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The evolution of CST is studied in this chapter, in relation to the three distinct main matters denoted by the ambiguous term “globalization”: (1) the increasing interconnections and interactions between people all over the world and the resultant interdependencies that reinforce other interdependencies such as exhaustion of natural resources, transfer of resources, money, means of destruction, people, vulnerability to pollution and environmental degradation, and so on; (2) proposals to respond to all that (and to “dangerous anthropogenic global warming”) by establishing global law and institutions of governance; (3) proposals to facilitate migration from poorer countries to richer ones for the sake of a better life for the migrants (and their relatives or other dependents). Neither CST nor the rest of Catholic moral doctrine has doubted that states and peoples have a responsibility to respect other states and peoples and the common good of human persons worldwide; or that individuals and groups have, in dire necessity, rights to seek and find refuge in nearby safe states for at least the duration of that danger and necessity. But beyond these basics, there have been developments, in various directions. And this chapter traces some main developments over the past 125 years.
The common good (bonum commune) has, since antiquity, referred to the aim of social and political association, and was particularly prominent in medieval Christian political theology. Since St. John XXIII’s 1961 encyclical letter, Mater et magistra, ecclesiastical statements about social teaching have employed a formulation of the common good, usually in the version that appeared in the Second Vatican Council’s 1965 Pastoral Constitution for the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes, as “the sum of those conditions of social life that allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment.” This chapter discusses the origins and development of this formulation as well as the ways that it has been used in subsequent Catholic Social Teaching. While it has sometimes been interpreted as an “instrumental” account of the common good, the sources and uses of the notion suggest that it is the particularly modern political component of a fuller notion of the common good continuous with the tradition. In particular, the recent formulation is concerned to limit the power of the modern state and protect the dignity of the human person in the challenging conditions of political modernity.
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