Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pacem in Terris III - An Essential of the Common Good

In PT §55 Pope John makes clear that when we pursue the common good we must remember an important thing.
Among the essential elements of the common good one must certainly include the various characteristics distinctive of each individual people. But these by no means constitute the whole of it. For the common good, since it is intimately bound up with human nature, can never exist fully and completely unless the human person is taken into account at all times.
The point is that when we pursue the common good, we must not do so without taking into account the fact that society consists of individuals. It would be an error, then, to say that what is good for the body politic is ipso facto what is good for the individuals, or to ignore entirely the question of what is good for individuals. Man does not exist solely in relation to the State. Far less does he exist solely for the sake of the State. Both formulations are mistaken, although the second is worse. The State may not exist solely in relation to the individual - there is certainly a sense in which it exists in relation to the society as a whole - but it seems to me to be beyond question that there is no sense in which it may be rightly said that man exists solely for the sake of the State.

If that is the case, though, then it seems that those measures which would attempt to reduce man to no more than this are contrary to reason and contrary to the moral law. We ought, therefore, to resist the politicization of life and culture, as though all things must be understood only in relation to the State and to political concerns.

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