Pope Francis’ Integral Human Development: an Inclusive Growth Proposal
On behalf of the newly born Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development of the Roman Curia, thank you for this initiative and invitation to take part in this Conference on “People, Business and Society: Inclusive Growth Summit”. I wish, in particular, to thank the Dean of IPADE, Rafael Gómez Nava, as well as Prof. José Díez Deustua and Dn. Christian Mendoza.
This year (2017) marks the 50th Anniversary of IPADE’s foundation; but it also marks the 50th anniversary of the promulgation the Encyclical Letter, Populorum Progressio (26 March 1967) of Pope Paul VI, whose development of the Christian vision of the human person, has given flesh to the notion of integral human development: a concept that has been recurrent in the Magisterium of the Church over the past 50 years, in particular, in the social encyclicals of the Popes.
Today I have the distinguished honour and pleasant duty of presenting “Pope Francis’s teaching on Integral Human Development as an Agenda/Proposal for an Inclusive Growth”; and I shall try to fulfill this task by, first, seeking a quick sense of "inclusive growth". Then, exploring the sense of "integral human development," its development and its application in the Social Magisterium of the Church from Pope Paul VI to Pope Francis through John Paul II and Pope Benedict to Pope Francis, I shall observe on how this teaching in the Social Doctrine of the Church help realize inclusive growth. Indeed, Integral human development has been the Church’s way of pursuing, for ages already, dignity for all in “inclusive growth” and now in the United Nations sustainable development Agenda.
A sense of Inclusive Growth
Ladies and Gentlemen, you may have heard it said that if you ask four economist about the meaning of inclusive growth, you may get five answers. This is simply to say that scholars and policy-makers are not agreed on what inclusive growth is, or what make for inclusive growth.
A Wikipedia entry affirms that sustainable economic growth requires inclusive growth, and goes on to define “inclusive growth” as "a concept that advances equitable opportunities for economic participants during economic growth with benefits incurred by every section of society. This concept expands upon traditional economic growth models to include focus on the equity of health, human capital, environmental quality, social protection, and food security."1 This definition of inclusive growth, according to the World Bank, "implies a direct link between the macro and micro economic determinants of growth." While, the microeconomic dimension captures the importance of structural transformation for economic diversification and competition, the macro dimension refers to changes in economic aggregates such as the country’s gross national product (GNP) etc. The sense of inclusive growth, then, is essentially economic, although it is supposed to expand upon traditional economic growth models to include focus on the equity of health, human capital, environmental quality, social protection, and food security. Similarly, the OECD belief that inclusive growth is economic growth that creates opportunity for all segments of the population and distributes the dividends of increased prosperity, both in monetary an non-monetary terms, fairly across society, still includes "the necessity of rethinking the traditional model of economic growth to put people's well-being centre-stage."2
How one may realize the “centre-staging of people’s well-being” is still a matter of discussion. For the UNDP, on the one hand, inclusive economic growth is not only about expanding national economies but also about ensuring that we reach the most vulnerable people of societies through “equality of opportunity” and “participation in growth by all". Growth must take place in the sectors where the poor work (agriculture). It must occur in places where the poor live. It must use the factors of production that the poor possess (ie. unskilled labour); and it reduces the prices of consomption items that the poor consume (food, clothing, fuel). For the World Bank, on the other hand, "Inclusive growth is not broad-based, shared growth and pro-poor growth."3 It is equity, equality of opportunity and protection in market and employment transitions which, as essential ingredients of growth strategy, are related to structural transformation for economic diversification and competition, including creative destruction of jobs and firms.4
Inclusive Growth is generally conceived in predominantly economic terms. It is dominated by economic and market forces in World Bank circles. But, even when in OECD and UNDP circles, there is interest and concern for centre-staging people's well-being, the indicators are still heavily economic. The scope of inclusive growth, then, certainly needs to be widened, for the human person, the subject and object of inclusive growth is a creature in the image and likeness of God, with a vocation to development and with a vocation to transcendence, hence more than economics!
The discussion of inclusive growth then can benefit from an understanding of the human person: a sound biblical or theological anthropology.
Biblical Anthropology at the basis of Human Development & Inclusive Growth
When the Church speaks of development and growth, it always starts from the premise of human dignity, which flows from the fact that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God. If the creation of man in the image and likeness of God establishes the dignity of every person (human being), the subsequent story of the brotherhood of Cain and Abel does not only transform the status of Adam and Eve from being a husband and a wife into that of a father and a mother (parents); it also constitutes children born of the same parents as brothers. This makes brotherhood not only the basis of the extension of human family; it also attributes to brothers (a-delphoi=from the same womb) the same dignity. Brothers, therefore, coming from the same the womb, are equal in dignity. We may take away from this biblical presentation of the origins of the human family that all persons (human beings), emerging from the same parents, are equal in dignity. All human beings are equal in dignity!
