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Sunday, 3 June 2018



The Catholic social doctrine is that aspect of the teaching of the catholic church that deals on special issues; such as the dignity of the human person, human   rights, the  right of workers, the responsibilities of property ownership, politics, economics, a commitment to peace-making, solidarity, justice, regard for the common good etc. The church is able to propound her own social doctrine because She has the right and duty to teach all the truth necessary for a salvation. It made known by divine revelation, (as in the old and new testaments), or discovered by human reason.

The need for the church to develop her own social doctrine arose because of the fact: the church as teacher must explain and apply the moral law of God. The church as mother must be interested in the total well-being of her children for the need of the body necessarily have some connection with health of the soul; the goal of God’s children is not merely heavenly bliss but also happiness here on earth. This intellectual piece set out to x-ray the development of catholic social doctrine over the centuries to what we have today. The expression social doctrine appeared for the first time in a Roman document in 1929, in a letter addressed by the congregation for the council to the young bishop; lien art of lille, france, Who was being attacked by some employers for is defence of trade unions.

Pope Pius XII first employed it in his discourse commemorating the 50th anniversary of Rerum Noverum in1941. For him, catholic social doctrine sprang from Rerum Novarum. Populorum progressio was a response to the crises of the world’s and hungry. The document addressed the structural dimensions of global injustice. During this time, Paul VI sets a pontifical commission on justice and peace for the promotion of the right of all to integral human development and peace commission [JDPC] in almost all the dioceses, in Nigeria an organ through which the catholic church in Nigeria confronts in the face different forms of injustices.

Justice and Peace
Conscious of the fact that the world is full of injustice the Holy church her wisdom and her mission addresses the issue of justice worldwide. Therefore, the Church establishes a commission that promote justice in the society. This commission, (Justice and Peace), aims to fight for the rights of the poor.

 Effects of Colonialism
This document also talks about the effect of colonialism as a root of poverty in some of underdeveloped countries. It is true that colonizing nations were sometimes concerned with nothing save their own interests, their own power and their own prestige. On the other hand, we must also reserve a word of praise for those colonizers whose skills and technical know-how brought benefits to many untamed lands, and whose work survives to this day.  The Church is not saying that colonialism should continue but any form of colonialism should put to stop.

Authentic Development
The document speaks about authentic development. Here it cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man. "We should not also allow economics to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place. What counts for us is man—each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole.''

Personal Responsibility
Endowed with intellect and free will, each man is responsible for his self-fulfillment even as he is for his salvation. It means that the development of each man needs his or her personal effort. He is helped, and sometimes hindered, by his teachers and those around him; yet whatever be the outside influences exerted on him, he is the chief architect of his own success or failure. Utilizing only his talent and willpower, each man can grow in humanity, enhance his personal worth, and perfect himself.  Therefore to achieve development in poor countries they must also make necessary effort as St, Paul would says that, “who does no work should not eat.” Each man is also a member of society; hence, he belongs to the community of man. It is not just certain individuals but also all men who are called to further the development of human society as a whole.

The Use of Private Property
This document admonishes that the rich should remember the poor especially those that lack basic things or needs in live. "He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?" No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life.

The Common Good
The document emphasises on the management of the gift of nature.  For example, if certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their

Balanced Progress Required
We must make haste. Too many people are suffering. While some make progress, others stand still or move backwards; and the gap between them is widening. However, the work must proceed in measured steps if the proper equilibrium is to be maintained. Makeshift agrarian reforms may fall short of their goal. Hasty industrialization can undermine vital institutions and produce social evils, causing a setback to true human values.

Cultural Institutions
Cultural institutions also do a great deal to further the work of development. Every country, rich or poor, has a cultural tradition handed down from past generations. This tradition includes institutions required by life in the world, and higher manifestations— artistic, intellectual and religious of the life of the spirit.

The Common Development of Mankind
 Development of the individual necessarily entails a joint effort for the development of the human race as a whole. At Bombay We said: "Man must meet man, nation must meet nation, as brothers and sisters, as children of God. In this mutual understanding and friendship, in this sacred communion, we must also begin to work together to build the common future of the human race."

