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The Wholeness Of The Individual In Society

644 words - 3 pages

The Wholeness of the Individual in Society

Certain statements made by Pope John Paul II in his commentary on the lasting significance of the papal encyclical “Rerum Novarum,” resonate in a highly spiritual plane, others a highly earthly one, and others in both at once. I would posit that this integrated place is of utmost significance to a sound doctrine of social justice in society, with which both documents are highly concerned. The current pope most clearly states the intertwining of the spiritual and physical needs of the human being when he says that “the Church's social teaching is itself a valid instrument of evangelization ” and “reveals man to himself” (John Paul II, 78). Like Pope John Paul II, I understand the social doctrine of the Church as more than an opportunity to show others how good God is and how much they need the spiritual salvation that comes from this same God's goodness. I believe in God's goodness, God is content to care for God's created and beloved children through fostering the practice of justice and peace as integral threads in the tapestry of all the world's cultures.

Further, I believe that personal spiritual dignity, as is discussed in the context of worker's rights, fosters this practice of justice and peace on a societal level. Thus a culture serves its own betterment to treat it workers with respect, treating each one as being of great intrinsic worth. The encyclical addresses various specific rights of workers, including the right to a day of rest. In the late 1800's Pope Leo XIII “affirm[ed] the need for Sunday rest so that people may turn their thoughts to heavenly things and to the worship which they owe to Almighty God” (John Paul II, 18). It is a great tribute to the centrality of this need for rest, re-centering, and regeneration that Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh speaks in this century of this same need in slightly different language: “Somehow we must find a...

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