Accordingly, the conception of development and growth as the realization of human dignity must apply to all: it must be inclusive! True development must be universal and inclusive: developing what every person possesses by nature.... their dignity. If this is the case, then development is not real and it falls short of its scope if it applies only to some persons and not to others. There is no "I" who can live in full human dignity so long as there is "another I" on the face of the earth who suffers degradation. The very existence of such "others" living in undignified conditions tells us that development is not integral, and growth is not inclusive: they do not apply to all. Development and growth must be seen as an affirmation of the dignity and intrinsic worth of every person everywhere and in every generation; for authentic growth is inclusive; and authentic human development is integral human development: the development of the whole person and of every person.
Integral Human Development, its formulation and application
Already in his Encyclical Letter, Mater et Magistra, Pope John XXIII, the Pope who convoked the Vatican Council II, advised people in public authority to "take account of all those social conditions which favor the full development of human personality."5 Similarly, he advised that Christian education must be integral or complete (n. 228).
At the Vatican Council itself, the Council Fathers, recognizing the complex context of the Church's mission,6 speak of an "integral vocation" of the human person, and advise that culture is to be subjected to "the integral perfection of the human person, to the good of the community and of the whole society".7
After the Council and against the background of emerging independent nations in the former colonies of Europe, humanity was grappling with the issue of development and progress. Pope Paul VI who had referred to himself as "father of all men"8 and had pleaded the case of impoverished nations before the United Nations called for an "authentic human development"; and said: "The development We speak of here 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."9 As Father L.-J. Lebret, an eminent consultor who was mentioned by Blessed Pope VI in a footnote in Populorum Progressio, rightly observed on the matter: "We cannot 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.”10
Similarly, but perhaps more critical of a view of development which focuses exclusively on economic growth, Pope Paul emphasized that: “Organized programs designed to increase productivity should have but one aim: to serve human nature. They should reduce inequities, eliminate discrimination, free men from the bonds of servitude, and thus give them the capacity, in the sphere of temporal realities, to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments. When we speak of development, we should mean social progress as well as economic growth.”11
The same principles are equally clear in the work of Pope Paul’s successors. John Paul II wrote in His Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus (1991), “development must not be understood solely in economic terms, but in a way that is fully human. It is not only a question of raising all peoples to the level currently enjoyed by the richest countries, but rather of building up a more decent life through united labour, of concretely enhancing every individual's dignity and creativity, as well as his capacity to respond to his personal vocation, and thus to God's call. The apex of development is the exercise of the right and duty to seek God, to know him and to live in accordance with that knowledge.”12
Pope John Paul II wrote his second Social Encyclical Letter, Sollicitudo rei socialis, in 1987. A few weeks before, the UN had released its famous Brundtland report, called Our common Future, prepared by a working group, presided over by Mr. Brundtland; and many consider this report the remote origins of the concepts of sustainable development. Against its predominantly economic and social thrust, John Paul II wrote, " … the picture just given would be incomplete if one failed to add to the "economic and social indices" of underdevelopment other indices which are equally negative and indeed even more disturbing, beginning with the cultural level. These are illiteracy, the difficulty or impossibility of obtaining higher education, ………economic, social, political and even religious oppression of the individual."13
Pope Benedict XVI would dedicate his Encyclical Letter, Caritas in Veritate, written to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Populorum Progressio, to discussing the issue of "development": the factors which promote it, and those which oppose and hinder its realization (78-79). True development must respect the dignity of persons; and “authentic human development concerns the whole person in every single dimension.”14
Pope Francis is heir to all of these teaching of his predecessors on development: In Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis and Benedict XVI teach that Faith also helps us to devise models of development which are based not simply on utility and profit.15 In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Francis teaches that the Christian faith has concrete consequences; for the acceptance of the message of salvation is inseparable from genuine fraternal love.16 Accordingly, Francis takes up the teaching of John Paul II on solidarity, adding that Solidarity requires “the creation of a new mind-set which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.”17 He affirms that “solidarity must be lived as the decision to restore to the poor what belongs to them”: this means prioritizing solidarity with the poor, those whose rights are denied, the excluded, and those who are unable to fulfil their God-given summons for development.18 In this sense, Pope Francis echoes Pope Paul VI, when he writes that the practice of solidarity “would allow all peoples to become the artisans of their destiny”, since “every person is called to self-fulfilment”. 19
Inclusive Growth in the Light of Papal teaching on Integral Human Development
The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church presents some very fundamental notions, several of which are explicitly articulated in the U.N. Declaration on the Right to Development itself, as necessary for the proper approach to, and for the promotion of, the right to development. These basic concepts are: 1) unity of origin and a shared destiny of the human family; 2) equal dignity of every person and of every community; 3) universal destination of the goods of the earth; 4) integral human development, embracing the whole person; 5) the human person as the center of every social activity; 6) solidarity and subsidiarity as necessary for a healthy development.20 Finally, development must not be understood solely in economic terms, but in a way t hat is fully human. This involves, not only a question of raising all peoples to the level currently enjoyed by the richest countries, but also of building up a more decent life through united labour, of concretely enhancing every individual's dignity and creativity, as well as his capacity to respond to his personal vocation. 21 These principles are mutually intertwined, interdependent and essential for implementation of the right to development in a way that can lead society out of its deep crises. Of these, I would like to highlight two in particular: equality of persons based on human dignity and the centrality of the human person and solidarity.
The dignity of the human person must be the fundamental concern in all issues related to poverty and development. We cannot talk about development in economic terms without focusing ourselves on integral human development of the total person and of all persons. In his address to the World Economic Forum, Pope Francis reiterated the importance of economic activity, which should contribute to integral human development. In every business activity, the personal and social virtues of honesty, integrity, fair-mindedness, generosity and concern for others should prevail over the maximization of profits. As the Holy Father concluded, we are called “to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it”. 22
Constructing the structural elements of development is fundamentally a task of politics, but the Church can offer principles of judgment that help us to understand the truth about human beings, which must lie at the heart of this reflection and planning for effective action: “Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church’s immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.”23 Catholic social thought focuses on the structure of the human person, and this is the lens through which it brings to bear on political and economic life. The fullness of truth about human persons is necessary for building up of the structural elements of development.
We can see a very strong, and, I might add, necessary convergence of the Social Doctrine of the Church and the Declaration on the Right to Development in the importance given to the dignity of the human person. For any realistic development of society, the most basic and simple starting point is the realization that every human person is created free and with an equal and inviolable dignity. Yet, it is precisely this basic point that is most often obfuscated or, in some cases, completely ignored, and this leads to all sorts of injustice and abuse of human rights. As Pope Francis remarked to the European Parliament, “Promoting the dignity of the person means recognizing that he or she possesses inalienable rights which no one may take away arbitrarily, much less for the sake of economic interests.”24 We have experienced a growth of positive trends in international development that are making significant contributions to the impact of development work and alleviation of poverty. However, these trends will remain incomplete and insufficient without a more integral understanding of human persons. First of all, there has been a growing evolution in the understanding of what poverty is, with the many elements that must be taken into account. Development is moving beyond terms that were restricted to economic development, specifically GDP and economic growth. For example, the “Human Development Index” has brought into thinking and policies attention to other aspects of human flourishing and social wellbeing that are not included in the concept of economic growth, such as levels of education and access to health care. This manner of development involves the building up of a decent life marked by creativity and dignity, but it also includes a person’s ability to respond to his or her personal vocation.
We must adopt a substantive view of what it means to live a fully human life. When the equal dignity of the human person is not respected, whether collectively as in the case of States and institutions, or individually, other more “pragmatic” or “utilitarian” categories become the criteria by which society operates. In such a fundamental shift of mentality, emerge categories of “values” that place the human person at the service of some other “material gain or value”. The person becomes functional to consumerism or political power. In such cases, the dignity of others is considered worth being “sacrificed” for some greater material end.
In this perspective, a major factor becomes evident and perhaps is all too prevalent in many cultures: the de facto categorization of persons into “classes” or “groups” and thus as means more or less useful to economic or political “progress”. This dangerous approach requires of our deep reflection and honest discussion; its negative effects, including the fact that it does not embrace the “notion of development in its “entirety”. In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis observes: “Inequality is the root of social ills. The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies. At times, however, they seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for true and integral development.”25 The task then before the international community, and before all individual stakeholders, is striving to reclaim the centrality of the human person and the common good as essential for integral human development. In this way, the seemingly insurmountable and lopsided perspective that gives preference to merely economic and political gains can be overcome. But two conditions are required. The first is that the ideology of extreme individualism, which has become pervasive, should be reconsidered since it contradicts or ignores the rights of others; the second is that a renewed effort is required to replace the human person, in its true character and nature, as the end to which all political and economic decisions must be aimed.
