Global Justice, Common Future – Our Responsibility for Integral Human Development, Bonn, 26.04.18

Global Justice, Common Future – Our Responsibility for Integral Human Development

KAAD convention at the occasion of the 60th anniversary

Bonn, April 26-29, 2018


Dear President ,

Dear Secretary General,

Dear Sisters and Brothers,



            I wish to start by thanking the President of the Katholisher Akademischer Ausländer –Dienst (KAAD), Prof. Dr. Eberhard Schockenhoff, and the Secretary General of KAAD, Dr. Hermann Weber, for their kind invitation to take part, as a speaker, at this KAAD Convention titled “Global Justice, Common Future –Our Responsibility for Integral Development” taking place in these days in Bonn.

We are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Katholisher Akademischer Ausländer –Dienst, the scholarship – organization of the German Bishops’ Conference, which through its activity of promoting yearly about 500 scholars and cooperating with 50 partner -committees and 30 alumni – associations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, has become a unique instrument of “communio” in our Global Catholic Church.

Today, it is my honour and joy to respond to the request of the organizers of this event to share some thoughts with you about "our responsibility for integral human development". Rendered more positively, the request to me is to discuss briefly "our service to integral development" or "how we may go about promoting integral development". This, incidentally, is also the name and the mandate of a new Dicastery of the Roman Curia, which Pope Francis created in august 2016 by merging four Pontifical Councils (Justice and Peace, Healthcare workers, Migrants and Itinerant People and Cor Unum).

Providentially the creation of this new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development coincided with the 50° Anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical Letter, Populorum Progressio, which, by developing the Christian vision of the human person, has given flesh to the notion of integral human development. Such a vision of development, present in the embryonal form in the Populorum Progressio, has then been developed in the Magisterium of the Church over the past 50 years, in particular in the social encyclicals of the Popes.


Premise: The concept of service

I will start by reflecting with you on the concept of service. The word service has a “spiritual” connotation, it has in itself elements of gratuitousness and of disinterest. In his address during the last General Meeting of the Second Vatican Council, the 7th of December 1965, Pope Paul VI spoke of the Church as the servant of humanity; and  all the rich teaching of the Vatican Council II is channeled in one direction, namely, the service of humankind, of every condition, in every weakness and need. Thus, at the conclusion of Vatican Council II, the Church declared itself entirely on the side of man and in his service[1].

Accordingly, emerging from the Vatican Council II, the Church gave expression to her sense of service to humanity, through the creation of various Councils, among them: the Pontifical Councils  for Justice and Peace, for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, for Healthcare and the Pastoral Care of Healthcare workers, and for “Cor Unum”.  Through them, the Church pursued the performance of its service to the human person, to migrants, to those in need, to the sick, to the excluded and marginalized, to the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as to the victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture. This is the human person in a multiplicity of states of life and life experiences!

Thus, the human person was always the center of interest and of concern of the activities of the four former Pontifical Councils; and it continues to occupy the centre-stage of the mission of the merger of the four Dicasteries into the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.


The challenge of serving the human being “integrally”: the concept of integral human development

The conventional idea of development as economic growth, which can be traced back to the industrial revolution, is strongly based upon the acceleration and increase of the production processes. Despite the benefits of, eg. an increased GDP and incomes, it led in its wake an increasing level of inequality and serious human and environmental damage.

When, fifty years ago Pope Paul VI proposed a completely different approach to development, in the Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, he formulated the concept and the principle of "integral human development", as development that “cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. “To be authentic”, he said, “development must be well rounded. It must foster the development of each man and of the whole man. (….) What counts for us is man—each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole” (n.14).[2]

The approach of integral human development considers the condition of each human person at all levels - taking into consideration all its dimensions, be it anthropological, historical, cultural, economic, political, ecological, spiritual and religious. Integral human development is about “being”; and it is about “becoming”, rather than about “having.”

Furthermore, in Populorum Progressio Paul VI taught that development, in its origin and essence, is first and foremost a vocation: in the design of God, every man is called upon to develop and fulfil himself, for every life is a vocation ( n.15). This is what gives legitimacy to the Church's involvement in the whole question of development; and it has become the mandate of the Dicastery for the promotion of Integral Human Development: to facilitate, assist, and promote people’s response to people’s vocation to flourish, paying a particular attention to the poor.


The challenge of serving humanity with an approach guided by the concept of “integral ecology

One of the major intuition of Pope Francis in His recent social Encyclical Laudato Si’ (2015) is the fact that all dimensions of development are linked and interconnected. Each human experience calls upon another: his environment, his culture, his economy, his religion and spirituality, his politics and governance and his social life. All these are interrelated.

 In the words of Pope Francis, development is like an orchestra that performs well, if the various instruments are in harmony and follow a score shared by all”[3]., and evangelization, the principal mission of the Church, would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man's concrete life, both personal and social. Between evangelization and human advancement — development and liberation — there are in fact profound links[4], and the Social Doctrine of the Church - capable of enlightening the signs of the times with the Gospel - is an irreplaceable tool for rendering this service of evangelization of the social reality. In this, however, one may not forget the admonition of Pope Francis, that even the best mechanisms can break down when there are no worthy goals and values, or a genuine and profound humanism to serve as the basis of a noble and generous society” (n. 71).


Why “Integral Development” corresponds to our “Common future”, is a “responsibility”, and an Act of Global Justice.

The economic statements in EG are based on CST classic understanding of ‘integral and authentic development’, rooted in a relational anthropology.  For CST, human beings are conceived as ‘persons’ rather than as ‘individuals’.  A person has an individual uniqueness, but cannot be developed outside or above society, because she exists exclusively in society and for other people. Likewise, a society cannot truly develop outside or above persons, because social life is always ‘an expression of its unmistakable protagonist: the human person’, who is the ‘subject, foundation and goal’ of any community (Compendium§ 34.106).  A balance between individual freedom and its social context, or in other words, between the person, his/her inter-personal relations, and his/her wider social relations, is pivotal for human flourishing.


The social tradition of the church has never accepted the absolute sovereignty of either the individual or the collective dimension of our existence –EG is no exception. Based on a relational anthropology, CST conceives human flourishing as holistic, this means, as ‘integral and authentic development’, for the whole person and for all peoples. Consequently, when growth is boosting only one dimension of humanity (e.g. material), or is benefiting merely one sector of the population (e.g. the affluent), then development is not entirely human and lacks authenticity. The main reason being that humans cannot flourish and reach their full potential if they develop only partially, whether this partiality is individual (just one dimension of the person’s existence) or social (just for one or for a group of individuals).


Solidairty is the Key!

Solidarity means much more than an occasional gesture of generosity. It means thinking and acting in terms of community. It means that the lives of all take priority over the appropriation of goods by a few. It also means fighting against the structural causes of poverty and inequality; of the lack of work, land and housing; and of the denial of social and labour rights. It means confronting the destructive effects of the empire of money: forced dislocation, painful emigration, human trafficking, drugs, war, violence and all those realities that many of you suffer and that we are all called upon to transform. Solidarity, understood in its deepest sense, is a way of making history, and this is what the popular movements are doing.[5]


                                                           Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson



[1] Pope Paul VI, Address of Pope Paul VI during the last General Meeting of the Second Vatican Council, 7th of December 1965.

[2] This recalls Ban Ki-Moon’s presentation of the SDG sas a “human dignity narrative, that leaves no one behind”.

[3] Address of Pope Francis to the participants in the Conference for the 50th anniversary of Populorum Progressio organised by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 3-4 april 2017.

[4] Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n. 15.

[5] Pope Francis to First World Meeting of Popular Movements,

21 junio 2018