For Francis, human development is about ‘integrating body and soul’
VATICAN— On Tuesday Pope Francis spoke about what an ‘integral human development’ looks like, saying that development must include the whole person, both physically and spiritually.
“Development does not consist in having the regulation of more and more goods, for just a material well-being,” he said April 4. “Integrating body and soul also means that no development work can really achieve its purpose if it does not respect the place where God is present to us and speaks to our hearts.”
In Christ “God and man are not divided and separated. God became man to make of human life, both personal and social, a concrete path to salvation,” he reflected.
“So the manifestation of God in Christ – including his acts of healing, liberation, and reconciliation that we are called to propose to the many injured by the roadside – shows the way and the mode of service that the Church intends to offer to the world,” he explained.
“In this sense, the very concept of the person, born and matured in Christianity, helps to pursue a fully human development.”
Pope Francis spoke April 4 in the Vatican’s Synod Hall to participants in a conference hosted by the
Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The April 3-4 conference, held in honor of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio, on the development of peoples, aimed to discuss the question: “who is man?”
“What does that mean, today and in the near future, integral development, i.e. development of every person and of the whole man?” Pope Francis asked, borrowing the words of his predecessor in Populorum Progressio.
Specifically, Francis said, in the use of the word “integrate,” we can find “a fundamental orientation for the new dicastery,” which was established Jan. 1 of this year.
One major integration that has largely been lost, he said, is that of community and the individual. Especially in the West, we have “exalted the individual until they become like an island, as if one can be happy alone,” he said.
On the other hand, there are “ideological views and political powers have crushed the person,” he said, taking away their personal liberty.
But “the self and the community are not in competition with each other,” he said. They should work together, because it is only within the context of authentic relationships that the “self is able to mature.”
“This applies even more to the family, which is the first cell of society and where we learn to live together,” he said.
The Pope said another form of integration we can improve is the solidarity between those who have too much and those who have nothing.
In considering social integration, we must remember that “everyone has a contribution to offer the whole of society,” he said, “no one is excluded from making something for the good of all. This is both a right and a duty.”
He said another essential aspect for this improved development is integration of the different systems: the economy, finance, labor, culture, family life, and religion.
“None of them can be free-standing and none of them can be excluded from a concept of integral human development,” he said, this is taking “into account that human life is like an orchestra that sounds good if the different instruments agree and follow a score shared by all.”
“The Church never tires of offering this wisdom and her work to the world, in the awareness that integral development is the way of goodness that the human family is called to tread,” the Pope concluded.
“I encourage you to pursue this action with patience and perseverance, trusting that the Lord is with us.”