8.2.5 Chap. 5: ‘State and Culture’

Back to 8.2.4

Unit 8 Contents

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As I said at the start of the last screen, in chapter 4 Centesimus Annus changes gear – it moves from reflective review to constructive teaching.  The remaining two chapters continue with the latter.  Given the urgency of addressing economic issues in the aftermath of the fall of Communism, chapter 4 can be seen as the centrepiece of the encyclical.  Both chapters 5 and 6 are much shorter than it.  This means that you’ve already read three quarters of the encyclical!

Chapter 5 mainly addresses political issues.  Pope John Paul contrasts totalitarianism, which he has known under Communism, with the rule of law, democracy and the protection of human rights.  Arguably, we can detect the influence of John Paul’s own life experience in this chapter more than in any other.

Even though the main topics of CA chapter 5 can be studied in Module B on ‘Living in a Just and Free Society’, much in it will be familiar to you in the light of everything you have looked at in this module.  Reading this chapter now will help to give a rounded picture of CST, before we move to critical assessment of it in the next part of the unit.

Here is a brief outline of what chapter 5 covers:

##44-45  These sections affirm ‘the rule of law’ and argue that it is the dignity of the human person which requires rejection of attempts at totalitarian rule.

##46-47  These give clear affirmation of democracy, but this is qualified by insistence on the need to avoid relativism and, instead, for human freedom to be connected with the truth about the human person.  Pope John Paul gives characteristically strong emphasis on the right to life that this entails, “an integral part of which is the right of the child to develop in the mother’s womb” (#47).

##48-49  These sections address the role of the State in, first, the economy and, second, welfare provision.

On the first, a reading you will have done if you studied Unit 5 brought out CST’s insistence that the state has a necessary and proactive role in relation to the economy (Compendium ##346-60; see 5.2.6.)  At this point in CA, John Paul insists also on the importance of the principle of subsidiarity, in relation to economic activities and also in relation to the family (this a focus in Unit 6; see 6.2.4).

On the second of those topics, what he says about welfare policy can be quite confusing and is certainly controversial, but I don’t comment on this here as you can study it in Module B, Unit 5.

##50-52  Here John Paul discusses the broader topic of culture and emphasizes our mutual responsibility: “No-one can say he [or she] is not responsible for the well-being of his [or her] brother or sister” (#51).  He comments also on other issues you can study in Module B, including war and international development.

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Reading (c.8pp)

Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus,

Chapter 5, ‘State and Culture

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Reflection

Given that much in CA chapter 5 comes up in Module B, we have not given attention here (whether on this screen or elsewhere in Module A) to the meanings of some of the main terms I have just used, such as ‘the rule of law’, ‘totalitarianism’ and ‘democracy’.

Despite this, do you have a sense of having understood CA chapter 5 clearly?

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End of 8.2.5

Go to 8.2.6 Chapter 6: ‘Man is the Way of the Church’

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