The International Community
Since the 1940s the world has been determined to build an international community. In 1945 the United Nations was founded and a few years later it issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This was followed by the establishment of the World Trade Organisation in the 1990s.
In terms of the Vatican’s role in international politics, the Holy See is able to send Ambassadors to other states as well as concluding treaties, mediating in conflicts and taking part in supra-governmental organisations such as the United Nations. The objective of this activity is to promote the cooperation of the international community, support it on its path toward the greater common good, to demand human rights and human dignity for all, and to assist and accompany all mankind on the way to justice and peace.
Globalisation has brought about considerable change to our world. Thanks to technological advances we can travel everywhere by plane in just a few hours and communicate with anyone on earth simply and without cost via the internet. Because of these accelerated exchanges it is also possible for industry to supply many more products less expensively. Everything is more closely connected and interdependent.
However, globalisation does not mean that all countries are equally developed and all people can benefit from its networking. Problems like poverty, hunger, lack of education, poor health care, and human rights violations are still a reality and poorer countries are often extremely dependent on how much the better developed countries produce in them or buy from them. At the same time, the wages paid to workers in poor countries is often extremely low. This gives rise to injustices which deprives many people of fundamental human rights. Globalisation, therefore, not only has advantages but also aggravates many problems or even causes them in the first place.
To tackle these problems we must work together and come together in a spirit of solidarity and mutual responsibility. God is the creator of every single human being therefore He is the Father of all mankind. We human beings must regard each other as brothers and sisters who are connected with one another in one family. In a family, the members trust one another, are there for each other, and help each other.
Universal Destination of Goods
Catholic social teaching points to the unity of the human family and the related universal destination of goods. This means that God, as Creator of the world, destined the earth’s resources to provide for the livelihood and needs of all human beings. Excessive inequality in the distribution of the world’s goods, in contrast, is a scandal. For Christian men and women it is unacceptable for poverty and hunger to be the fate of millions of people while others lead a life of excess and waste.
The Preferential Option for the Poor
The poor deserve special attention because it is to these whom Christ turned to most. That is why the Church professes a preferential option for the poor. The poor are often the ones who have the fewest opportunities to influence the shaping of society and their living conditions and so the Church stands by them, and is concerned about putting an end to injustice, discrimination and oppression.
Migration has become increasingly prevalent and no less controversial in recent times. There can be many reasons for leaving one’s native land: poverty, lack of freedom and democracy, political persecution, conflicts, wars, or simply the desire to live in another culture or place.
Often migrants are turned away from countries even when that means tolerating human rights violations. Thus many people drown while travelling from Africa to Europe or, after arrival, are sent to camps with degrading conditions or else are often sent back without sufficient examination of their legal claims. As Christians we must see people in this predicament as not just citizens but as members of the human family. That is why it is a moral duty to provide refuge for those who in their homeland are subject to persecution or suffer from dire need.
For many years the Church has been an advocate for migrants and, in doing so, she cites the preferential option for the poor and Jesus’s identification with the marginalised and the forgotten. Catholic teaching in this area can be summarised in a number of key points: (i) people have the right to migrate in order to support themselves and their families; (ii) nations have the right to regulate their borders; (iii) refugees and asylum seekers should be given protection; and (iv) human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected.
The Church encourages the international community to support fair trade; that is commerce that is conducted according to definitive principles of justice and which strengthens the rights of disadvantaged producers and contributes to sustained development.
Next: The Environment