Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) was the last encyclical drafted by Pope John XXIII who died on June 3, 1963 two months after its completion. It is interesting to read it more than half century later. In the encyclical, four clear principles are enumerated as criteria for the proper establishment of a humane peaceful order in the world. They are: Freedom, Justice, Faith, and Solidarity.
Human society… demands that men be guided by justice, respect the rights of others and do their duty. It demands too that they be animated by such love as will make them feel the needs of others as their own, and induce them to share their goods with others, and to strive in the world to make all men alike heirs to the noblest of intellectual and spiritual values. Nor is this enough; for human society thrives on freedom, namely, on the use of means which are consistent with the dignity of its individual members, who, being endowed with reason, assume responsibility for their own actions.
Pacem in Terris
Let there be peace on earth.
How can we support a public morality that respects freedom without perverting into license? How can we support social and interpersonal justice? How can we support and establish habits of solidarity?
Find some time to read sections of Pacem in Terris.
Selections from Pacem in Terris.
Peace is but an empty word, if it does not rest upon that order…that is founded on truth, built up on justice, nurtured and animated by charity and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom…. Human resources alone, even though inspired by the most praiseworthy good will, cannot hope to achieve it.
The best interests of justice are served by those public authorities who do all they can to improve human conditions of the members of minority groups obliged to live within the territories of a nation of different ethnic origin, especially in what concerns their language, culture, ancient traditions, and their economic activity and enterprise.
Before a society can be considered well-ordered, creative, and consonant with human dignity, it must be based on truth. St. Paul expresses this as follows: Putting away lying, speak the truth every man with his neighbour, for we are members of one another.
There is a disunity among individuals and among nations which is in striking contrast to this perfect order of the universe. One would think that the relationships that bind men together could only be governed by force. But the world’s Creator has stamped man’s inmost being with an order revealed to man by his conscience; and his conscience insists on his preserving it.
There are many parts of the world where we find groupings of people of more or less different ethnic origin. Nothing must be allowed to prevent reciprocal relations between them.
Truth calls for the elimination of every trace of racial discrimination.
Since women are becoming ever more conscious of their human dignity, they will not tolerate being treated as mere material instruments, but demand rights befitting a human person both in domestic and in public life.
Indeed since the whole reason for the existence of civil authorities is the realization of the common good, it is clearly necessary that, in pursuing this objective, they should respect its essential elements, and at the same time conform their laws to the circumstances of the day.
Any human society, if it is to be well-ordered and productive, must lay down as a foundation this principle, namely, that every human being is a person; that is, human nature is endowed with intelligence and free will. Indeed, precisely because one is a person one has rights and obligations flowing directly and simultaneously from one’s very nature. And as these rights and obligations are universal and inviolable, so they cannot in any way be surrendered.