Some characteristics of Integral Human Development as Inclusive Growth
Openness to transcendence
First and most evidently, this is a trend to be wholeheartedly welcomed. However, the vision of integral human development of the Catholic Social Thought still goes considerably further than the prevailing orthodoxies of development allow. Indeed, we need to recognize that it is not possible to define development without at least an implicit view of what it means to live a good and flourishing human life – or in other words, without facing the meaning and destiny of human life. From a Christian perspective, this in turn means that integral development requires an openness and attentiveness also to the religious dimension of the human person. Authentic development must include our relationship with God.26
It is for this reason that Pope Paul VI insisted that “self-development, however, is not left up to man's option. Just as the whole of creation is ordered toward its Creator, so too the rational creature should of his own accord direct his life to God, the first truth and the highest good."27 Accordingly, John Paul II, and after him Benedict XVI, referred to development as a vocation. Benedict XVI wrote, “integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone”. This is what gives legitimacy to the Church's involvement in the whole question of development. If development were concerned with merely technical aspects of human life, and not with the meaning of man's pilgrimage through history in company with his fellow human beings, nor with identifying the goal of that journey, then the Church would not be entitled to speak on it. 28
Pope Francis more recently, in his address to the participants in the Conference organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development marking the 50th Anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, on 4th of April 2017, affirmed that integral human development involves integrating body and soul . He said, “integrating body and soul also means that no work of development can truly reach its goal if it does not respect that place in which God is present with us and speaks to our heart”.
This vision of development reflects the Christian conception of the human person created by God in his image and likeness, in unity of soul and body, in his unrepeatable and inviolable uniqueness who lives in relation to God, to himself, to creation and to the others. Because integral human development is primarily a vocation, such development requires a transcendent vision of the person, it needs God: without him, development is either denied, or entrusted exclusively to man, who falls into the trap of thinking he can bring about his own salvation, and ends up promoting a dehumanized form of development. Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space. Enclosed within history, it runs the risk of being reduced to the mere accumulation of wealth; humanity thus loses the courage to be at the service of higher goods, at the service of the great and disinterested initiatives called forth by universal charity. 29
The Central Place of Charity in Development and Inclusive Growth
Already 50 years ago, Blessed Paul VI recognized the fact that the causes of underdevelopment are not primarily of the material order. He invited us to search for them in other dimensions of the human person: first of all, in the will, which often neglects the duties of solidarity; secondly in thinking, which does not always give proper direction to the will; in short in the lack of love that opens our lives to gift and makes it possible to hope for a “development of the whole man and of all men”, to hope for progress “from less human conditions to those which are more human”, obtained by overcoming the difficulties that are inevitably encountered along the way.
Integrating the individual and community dimension in development
Moreover, even the more complex conceptualizations of development tend to view the process of development in essentially individualistic terms, and do not take into account the essentially relational dimensions of the human person. And thus, fundamental social units that are inseparable from the development of human persons – are often starkly absent from the horizon of development thinking, even today31. In contrast Pope Paul VI stressed the need to take them into account in Populorum Progressio, when he noted that “ man is not really himself…except within the framework of society and there the family plays the basic and most important role…The natural family, stable and monogamous…in which different generations live together, helping each other to acquire greater wisdom and to harmonize personal rights with other social needs, is the basis of Society (PP, 36).”
Pope Francis, on the occasion of the already mentioned Conference organized by the Dicastery for the 50th anniversary of Populorum Progressio underlined the fact that integral human development is, indeed, also a matter of integrating the individual and the community dimensions of a person. It is undeniable that we are children of a culture, at least in the Western world, that has exalted the individual to the point of making him an island, almost as if he could be happy alone. “The ‘I’ and the community are not in competition with each other, but the ‘I’ can mature only in the presence of authentic interpersonal relationships; and the community is productive when each and every one of its components is productive. This is even more the case for the family, which is the first cell of society and where one learns how to live together. 32
Solidarity and subsidiarity in development
Furthermore, as affirmed by Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate, “man does not develop through his own powers, nor can development simply be handed to him” (n.11). In the course of history, the creation of institutions, was erroneously thought to be sufficient to guarantee the fullfilment of humanity's right to development, but in reality they are not enough since integral human development is primarily a vocation and, therefore, it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone.
Moreover, authentic human development - being about the whole person in all its dimensions, but also about all persons - is rooted in the biblical and Christian ideal of a “single family of peoples in solidarity and fraternity.” It implies the recognition of the condition of brotherhood of all men and women necessary to the fulfillment of everyone’s development. Too often the “tremendous” power that science and technique have given to modern man, induces in us the feeling of being “almighty”, forgetting, as Pope Francis reminds us in his encyclical Laudato sì, that “we are not God!”34 and no one is the sole author of himself, his life and society. As a well-known proverb puts it, "it takes a village to raise a child".
