Here is the message that the Holy Father Francisco has sent to the participants in the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on Towards a Participatory Society: New Roads to Social and Cultural Integration (Casina Pio IV, April 28 – 2 Mayi 2017 Translated from on 4/30/17):

Message from the Holy Father

Illustrious Ms.
President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences
On the occasion of the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which has as its theme “Towards a participative society: new avenues for social and cultural integration”, greetings with gratitude, a kind teacher, as well as HE Msgr. Sánchez Sorondo and each of the participants.
With the experience and professionalism that are yours, you have chosen to study a subject that concerns me a lot: that of social participation. We can say that society is above all a participatory process: of goods, of roles, of statutes, of advantages and disadvantages, of benefits and burdens, of obligations and duties. People are “partners”, that is, “take part” to the extent that society distributes those parts. Since society is a participatory reality for mutual exchange, we have to imagine it as an irreducible whole And as a system of interaction between people.Justice, then, can be considered the virtue of individuals and institutions, which, respecting legitimate rights, are aimed at promoting the good of those who take part.

1. The first point on which I wish to draw your attention is the necessary extension of the traditional notion of justice, which can not be restricted to judgment on the distribution of wealth, but must reach the moment of its production. It is not enough, therefore, to claim “the just reward of the worker” as recommended by Rerum Novarum (1891). It must also be asked whether the production process is carried out in accordance with the dignity of human labor; Whether or not it embraces fundamental human rights; Whether or not it is compatible with the moral norm. Already in the Gaudium et spes one reads in n. 67: “Therefore, it is necessary to adapt the entire production process to the needs of the person and their way of life.” Work is not a mere factor of production which, as such, must be adapted to the needs of the production process in order to increase efficiency. On the contrary, it is the production process that must be organized in a way that allows the human growth of people and the harmony of the times of family and work life.
We must be convinced that a project of this kind, in modern, post-industrial society, is feasible, whenever it is desired. That is why the Social Doctrine of the Church (ISD) urges us to find ways to put fraternity into practice as a regulating principle of the economic order. Where other lines of thought speak only of solidarity, the ISD speaks more of fraternity, since a fraternal society is also supportive, while not always the opposite, as many experiences confirm. The call, therefore, is to remedy the error of contemporary culture which has led us to believe that a democratic society can progress by separating the code from efficiency – which alone would be sufficient to regulate relations between human beings in the sphere Economic – and the code of solidarity – that would regulate interrelations within the social sphere. This dichotomy has impoverished our society.
The key word that better than any other today expresses the need to overcome this dichotomy is “fraternity”, an evangelical word retaken in the motto of the French Revolution, but which the postrevolutionary order later abandoned – for reasons known – until its withdrawal from the political lexicon -economic. It was the evangelical testimony of St. Francis, with his school of thought, that gave to this term the meaning that he has preserved throughout the centuries; That is, to constitute at the same time the complement and exaltation of the principle of solidarity. In fact, while solidarity is the principle of social planning that allows the unequal to become equal, fraternity allows peers to be diverse people. Fraternity allows people who are equal in their essence, dignity, freedom and in their fundamental rights to participate in different ways in the common good according to their capacity, their life plan, their vocation, their work or their charism. service. From the beginning of my pontificate, I wanted to show “in the brother there is the permanent prolongation of the Incarnation for each one of us:” (ibid., N. Evangelii Gaudium, 179) In fact, the protocol by which we will be judged will be the Of the brotherhood: “” What you did to one of these least of my brothers, you did to me “( Mt 25, 40 )
The stations we have left behind, 800 and above all 900, have been characterized by arduous battles, both cultural and political, in the name of solidarity and rights, and this was good – think of the history of the labor movement and In the struggle for the conquest of civil and social rights – struggles, however, still far from having concluded. What is most disturbing today is the exclusion and marginalization of the majority of people from a more equitable participation in the distribution on a national and global scale of goods, both market and non-commercial, such as dignity, freedom , Knowledge, belonging, integration, peace. In this sense, what makes people suffer more and leads to the rebellion of citizens is the contrast between the theoretical allocation of equal rights for all and the unequal and unfair distribution of the fundamental goods for the majority of people . Although we live in a world where wealth is abundant, many people remain victims of poverty and social exclusion. Disparities – along with wars of domination and climate change – are the causes of the largest forced migration in history, affecting more than 65 million humans. Let us also think of the growing tragedy of new slavery in the forms of forced labor, of prostitution, of organ trafficking, which are real crimes against humanity. It is alarming and symptomatic that today the human body is bought and sold, as if it were a commodity. Almost one hundred years ago, Pope Pius XI foresaw the affirmation of these inequalities and inequities as a result of a world economic dictatorship which he called “international imperialism of money” ( En Quadragesimo Anno , May 15, 1931, 109). It was Paul VI who, almost fifty years later, denounced the “new and abusive form of economic domination in the social, cultural and even political sphere” (Lett., Ap. Octogesima Adveniens, May 14, 1971, 44).

The point is that a participatory society can not be content with the horizon of mere solidarity and welfare because a society that was only solidarity and care, and also fraternal, would be a society of unhappy and desperate people that everyone would try To flee, in extreme cases even with suicide.

