Skip to content

Guidelines for Nations to Get Along

Compendium of Social Doctrine Looks at International Relations

ROME, FEB. 6, 2005 (Zenit) - The Church's interest in the relations between nations stems from the universality of God's action in the world. Thus starts the chapter of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church dedicated to international matters. God's creative action embraces the whole world and, in spite of humanity's sinfulness, he continues to bless of creation.

Initially God established a covenant with Abraham, but even at this early stage Genesis 17:4 notes that he was destined to be "the father of a multitude of nations." Referring to a number of passages in St. Paul's letters, the Compendium explains that with the coming of Jesus we have been given a new life in Christ, where racial and cultural differences should no longer be a cause of division. And in Pentecost the message of the Resurrection is announced to a diversity of peoples, who understand it in their own language.

"The Christian message offers a universal vision of the life of men and peoples on earth that makes us realize the unity of the human family," explains the Compendium (No. 432). This unity is built on the supreme model of unity, namely the Holy Trinity.

Building blocks

The construction of an international community is founded on two main elements: the centrality of the human person and the natural inclination of people to establish relationships. This community, continues the Compendium, should aim at ensuring "the effective universal common good" (No. 433).

Among the obstacles that thwart the functioning of an international community, the text names factors such as "materialistic and nationalistic ideologies" and racism. In opposition to these negative tendencies the Church proposes values such as truth, justice, solidarity and freedom. Moreover, the Compendium asks that relations between nations and peoples be conducted according to "the principles of reason, equity, law and negotiation."

The text also emphasizes the importance of international law, while also recognizing the value of each nation's sovereignty. "The international community is a juridical community founded on the sovereignty of each member state, without bonds of subordination that deny or limit its independence" (No. 434).

National freedom and a country's cultural identity are important elements, but the text also notes that sovereignty is not unlimited. Moreover, some of the national rights can be renounced in the search for achieving common international goals. On this point the Compendium adds that one problem in finding the equilibrium between national sovereignty and international laws is that there is no accord on what exactly is constituted by the "rights of nations."

A moral order

The international community should be ordered by the same moral law that governs personal relations, recommends the text. The Compendium invokes a "universal moral law, written on the human heart" (No. 436) that should form the basis of international life.

The respect for principles such as the equal dignity of every people, the rejection of war, the obligation to cooperate for the common good and respecting international pacts are also essential, notes the text.

The Compendium urges that nations resolve disputes by means of "common rules in a commitment to negotiation and to reject definitively the idea that justice can be sought through recourse to war" (No. 438). To this end the further development of processes of negotiation and mediation based on international law would be an important means in order to avoid the use of force in resolving differences.

The Church, notes the text, has generally taken a favorable view of the development of intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations. However, it adds, "it has reservations when they address problems incorrectly" (No. 440).

In spite of these drawbacks the Compendium notes that the magisterium favors a universal public authority that has the effective power to safeguard security, justice and rights. However, "it is essential that such an authority arise from mutual agreement and that it not be imposed, nor must it be understood as a kind of 'global super-state'" (No. 441).

How then to regulate the exercise of authority at this global level? The Compendium recommends that it "be regulated by law, ordered to the common good and respectful of the principle of subsidiarity" (No. 441).

A global authority, continues the text, is more necessary than ever due to the globalization of many problems that require coordinated action in order to ensure peace and development. But the international organizations that are entrusted with such a task are in need of revision in order to overcome the negative effects of political rivalries and the desire to manipulate these bodies for ends that are not in agreement with the common good.

The Compendium also welcomes the activity of private non-governmental organizations that are active in the international sphere, particularly in the area of drawing public attention to the matter of human rights.

Economic development

An important task for the international community, explains the Compendium, is ensuring the economic development of nations. There are many obstacles to be overcome, but the Church's magisterium considers that there is a right to development.

This right is based on the following principles: the unity of origin and shared destiny of the human family; the equality between people and communities based on human dignity; the universal destination of the earth's goods; the very notion of development; the centrality of the human person; and the principle of solidarity.

Integration into markets at the international level is an important means that poorer countries need to have available if they are to break out of their problems. Other problems to be overcome include illiteracy, the lack of food, inadequate infrastructure and a lack of basic health and sanitation. The Compendium also notes the importance of political stability and the need to ensure liberty and individual economic initiative.

But, in addition to factors that are based on economic principles, the Compendium asks that there "be an awareness of the duty to solidarity, justice and universal charity" (No. 448). It is important to be aware that there are duties toward others because of their human dignity, thus creating a consciousness of a common good that extends to the whole human family.

In fact, the poverty of billions of people should be an issue that challenges our human and Christian consciences, adds the Compendium. The world's material goods are destined for the benefit of all people and each one of us is responsible for the good of all. It is also important not to see the poor just as a problem, "but as people who can become the principal builders of a new and more human future for everyone" (No. 449).

The chapter closes with a reminder of the need to resolve the burden of international debt that afflicts many poor nations.

The causes of the debt problem are complex, admits the Compendium, but those who bear the greatest burden of suffering are the poor of the indebted countries who bear no responsibility for this situation. We cannot ignore the importance of respecting the principle that debts should be repaid, the text concludes, but a remedy to the debt problem must be found.


Catholic Online CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Social Doctrine, Compendium, God, International, Human, Relationships

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.