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Integral Human Development

What is Integral Human Development?

Economic development alone is not enough to create a just society. People and communities have material needs, but human flourishing and wellbeing have spiritual, social, cultural and political dimensions too. Catholic Social Teaching takes a holistic or integral approach to development. It places people, rather than the economy, at the centre of development. Development is for people. We are made by God out of love and called to develop our God-given gifts, to grow as persons, and to seek our fulfilment. That is why we describe our thinking about development as integral and human.

“Development cannot be limited to mere economic growth. In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every person and of the whole person.” (Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, n 14)

Personal & Communal

Development is communal as well as personal. Our personal development takes place within the context of the development of our communities. We help each other to grow and develop for the good of us all. A just society is inclusive. Catholic Social Teaching promotes integral human development for every person, every community, and all peoples.

“Knowing that we, as persons and communities, are part of God’s family gives us a vision and energy to serve a truly integral human development.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n 78)

Social & Economic Inclusion

Catholic organisations and social justice movements work for social as well as economic inclusion. They consider the links between the social and emotional wellbeing of communities, families and individuals and their economic wellbeing. This embodies in action Catholic Social Teaching’s integral or holistic understanding of human development. Our action must be multi-dimensional rather than focusing on material poverty alone.

“Poverty is more than a simple lack of money. It is multi-dimensional: it concerns access to health, education, social services, human rights, freedom, life opportunities and the ultimate goal of the development enterprise – happiness. The reality is that the most disadvantaged in the world suffer deprivation in many different ways.” (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Lazarus at Our Gate: Social Justice Statement 2013-2014)

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