Aid to Developing Nations
"If a brother or a sister be naked and in want of daily food," says St. James, "and one of you say to them, 'Go in peace, be warm and filled,' yet you do not give them what is necessary for the body, what does it profit?" Today no one can be unaware of the fact that on some continents, countless men and women are ravished by hunger and countless children are undernourished. Anxious appeals for help have already been voiced.

A National Duty
The duty of promoting human solidarity also falls upon the shoulders of nations: "It is a very important duty of the advanced nations to help the developing nations." Each and every nation must produce more and better goods and products, so that all its citizens may live truly human lives and so that it may contribute to the common development of the human race. Considering the mounting indigence of less developed countries, it is only fitting that a prosperous nation set aside some of the goods it has produced in order to alleviate their needs; and that it train educators, engineers, technicians and scholars who will contribute their knowledge and their skill to these less fortunate countries.

Equity in Trade Relations
Efforts are being made to help the developing nations financially and technologically. Some of these efforts are considerable. Yet all these efforts will prove to be vain and useless, if their results are nullified to a large extent by the unstable trade relations between rich and poor nations. The latter will have no grounds for hope or trust if they fear that what is being given them with one hand is being taken away with the other.

A Social Sense
We would also say a word to those who travel to newly industrialized nations for business purposes: industrialists, merchants, managers and representatives of large business concerns. It often happens that in their own land they do not lack a social sense. Why is it, then, that they give in to baser motives of self-interest when they set out to do business in the developing countries?  The document admonishes social progress and human betterment in these lands.
To Government Authorities
 Government leaders, your task is to draw your communities into closer ties of solidarity with all men, and to convince them that they must accept the necessary taxes on their luxuries and their wasteful expenditures in order to promote the development of nations and the preservation of peace.

Delegates to international organizations, it is largely your task to see to it that senseless arms races and dangerous power plays give way to mutual collaboration between nations, a collaboration that is friendly, peace oriented, and divested of self-interest, a collaboration that contributes greatly to the common development of mankind and allows the individual to find fulfillment.

The church following Jesus Christ example, through the magisterum has not failed to state with her spiritual and intellectual muscles the condition of an “ideal’’, capable of ensuring the dignity of each person  in the society. No wonder, over the past centuries Popes have consistently drawn attention to social issues in various exhortations. These exhortations and teachings form a special and incomparable contribution of the spirit led church to always for free, just and prosperous world of community. It is in the light of this that John Paul II:
As far as the Church is concerned, the social message of the gospel must not be considered a theory, but above all else a basis and a motivation for action. Today, more than ever, the Church is aware that her social message will gain credibility more immediately from the witness of action.

Moreso, Christian revelation has a lofty social and historic value. The Church’s right to speak on public matter arises from the fact that we  live in a pluralistic and human world.
Above all, ‘it should be noted that social teaching is a valid instrument of evangelisation’. Therefore, this doctrine is not an ‘appendage’ or just to the gospel matter, if forms an integral part of the Church’s vision of life. It is the application of the word of God to people lives and life of the society.
From the forgoing we conclude that, the Catholic social; teaching is rootly planted in scripture and antecedent, ‘Sacred scripture continually speaks to us of an active commitment to our neighbour and demands of us, a shared responsibility for all of humanity. The Church Social Doctrine is not only a teaching; it is a way of life. We must travel this road together, united in minds and hearts. Hence, We feel it necessary to remind everyone of the seriousness of this issue in all its dimensions, and to impress upon them the need for action. The moment for action has reached a critical juncture. Can countless innocent children be saved? Can countless destitute families obtain more human living conditions? Can world peace and human civilization be preserved intact? Every individual and every nation must face up to this issue, for it is their problem.

Populorum Progressio, Encylopedia of Pope Paul on the Development of People (March 26th, 1967).
Nacaths Journal of African Theology, Catholic Social Doctrine and the Church in Africa, Vol.14 ISSN: Edited by Idara Otu, MSP, April, 2oo4.
                     BY: ‘BISI-OLUWOLE

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