentality in which the poor–as individuals and as peoples–are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced. The poor ask for the right to share in enjoying material goods and to make good use of their capacity for work, thus creating a world that is more just and prosperous for all. The advancement of the poor constitutes a great opportunity for the moral, cultural and even economic growth of all humanity.

Centesimus Annus (“The Hundredth Year,” Donders translation), Pope John Paul II, 1991 #28.


 

Finally, development must not be understood solely in economic terms, but in a way that is fully human. It is not only a question of raising all peoples to the level currently enjoyed by the richest countries, but rather of building up a more decent life through united labor, of concretely enhancing every individual’s dignity and creativity as well as his capacity to respond to his personal vocation, and thus to God’s call. The apex of development is the exercise of the right and duty to seek God, to know him and to live in accordance with that knowledge.

Centesimus Annus (“The Hundredth Year,” Donders translation), Pope John Paul II, 1991 #29.


 

For this reason, another name for peace is development. Just as there is a collective responsibility for avoiding war, so too there is a collective responsibility for promoting development. Just as within individual societies it is possible and right to organize a solid economy which will direct the functioning of the market to the common good, so too there is a similar need for adequate interventions on the international level. For this to happen, a great effort must be made to enhance mutual understanding and knowledge, and to increase the sensitivity of consciences.

Centesimus Annus (“The Hundredth Year,” Donders translation), Pope John Paul II, 1991 #52.


 

There must be solidarity among nations which are already politically interdependent. It is even more essential when it is a question of dismantling the “perverse mechanisms” that impede the development of the less advanced countries. In place of abusive if not usurious financial systems, iniquitous commercial relations among nations, and the arms race, there must be substituted a common effort to mobilize resources toward objectives of moral, cultural, and economic development, “redefining the priorities and hierarchies of values.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Vatican, 1992 #2438.


 

Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events. It is a duty in solidarity and charity; it is also an obligation in justice if the prosperity of the rich nations has come from resources that have not been paid for fairly.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Vatican, 1992 #2439.


 

Generous and targeted assistance, sustainable development, economic empowerment of the poor and support for human rights and democracy are essential works of peace. We cannot abandon our programs of foreign aid; rather, we must reshape them, shifting from a focus on security assistance to a priority of development aid for the poor.

The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993.


 

Development not only serves the interest of justice, but also contributes greatly to a lasting peace.

The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993.


 

Sustainable development goes beyond “economic growth,” which has been synonymous with the concept of development since the early 1960s. Rather, sustainable development is concerned with preserving the planet’s ecological heritage, addressing the rampant poverty in the poorest nations, redirecting development in terms of quality rather than quantity in the industrial world, creating environmentally sensitive technologies and keeping population growth at sustainable levels through programs of development and education that respect cultural, religious and family values.

The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993.


 

Only major changes in the international economic order will stop the flow of wealth from the poor to the rich. Arrangements of trade should ensure that poor countries obtain fair prices for their products and access to our markets. Foreign aid should focus more on empowering the poor to improve the quality of their lives than in shoring up the international economic system or pursuing national interest or competitive advantage.

The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993.


 

The Catholic community will continue to speak on behalf of increased development assistance, relief from international debt, curbs on the arms trade, and respect for human life and the rights of families…Our foreign aid and peacemaking efforts can be reformed and improved, but they cannot be abandoned.

Called to Global Solidarity, U.S. Catholic Conference, 1997.


 

In one sense, we need to move our Church’s concern from strong teaching to creative action. Working together, we can continue to help missionaries preach the Gospel, empower poor people in their own development, help the Church live and grow in lands marked by repression and poverty, and assist countries emerging from authoritarian rule. We must help reform and increase development assistance, curb the arms trade, ban landmines, relieve debt, and protect human life and human rights.

Called to Global Solidarity, U.S. Catholic Conference, 1997.


 

The global climate change debate cannot become just another opportunity for some groups—usually affluent advocates from the developed nations—to blame the problem on population growth in poor countries. Historically, the industrialized countries have emitted more greenhouse gases that warm the climate than have the developing countries. Affluent nations such as our own have to acknowledge the impact of voracious consumerism instead of simply calling for population and emissions controls from people in poorer nations.

Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 2001


 

Many of the poor in these countries live in degrading and desperate situations that often lead them to adopt environmentally harmful agricultural and industrial practices. In many cases, the heavy debt burdens, lack of trade opportunities, and economic inequities in the global market add to the environmental strains of the poorer countries…Wealthier industrialized nations…need to share these emerging technologies with the less-developed countries and assume more of the financial responsibility that would enable poorer countries to afford them. This would help developing countries adopt energy-efficient technologies more rapidly while still sustaining healthy economic growth and development.

Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 2001


 

The process of globalization must provide opportunities for the participation of the poorest people and the economic development of the poorest nations.

A Place at the Table: A Catholic Recommitment to Overcome Poverty and Respect the Dignity of All God’s Children, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 2002 #VI.


 

We also hear debates between those who advocate greater investment in and greater accountability on the part of poor countries. We need both. We need more debt relief and development assistance and we need more transparency and accountability to ensure that these investments are improving the lives, health, education, and housing of the poorest people on earth.

A Place at the Table: A Catholic Recommitment to Overcome Poverty and Respect the Dignity of All God’s Children, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 2002 #VI.


 

The mystery of the Eucharist inspires and impels us to work courageously within our world to bring about that renewal of relationships which has its inexhaustible source in God’s gift. The prayer which we repeat at every Mass: “Give us this day our daily bread,” obliges us to do everything possible, in cooperation with international, state and private institutions, to end or at least reduce the scandal of hunger and malnutrition afflicting so many millions of people in our world, especially in developing countries. In a particular way, the Christian laity, formed at the school of the Eucharist, are called to assume their specific political and social responsibilities. To do so, they need to be adequately prepared through practical education in charity and justice. To this end, the Synod considered it necessary for Dioceses and Christian communities to teach and promote the Church’s social doctrine. In this precious legacy handed down from the earliest ecclesial tradition, we find elements of great wisdom that guide Christians in their involvement in today’s burning social issues. This teaching, the fruit of the Church’s whole history, is distinguished by realism and moderation; it can help to avoid misguided compromises or false utopias.

Sacramentum Caritatis (“Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist”), Pope Benedict XVI, 2007 #91.


 

One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples. It is an aspect which has acquired increasing prominence in recent times, obliging us to broaden our concept of poverty and underdevelopment to include questions connected with the acceptance of life, especially in cases where it is impeded in a variety of ways.

Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”), Pope Benedict XVI, 2005 #28.


 

Today the material resources available for rescuing these peoples from poverty are potentially greater than before, but they have ended up largely in the hands of people from developed countries, who have benefited more from the liberalization that has occurred in the mobility of capital and labour. The world-wide diffusion of forms of prosperity should not therefore be held up by projects that are self-centred, protectionist or at the service of private interests. Indeed the involvement of emerging or developing countries allows us to manage the crisis better today.

Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”), Pope Benedict XVI, 2005 #42.


 

Indeed, the most valuable resources in countries receiving development aid are human resources: herein lies the real capital that needs to accumulate in order to guarantee a truly autonomous future for the poorest countries. It should also be remembered that, in the economic sphere, the principal form of assistance needed by developing countries is that of allowing and encouraging the gradual penetration of their products into international markets, thus making it possible for these countries to participate fully in international economic life.

Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”), Pope Benedict XVI, 2005 #58.


 

With due respect for the autonomy and culture of every nation, we must never forget that the planet belongs to all mankind and is meant for all mankind; the mere fact that some people are born in places with fewer resources or less development does not justify the fact that they are living with less dignity.

Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis, 2013 #190.


 

Nor is peace “simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day towards the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect justice among men”. In the end, a peace which is not the result of integral development will be doomed; it will always spawn new conflicts and various forms of violence.

Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis, 2013 #219.


 

Yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion. At the same time, we have “a sort of ‘superdevelopment’ of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation”, while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth.

Laudato Si’ (“Praised Be”), Pope Francis, 2015 #109.


 

Some strategies for lowering pollutant gas emissions call for the internationalization of environmental costs, which would risk imposing on countries with fewer resources burdensome commitments to reducing emissions comparable to those of the more industrialized countries. Imposing such measures penalizes those countries most in need of development…Furthermore, since the effects of climate change will be felt for a long time to come, even if stringent measures are taken now, some countries with scarce resources will require assistance in adapting to the effects already being produced, which affect their economies. In this context, there is a need for common and differentiated responsibilities.

Laudato Si’ (“Praised Be”), Pope Francis, 2015 #170.


 

It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress. Frequently, in fact, people’s quality of life actually diminishes – by the deterioration of the environment, the low quality of food or the depletion of resources – in the midst of economic growth.

Laudato Si’ (“Praised Be”), Pope Francis, 2015 #194.

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