The talk – a surprise for all in the audience – recapitulated the key themes of the Argentinian pope’s view of the human person: We are all related and interconnected; scientific and technological progress must not be disconnected from social justice and care for the neighbor; and that the world needs tenderness.
I am a scholar of modern Catholicism and its relations with the world of today. From my perspective, there are two essential elements of this talk that are important to understand: The message of the pope and his use of the media.
Emphasizing Catholic social teaching
The message of the pope delivered in nontheological language for a larger audience comes at a time of extreme individualization of our lives. What the pope focused on is the Catholic social teaching of the “common good.”
The principle of common good, as described by the Vatican, indicates “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.” This principle proposes a society “that wishes and intends to remain at the service of the human being at every level,” to have its primary goal in the “good of all people and of the whole person.” For the human person cannot find fulfillment in himself, that is, apart from the fact that he exists “with” others and “for” others.“
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