As recalled to us by Pope Francis, integral human development is a matter of integrating the diverse peoples of the earth. 35 The duty of solidarity obliges us to seek just ways of sharing, so there may not exist that tragic inequality between those who have too much and those who have nothing, between those who reject and those who are rejected. Only the path of integration among peoples allows humanity a future of peace and hope. In the Note of the Holy See regarding the 2030 Agenda the Holy See affirmed that Goal 12 "on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns" of the SDGs should be understood as not only regarding limits on natural resources but also as including criteria that relate to the promotion of solidarity and self-restraint.
Integral Human Development is also a matter of offering feasible models of social integration. 36 Everyone has a contribution to offer to the whole of society; everyone has a trait that can be useful in living together; no one is excluded from contributing something for the good of all. This is, at the same time, a right and a duty. It is the principle of subsidiarity that guarantees the need for everyone’s contribution, whether as individuals or as groups, if we want to create a human coexistence open to all.
I wish to conclude this brief remarks on integral human development by recalling how Pope Paul VI considered development and growth as the fruit of a true humanistic synthesis. For, in the words of Pope Paul VI, a true humanism “points the way forward toward God and acknowledges the task to which we are called, the task which offers us the real meaning of human life. Man is not the ultimate measure of man. Man becomes truly man only by passing beyond himself.”37 Indeed, 50 years ago, when Pope Paul IV taught about a “new humanism”, he clearly envisioned the human person finding himself and his fulfillment in an objective scale of values that included not just self-regarding autonomous choices but rather dedication to others and to the common good, and to the recognition of God.38 This is true even more in today’s world, in which the secularization of society pushes the human person away from God and from others. It is our task then to remind humanity of its “the highest values and of God Himself, its author and end."39
In the Encyclical Letter Laudato si', Pope Francis invites us to look at the example of Saint Francis who “helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human.”40 The paradigm of integral ecology, promoted by Pope Francis in Laudato si', invites us to foster the integrity of the human person in its relation with God, with himself, with his fellow human beings and with creation. Moreover, since everything is closely interrelated, today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis, they call for an integral perspective, for an integral ecology, an inclusive growth and an integral development.
Cf. OECD Forum 2017: 'Bridging the Gap', and the policy brief 'Time to Act: Making Inclusive Growth (http://www.oecd.org/inclusive-growth/).
Cf. Feb. 10, 2009 World Bank study of Inclusive Development.
Mater et Magistra, n. 65.
Gaudium et Spes, n. 4-10.
Gaudium et Spes, n. 57 & 59.
Populorum Progressio, n. 4.
Populorum Progressio, n. 14.
Populorum Progressio, n. 34.
Centesimus Annus, n. 29.
Sollicitudo rei socialis, n. 15.
Caritas in Veritate, n. 11.
Lumen Fidei, n. 55.
Evangelii Gaudium, n. 179.
Cf. Idem, n. 189.
Evangelii Gaudium, n.190. "It is most important for people to understand and appreciate that the social question ties all men together, in every part of the world…. The hungry nations of the world cry out to the peoples blessed with abundance. And the Church, cut to the quick by this cry, asks each and every man to hear his brother's plea and answer it lovingly” (Populoroum Progressio, n.3).
Cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 446.
Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 29.
Pope Francis, Message to World Economic Forum, 17 January 2014.
Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 28.
Pope Francis, Speech to European Parliament, 25 Nov. 2014.
Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter, Evangelii gaudium, 202-203.
The Structures of Development and the structures of the human person, Paolo G. Carozza.
Populorum Progressio, n. 16.
Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n. 16.
Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n. 11.
See Pope Francis, “Meeting for religious liberty with the Hispanic community and other immigrants: address of the Holy Father”, Philadelphia, 26 September 2015.
The Structures of Development and the structures of the human person, Paolo G. Carozza.
Pope Francis, Address to the participants in the Conference organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development marking the 50th Anniversary of the Encyclical Letter PopulorumProgressio, on 4th of April 2017.
Pope Francis, “Prayer vigil for the Festival of Families: address of the Holy Father”, Philadelphia, 26 September 2015.
Pope Francis, Laudato si', n.67.
Pope Francis, Address to the participants in the Conference organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development marking the 50th Anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, on 4th of April 2017.
Populorum Progressio, n. 42.
The Structures of Development and the structures of the human person, Paolo G. Carozza.
Populorum Progressio, n. 21.
Laudato si', n. 11.