A society in which true brotherhood is dissolved is not capable of future; That is to say, it is not capable of progressing the society in which there is only the “giving to receive” or the “having to give”. That is why neither the vision of the liberal-individualist world, in which all (or almost) barter, nor the state-centered vision in which everything (or almost) is an obligation, are sure guides to get us to overcome inequality , The inequity and exclusion in which our societies are plunged. It is a question of finding a way out of the suffocating alternative between the neoliberal and neo-statistist theses. In fact, because the activity of markets and the manipulation of nature – both driven by selfishness, greed, materialism and unfair competition – sometimes have no limits, it is urgent to intervene on the causes of these dysfunctions , Especially in the financial field, rather than merely correcting its effects.

2. A second point that I want to touch is the concept of integral human development. To strive for integral development means to engage in the expansion of the space of dignity and freedom of people: freedom understood, however, not only in a negative sense as the absence of impediments, nor in the positive sense as a possibility of choice. It is necessary to add the freedom “for”, that is to say, the freedom to follow one’s own vocation of both personal and social good. The key idea is that freedom goes hand in hand with the responsibility of protecting the public good and promoting the dignity, freedom and well-being of others, reaching the poor, the excluded and future generations. It is this perspective that, if in the current historical conditions, makes us overcome sterile diatribes in cultural field and harmful conflicts at political level, would make us find the necessary consensus for new projects.

Within this context the question of work is placed. The limits of the current work culture have become apparent to most people, even if there is no convergence of views on the way forward in order to overcome them. The path indicated by the ISD starts from the recognition that work, even before a right, is a capacity and an irrepressible need of the person. It is the human capacity to transform reality to participate in God’s work of creation and preservation, and thus to build himself. Recognizing that work is an innate capacity and a fundamental need is a statement much stronger than saying that it is a right. This is because, as history teaches, rights can be suspended or even denied; Capacities, skills and needs, if they are fundamental, no.

In this respect reference can be made to classical thinking, from Aristotle to Aquinas, on acting. That thought distinguishes two types of activities: transitive doing and immanent acting. While the former connotes the action that produces a work outside the one who acts it, the second refers to an act that has its last term in the same subject that acts. The first one changes the reality where the agent lives; The second changes to the agent itself. Now, since in man there is no activity so transitive that it is not also immanent, it follows that the person has the priority in front of his action and therefore in front of his work.

The first consequence is well expressed with the classic operari sequitur esse statement : it is the person who decides about his own work, self-generation is the result of self-determination of the person. When work is no longer an expression of the person, because it no longer includes the meaning of what he is doing, work becomes slavery; The person can be replaced by a machine.

The second consequence calls into question the notion of labor justice. Fair work is one that not only guarantees a fair remuneration, but corresponds to the vocation of the person and therefore is able to develop their abilities. Precisely because work transforms the person, the process of production of goods and services assumes a moral value. In other words, the workplace is not simply the place where certain elements are transformed, according to certain rules and procedures, into products; It is also the place in which the character and virtue of the worker are formed (or transformed).

The recognition of this more strongly personalistic dimension of work is a great challenge that is still before us, even in liberal democracies where even the workers have achieved remarkable achievements.

Finally, I can not fail to mention the serious risks associated with the invasion, at the highest levels of culture and education, in both universities and schools, of the positions of libertarian individualism. A common feature of this fallacious paradigm is that it minimizes the common good, ie “living well”, the “good life”, within the community framework, and exalts a selfish ideal that falsely inverts words and proposes the “good life” “. If individualism affirms that it is only the individual who gives value to things and interpersonal relationships and therefore, only the individual decides what is good and what is bad, libertarianism, now so fashionable, preaches that for Founding freedom and individual responsibility must resort to the idea of ​​self-causality. Thus libertarian individualism denies the validity of the common good, since on the one hand it presupposes that the very idea of ​​”common” implies the constriction of at least some individuals, on the other that the notion of “good” deprives the liberty of its essence .

The radicalization of individualism in libertarian and therefore anti-social terms leads to the conclusion that each has the “right” to expand to where its power allows it even at the price of exclusion and marginalization of the majority More vulnerable. Since they would restrict freedom, ties, would be what needs to be dissolved, mistakenly equating the concept of bond with that of bond, we end up confusing the conditionings of freedom – the bonds – with the essence of realized freedom, that is, Ties or relations with property, precisely, from the relatives to the interpersonal, from those of the excluded and marginalized to those of the common good, and ultimately to God

The fifteenth century was the century of the first Humanism; At the beginning of the twenty-first century the need for a new humanism is becoming increasingly apparent. It was then the transition from feudalism to modern society that was the decisive engine of change. Today, it is an equally radical passage of time: from modern to postmodern society. The endemic increase in social inequalities, the issue of migration, identity conflicts, new forms of slavery, environmental issues, problems of biopolitics and bio-rights are just some of the issues that speak of today’s discomfort . Faced with these challenges, the mere updating of old categories of thought or the use of sophisticated techniques of collective decision-making are not enough; It is necessary to seek new paths inspired by the message of Christ.

The Gospel proposal: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and everything else will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33) has been and continues to be a new energy in history that tends to arouse fraternity, freedom , Justice, peace and dignity for all. To the extent that the Lord reigns in us and among us, we can participate in the divine life and we will be for each other “instruments of grace to spread the charity of God and to weave nets of charity” (Benedict XVI, In veritate , 5). This is the desire that I manifest to you and that I accompany with my prayer so that in the Academy of Social Sciences it never lacks the vivifying aid of the Spirit.

While I entrust these reflections to you, I encourage you to continue your valuable service with renewed effort and, at the same time that I ask you to pray for me, I bless you with my heart.

From the Vatican, April 24, 2017

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