The Social Nature of Man
Mankind's nature is to be social.

Author: Staff | Source:

Fragment of the document produced by the Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. It belongs to article two: The human person of the Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church. 

By: François-Xavier Nguyên Cardinal Van Thuân, President of the Pontifical Council Justice and Peace | Source: 

60. God, who takes care of everyone with paternal solicitude, has wanted men to be a single family and to treat each other in a spirit of brothers. All have been created in the image and likeness of God, who "made one all the human lineage and to populate the whole beam of the earth" (Acts 17, 26), and all are called to a single and identical end, that is, God himself. Therefore, the love of God and neighbor is the first and the greatest commandment. Scripture teaches us that the love of God cannot be parted from the love of one's neighbor: "... any other precept in this sentence is summed up: Love your neighbor as yourself.... Love is the fulfillment of the law “(Rom 13, 9-10; cf. 1 Jn. 4, 20). This doctrine has an extraordinary importance today because of two facts: the growing mutual interdependence of men and the also growing unification of the world. Moreover, the Lord, when he begs the Father to be one, as we are also one (Jn 17, 21-22), opening perspectives closed to human reason, suggests a certain likeness between the union of the divine People and the union of the children of God in the truth and in the charity. This likeness shows that man, the only terrestrial creature to whom God has loved for himself, cannot find his own plenitude if it is not in the sincere surrender of himself to others. The social nature of man shows that the development of the human person and the growth of one's own society are mutually conditioned. Because the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions is and must be the human person, which, by its very nature, has absolute need for social life. The social life is therefore not for the man accidental overloading. Therefore, through dealing with others, reciprocity of services, dialogue with siblings, social life exalts man in all its qualities and enables him to respond to his vocation. 

(Gaudium et Spes, nn. 24-25) 


61. The capital principle, undoubtedly, of this doctrine affirms that man in necessarily foundation, cause and end of all social institutions; man, we repeat, as it is sociable by nature and has been elevated to a supernatural order. 

(Mater et Magista, n. 219) 


62. Some societies, such as the family and the city, correspond more immediately to the nature of man. You are needed. In order to encourage the participation of the greatest number of people in social life, it is necessary to promote, encourage the creation of free-initiative associations and institutions "for economic, social, cultural, recreational, sporting and professional purposes and politicians, both within each of the nations and at the global level "(MM, N. 60). This "socialization" also expresses the natural tendency that drives human beings to associate in order to achieve objectives that exceed individual capacities. It develops the qualities of the person, in particular his sense of initiative and responsibility. Helps to guarantee your rights (GS, N. 25; CA, N. 12). 

(CIC, N. 1882) 


63. But each one of the men is a member of the society, belongs to the whole humanity. And it is not only this or that man, but all men are called to this full development. Civilizations are born, grow and die. But as the waves of the sea in the flow of the tide are advancing, each a little more, in the sand of the beach, in the same way humanity moves along the path of history. Heirs of past generations and benefiting from the work of our contemporaries, we are obliged to all and we cannot be disinterested from those who will come to increase even more the circle of the human family. Universal solidarity, which is a fact and a benefit to all, is also a duty. 

(Populorum Progressio, N. 17)


64. In addition to the family, they also develop primary functions and set up specific solidarity structures for other intermediate societies. Indeed, these mature as true communities of people and reinforce the social fabric, preventing it from falling into anonymity and an impersonal mass, quite frequent unfortunately in modern society. In the midst of this multiple interactions of relationships lives the person and grows the "subjectivity of society." The individual today is often suffocated between the two poles of the State and the market. Indeed, it gives the impression sometimes that it exists only as producer and consumer of goods, or as object of the administration of the State, while it forgets that the coexistence between the men does not have like end neither the market nor the State, since it possesses in itself a singular value to whose service the State and the market must be. The man is, above all, a being who seeks the truth and strives to live it and deepen it into a continual dialogue involving past and future generations. 

(Centesimus Annus, N. 49) 


65. On the contrary, the Christian conception of the person is necessarily followed by a just vision of society. According to the Rerum Novarum and the Social Doctrine of the Church, the sociability of man is not exhausted in the State, but is carried out in various intermediate groups, starting with the family and following the economic, social, political and cultural groups, which, as they come from the same human nature, they have their own autonomy, without leaving the realm of the common good. 

(Centesimus Annus, N. 13) 



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