In a message addressed to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which just completed its 13th plenary assembly in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that full justice can only come about in the world if human beings, “male and female”, are recognized for their true human dignity.
The Holy Father’s letter was addressed to Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy, whose recent assembly carried the theme; "Charity and Justice in the Relations among Peoples and Nations."
In his message, the pope emphasized that “everything that the earth produces and all that man transforms and manufactures, all his knowledge and technology, is meant to serve the material and spiritual development and fulfillment of the human family and all its members."
Specifically, he pointed to "three specific challenges facing our world,” which, he said, “can only be met through a firm commitment to that greater justice which is inspired by charity.”
The first challenge, the Pope explained, "concerns the environment and sustainable development”, adding that “The international community recognizes that the world's resources are limited and that it is the duty of all peoples to implement policies to protect the environment in order to prevent the destruction of that natural capital whose fruits are necessary for the well-being of humanity.”
He also pointed out the need “to assess and forecast, to monitor the dynamics of environmental change and sustainable growth, and to draw up and apply solutions at an international level."
"If development”, he said, “were limited to the technical-economic aspect, obscuring the moral-religious dimension, it would not be an integral human development, but a one-sided distortion which would end up by unleashing man's destructive capacities."
Pope Benedict explained the second challenge as "our conception of the human person and consequently our relationships with one other.”
“If human beings”, he said, “are not seen as persons, male and female, created in God's image and endowed with an inviolable dignity, it will be very difficult to achieve full justice in the world.”
He added that “Despite the recognition of the rights of the person in international declarations and legal instruments, much progress needs to be made in bringing this recognition to bear upon such global problems as the growing gap between rich and poor countries."
The third challenge, the Holy Father said, "relates to the values of the spirit…unlike material goods, those spiritual goods which are properly human expand and multiply when communicated. Unlike divisible goods, spiritual goods such as knowledge and education are indivisible."
The Pope concluded his letter saying that "To meet these challenges, only love for neighbor can inspire within us justice at the service of life and the promotion of human dignity.”
“Only love within the family,” he stressed, “founded on a man and a woman, who are created in the image of God, can assure that inter-generational solidarity which transmits love and justice to future generations. Only charity can encourage us to place the human person once more at the center of life in society and at the center of a globalized world governed by justice."