50 years after Populorum Progressio
A congress to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Populorum Progressio was held at the Vatican between 3-4 April 2017. The dates were selected to honour the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, whose functions have been incorporated into the new dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, created by Pope Francis last year. As the Council for Justice and Peace has been subsumed into the new dicastery, the congress was in honour of Paul VI’s encyclical on the development of peoples since the name of this new dicastery refers to the encyclical.
After the opening session, we participated in a solemn Eucharistic celebration presided by Cardinal Parolin. We then examined the anthropological concepts of body-soul, man-woman, individual-society, and reached our conclusions. We were able to hear some moving testimonies, listen to reflections such as one on poverty and the growth of economic and social inequality from Prof. Alkire, or one given by Cardinal Tagle on migration as both a challenge and an opportunity for peace.
The new dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development encompasses charitable activities, pastoral care for migrants, hospital care and reflection on problems caused by environmental degradation as well as the classic themes of justice and peace. The programme presented many varied themes which in future will not be treated in an entirely separate manner but will be viewed and analysed in a single context which will lead to a more considered and effective action.
The key word of the Address given by Pope Francis was “integration”: integrating different peoples in a fairer world with greater sharing, integrating elements which contribute to development, integrating the individual and the community so as to transcend rampant individualism, integrating the physical and the spiritual aspect. The Holy Father implored us to pursue these paths with patience and courage.
During the congress, the Prefect of the new dicastery, Cardinal Turkson, demonstrated these two virtues of patience and courage. He concluded the two days by encouraging us to rise to the challenge of our times. The new dicastery will be engaged on various levels and will seek to promote as well as coordinate different initiatives in close collaboration with the State Secretariat and pontifical academies.
The congress also allowed me to exchange opinions with different members of Justice and Peace Europe, and to build new contacts with delegates from other continents. Naturally, COMECE was also represented by its General Secretary. The representation made by consultors and friends from different pontifical councils which no longer exist and whose work has been handed over to the new dicastery, as well as informal exchanges during coffee breaks and debates have enabled a new network to be built. Time will allow us to consolidate these contacts so that our work can bear more fruit for the glory of God and the integral salvation of man.
And what now? In terms of local churches, we will have to make the same effort to integrate different aspects of action and reflection in light of our faith. Integral human development is part of our work as a bishop. The path taken by the new dicastery will help reflection and reorganisation at a local level. Therefore a new discernment to better serve God and men and to accomplish our ministry of the Church awaits us.
S.E Mgr Jean-Claude Hollerich
Translated from the original text in French