SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE PLENARY OF
PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES
Thursday, 2 May 2019
Dear sisters and brothers,
I welcome you and thank your President, Prof. Stefano Zamagni, for his kind words and for having accepted to preside over the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Also this year you have chosen to deal with a topic of permanent topicality. Unfortunately, we have under our eyes situations in which some nation states implement their relations in a spirit of opposition rather than cooperation. Furthermore, it should be noted that the frontiers of States do not always coincide with demarcations of homogeneous populations and that many tensions come from an excessive claim of sovereignty on the part of States, often precisely in areas where they are no longer able to act effectively to protect the common good.
Both in the Encyclical Laudato si 'and in the Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps this year, I drew attention to the global challenges facing humanity, such as integral development, peace, care for the common home , climate change, poverty, war, migration, human trafficking, organ trafficking, protection of the common good, new forms of slavery.
St. Thomas has a beautiful notion of what a people is: "Like the Seine it is not a river determined by the flowing water, but by a precise origin and riverbed, so that it is always considered the same river, although the flowing water is different, so a people is the same not for the identity of a soul or of men, but for the identity of the territory, or even more, of the laws and the way of life, as it says Aristotle in the third book of Politics "(The Spiritual Creatures, a. 9, ad 10). The Church has always urged the love of its people, of their country, to respect the treasure of the various cultural expressions, customs and habits and the right ways of living rooted in peoples. At the same time, the Church has warned people, peoples and governments about the deviations of this attachment when it concerns the exclusion and hatred of others, when it becomes conflict nationalism that raises walls, indeed even racism or anti-Semitism. The Church observes with concern the re-emergence, almost everywhere in the world, of aggressive currents towards foreigners, especially immigrants, as well as that growing nationalism that neglects the common good. Thus there is the risk of compromising already established forms of international cooperation, the aims of international organizations are undermined as a space for dialogue and meeting for all countries on a plan of mutual respect, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals approved at the unanimity in the General Assembly of the United Nations on 25 September 2015.
It is a common doctrine that the State is at the service of the person and of the natural groupings of people such as the family, the cultural group, the nation as an expression of the will and profound customs of a people, the common good and peace. Too often, however, states are enslaved to the interests of a dominant group, mostly for reasons of economic profit, which oppresses, among others, the ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities that are in their territory.
In this perspective, for example, the way in which a nation welcomes migrants reveals its vision of human dignity and its relationship with humanity. Every human person is a member of humanity and has the same dignity. When a person or family is forced to leave their land, they must be welcomed with humanity. I have said many times that our obligations towards migrants are based on four verbs: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating. The migrant is not a threat to the culture, customs and values of the receiving nation. He too has a duty to integrate into the receiving nation. Integrating does not mean assimilating, but sharing the kind of life of his new homeland, while remaining himself as a person, the bearer of his own biographical story. In this way, the migrant can present himself and be recognized as an opportunity to enrich the people who integrate him. It is the task of the public authority to protect migrants and to regulate migratory flows with the virtue of prudence, as well as to promote reception so that local populations are trained and encouraged to consciously participate in the integration process of migrants who are welcomed.
Even the migration issue, which is a permanent feature of human history, revives the reflection on the nature of the national state. All nations are the result of the integration of successive waves of people or groups of migrants and tend to be images of humanity's diversity while being united by values, common cultural resources and healthy customs. A state that arouses the nationalistic sentiments of its people against other nations or groups of people would fail in its mission. We know from history where they lead similar detours; I think about the Europe of the last century.
The nation state cannot be considered as an absolute, as an island with respect to the surrounding context. In the current globalization situation not only of the economy but also of technological and cultural exchanges, the national state is no longer able to procure the common good of its populations alone. The common good has become global and nations must associate for their own benefit. When a supranational common good is clearly identified, it is necessary to have a special authority legally and concordantly constituted capable of facilitating its implementation. We think of the great contemporary challenges of climate change, new forms of slavery and peace.
While, according to the principle of subsidiarity, individual nations must be given the power to operate as far as they can, on the other hand, groups of neighboring nations - as is already the case - can strengthen their cooperation by attributing the exercise of certain functions and services to intergovernmental institutions that manage their common interests. It is to be hoped that, for example, in Europe the awareness of the benefits brought by this path of rapprochement and harmony between the peoples undertaken after the Second World War will not be lost. In Latin America, on the other hand, Simón Bolivar urged the leaders of his time to forge the dream of a Great Fatherland, which knows and can welcome, respect, embrace and develop the wealth of every people. This cooperative vision among nations can move history by re-launching multilateralism, opposed both to the new nationalistic thrusts and to a hegemonic policy.
Humanity would thus avoid the threat of resorting to armed conflicts whenever a dispute arises between national states, as well as avoiding the danger of economic and ideological colonization of the superpowers, avoiding the oppression of the strongest over the weakest, paying attention to the global dimension without losing sight of the local, national and regional dimension. Faced with the design of a globalization imagined as "spherical", which levels differences and suffocates localization, it is easy for both nationalisms and hegemonic imperialisms to re-emerge. For globalization to be of benefit to everyone, we must think about implementing a "multifaceted" form, supporting a healthy struggle for mutual recognition between the collective identity of each people and nation and globalization itself, according to the principle that the whole it comes before the parts, so as to arrive at a general state of peace and harmony.
The multilateral instances were created in the hope of being able to replace the logic of revenge, the logic of domination, oppression and conflict with that of dialogue, mediation, compromise, harmony and the awareness of belonging to the same humanity in the common home . Certainly, these bodies must ensure that states are effectively represented, with equal rights and duties, in order to avoid the growing hegemony of powers and interest groups that impose their own visions and ideas, as well as new forms of ideological colonization, often disrespectful of the identity, customs and habits, dignity and sensitivity of the peoples concerned. The emergence of these trends is weakening the multilateral system, with the result of a lack of credibility in international politics and a progressive marginalization of the most vulnerable members of the family of nations.
I encourage you to persevere in the search for processes to overcome what divides nations and to propose new paths of cooperation, especially with regard to the new challenges of climate change and new slavery, as well as that great social good which is peace. Unfortunately, today the season of multilateral nuclear disarmament appears outdated and does not stir the political conscience of nations that possess atomic weapons. Indeed, a new season of disquieting nuclear confrontation seems to open up, because it erases the progress of the recent past and multiplies the risk of wars, also due to the possible malfunctioning of highly advanced technologies that are always subject to the natural and human imponderable. If, now, not only on earth but also in space, will be placed offensive and defensive nuclear weapons, the so-called new technological frontier will have raised and not lowered the danger of a nuclear holocaust.
Therefore, the State is called to greater responsibility. While maintaining the characteristics of independence and sovereignty and continuing to pursue the good of its population, today it is its task to participate in building the common good of humanity, a necessary and essential element for the global balance. This universal common good, in turn, must acquire a more pronounced juridical value at international level. I certainly do not think of a universalism or a generic internationalism that neglects the identity of individual peoples: this, in fact, must always be valued as a unique and indispensable contribution to the larger harmonic design.
Dear friends, as inhabitants of our time, Christians and academics of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, I ask you to collaborate with me in spreading this awareness of a renewed international solidarity with respect for human dignity, the common good, respect for the planet and for the supreme good of peace.
I bless you all, I bless your work and your initiatives. I accompany you with my prayer, and you too, please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!
FULL TEXT + Image Source Share: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation