Posts tagged ‘Published in 1967’

Populorum Progressio – On the Development of Peoples, by Pope Paul VI, 26 March 1967

official portrait of Pope Paul VITo the Bishops, Priests, Religious, and Faithful of the Whole Catholic World, and to All Men of Good Will.

Honored Brothers and Dear Sons, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

The progressive development of peoples is an object of deep interest and concern to the Church. This is particularly true in the case of those peoples who are trying to escape the ravages of hunger, poverty, endemic disease and ignorance; of those who are seeking a larger share in the benefits of civilization and a more active improvement of their human qualities; of those who are consciously striving for fuller growth.

The Church’s Concern

With an even clearer awareness, since the Second Vatican Council, of the demands imposed by Christ’s Gospel in this area, the Church judges it her duty to help all men explore this serious problem in all its dimensions, and to impress upon them the need for concerted action at this critical juncture.

2. Our recent predecessors did not fail to do their duty in this area. Their noteworthy messages shed the light of the Gospel on contemporary social questions. There was Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum, Pius XI’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, Pius XII’s radio message to the world, and John XXIII’s two encyclicals, Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris.

A Problem for All Men

3. Today it is most important for people to understand and appreciate that the social question ties all men together, in every part of the world. John XXIII stated this clearly, and Vatican II confirmed it in its Pastoral Constitution on The Church in the World of Today. The seriousness and urgency of these teachings must be recognized without delay.

The hungry nations of the world cry out to the peoples blessed with abundance. And the Church, cut to the quick by this cry, asks each and every man to hear his brother’s plea and answer it lovingly.

Our Journeys

4. Before We became pope, We traveled to Latin America (1960) and Africa (1962). There We saw the perplexing problems that vex and besiege these continents, which are otherwise full of life and promise. On being elected pope, We became the father of all men. We made trips to Palestine and India, gaining first-hand knowledge of the difficulties that these age-old civilizations must face in their struggle for further development. Before the close of the Second Vatican Council, providential circumstances allowed Vs to address the United Nations and to plead the case of the impoverished nations before that distinguished assembly.

Justice and Peace

5. Even more recently, We sought to fulfill the wishes of the Council and to demonstrate the Holy See’s concern for the developing nations. To do this, We felt it was necessary to add another pontifical commission to the Church’s central administration . The purpose of this commission is “to awaken in the People of God full awareness of their mission today. In this way they can further the progress of poorer nations and international social justice, as well as help less developed nations to contribute to their own development.”

The name of this commission, Justice and Peace, aptly describes its program and its goal. We are sure that all men of good will want to join Our fellow Catholics and fellow Christians in carrying out this program. So today We earnestly urge all men to pool their ideas and their activities for man’s complete development and the development of all mankind.


6. Today we see men trying to secure a sure food supply, cures for diseases, and steady employment. We see them trying to eliminate every ill, to remove every obstacle which offends man’s dignity. They are continually striving to exercise greater personal responsibility; to do more, learn more, and have more so that they might increase their personal worth. And yet, at the same time, a large number of them live amid conditions which frustrate these legitimate desires.

Moreover, those nations which have recently gained independence find that political freedom is not enough. They must also acquire the social and economic structures and processes that accord with man’s nature and activity, if their citizens are to achieve personal growth and if their country is to take its rightful place in the international community.

Effects of Colonialism

7. Though insufficient for the immensity and urgency of the task, the means inherited from the past are not totally useless. It is true that colonizing nations were sometimes concerned with nothing save their own interests, their own power and their own prestige; their departure left the economy of these countries in precarious imbalance – the one-crop economy, for example, which is at the mercy of sudden, wide-ranging fluctuations in market prices. Certain types of colonialism surely caused harm and paved the way for further troubles.

On the other hand, we must also reserve a word of praise for those colonizers whose skills and technical know-how brought benefits to many untamed lands, and whose work survives to this day. The structural machinery they introduced was not fully developed or perfected, but it did help to reduce ignorance and disease, to promote communication, and to improve living conditions.

The Widening Gap

8. Granted all this, it is only too clear that these structures are no match for the harsh economic realities of today. Unless the existing machinery is modified, the disparity between rich and poor nations will increase rather than diminish; the rich nations are progressing with rapid strides while the poor nations move forward at a slow pace.

The imbalance grows with each passing day: while some nations produce a food surplus, other nations are in desperate need of food or are unsure of their export market.

Signs of Social Unrest

9. At the same time, social unrest has gradually spread throughout the world. The acute restlessness engulfing the poorer classes in countries that are now being industrialized has spread to other regions where agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. The farmer is painfully aware of his “wretched lot.” (9)

Then there are the flagrant inequalities not merely in the enjoyment of possessions, but even more in the exercise of power. In certain regions a privileged minority enjoys the refinements of life, while the rest of the inhabitants, impoverished and disunited, “are deprived of almost all possibility of acting on their own initiative and responsibility, and often subsist in living and working conditions unworthy of the human person.” (10) Cultural Conflicts

10. Moreover, traditional culture comes into conflict with the advanced techniques of modern industrialization; social structures out of tune with today’s demands are threatened with extinction. For the older generation, the rigid structures of traditional culture are the necessary mainstay of one’s personal and family life; they cannot be abandoned. The younger generation, on the other hand, regards them as useless obstacles, and rejects them to embrace new forms of societal life.

The conflict between generations leads to a tragic dilemma: either to preserve traditional beliefs and structures and reject social progress; or to embrace foreign technology and foreign culture, and reject ancestral traditions with their wealth of humanism. The sad fact is that we often see the older moral, spiritual and religious values give way without finding any place in the new scheme of things.

Concomitant Dangers

11. In such troubled times some people are strongly tempted by the alluring but deceitful promises of would-be saviors. Who does not see the concomitant dangers: public upheavals, civil insurrection, the drift toward totalitarian ideologies?

These are the realities of the question under study here, and their gravity must surely be apparent to everyone.

The Church and Development

12. True to the teaching and example of her divine Founder, who cited the preaching of the Gospel to the poor as a sign of His mission, (12) the Church has never failed to foster the human progress of the nations to which she brings faith in Christ. Besides erecting sacred edifices, her missionaries have also promoted construction of hospitals, sanitariums, schools and universities. By teaching the native population how to take full advantage of natural resources, the missionaries often protected them from the greed of foreigners.

We would certainly admit that this work was sometimes far from perfect, since it was the work of men. The missionaries sometimes intermingled the thought patterns and behavior patterns of their native land with the authentic message of Christ. Yet, for all this, they did protect and promote indigenous institutions; and many of them pioneered in promoting the country’s material and cultural progress.

We need only mention the efforts of Pere Charles de Foucauld: he compiled a valuable dictionary of the Tuareg language, and his charity won him the title, “everyone’s brother.” So We deem it fitting to praise those oft forgotten pioneers who were motivated by love for Christ, just as We honor their imitators and successors who today continue to put themselves at the generous and unselfish service of those to whom they preach the Gospel.

The Present Need

13. In the present day, however, individual and group effort within these countries is no longer enough. The world situation requires the concerted effort of everyone, a thorough examination of every facet of the problem – social, economic, cultural and spiritual.

The Church, which has long experience in human affairs and has no desire to be involved in the political activities of any nation, “seeks but one goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth; to save, not to judge; to serve, not to be served.” (12)

Founded to build the kingdom of heaven on earth rather than to acquire temporal power, the Church openly avows that the two powers – Church and State – are distinct from one another; that each is supreme in its own sphere of competency. (13) But since the Church does dwell among men, she has the duty “of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.” (14) Sharing the noblest aspirations of men and suffering when she sees these aspirations not satisfied, she wishes to help them attain their full realization. So she offers man her distinctive contribution: a global perspective on man and human realities.

Authentic Development

14. The development We speak of here cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man. As an eminent specialist on this question has rightly said: “We cannot allow economics to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place. What counts for us is man – each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole.” (15)

Personal Responsibility

15. In God’s plan, every man is born to seek self-fulfillment, for every human life is called to some task by God. At birth a human being possesses certain aptitudes and abilities in germinal form, and these qualities are to be cultivated so that they may bear fruit. By developing these traits through formal education of personal effort, the individual works his way toward the goal set for him by the Creator.

Endowed with intellect and free will, each man is responsible for his self-fulfillment even as he is for his salvation. He is helped, and sometimes hindered, by his teachers and those around him; yet whatever be the outside influences exerted on him, he is the chief architect of his own success or failure. Utilizing only his talent and willpower, each man can grow in humanity, enhance his personal worth, and perfect himself.

Man’s Supernatural Destiny

16. Self-development, however, is not left up to man’s option. Just as the whole of creation is ordered toward its Creator, so too the rational creature should of his own accord direct his life to God, the first truth and the highest good. Thus human self-fulfillment may be said to sum up our obligations.

Moreover, this harmonious integration of our human nature, carried through by personal effort and responsible activity, is destined for a higher state of perfection. United with the life-giving Christ, man’s life is newly enhanced; it acquires a transcendent humanism which surpasses its nature and bestows new fullness of life. This is the highest goal of human self-fulfillment.

Ties With All Men

17. Each man is also a member of society; hence he belongs to the community of man. It is not just certain individuals but all men who are called to further the development of human society as a whole. Civilizations spring up, flourish and die. As the waves of the sea gradually creep farther and farther in along the shoreline, so the human race inches its way forward through history.

We are the heirs of earlier generations, and we reap benefits from the efforts of our contemporaries; we are under obligation to all men. Therefore we cannot disregard the welfare of those who will come after us to increase the human family. The reality of human solidarity brings us not only benefits but also obligations.

Development in Proper Perspective

18. Man’s personal and collective fulfillment could be jeopardized if the proper scale of values were not maintained. The pursuit of life’s necessities is quite legitimate; hence we are duty-bound to do the work which enables us to obtain them: “If anyone is unwilling to work, do not let him eat.” (l6) But the acquisition of worldly goods can lead men to greed, to the unrelenting desire for more, to the pursuit of greater personal power. Rich and poor alike – be they individuals, families or nations – can fall prey to avarice and soulstifling materialism.

Latent Dangers

19. Neither individuals nor nations should regard the possession of more and more goods as the ultimate objective. Every kind of progress is a two-edged sword. It is necessary if man is to grow as a human being; yet it can also enslave him, if he comes to regard it as the supreme good and cannot look beyond it. When this happens, men harden their hearts, shut out others from their minds and gather together solely for reasons of self-interest rather than out of friendship; dissension and disunity follow soon after.

Thus the exclusive pursuit of material possessions prevents man’s growth as a human being and stands in opposition to his true grandeur. Avarice, in individuals and in nations, is the most obvious form of stultified moral development.

A New Humanism Needed

20. If development calls for an ever-growing number of technical experts, even more necessary still is the deep thought and reflection of wise men in search of a new humanism, one which will enable our contemporaries to enjoy the higher values of love and friendship, of prayer and contemplation, (17) and thus find themselves. This is what will guarantee man’s authentic development – his transition from less than human conditions to truly human ones.

The Scale of Values

21. What are less than human conditions? The material poverty of those who lack the bare necessities of life, and the moral poverty of those who are crushed under the weight of their own self-love; oppressive political structures resulting from the abuse of ownership or the improper exercise of power, from the exploitation of the worker or unjust transactions.

What are truly human conditions? The rise from poverty to the acquisition of life’s necessities; the elimination of social ills; broadening the horizons of knowledge; acquiring refinement and culture. From there one can go on to acquire a growing awareness of other people’s dignity, a taste for the spirit of poverty, (l8) an active interest in the common good, and a desire for peace. Then man can acknowledge the highest values and God Himself, their author and end. Finally and above all, there is faith – God’s gift to men of good will – and our loving unity in Christ, who calls all men to share God’s life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men.

Issues and Principles

22. In the very first pages of Scripture we read these words: “Fill the earth and subdue it.”(19) This teaches us that the whole of creation is for man, that he has been charged to give it meaning by his intelligent activity, to complete and perfect it by his own efforts and to his own advantage.

Now if the earth truly was created to provide man with the necessities of life and the tools for his own progress, it follows that every man has the right to glean what he needs from the earth. The recent Council reiterated this truth: “God intended the earth and everything in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should flow fairly to all.” (20)

All other rights, whatever they may be, including the rights of property and free trade, are to be subordinated to this principle. They should in no way hinder it; in fact, they should actively facilitate its implementation. Redirecting these rights back to their original purpose must be regarded as an important and urgent social duty.

The Use of Private Property

23. “He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (21) Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As Saint Ambrose put it: “You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.” (22) These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional.

No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life. In short, “as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.” When “private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another,” it is for the public authorities “to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups.” (23)

The Common Good

24. If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.

Vatican II affirms this emphatically. (24) At the same time it clearly teaches that income thus derived is not for man’s capricious use, and that the exclusive pursuit of personal gain is prohibited. Consequently, it is not permissible for citizens who have garnered sizeable income from the resources and activities of their own nation to deposit a large portion of their income in foreign countries for the sake of their own private gain alone, taking no account of their country’s interests; in doing this, they clearly wrong their country. (25)

The Value of Industrialization

25. The introduction of industrialization, which is necessary for economic growth and human progress, is both a sign of development and a spur to it. By dint of intelligent thought and hard work, man gradually uncovers the hidden laws of nature and learns to make better use of natural resources. As he takes control over his way of life, he is stimulated to undertake new investigations and fresh discoveries, to take prudent risks and launch new ventures, to act responsibly and give of himself unselfishly.

Unbridled Liberalism

26. However, certain concepts have somehow arisen out of these new conditions and insinuated themselves into the fabric of human society. These concepts present profit as the chief spur to economic progress, free competition as the guiding norm of economics, and private ownership of the means of production as an absolute right, having no limits nor concomitant social obligations

This unbridled liberalism paves the way for a particular type of tyranny, rightly condemned by Our predecessor Pius XI, for it results in the “international imperialism of money.”(26)

Such improper manipulations of economic forces can never be condemned enough; let it be said once again that economics is supposed to be in the service of man. (27)

But if it is true that a type of capitalism, as it is commonly called, has given rise to hardships, unjust practices, and fratricidal conflicts that persist to this day, it would be a mistake to attribute these evils to the rise of industrialization itself, for they really derive from the pernicious economic concepts that grew up along with it. We must in all fairness acknowledge the vital role played by labor systemization and industrial organization in the task of development.

Nobility of Work

27. The concept of work can turn into an exaggerated mystique. Yet, for all that, it is something willed and approved by God. Fashioned in the image of his Creator, “man must cooperate with Him in completing the work of creation and engraving on the earth the spiritual imprint which he himself has received.” (25) God gave man intelligence, sensitivity and the power of thought – tools with which to finish and perfect the work He began. Every worker is, to some extent, a creator – be he artist, craftsman, executive, laborer or farmer.

Bent over a material that resists his efforts, the worker leaves his imprint on it, at the same time developing his own powers of persistence, inventiveness and concentration. Further, when work is done in common – when hope, hardship, ambition and joy are shared – it brings together and firmly unites the wills, minds and hearts of men. In its accomplishment, men find themselves to be brothers. (29)

Dangers and Ideals

28. Work, too, has a double edge. Since it promises money, pleasure and power, it stirs up selfishness in some and incites other to revolt. On the other hand, it also fosters a professional outlook, a sense of duty, and love of neighbor. Even though it is now being organized more scientifically and efficiently, it still can threaten man’s dignity and enslave him; for work is human only if it results from man’s use of intellect and free will.

Our predecessor John XXIII stressed the urgent need of restoring dignity to the worker and making him a real partner in the common task: “Every effort must be made to ensure that the enterprise is indeed a true human community, concerned about the needs, the activities and the standing of each of its members.” (30)

Considered from a Christian point of view, work has an even loftier connotation. It is directed to the establishment of a supernatural order here on earth, (31) a task that will not be completed until we all unite to form that perfect manhood of which Saint Paul speaks, “the mature measure of the fullness of Christ.” (32)

Balanced Progress Required

29. We must make haste. Too many people are suffering. While some make progress, others stand still or move backwards; and the gap between them is widening. However, the work must proceed in measured steps if the proper equilibrium is to be maintained. Makeshift agrarian reforms may fall short of their goal. Hasty industrialization can undermine vital institutions and produce social evils, causing a setback to true human values.

Reform, Not Revolution

30. The injustice of certain situations cries out for God’s attention. Lacking the bare necessities of life, whole nations are under the thumb of others; they cannot act on their own initiative; they cannot exercise personal responsibility; they cannot work toward a higher degree of cultural refinement or a greater participation in social and public life. They are sorely tempted to redress these insults to their human nature by violent means.

31. Everyone knows, however, that revolutionary uprisings – except where there is manifest, longstanding tyranny which would do great damage to fundamental personal rights and dangerous harm to the common good of the country – engender new injustices, introduce new inequities and bring new disasters. The evil situation that exists, and it surely is evil, may not be dealt with in such a way that an even worse situation results.

A Task for Everyone

32. We want to be clearly understood on this point: The present state of affairs must be confronted boldly, and its concomitant injustices must be challenged and overcome. Continuing development calls for bold innovations that will work profound changes. The critical state of affairs must be corrected for the better without delay.

Everyone must lend a ready hand to this task, particularly those who can do most by reason of their education, their office, or their authority. They should set a good example by contributing part of their own goods, as several of Our brother bishops have done. (33) In this way they will be responsive to men’s longings and faithful to the Holy Spirit, because “the ferment of the Gospel, too, has aroused and continues to arouse in man’s heart the irresistible requirements of his dignity. (34)

Programs and Planning

33. Individual initiative alone and the interplay of competition will not ensure satisfactory development. We cannot proceed to increase the wealth and power of the rich while we entrench the needy in their poverty and add to the woes of the oppressed. Organized programs are necessary for “directing, stimulating, coordinating, supplying and integrating” (35) the work of individuals and intermediary organizations.

It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity. But they must also see to it that private initiative and intermediary organizations are involved in this work. In this way they will avoid total collectivization and the dangers of a planned economy which might threaten human liberty and obstruct the exercise of man’s basic human rights.

The Ultimate Purpose

34. Organized programs designed to increase productivity should have but one aim: to serve human nature. They should reduce inequities, eliminate discrimination, free men from the bonds of servitude, and thus give them the capacity, in the sphere of temporal realities, to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments. When we speak of development, we should mean social progress as well as economic growth.

It is not enough to increase the general fund of wealth and then distribute it more fairly. It is not enough to develop technology so that the earth may become a more suitable living place for human beings. The mistakes of those who led the way should help those now on the road to development to avoid certain dangers. The reign of technology – technocracy, as it is called – can cause as much harm to the world of tomorrow as liberalism did to the world of yesteryear. Economics and technology are meaningless if they do not benefit man, for it is he they are to serve. Man is truly human only if he is the master of his own actions and the judge of their worth, only if he is the architect of his own progress. He must act according to his God-given nature, freely accepting its potentials and its claims upon him.

Basic Education

35. We can even say that economic growth is dependent on social progress, the goal to which it aspires; and that basic education is the first objective for any nation seeking to develop itself. Lack of education is as serious as lack of food; the illiterate is a starved spirit. When someone learns how to read and write, he is equipped to do a job and to shoulder a profession, to develop self-confidence and realize that he can progress along with others. As We said in Our message to the UNESCO meeting at Teheran, literacy is the “first and most basic tool for personal enrichment and social integration; and it is society’s most valuable tool for furthering development and economic progress.” (36)

We also rejoice at the good work accomplished in this field by private initiative, by the public authorities, and by international organizations. These are the primary agents of development, because they enable man to act for himself.

Role of the Family

36. Man is not really himself, however, except within the framework of society and there the family plays the basic and most important role. The family’s influence may have been excessive at some periods of history and in some places, to the extent that it was exercised to the detriment of the fundamental rights of the individual. Yet time honored social frameworks, proper to the developing nations, are still necessary for awhile, even as their excessive strictures are gradually relaxed. The natural family, stable and monogamous – as fashioned by God (37) and sanctified by Christianity – “in which different generations live together, helping each other to acquire greater wisdom and to harmonize personal rights with other social needs, is the basis of society” (38)

Population Growth

37. There is no denying that the accelerated rate of population growth brings many added difficulties to the problems of development where the size of the population grows more rapidly than the quantity of available resources to such a degree that things seem to have reached an impasse. In such circumstances people are inclined to apply drastic remedies to reduce the birth rate.

There is no doubt that public authorities can intervene in this matter, within the bounds of their competence. They can instruct citizens on this subject and adopt appropriate measures, so long as these are in conformity with the dictates of the moral law and the rightful freedom of married couples is preserved completely intact. When the inalienable right of marriage and of procreation is taken away, so is human dignity.

Finally, it is for parents to take a thorough look at the matter and decide upon the number of their children. This is an obligation they take upon themselves, before their children already born, and before the community to which they belong – following the dictates of their own consciences informed by God’s law authentically interpreted, and bolstered by their trust in Him. (39)

Professional Organizations

38. In the task of development man finds the family to be the first and most basic social structure; but he is often helped by professional organizations. While such organizations are founded to aid and assist their members, they bear a heavy responsibility for the task of education which they can and must carry out. In training and developing individual men, they do much to cultivate in them an awareness of the common good and of its demands upon all.

39. Every form of social action involves some doctrine; and the Christian rejects that which is based on a materialistic and atheistic philosophy, namely one which shows no respect for a religious outlook on life, for freedom or human dignity. So long as these higher values are preserved intact, however, the existence of a variety of professional organizations and trade unions is permissible. Variety may even help to preserve freedom and create friendly rivalry. We gladly commend those people who unselfishly serve their brothers by working in such organizations.

Cultural Institutions

40. Cultural institutions also do a great deal to further the work of development. Their important role was stressed by the Council: “. . . the future of the world stands in peril unless wiser men are forthcoming. It should also be pointed out that many nations, poorer in economic goods, are quite rich in wisdom and can offer noteworthy advantages to others.” (40)

Every country, rich or poor, has a cultural tradition handed down from past generations. This tradition includes institutions required by life in the world, and higher manifestations – artistic, intellectual and religious – of the life of the spirit. When the latter embody truly human values, it would be a great mistake to sacrifice them for the sake of the former. Any group of people who would consent to let this happen, would be giving up the better portion of their heritage; in order to live, they would be giving up their reason for living. Christ’s question is directed to nations also: “What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his own soul?” (41)

Avoiding Past Temptations

41. The poorer nations can never be too much on guard against the temptation posed by the wealthier nations. For these nations, with their favorable results from a highly technical and culturally developed civilization, provide an example of work and diligence with temporal prosperity the main pursuit. Not that temporal prosperity of itself precludes the activity of the human spirit. Indeed, with it, “the human spirit, being less subjected to material things, can be more easily drawn to the worship and contemplation of the Creator.” (42) On the other hand, “modern civilization itself often complicates the approach to God, not for any essential reason, but because it is so much engrossed in worldly affairs . ” (43)

The developing nations must choose wisely from among the things that are offered to them. They must test and reject false values that would tarnish a truly human way of life, while accepting noble and useful values in order to develop them in their own distinctive way, along with their own indigenous heritage.

A Full-Bodied Humanism

42. The ultimate goal is a full-bodied humanism. (44) And does this not mean the fulfillment of the whole man and of every man? A narrow humanism, closed in on itself and not open to the values of the spirit and to God who is their source, could achieve apparent success, for man can set about organizing terrestrial realities without God. But “closed off from God, they will end up being directed against man. A humanism closed off from other realities becomes inhuman.” (45)

True humanism points the way toward God and acknowledges the task to which we are called, the task which offers us the real meaning of human life. Man is not the ultimate measure of man. Man becomes truly man only by passing beyond himself. In the words of Pascal: “Man infinitely surpasses man.” (46)


43. Development of the individual necessarily entails a joint effort for the development of the human race as a whole. At Bombay We said: “Man must meet man, nation must meet nation, as brothers and sisters, as children of God. In this mutual understanding and friendship, in this sacred communion, we must also begin to work together to build the common future of the human race.” (47) We also urge men to explore concrete and practicable ways of organizing and coordinating their efforts, so that available resources might be shared with others; in this way genuine bonds between nations might be forged.

Three Major Duties

44. This duty concerns first and foremost the wealthier nations. Their obligations stem from the human and supernatural brotherhood of man, and present a three-fold obligation: 1) mutual solidarity – the aid that the richer nations must give to developing nations; 2) social justice – the rectification of trade relations between strong and weak nations; 3) universal charity – the effort to build a more humane world community, where all can give and receive, and where the progress of some is not bought at the expense of others. The matter is urgent, for on it depends the future of world civilization.

Aid to Developing Nations

45. “If a brother or a sister be naked and in want of daily food,” says Saint James, “and one of you say to them, ‘Go in peace, be warm and filled,’ yet you do not give them what is necessary for the body, what does it profit?” (48) Today no one can be unaware of the fact that on some continents countless men and women are ravished by hunger and countless children are undernourished. Many children die at an early age; many more of them find their physical and mental growth retarded. Thus whole populations are immersed in pitiable circumstances and lose heart.

46. Anxious appeals for help have already been voiced. That of Our predecessor John XXIII was warmly received. (49) We reiterated his sentiments in Our Christmas message of 1963, (50) and again in 1966 on behalf of India. (51) The work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been encouraged by the Holy See and has found generous support. Our own organization, Caritas Internationalis, is at work all over the world. Many Catholics, at the urging of Our brother bishops, have contributed unstintingly to the assistance of the needy and have gradually widened the circle of those they call neighbors.

A World of Free Men

47. But these efforts, as well as public and private allocations of gifts, loans and investments, are not enough. It is not just a question of eliminating hunger and reducing poverty. It is not just a question of fighting wretched conditions, though this is an urgent and necessary task. It involves building a human community where men can live truly human lives, free from discrimination on account of race, religion or nationality, free from servitude to other men or to natural forces which they cannot yet control satisfactorily. It involves building a human community where liberty is not an idle word, where the needy Lazarus can sit down with the rich man at the same banquet table. (52)

On the part of the rich man, it calls for great generosity, willing sacrifice and diligent effort. Each man must examine his conscience, which sounds a new call in our present times. Is he prepared to support, at his own expense, projects and undertakings designed to help the needy? Is he prepared to pay higher taxes so that public authorities may expand their efforts in the work of development? Is he prepared to pay more for imported goods, so that the foreign producer may make a fairer profit? Is he prepared to emigrate from his homeland if necessary and if he is young, in order to help the emerging nations?

A National Duty

48. The duty of promoting human solidarity also falls upon the shoulders of nations: “It is a very important duty of the advanced nations to help the developing nations . . .” (53) This conciliar teaching must be implemented. While it is proper that a nation be the first to enjoy the God-given fruits of its own labor, no nation may dare to hoard its riches for its own use alone. Each and every nation must produce more and better goods and products, so that all its citizens may live truly human lives and so that it may contribute to the common development of the human race.

Considering the mounting indigence of less developed countries, it is only fitting that a prosperous nation set aside some of the goods it has produced in order to alleviate their needs; and that it train educators, engineers, technicians and scholars who will contribute their knowledge and their skill to these less fortunate countries.

Superfluous Wealth

49. We must repeat that the superfluous goods of wealthier nations ought to be placed at the disposal of poorer nations. The rule, by virtue of which in times past those nearest us were to be helped in time of need, applies today to all the needy throughout the world. And the prospering peoples will be the first to benefit from this. Continuing avarice on their part will arouse the judgment of God and the wrath of the poor, with consequences no one can foresee. If prosperous nations continue to be jealous of their own advantage alone, they will jeopardize their highest values, sacrificing the pursuit of excellence to the acquisition of possessions. We might well apply to them the parable of the rich man. His fields yielded an abundant harvest and he did not know where to store it: “But God said to him, ‘Fool, this very night your soul will be demanded from you . . .’ ” (54)

Concerted Planning

50. If these efforts are to be successful, they cannot be disparate and disorganized; nor should they vie with one another for the sake of power or prestige. The times call for coordinated planning of projects and programs, which are much more effective than occasional efforts promoted by individual goodwill.

As We said above, studies must be made, goals must be defined, methods and means must be chosen, and the work of select men must be coordinated; only then will present needs be met and future demands anticipated. Moreover, such planned programs do more than promote economic and social progress. They give force and meaning to the work undertaken, put due order into human life, and thus enhance man’s dignity and his capabilities.

A World Fund

51. A further step must be taken. When We were at Bombay for the Eucharistic Congress, We asked world leaders to set aside part of their military expenditures for a world fund to relieve the needs of impoverished peoples. (55) What is true for the immediate war against poverty is also true for the work of national development. Only a concerted effort on the part of all nations, embodied in and carried out by this world fund, will stop these senseless rivalries and promote fruitful, friendly dialogue between nations.

52. It is certainly all right to maintain bilateral and multilateral agreements. Through such agreements, ties of dependence and feelings of jealousy – holdovers from the era of colonialism – give way to friendly relationships of true solidarity that are based on juridical and political equality. But such agreements would be free of all suspicion if they were integrated into an overall policy of worldwide collaboration. The member nations, who benefit from these agreements, would have less reason for fear or mistrust. They would not have to worry that financial or technical assistance was being used as a cover for some new form of colonialism that would threaten their civil liberty, exert economic pressure on them, or create a new power group with controlling influence.

53. Is it not plain to everyone that such a fund would reduce the need for those other expenditures that are motivated by fear and stubborn pride? Countless millions are starving, countless families are destitute, countless men are steeped in ignorance; countless people need schools, hospitals, and homes worthy of the name. In such circumstances, we cannot tolerate public and private expenditures of a wasteful nature; we cannot but condemn lavish displays of wealth by nations or individuals; we cannot approve a debilitating arms race. It is Our solemn duty to speak out against them. If only world leaders would listen to Us, before it is too late!

Dialogue Between Nations

54. All nations must initiate the dialogue which We called for in Our first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam. (56) A dialogue between those who contribute aid and those who receive it will permit a well-balanced assessment of the support to be provided, taking into consideration not only the generosity and the available wealth of the donor nations, but also the real needs of the receiving countries and the use to which the financial assistance can be put. Developing countries will thus no longer risk being overwhelmed by debts whose repayment swallows up the greater part of their gains. Rates of interest and time for repayment of the loan could be so arranged as not to be too great a burden on either party, taking into account free gifts, interest-free or low-interest loans, and the time needed for liquidating the debts.

The donors could certainly ask for assurances as to how the money will be used. It should be used for some mutually acceptable purpose and with reasonable hope of success, for there is no question of backing idlers and parasites. On the other hand, the recipients would certainly have the right to demand that no one interfere in the internal affairs of their government or disrupt their social order. As sovereign nations, they are entitled to manage their own affairs, to fashion their own policies, and to choose their own form of government. In other words, what is needed is mutual cooperation among nations, freely undertaken, where each enjoys equal dignity and can help to shape a world community truly worthy of man.

An Urgent Task

55. This task might seem impossible in those regions where the daily struggle for subsistence absorbs the attention of the family, where people are at a loss to find work that might improve their lot during their remaining days on earth. These people must be given every possible help; they must be encouraged to take steps for their own betterment and to seek out the means that will enable them to do so. This common task undoubtedly calls for concerted, continuing and courageous effort. But let there be no doubt about it, it is an urgent task. The very life of needy nations, civil peace in the developing countries, and world peace itself are at stake.

Equity in Trade Relations

56. Efforts are being made to help the developing nations financially and technologically. Some of these efforts are considerable. Yet all these efforts will prove to be vain and useless, if their results are nullified to a large extent by the unstable trade relations between rich and poor nations. The latter will have no grounds for hope or trust if they fear that what is being given them with one hand is being taken away with the other.

Growing Distortion

57. Highly industrialized nations export their own manufactured products, for the most part. Less developed nations, on the other hand, have nothing to sell but raw materials and agricultural crops. As a result of technical progress, the price of manufactured products is rising rapidly and they find a ready market. But the basic crops and raw materials produced by the less developed countries are subject to sudden and wide-ranging shifts in market price; they do not share in the growing market value of industrial products.

This poses serious difficulties to the developing nations. They depend on exports to a large extent for a balanced economy and for further steps toward development. Thus the needy nations grow more destitute, while the rich nations become even richer.

Free Trade Concept Inadequate

58. It is evident that the principle of free trade, by itself, is no longer adequate for regulating international agreements. It certainly can work when both parties are about equal economically; in such cases it stimulates progress and rewards effort. That is why industrially developed nations see an element of justice in this principle.

But the case is quite different when the nations involved are far from equal. Market prices that are freely agreed upon can turn out to be most unfair. It must be avowed openly that, in this case, the fundamental tenet of liberalism (as it is called), as the norm for market dealings, is open to serious question.

Justice at Every Level

59. The teaching set forth by Our predecessor Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum is still valid today: when two parties are in very unequal positions, their mutual consent alone does not guarantee a fair contract; the rule of free consent remains subservient to the demands of the natural law. (57) In Rerum Novarum this principle was set down with regard to a just wage for the individual worker; but it should be applied with equal force to contracts made between nations: trade relations can no longer be based solely on the principle of free, unchecked competition, for it very often creates an economic dictatorship. Free trade can be called just only when it conforms to the demands of social justice.

60. As a matter of fact, the highly developed nations have already come to realize this. At times they take appropriate measures to restore balance to their own economy, a balance which is frequently upset by competition when left to itself. Thus it happens that these nations often support their agriculture at the price of sacrifices imposed on economically more favored sectors. Similarly, to maintain the commercial relations which are developing among themselves, especially within a common market, the financial, fiscal and social policy of these nations tries to restore comparable opportunities to competing industries which are not equally prospering.

One Standard for All

61. Now in this matter one standard should hold true for all. What applies to national economies and to highly developed nations must also apply to trade relations between rich and poor nations. Indeed, competition should not be eliminated from trade transactions; but it must be kept within limits so that it operates justly and fairly, and thus becomes a truly human endeavor.

Now in trade relations between the developing and the highly developed economies there is a great disparity in their overall situation and in their freedom of action. In order that international trade be human and moral, social justice requires that it restore to the participants a certain equality of opportunity. To be sure, this equality will not be attained at once, but we must begin to work toward it now by injecting a certain amount of equality into discussions and price talks.

Here again international agreements on a broad scale can help a great deal. They could establish general norms for regulating prices, promoting production facilities, and favoring certain infant industries. Isn’t it plain to everyone that such attempts to establish greater justice in international trade would be of great benefit to the developing nations, and that they would produce lasting results?

The Obstacles of Nationalism

62. There are other obstacles to creation of a more just social order and to the development of world solidarity: nationalism and racism. It is quite natural that nations recently arrived at political independence should be quite jealous of their new-found but fragile unity and make every effort to preserve it. It is also quite natural for nations with a long-standing cultural tradition to be proud of their traditional heritage. But this commendable attitude should be further ennobled by love, a love for the whole family of man. Haughty pride in one’s own nation disunites nations and poses obstacles to their true welfare. It is especially harmful where the weak state of the economy calls for a pooling of information, efforts and financial resources to implement programs of development and to increase commercial and cultural interchange. . . . and Racism

63. Racism is not the exclusive attribute of young nations, where sometimes it hides beneath the rivalries of clans and political parties, with heavy losses for justice and at the risk of civil war. During the colonial period it often flared up between the colonists and the indigenous population, and stood in the way of mutually profitable understanding, often giving rise to bitterness in the wake of genuine injustices. It is still an obstacle to collaboration among disadvantaged nations and a cause of division and hatred within countries whenever individuals and families see the inviolable rights of the human person held in scorn, as they themselves are unjustly subjected to a regime of discrimination because of their race or their color.

Hopes for the Future

64. This state of affairs, which bodes ill for the future, causes Us great distress and anguish. But We cherish this hope: that distrust and selfishness among nations will eventually be overcome by a stronger desire for mutual collaboration and a heightened sense of solidarity. We hope that the developing nations will take advantage of their geographical proximity to one another to organize on a broader territorial base and to pool their efforts for the development of a given region. We hope that they will draw up joint programs, coordinate investment funds wisely, divide production quotas fairly, and exercise management over the marketing of these products. We also hope that multilateral and broad international associations will undertake the necessary work of organization to find ways of helping needy nations, so that these nations may escape from the fetters now binding them; so that they themselves may discover the road to cultural and social progress, while remaining faithful to the native genius of their land.

The Artisans of Destiny

65. That is the goal toward which we must work. An ever more effective world solidarity should allow all peoples to become the artisans of their destiny. Up to now relations between nations have too often been governed by force; indeed, that is the hallmark of past history.

May the day come when international relationships will be characterized by respect and friendship, when mutual cooperation will be the hallmark of collaborative efforts, and when concerted effort for the betterment of all nations will be regarded as a duty by every nation. The developing nations now emerging are asking that they be allowed to take part in the construction of a better world, a world which would provide better protection for every man’s rights and duties. It is certainly a legitimate demand, so everyone must heed and fulfill it.

Worldwide Brotherly Love

66. Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations.

Welcoming the Stranger

67. We cannot insist too much on the duty of giving foreigners a hospitable reception. It is a duty imposed by human solidarity and by Christian charity, and it is incumbent upon families and educational institutions in the host nations.

Young people, in particular, must be given a warm reception; more and more families and hostels must open their doors to them. This must be done, first of all, that they may be shielded from feelings of loneliness, distress and despair that would sap their strength. It is also necessary so that they may be guarded against the corrupting influence of their new surroundings, where the contrast between the dire poverty of their homeland and the lavish luxury of their present surroundings is, as it were, forced upon them. And finally, it must be done so that they may be protected from subversive notions and temptations to violence, which gain headway in their minds when they ponder their “wretched plight.” (58) In short, they should be welcomed in the spirit of brotherly love, so that the concrete example of wholesome living may give them a high opinion of authentic Christian charity and of spiritual values.

68. We are deeply distressed by what happens to many of these young people. They come to wealthier nations to acquire scientific knowledge, professional training, and a high-quality education that will enable them to serve their own land with greater effectiveness. They do get a fine education, but very often they lose their respect for the priceless cultural heritage of their native land.

69. Emigrant workers should also be given a warm welcome. Their living conditions are often inhuman, and they must scrimp on their earnings in order to send help to their families who have remained behind in their native land in poverty.

A Social Sense

70. We would also say a word to those who travel to newly industrialized nations for business purposes: industrialists, merchants, managers and representatives of large business concerns. It often happens that in their own land they do not lack a social sense. Why is it, then, that they give in to baser motives of self-interest when they set out to do business in the developing countries? Their more favored position should rather spur them on to be initiators of social progress and human betterment in these lands. Their organizational experience should help them to figure out ways to make intelligent use of the labor of the indigenous population, to develop skilled workers, to train engineers and other management men, to foster these people’s initiative and prepare them for offices of ever greater responsibility. In this way they will prepare these people to take over the burden of management in the near future.

In the meantime, justice must prevail in dealings between superiors and their subordinates. Legitimate contracts should govern these employment relations, spelling out the duties involved. And no one, whatever his status may be, should be unjustly subjected to the arbitrary whim of another.

Development Missions

71. We certainly rejoice over the fact that an ever increasing number of experts are being sent on development missions by private groups, bilateral associations and international organizations. These specialists must not “act as overlords, but as helpers and fellow workers.” (59) The people of a country soon discover whether their new helpers are motivated by good will or not, whether they want to enhance human dignity or merely try out their special techniques. The expert’s message will surely be rejected by these people if it is not inspired by brotherly love.

The Role of Experts

72. Technical expertise is necessary, but it must be accompanied by concrete signs of genuine love. Untainted by overbearing nationalistic pride or any trace of racial discrimination, experts should learn how to work in collaboration with everyone. They must realize that their expert knowledge does not give them superiority in every sphere of life. The culture which shaped their living habits does contain certain universal human elements; but it cannot be regarded as the only culture, nor can it regard other cultures with haughty disdain. If it is introduced into foreign lands, it must undergo adaptation.

Thus those who undertake such work must realize they are guests in a foreign land; they must see to it that they studiously observe its historical traditions, its rich culture, and its peculiar genius. A rapprochement between cultures will thus take place, bringing benefits to both sides.

Service to the World

73. Sincere dialogue between cultures, as between individuals, paves the way for ties of brotherhood. Plans proposed for man’s betterment will unite all nations in the joint effort to be undertaken, if every citizen – be he a government leader, a public official, or a simple workman – is motivated by brotherly love and is truly anxious to build one universal human civilization that spans the globe. Then we shall see the start of a dialogue on man rather than on the products of the soil or of technology.

This dialogue will be fruitful if it shows the participants how to make economic progress and how to achieve spiritual growth as well; if the technicians take the role of teachers and educators; if the training provided is characterized by a concern for spiritual and moral values, so that it ensures human betterment as well as economic growth. Then the bonds of solidarity will endure, even when the aid programs are past and gone. It is not plain to all that closer ties of this sort will contribute immeasurably to the preservation of world peace?

An Appeal to Youth

74. We are fully aware of the fact that many young people have already responded wholeheartedly to the invitation of Our predecessor Pius XII, summoning the laity to take part in missionary work. (60) We also know that other young people have offered their services to public and private organizations that seek to aid developing nations. We are delighted to learn that in some nations their requirement of military duty can be fulfilled, in part at least, by social service or, simply, service. We commend such undertakings and the men of good will who take part in them. Would that all those who profess to be followers of Christ might heed His plea: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; naked and you covered me; sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.” (61)

No one is permitted to disregard the plight of his brothers living in dire poverty, enmeshed in ignorance and tormented by insecurity. The Christian, moved by this sad state of affairs, should echo the words of Christ: “I have compassion on the crowd.” (62)

Prayer and Action

75. Let everyone implore God the Father Almighty that the human race, which is certainly aware of these evils, will bend every effort of mind and spirit to their eradication. To this prayer should be added the resolute commitment of every individual. Each should do as much as he can, as best he can, to counteract the slow pace of progress in some nations. And it is to be hoped that individuals, social organizations and nations will join hands in brotherly fashion – the strong aiding the weak – all contributing their knowledge, their enthusiasm and their love to the task, without thinking of their own convenience.

It is the person who is motivated by genuine love, more than anyone else, who pits his intelligence against the problems of poverty, trying to uncover the causes and looking for effective ways of combatting and overcoming them. As a promoter of peace, “he goes on his way, holding aloft the torch of joy and shedding light and grace on the hearts of men all over the world; he helps them to cross the barriers of geographical frontiers, to acknowledge every man as a friend and brother.” (63)

Development, the New Name for Peace

76. Extreme disparity between nations in economic, social and educational levels provokes jealousy and discord, often putting peace in jeopardy. As We told the Council Fathers on Our return from the United Nations: “We have to devote our attention to the situation of those nations still striving to advance. What We mean, to put it in clearer words, is that our charity toward the poor, of whom there are countless numbers in the world, has to become more solicitous, more effective, more generous.” (64)

When we fight poverty and oppose the unfair conditions of the present, we are not just promoting human well-being; we are also furthering man’s spiritual and moral development, and hence we are benefiting the whole human race. For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men. (65)

77. Nations are the architects of their own development, and they must bear the burden of this work; but they cannot accomplish it if they live in isolation from others. Regional mutual aid agreements among the poorer nations, broader based programs of support for these nations, major alliances between nations to coordinate these activities – these are the road signs that point the way to national development and world peace.

Toward an Effective World Authority

78. Such international collaboration among the nations of the world certainly calls for institutions that will promote, coordinate and direct it, until a new juridical order is firmly established and fully ratified. We give willing and wholehearted support to those public organizations that have already joined in promoting the development of nations, and We ardently hope that they will enjoy ever growing authority. As We told the United Nations General Assembly in New York: “Your vocation is to bring not just some peoples but all peoples together as brothers. . . Who can fail to see the need and importance of thus gradually coming to the establishment of a world authority capable of taking effective action on the juridical and political planes?” (66)

Hope for the Future

79. Some would regard these hopes as vain flights of fancy. It may be that these people are not realistic enough, and that they have not noticed that the world is moving rapidly in a certain direction. Men are growing more anxious to establish closer ties of brotherhood; despite their ignorance, their mistakes, their offenses, and even their lapses into barbarism and their wanderings from the path of salvation, they are slowly making their way to the Creator, even without adverting to it.

This struggle toward a more human way of life certainly calls for hard work and imposes difficult sacrifices. But even adversity, when endured for the sake of one’s brothers and out of love for them, can contribute greatly to human progress. The Christian knows full well that when he unites himself with the expiatory sacrifice of the Divine Savior, he helps greatly to build up the body of Christ, (67) to assemble the People of God into the fullness of Christ.

A Final Appeal

80. We must travel this road together, united in minds and hearts. Hence We feel it necessary to remind everyone of the seriousness of this issue in all its dimensions, and to impress upon them the need for action. The moment for action has reached a critical juncture. Can countless innocent children be saved? Can countless destitute families obtain more human living conditions? Can world peace and human civilization be preserved intact? Every individual and every nation must face up to this issue, for it is their problem.

To Catholics

81. We appeal, first of all, to Our sons. In the developing nations and in other countries lay people must consider it their task to improve the temporal order. While the hierarchy has the role of teaching and authoritatively interpreting the moral laws and precepts that apply in this matter, the laity have the duty of using their own initiative and taking action in this area – without waiting passively for directives and precepts from others. They must try to infuse a Christian spirit into people’s mental outlook and daily behavior, into the laws and structures of the civil community. (68) Changes must be made; present conditions must be improved. And the transformations must be permeated with the spirit of the Gospel.

We especially urge Catholic men living in developed nations to offer their skills and earnest assistance to public and private organizations, both civil and religious, working to solve the problems of developing nations. They will surely want to be in the first ranks of those who spare no effort to have just and fair laws, based on moral precepts, established among all nations.

To Other Christians and Believers

82. All Our Christian brothers, We are sure will want to consolidate and expand their collaborative efforts to reduce man’s immoderate self-love and haughty pride, to eliminate quarrels and rivalries, and to repress demagoguery and injustice – so that a more human way of living is opened to all, with each man helping others out of brotherly love.

Furthermore, We still remember with deep affection the dialogue We had with various non Christian individuals and communities in Bombay. So once again We ask these brothers of Ours to do all in their power to promote living conditions truly worthy of the children of God.

To All Men of Good Will

83. Finally, We look to all men of good will, reminding them that civil progress and economic development are the only road to peace. Delegates to international organizations, public officials, gentlemen of the press, teachers and educators – all of you must realize that you have your part to play in the construction of a new world order. We ask God to enlighten and strengthen you all, so that you may persuade all men to turn their attention to these grave questions and prompt nations to work toward their solution .

Educators, you should resolve to inspire young people with a love for the needy nations. Gentlemen of the press, your job is to place before our eyes the initiatives that are being taken to promote mutual aid, and the tragic spectacle of misery and poverty that people tend to ignore in order to salve their consciences. Thus at least the wealthy will know that the poor stand outside their doors waiting to receive some leftovers from their banquets.

To Government Authorities

84. Government leaders, your task is to draw your communities into closer ties of solidarity with all men, and to convince them that they must accept the necessary taxes on their luxuries and their wasteful expenditures in order to promote the development of nations and the preservation of peace. Delegates to international organizations, it is largely your task to see to it that senseless arms races and dangerous power plays give way to mutual collaboration between nations, a collaboration that is friendly, peace oriented, and divested of self-interest, a collaboration that contributes greatly to the common development of mankind and allows the individual to find fulfillment.

To Thoughtful Men

85. It must be admitted that men very often find themselves in a sad state because they do not give enough thought and consideration to these things. So We call upon men of deep thought and wisdom – Catholics and Christians, believers in God and devotees of truth and justice, all men of good will – to take as their own Christ’s injunction, “Seek and you shall find.” (69) Blaze the trails to mutual cooperation among men, to deeper knowledge and more widespread charity, to a way of life marked by true brotherhood, to a human society based on mutual harmony.

To All Promoters of Development

86. Finally, a word to those of you who have heard the cries of needy nations and have come to their aid. We consider you the promoters and apostles of genuine progress and true development. Genuine progress does not consist in wealth sought for personal comfort or for its own sake; rather it consists in an economic order designed for the welfare of the human person, where the daily bread that each man receives reflects the glow of brotherly love and the helping hand of God.

87. We bless you with all Our heart, and We call upon all men of good will to join forces with you as a band of brothers. Knowing, as we all do, that development means peace these days, what man would not want to work for it with every ounce of his strength? No one, of course. So We beseech all of you to respond wholeheartedly to Our urgent plea, in the name of the Lord.

Given at Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on the feast of the Resurrection, March 26, 1967, in the fourth year of Our pontificate.

Indulgentiarum Doctrina – Doctrine on Indulgences, by Pope Paul VI, 1 January 1967

official portrait of Pope Paul VIChapter I

1. The doctrine and practice of indulgences which have been in force for many centuries in the Catholic Church have a solid foundation in divine revelation which comes from the Apostles and “develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit,” while “as the centuries succeed one another the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.”

For an exact understanding of this doctrine and of its beneficial use it is necessary, however, to remember truths which the entire Church illumined by the Word of God has always believed and which the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, and first and foremost among them the Roman Pontiffs, the successors of Peter, have taught by means of pastoral practice as well as doctrinal documents throughout the course of centuries to this day.

2. It is a divinely revealed truth that sins bring punishments inflicted by God’s sanctity and justice. These must be expiated either on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and calamities of this life and above all through death, or else in the life beyond through fire and torments or “purifying” punishments. Therefore it has always been the conviction of the faithful that the paths of evil are fraught with many stumbling blocks and bring adversities, bitterness and harm to those who follow them.

These punishments are imposed by the just and merciful judgment of God for the purification of souls, the defense of the sanctity of the moral order and the restoration of the glory of God to its full majesty. Every sin in fact causes a perturbation in the universal order established by God in His ineffable wisdom and infinite charity, and the destruction of immense values with respect to the sinner himself and to the human community. Christians throughout history have always regarded sin not only as a transgression of divine law but also – though not always in a direct and evident way – as contempt for or disregard of the friendship between God and man, just as they have regarded it as a real and unfathomable offense against God and indeed an ungrateful rejection of the love of God shown us through Jesus Christ, who called His disciples friends and not servants.

3. It is therefore necessary for the full remission and – as it is called – reparation of sins not only that friendship with God be reestablished by a sincere conversion of the mind and amends made for the offense against His wisdom and goodness, but also that all the personal as well as social values and those of the universal order itself, which have been diminished or destroyed by sin, be fully reintegrated whether through voluntary reparation which will involve punishment or through acceptance of the punishments established by the just and most holy wisdom of God, from which there will shine forth throughout the world the sanctity and the splendor of His glory. The very existence and the gravity of the punishment enable us to understand the foolishness and malice of sin and its harmful consequences.

That punishment or the vestiges of sin may remain to be expiated or cleansed and that they in fact frequently do even after the remission of guilt is clearly demonstrated by the doctrine on purgatory. In purgatory, in fact, the souls of those “who died in the charity of God and truly repentant, but before satisfying with worthy fruits of penance for sins committed and for omissions” are cleansed after death with purgatorial punishments. This is also clearly evidenced in the liturgical prayers with which the Christian community admitted to Holy Communion has addressed God since most ancient times: “that we, who are justly subjected to afflictions because of our sins, may be mercifully set free from them for the glory of thy name.”

For all men who walk this earth daily commit at least venial sins; thus all need the mercy of God to be set free from the penal consequences of sin.

Chapter II

4. There reigns among men, by the hidden and benign mystery of the divine will, a supernatural solidarity whereby the sin of one harms the others just as the holiness of one also benefits the others. Thus the Christian faithful give each other mutual aid to attain their supernatural aim. A testimony of this solidarity is manifested in Adam himself, whose sin is passed on through propagation to all men. But of this supernatural solidarity the greatest and most perfect principle, foundation and example is Christ Himself to communion with Whom God has called us.

5. Indeed Christ “committed no sin,” “suffered for us,” “was wounded for our iniquities, bruised for our sins . . . by His bruises we are healed.”

Following in the footsteps of Christ, the Christian faithful have always endeavored to help one another on the path leading to the heavenly Father through prayer, the exchange of spiritual goods and penitential expiation. The more they have been immersed in the fervor of charity, the more they have imitated Christ in His sufferings, carrying their crosses in expiation for their own sins and those of others, certain that they could help their brothers to obtain salvation from God the Father of mercies. This is the very ancient dogma of the Communion of the Saints, whereby the life of each individual son of God in Christ and through Christ is joined by a wonderful link to the life of all his other Christian brothers in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ till, as it were, a single mystical person is formed.

Thus is explained the “treasury of the Church” which should certainly not be imagined as the sum total of material goods accumulated in the course of the centuries, but the infinite and inexhaustible value the expiation and the merits of Christ Our Lord have before God, offered as they were so that all of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. It is Christ the Redeemer Himself in whom the satisfactions and merits of His redemption exist and find their force. This treasury also includes the truly immense, unfathomable and ever pristine value before God of the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, who following in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by His grace have sanctified their lives and fulfilled the mission entrusted to them by the Father. Thus while attaining their own salvation, they have also cooperated in the salvation of their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body.

“For all who are in Christ, having His spirit, form one Church and cleave together in Him” (Eph. 4:16). Therefore the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who have gone to sleep in the peace of Christ is not in the least weakened or interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the perpetual faith of the Church, is strengthened by a communication of spiritual goods. For by reason of the fact that those in heaven are more closely united with Christ, they establish the whole Church more firmly in holiness, lend nobility to the worship which the Church offers to God here on earth and in many ways contribute to building it up evermore (I Cor. 12: 12-27). For after they have been received into their heavenly home and are present to the Lord (11 Cor. 5:8), through Him and with Him and in Him they do not cease to intervene with the Father for us, showing forth the merits which they have won on earth through the one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ (I Tim. 2:5), by serving God in all things and filling up in their flesh those things which are lacking of the sufferings of Christ for His Body which is the Church (Col. 1:24). Thus by their brotherly interest our weakness is greatly strengthened.

For this reason there certainly exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth a perennial link of charity and an abundant exchange of all the goods by which, with the expiation of all the sins of the entire Mystical Body, divine justice is placated. God’s mercy is thus led to forgiveness, so that sincerely repentant sinners may participate as soon as possible in the full enjoyment of the benefits of the family of God.

Chapter III

6. The Church, aware of these truths ever since its origins, formulated and undertook various ways of applying the fruits of the Lord’s redemption to the individual faithful and of leading them to cooperate in the salvation of their brothers, so that the entire body of the Church might be prepared in justice and sanctity for the complete realization of the kingdom of God, when He will be all things to all men.

The Apostles themselves, in fact, exhorted their disciples to pray for the salvation of sinners. This very ancient usage of the Church has blessedly persevered, particularly in the practice of penitents invoking the intercession of the entire community, and when the dead are assisted with suffrages, particularly through the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Good works, particularly those which human frailty finds difficult, were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners from the Church’s most ancient times. And since the sufferings of the martyrs for the faith and for the law of God were considered of great value, penitents used to turn to the martyrs, to be helped by their merits to obtain from the bishops a more speedy reconciliation. Indeed the prayer and good works of the upright were considered to be of so great value that it could be asserted the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed with the help of the entire Christian people.

It was not believed, however, that the individual faithful by their own merits alone worked for the remission of sins of their brothers, but that the entire Church as a single body united to Christ its Head was bringing about satisfaction.

The Church of the Fathers was fully convinced that it was pursuing the work of salvation in community, and under the authority of the pastors established by the Holy Spirit as bishops to govern the Church of God. The bishops, therefore, prudently assessing these matters, established the manner and the measure of the satisfaction to be made and indeed permitted canonical penances to be replaced by other possibly easier works, which would be useful to the common good and suitable for fostering piety, to be performed by the penitents themselves and sometimes by others among the faithful.

Chapter IV

7. The conviction existing in the Church that the pastors of the flock of the Lord could set the individual free from the vestiges of sins by applying the merits of Christ and of the saints led gradually, in the course of the centuries and under the influence of the Holy Spirit’s continuous inspiration of the people of God, to the usage of indulgences which represented a progression in the doctrine and discipline of the Church rather than a change. From the roots of revelation a new advantage grew in benefit to the faithful and the entire Church.

The use of indulgences, which spread gradually, became a very evident fact in the history of the Church when the Roman Pontiffs decreed that certain works useful to the common good of the Church “could replace all penitential practices” and that the faithful who were “truly repentant and had confessed their sins” and performed such works were granted “by the mercy of Almighty God and . . . trusting in the merits and the authority of His Apostles” and ‘by virtue of the fullness of the apostolic power’, not only full and abundant forgiveness, but the most complete forgiveness for their sins possible.”

For “the only-begotten son of God . . . has won a treasure for the militant Church . . . and has entrusted it to blessed Peter, the keybearer of heaven, and to his successors, Christ’s vicars on earth, that they may distribute it to the faithful for their salvation, applying it mercifully for reasonable causes to all who are repentant and have confessed their sins, at times remitting completely and at times partially the temporal punishment due sin in a general as well as in special ways insofar as they judge it to be fitting in the eyes of the Lord. It is known that the merits of the Blessed Mother of God and of all the elect . . . add further to this treasure.”

8. The remission of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven insofar as their guilt is concerned has been called specifically “indulgence.”

It has something in common with other ways or means of eliminating the vestiges of sin but at the same time it is clearly distinct from them.

In an indulgence in fact, the Church, making use of its power as minister of the Redemption of Christ, not only prays but by an authoritative intervention dispenses to the faithful suitably disposed the treasury of satisfaction which Christ and the saints won for the remission of temporal punishment.

The aim pursued by ecclesiastical authority in granting indulgences is not only that of helping the faithful to expiate the punishment due sin but also that of urging them to perform works of piety, penitence and charity – particularly those which lead to growth in faith and which favor the common good.

And if the faithful offer indulgences in suffrage for the dead, they cultivate charity in an excellent way and while raising their minds to heaven, they bring a wiser order into the things of this world.

The Magisterium of the Church has defended and illustrated this doctrine in various documents. Unfortunately, the practice of indulgences has at times been improperly used either through “untimely and superfluous indulgences” by which the power of the keys was humiliated and penitential satisfaction weakened, or through the collection of “illicit profits” by which indulgences were blasphemously defamed. But the Church, in deploring and correcting these improper uses “teaches and establishes that the use of indulgences must be preserved because it is supremely salutary for the Christian people and authoritatively approved by the sacred councils; and it condemns with anathema those who maintain the uselessness of indulgences or deny the power of the Church to grant them.”

9. The Church also in our days then invites all its sons to ponder and meditate well on how the use of indulgences benefits their lives and indeed all Christian society.

To recall briefly the most important considerations, this salutary practice teaches us in the first place how it is “sad and bitter to have abandoned . . . the Lord God.” Indeed the faithful when they acquire indulgences understand that by their own powers they could not remedy the harm they have done to themselves and to the entire community by their sin, and they are therefore stirred to a salutary humility.

Furthermore, the use of indulgences shows us how closely we are united to each other in Christ, and how the supernatural life of each can benefit others so that these also may be more easily and more closely united with the Father. Therefore the use of indulgences effectively influences charity in us and demonstrates that charity in an outstanding manner when we offer indulgences as assistance to our brothers who rest in Christ.

10. Likewise, the religious practice of indulgences reawakens trust and hope in a full reconciliation with God the Father, but in such a way as will not justify any negligence nor in any way diminish the effort to acquire the dispositions required for full communion with God. Although indulgences are in fact free gifts, nevertheless they are granted for the living as well as for the dead only on determined conditions. To acquire them, it is indeed required on the one hand that prescribed works be performed, and on the other that the faithful have the necessary dispositions, that is to say, that they love God, detest sin, place their trust in the merits of Christ and believe firmly in the great assistance they derive from the Communion of Saints.

In addition, it should not be forgotten that by acquiring indulgences the faithful submit docilely to the legitimate pastors of the Church and above all to the successor of Blessed Peter, the keybearer of heaven, to whom the Savior Himself entrusted the task of feeding His flock and governing His Church.

The salutary institution of indulgences therefore contributes in its own way to bringing it about that the Church appear before Christ without blemish or defect, but holy and immaculate, admirably united with Christ in the supernatural bond of charity. Since in fact by means of indulgences members of the Church who are undergoing purification are united more speedily to those of the Church in heaven, the kingdom of Christ is through these same indulgences established more extensively and more speedily “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the deep knowledge of the Son of God, to perfect manhood, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ.”

11. Therefore Holy Mother Church, supported by these truths, while again recommending to the faithful the practice of indulgences as something very dear to the Christian people during the course of many centuries and in our days as well – this is proven by experience – does not in any way intend to diminish the value of other means of sanctification and purification, first and foremost among which are the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of Penance. Nor does it diminish the importance of those abundant aids which are called sacramentals or of the works of piety, penitence and charity. All these aids have this in common that they bring about sanctification and purification all the more efficaciously, the more closely the faithful are united with Christ the Head and the Body of the Church by charity. The preeminence of charity in the Christian life is confirmed also by indulgences. For indulgences cannot be acquired without a sincere conversion of mentality (“metanoia”) and unity with God, to which the performance of the prescribed works is added. Thus the order of charity is preserved, into which is incorporated the remission of punishment by distribution from the Church’s treasury.

While recommending that its faithful not abandon or neglect the holy traditions of their forebears but welcome them religiously as a precious treasure of the Catholic family and duly esteem them, the Church nevertheless leaves it to each to use these means of purification and sanctification with the holy and free liberty of the sons of God. It constantly reminds them, though, of those things which are to be given preference because they are necessary or at least better and more efficacious for the attainment of salvation.

Holy Mother Church has then deemed it fitting, in order to give greater dignity and esteem to the use of indulgences, to introduce some innovations into its discipline of indulgences and has accordingly ordered the issuance of new norms.

Chapter V

12. The following norms introduce appropriate variations in the discipline of indulgences, taking into consideration the proposals advanced by the episcopal conferences.

The rulings of the Code of Canon Law and of the decrees of the Holy See concerning indulgences which do not go counter to the new norms remain unchanged.

In drawing up the new norms these three considerations have been particularly observed: to establish a new measurement for partial indulgences; to reduce considerably the number of plenary indulgences; and, as for the so-called “real” and “local” indulgences, to reduce them and give them a simpler and more dignified formulation.

Regarding partial indulgences, with the abolishment of the former determination of days and years, a new norm or measurement has been established which takes into consideration the action itself of the faithful Christian who performs a work to which an indulgence is attached.

Since by their acts the faithful can obtain, in addition to the merit which is the principal fruit of the act, a further remission of temporal punishment in proportion to the degree to which the charity of the one performing the act is greater, and in proportion to the degree to which the act itself is performed in a more perfect way, it has been considered fitting that this remission of temporal punishment which the Christian faithful acquire through an action should serve as the measurement for the remission of punishment which the ecclesiastical authority bountifully adds by way of partial indulgence.

It has also been considered fitting to reduce appropriately the number of plenary indulgences in order that the faithful may hold them in greater esteem and may in fact acquire them with the proper dispositions. For indeed the greater the proliferation (of indulgences) the less is the attention given them; what is offered in abundance is not greatly appreciated. Besides, many of the faithful need considerable time to prepare themselves properly for acquisition of a plenary indulgence.

As regards the “real” and “local” indulgences, not only has their number been reduced considerably, but the designations themselves have been abolished to make it clearer that indulgences are attached to the actions performed by the faithful and not to objects or places which are but the occasion for the acquisition of the indulgences. In fact, members of pious associations can acquire the indulgences proper to their associations without the requirement of the use of distinctive objects.


n.1 – An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned, which the follower of Christ with the proper dispositions and under certain determined conditions acquires through the intervention of the Church which, as minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the saints.

n.2 – An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due sin.

n.3 – Partial as well as plenary indulgences can always be applied to the dead by way of suffrage.

n.4 – A partial indulgence will henceforth be designated only with the words “partial indulgence” without any determination of days or years.

n.5 – The faithful who at least with a contrite heart perform an action to which a partial indulgence is attached obtain, in addition to the remission of temporal punishment acquired by the action itself, an equal remission of punishment through the intervention of the Church.

n.6 – A plenary indulgence can be acquired only once a day, except for the provisions contained in n. 18 for those who are on the point of death. A partial indulgence can be acquired more than once a day, unless there is an explicit indication to the contrary.

n.7 – To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary to perform the work to which the indulgence is attached and to fulfill three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even to venial sin, be absent.

If this disposition is in any way less than complete, or if the prescribed three conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence will be only partial, except for the provisions contained in n. 11 for those who are “impeded.”

n.8 – The three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the prescribed work; nevertheless it is fitting that Communion be received and the prayers for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff be said the same day the work is performed.

n.9 – A single sacramental confession suffices for gaining several plenary indulgences, but Communion must be received and prayers for the Supreme Pontiff’s intentions recited for the gaining of each plenary indulgence.

n.10 – The condition of praying for the Supreme Pontiff’s intentions is fully satisfied by reciting one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary”; nevertheless the individual faithful are free to recite any other prayer according to their own piety and devotion toward the Supreme Pontiff.

n.11 – While there is no change in the faculty granted by canon 935 of the Code of Canon Law to confessors to commute for those who are “impeded” either the prescribed work itself or the required conditions [for the acquisition of indulgences], local Ordinaries can grant to the faithful over whom they exercise authority in accordance with the law, and who live in places where it is impossible or at least very difficult for them to receive the sacraments of confession and Communion, permission to acquire a plenary indulgence without confession and Communion provided they are sorry for their sins and have the intention of receiving these sacraments as soon as possible.

n.12 – The division of indulgences into “personal,” “real” and “local” is abolished so as to make it clearer that indulgences are attached to the actions of the faithful even though at times they may be linked with some object or place.

n.13 – The Enchiridion Indulgentiarium [collection of indulgenced prayers and works] is to be revised with a view to attaching indulgences only to the most important prayers and works of piety, charity and penance.

n.14 – The lists and summaries of indulgences special to religious orders, congregations, societies of those living in community without vows, secular institutes and the pious associations of faithful are to be revised as soon as possible in such a way that plenary indulgences may be acquired only on particular days established by the Holy See acting on the recommendation of the Superior General, or in the case of pious associations, of the local Ordinary.

n.15 – A plenary indulgence applicable only to the dead can be acquired in all churches and public oratories – and in semipublic oratories by those who have the right to use them – on November 2.

In addition, a plenary indulgence can be acquired twice a year in parish churches: on the feast of the church’s titular saint and on August 2, when the “Portiuncula” occurs, or on some other more opportune day determined by the Ordinary.

All the indulgences mentioned above can be acquired either on the days established or – with the consent of the Ordinary – on the preceding or the following Sunday.

Other indulgences attached to churches and oratories are to be revised as soon as possible.

n.16 – The work prescribed for acquiring a plenary indulgence connected with a church or oratory consists in a devout visit and the recitation of an “Our Father” and “Creed.”

n.17 – The faithful who use with devotion an object of piety (crucifix, cross, rosary, scapular or medal) properly blessed by any priest, can acquire a partial indulgence.

But if this object of piety is blessed by the Supreme Pontiff or any bishop, the faithful who use it devoutly can also acquire a plenary indulgence on the feast of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, provided they also make a profession of faith using any legitimate formula.

n.18 – To the faithful in danger of death who cannot be assisted by a priest to bring them the sacraments and impart the apostolic blessing with its attendant plenary indulgence (according to canon 468, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law) Holy Mother Church nevertheless grants a plenary indulgence to be acquired at the point of death, provided they are properly disposed and have been in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime. To use a crucifix or cross in connection with the acquisition of this plenary indulgence is a laudable practice.

This plenary indulgence at the point of death can be acquired by the faithful even if they have already obtained another plenary indulgence on the same day.

n.19 – The norms established regarding plenary indulgences, particularly those referred to in n.16, apply also to what up to now have been known as the “toties quoties” [“as often as”] plenary indulgences.

n.20 – Holy Mother Church, extremely solicitous for the faithful departed, has decided that suffrages can be applied to them to the widest possible extent at any Sacrifice of the Mass whatsoever, abolishing all special privileges in this regard.


These new norms regulating the acquisition of indulgences will become valid three months from the date of publication of this constitution in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Indulgences attached to the use of religious objects which are not mentioned above cease three months after the date of publication of this constitution in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

The revisions mentioned in n.14 and n.15 must be submitted to the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary within a year. Two years after the date of this constitution, indulgences which have not been confirmed will become null and void.

We will that these statutes and prescriptions of ours be established now and remain in force for the future notwithstanding, if it is necessary so to state, the constitutions and apostolic directives published by our predecessors or any other prescriptions even if they might be worthy of special mention or should otherwise require partial repeal.

Given at Rome at Saint Peter’s on January 1, the octave of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 1967, the fourth year of Our Pontificate.

Signum Magnum – The Great Sign, by Pope Paul VI, 13 May 1967

official portrait of Pope Paul VITo the Catholic Bishops of The World, Venerable brothers, health and apostolic blessings.


The great sign which the Apostle John saw in heaven, “a woman clothed with the sun,”1 is interpreted by the sacred Liturgy,2 not without foundation, as referring to the most blessed Mary, the mother of all men by the grace of Christ the Redeemer.

The memory, venerable brothers, is still vivid in our mind of the great emotion we felt in proclaiming the august Mother of God as the spiritual Mother of the Church, that is to say, of all the faithful and of the sacred pastors, as the crowning of the third session of the Second Vatican Council, after having solemnly promulgated the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.3 Great also was the happiness of numerous Council Fathers, as well as of the faithful, who were present at the sacred rite in Saint Peter’s basilica and of the entire Christian people scattered throughout the world.

The memory came spontaneously to many minds of the first grandiose triumph achieved by the humble “handmaid of the Lord”4 when the Fathers from East and West, gathered in an æcumenical Council at Ephesus in the year 431 greeted Mary as “Theotokos” – genitrix of God. The Christian population of the illustrious city associated themselves with a jubilant impulse of faith with the exultance of the Fathers and accompanied them with torchlights to their dwellings.

Oh! with how much maternal satisfaction the Virgin Mary must have looked on the pastors and the faithful in that glorious hour of the history of the Church, recognizing in the hymns of praise, raised in honor principally of the Son and then in her own, the echo of the prophetic canticle which she herself on the impulse of the Holy Spirit had raised to the Most High:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,.
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,.
because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;.
for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;.
because He who is mighty has done great things for me.
and holy is His name.”5

On the occasion of the religious ceremonies which are taking place at this time in honor of the Virgin Mother of God in Fatima, Portugal, where she is venerated by countless numbers of the faithful for her motherly and compassionate heart,6 we wish to call the attention of all sons of the Church once more to the indissoluble link between the spiritual motherhood of Mary, so amply illustrated in the (council’s) Dogmatic Constitution on the Church7 and the duties of redeemed men toward her, the Mother of the Church.

Once it is acknowledged, by virtue of the numerous testimonies offered by the sacred texts and by the holy Fathers and remembered in the constitution mentioned above, that “Mary, the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer”8 has been “united to Him by a close and indissoluble tie”9 and that she has a most singular role in “the mystery of the Incarnate Word and of the Mystical Body,”10 that is to say, in “the economy of salvation,”11 it appears evident that the Virgin is “rightly honored by the Church with a special veneration,12 particularly liturgical,”13 not only as “the most holy Mother of God, who took part in the mysteries of Christ,”14 but also “as the Mother of the Church.”15

Nor is it to be feared that liturgical reform, if put into practice according to the formula “the law of faith must establish the law of prayer”16 may be detrimental to the “wholly singular” veneration17 due to the Virgin Mary for her prerogatives, first among these being the dignity of the Mother of God. Nor is it to be feared that the greater veneration, liturgical as well as private, given to her may obscure or diminish “the adoration which is offered to the Incarnate Word, as well as to the Father and to the Holy Spirit.”18

Accordingly, without wishing to restate here, venerable brothers, the traditional doctrine of the Church regarding the function of the Mother of God on the plane of salvation and her relations with the Church, we believe that, if we dwell on the consideration of two truths which are very important for the renewal of Christian life, we would be doing something of great utility for the souls of the faithful.


The first truth is this: Mary is the Mother of the Church not only because she is the Mother of Christ and His most intimate associate in “the new economy when the Son of God took a human nature from her, that He might in the mysteries of His flesh free man from sin,”19 but also because “she shines forth to the whole community of the elect as a model of the virtues.”20 Indeed, just as no human mother can limit her task to the generation of a new man but must extend it to the function of nourishing and educating her offspring, thus the blessed Virgin Mary, after participating in the redeeming sacrifice of the Son, and in such an intimate way as to deserve to be proclaimed by Him the Mother not only of His disciple John but – may we be allowed to affirm it – of mankind which he in some way represents,21 now continues to fulfill from heaven her maternal function as the cooperator in the birth and development of divine life in the individual souls of redeemed men. This is a most consoling truth which, by the free consent of God the All-Wise, is an integrating part of the mystery of human salvation; therefore it must be held as faith by all Christians.

But in what way does Mary cooperate in the growth of the members of the Mystical Body in the life of grace? First of all, by her unceasing prayers inspired by a most ardent charity. The Holy Virgin, in fact, though rejoicing in the vision of the august Trinity, does not forget her Son’s advancing, as she herself did in the “pilgrimage of the faith”.22 Indeed, contemplating them in God and clearly seeing their necessities, in communion with Jesus Christ, “who continues forever and is therefore able at all times to intercede for them,”23 she makes herself their Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix and Mediatrix.24 Of this intercession of hers for the People of God with the Son, the Church has been persuaded, ever since the first centuries, as testified to by this most ancient antiphon which, with some slight difference, forms part of the liturgical prayer in the East as well as in the West: “We seek refuge under the protection of your mercies, oh Mother of God; do not reject our supplication in need but save us from perdition, O you who alone are blessed.”25 Nor should anyone believe that the maternal intervention of Mary would prejudice the predominant and irreplaceable efficacy of Christ, our Savior. On the contrary, it draws its strength from the mediation of Christ of which it is the luminous proof.26

But the cooperation of the Mother of the Church in the development of the divine life of the souls does not come to an end with the appeal to the Son. She exercises on redeemed men another influence: that of example. An influence which is indeed most important, according to the well-known axiom: “Verba movent, exempla trahunt” (Words move, examples attract). In fact, just as the teachings of the parents become far more efficacious if they are strengthened by the example of a life conforming with the norms of human and Christian prudence, so the sweetness and the enchantment emanating from the sublime virtues of the immaculate Mother of God attract souls in an irresistible way to imitation of the divine model, Jesus Christ, of whom she was the most faithful image. Therefore the council declared: “The Church, devotedly meditating on her and contemplating her in the light of the Word made man, enters more intimately into the supreme mystery of the Incarnation and becomes ever increasingly like her Spouse”27.

Furthermore, it is well to bear in mind that Mary’s eminent sanctity was not only a singular gift of divine liberality. It was also the fruit of the continuous and generous cooperation of her free will in the inner motions of the Holy Spirit. It is because of the perfect harmony between divine grace and the activity of her human nature that the Virgin rendered supreme glory to the Most Holy Trinity and became the illustrious ornament of the Church, which thus greets her in sacred Liturgy: “You are the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, the honor of our people”28.

Let us then admire in the pages of the Gospel the testimonies of such sublime harmony. Mary, as soon as she was reassured by the voice of the Angel Gabriel that God had chosen her as the unblemished mother of His only-begotten Son, unhesitatingly gave her consent to a work which would have engaged all the energies of her fragile nature and declared: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word”29. From that moment, she consecrated all of herself to the service not only of the heavenly Father and of the Word Incarnate, who had become her Son, but also to all mankind, having clearly understood that Jesus, in addition to saving his people from the slavery of sin, would become the King of a messianic Kingdom, universal and eternal30.

Therefore, the life of Joseph’s pure spouse, who remained a virgin “during childbirth and after childbirth” – as the Catholic Church has always believed and professed31 and as was fitting for her who was raised to the incomparable dignity of divine motherhood32 – was a life of such perfect union with the Son that she shared in His joys, sorrows and triumphs. And even after Christ had ascended to heaven she remained united to Him by a most ardent love while she faithfully fulfilled the new mission of spiritual Mother of the most beloved of the disciples and of the nascent Church. It can be asserted that the whole life of the humble handmaid of the Lord, from the moment when she was greeted by the Angel, until her assumption in body and soul to heavenly glory, was a life of loving service.

We, therefore, associating ourselves with the Evangelists, with the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church, recalled in the dogmatic constitution “Lumen gentium” (Chap. VIII), full of admiration, contemplate Mary, firm in her faith, ready in her obedience, simple in humility, exulting in praising the Lord, ardent in charity, strong and constant in the fulfillment of her mission to the point of sacrificing herself, in full communion of sentiments with her Son who immolated Himself on the Cross to give men a new life.

Before such splendor of virtue, the first duty of all those who recognize in the Mother of Christ the model of the Church, is to unite themselves to her in giving thanks to the Most High for working great things in Mary for the benefit of all mankind. But this is not enough. It is also the duty of all the faithful to pay as tribute to the most faithful handmaid of the Lord, a veneration of praise, of gratitude and of love because, by a wise and mild divine provision, her free consent and her generous cooperation in the designs of God had, and still have, a great influence in the attainment of human salvation33. Therefore every Christian must make Saint Anselm’s prayer his own: “Oh, glorious Lady, grant that through you we may deserve to ascend to Jesus, your Son, who through you deigned to descend among us”34.


Neither the grace of the divine Redeemer, nor the powerful intercession of His Mother and our spiritual Mother, nor yet her sublime sanctity, could lead us to the port of salvation if we did not respond to them by our persevering will to honor Jesus Christ and the Holy Virgin with our devout imitation of their sublime virtue.

It is therefore the duty of all Christians to imitate in a reverent spirit the examples of goodness left to them by their heavenly Mother. This, venerable brothers, is the other truth to which we are pleased to call your attention and the attention of the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, that they may second with docility the exhortation of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council: “Let the faithful remember that true devotion consists neither in fruitless and passing emotion, nor in a certain vain credulity. Rather, it proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to know the excellence of the Mother of God, and are moved to a filial love toward our mother and to the imitation of her virtues.”35

Imitation of Jesus Christ is undoubtedly the regal way to be followed to attain sanctity and reproduce in ourselves, according to our forces, the absolute perfection of the heavenly Father. But while the Catholic Church has always proclaimed a truth so sacrosanct, it has also affirmed that imitation of the Virgin Mary, far from distracting the souls from the faithful following of Christ, makes it more pleasant and easier for them. For, since she had always done the will of God, she was the first to deserve the praise which Christ addressed to His disciples: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.”36

The general norm “Through Mary to Jesus” is therefore valid also for the imitation of Christ. Nevertheless, let our faith not be perturbed, as if the intervention of a creature in every way similar to us, except as regards sin, offended our personal dignity and prevented the intimacy and immediacy of our relationships of adoration and friendship with the Son of God. Let us rather recognize the “goodness and the love of God the Savior,”37 who, condescending to our misery, so remote from His infinite sanctity, wished to make it easier for us to imitate it by giving us as a model the human person of His Mother. She, in fact, among the human beings, offered the most shining example and the closest to us, of that perfect obedience whereby we lovingly and readily conform with the will of the eternal Father. Christ Himself, as we well know, made this full closeness to the approval of the Father, the supreme ideal of His human behavior, declaring: “I do always the things that are pleasing to Him.”38

If we then contemplate the Virgin of Nazareth in the halo of her prerogative and of her virtues, we will see her shine before our eyes as the “New Eve,”39 the exalted daughter of Sion, the summit of the Old Testament and the dawn of the New, in which “the fullness of time”40 was realized, which was preordained by God for the mission in the world of His only-begotten Son. In truth, the Virgin Mary, more than all the patriarchs and prophets, more than the “just” and “pious” Simeon awaited and implored “the consolation of Israel … the Christ of the Lord”41 and then greeted His advent with the hymn of “Magnificat” when He descended into her most chaste womb to take on our flesh.

It is in Mary, therefore, that the Church of Christ indicates the example of the worthiest way of receiving in our spirits the Word of God, in accordance with the luminous sentence of Saint Augustine: “Mary was therefore more blessed in receiving the faith in Christ than in conceiving the flesh of Christ. Accordingly, maternal consanguinity would not have benefited Mary if she had not felt more fortunate in having Christ in her heart than in her womb.”42 And it is still in her that Christians can admire the example of how to fulfill, with humility and at the same time with magnanimity, the mission which God entrusts to each one in this world, in relation to his own salvation and that of his fellow beings.

“Therefore, I beg you, be imitators of me as I am of Christ.”43 These words, and with greater reason than the Apostle Paul to the Christians of Corinth, can be addressed by the Mother of the Church to the multitudes of the faithful, who, in a symphony of faith and love with the generations of past centuries, acclaim her as blessed.44 It is an invitation which it is a duty to heed docilely.

And then a message of supreme utility seems today to reach the faithful from her who is the Immaculate, the holy, the cooperator of the Son in the work of restoration of supernatural life in souls.45 In fact, in devoutly contemplating Mary they draw from her a stimulus for trusting prayer, a spur to the practice of penance and to the holy fear of God. Likewise, it is in this Marian elevation that they more often hear echoing the words with which Jesus Christ announced the advent of the Kingdom of heaven: “Repent and believe in the Gospel”46; and His severe admonition: “Unless you repent you will all perish in the same manner.”47

Therefore, impelled by love and by the wish to placate God for the offenses against His sanctity and His justice and, at the same time, moved by trust in His infinite mercy, we must bear the sufferings of the spirit and of the body that we may expiate our sins and those of our fellow beings and so avoid the twofold penalty of “harm” and of “sense,” that is to say, the loss of God – the supreme good – and eternal fire.48

What must stimulate the faithful even more to follow the examples of the most holy Virgin is the fact that Jesus Himself, by giving her to us as our Mother, has tacitly indicated her as the model to be followed. It is, in fact, a natural thing that the children should have the same sentiments of their mothers and should reflect their merits and virtues. Therefore, as each one of us can repeat with Saint Paul: “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself up for me,”49 so in all trust he can believe that the divine Savior has left to him also, in spiritual heritage, His Mother, with all the treasures of grace and virtues with which He had endowed her, that she may pour them over us through the influence of her powerful intercession and our willing imitation. This is why Saint Bernard rightly affirms: “Coming to her the Holy Spirit filled her with grace for herself; when the same Spirit pervaded her again she became superabundant and redounding in grace for us also.”50

From what we have been illustrating in the light of the holy Gospel and of the Catholic tradition, it appears evident that the spiritual motherhood of Mary transcends space and time and belongs to the universal history of the Church, since she has always been present in the Church with her maternal assistance. Likewise the meaning of the affirmation appears clear, which is so often repeated: our era may well be called the Marian era. In fact, if it is true that, by an exalted grace of the Lord, the providential role of the most holy Mary in the history of salvation has been more deeply understood by the vast strata of the Christian people, this, however, should not lead us to believe that in past ages we had no intuition whatever of this truth or that future ones will ignore it. In truth, all periods of the Church’s history have benefited and will benefit from the maternal presence of the Mother of God because she will remain always indissolubly joined to the mystery of the Mystical Body, of whose Head it was written: “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today, yes, and forever.”51

Venerable brothers, the persuasion that the thought of the Church regarding the veneration of praise, gratitude and love due to the most blessed Virgin is in full accord with the doctrine of the holy Gospel, as it was more precisely understood and explained by the tradition of the East as well as of the West, stirs in our spirit the hope that this pastoral exhortation of ours for an ever more fervid and more fruitful Marian piety will be received with generous acceptance not only by the faithful entrusted to your care, but also by those who, while not enjoying full communion with the Catholic Church, nevertheless, together with us, admire and venerate the handmaid of the Lord, the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Son of God.

May the Immaculate Heart of Mary shine before the eyes of all Christians as the model of perfect love toward God and toward our fellow beings; may it lead them toward the Holy Sacraments by virtue of which souls are cleansed from the stains of sin and are preserved from it. May it also stimulate them to make reparation for the innumerable offenses against the Divine Majesty. Lastly, may it shine like a banner of unity and a spur to perfect the bonds of brotherhood among all Christians in the bosom of the one Church of Jesus Christ, which “taught by the Holy Spirit, honors her with filial affection and piety as a most beloved mother.”52

Since the 25th anniversary is recalled this year of the solemn consecration of the Church and of mankind to Mary, the Mother of God, and to her Immaculate Heart, by our predecessor of venerated memory, Pius XII, on 31 October 1942 on the occasion of the broadcast message to the Portuguese nation53 – a consecration which we ourself have renewed on Nov. 21, 196454 – we exhort all the sons of the Church to renew personally their consecration to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of the Church and to bring alive this most noble act of veneration through a life ever more consonant with the divine will55 and in a spirit of filial service and of devout imitation of their heavenly Queen.

Lastly, venerable brothers, we express the trust that, thanks to your encouragement, the clergy and the Christian people entrusted to your pastoral ministry will respond in a generous spirit to this exhortation of ours so as to demonstrate toward the Virgin Mother of God a more ardent piety and a firmer confidence. Meanwhile while we are comforted by the certainty that the glorious Queen of Heaven and our most sweet Mother will never cease to assist all and each one of her sons and will never withdraw from the entire Church of Christ her heavenly patronage, to you yourselves and to your faithful, as a pledge of divine favors and as a sign of our benevolence, we wholeheartedly impart the apostolic blessing.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter, on the 13th day of the month of May in the year 1967, the fourth of our pontificate.

  1. Cf. Apocalypse 12, 1.
  2. Cf. Epistle of Mass for the feast of the Apparition of Mary Immaculate, Feb. 11.
  3. Cf. Acta Apostolica Sedis 57, 1965, pp. 1-67.
  4. Cf. Luke 1, 38.
  5. Ibid., 1, 46 and 48-49.
  6. Radio message of Pius XII, May 13, 1946, given for the Christians of Portugal, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 38, 1946, p. 264.
  7. Cf. chapter VIII, paragraph III, on the Blessed Virgin and the Church, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1965, pp. 62-65.
  8. Cf. ibid. n. 53, p. 58.
  9. Cf. ibid.
  10. Ibid. n. 54, p. 59.
  11. Ibid. n. 55, p. 59.
  12. Ibid. n. 66, p. 65.
  13. Allocution to the Council Fathers in the Vatican Basilica on the feast of the Presentation, third session of the Council, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 56, 1964, p. 1016.
  14. Cf. dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 66: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1965, p. 65.
  15. Cf. ibid. n. 67, p. 65.
  16. Pius XII, encyclical letter Mediator Dei: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 38, 1947, p. 541.
  17. Cf. dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 66: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1964, p. 65.
  18. Ibid. n. 66, p. 65.
  19. Ibid. n. 55, p. 60.
  20. Ibid. n. 65, p. 64, also n. 63.
  21. Cf. ibid. n. 58, p. 61; Leo XIII encyclical letter Adiutricem populi, Acts of Leo XIII 15, 1896, p. 302.
  22. Dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 58; Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1967, p. 61.
  23. Heb. 7, 25.
  24. Cf. dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 62: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1965, p. 61.
  25. Cf. Dom F. Mercenier, L’Antienne mariale grecque la plus ancienne in Le Museon 52, 1939, pp. 229-233.
  26. Cf. dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 62: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1965, p. 63.
  27. Ibid. n. 65, p. 64.
  28. Second Antiphon of lauds, feast of the Immaculate Conception.
  29. Luke 1, 38.
  30. Cf. Matt. 1, 21; Luke 1, 33.
  31. Cf. Saint Leo, martyr, letter, Lectis dilectionis tuae to Flavianum; PL 54, 759; idem, letter, Licet per nostros to Julian, Ep. Coensem: p. 54, 803; Saint Hormisdas, Ep. Inter ea quae to Justinian, emperor, PL 63, 407; Lateran Council, October, 609, under Martin I, canon 3: Caspar, ZKG, 51, 1932, p. 88; Conc. Tolet. XVI, Symbol. article 22: J. Madoz, El Simbolo del Concilio XVI de Toledo in Estudios Onienses, ser. I, volume 3, 1946; dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium nn. 52, 55, 57, 59, 63; Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1965, pp. 58-64.
  32. Cf. Saint Thomas, Summa Theologica, Part I, q. 25, a. 6, ed. 4.
  33. Cf. dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 56; Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1965, p. 60.
  34. Orat. 54, PL 158, 961.
  35. Dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 67; Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1965, p. 66; confer Saint Thomas, Summa Theologica, Part II- II, q. 81, a. 1, ad. 1; Part III, q. 25, aa. 1, 5.
  36. Matt. 12, 50.
  37. Cf. Titus 3, 4.
  38. Saint John 8, 29.
  39. Cf. Saint Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III, 22, 4; PG 959; Saint Epiphanius, Haer. 78, 18: PG 42, 728-729; Saint John Damascene, first homily on the birth of Mary: PG 96, 671 ss; dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 56; Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1965, pp. 60-61.
  40. Galatians 4, 4.
  41. Saint Luke 2, 25-26.
  42. Serm. 215, 1: PL 38, 1074.
  43. 1 Cor. 4, 16.
  44. Cf. Saint Luke 1, 48.
  45. Cf. dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 61; Acta Apostolicae Sedis 57, 1965, p. 63.
  46. Saint Mark 1, 15; cf. Saint Matthew 3, 2; 4, 17.
  47. Saint Luke 13, 5.
  48. Cf. Saint Matthew 25, 41; dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 48: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57, 1965, p. 54.
  49. Galatians 2, 20; cf. Eph. 5, 2.
  50. Second homily super Missus est, n. 2: PL 183, 64.
  51. Heb. 13, 8.
  52. Dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 53: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, n. 53, 57, 1965, p. 59.
  53. Cf. discourses and radio messages of Pius XII, volume IV, pp. 260-262; cf. Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 34, 1942, pp. 345-346.
  54. Cf. Apostolicae Sedis, 56, 1964, p. 1017.
  55. Cf. oration for feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Aug. 22.

Sacerdotalis Caelibatus – The Celibacy of the Priests, by Pope Paul VI, 24 June 1967

official portrait of Pope Paul VITo the Bishops, Priests and Faithful of the Whole Catholic World.

1. Priestly celibacy has been guarded by the Church for centuries as a brilliant jewel, and retains its value undiminished even in our time when the outlook of men and the state of the world have undergone such profound changes. Amid the modern stirrings of opinion, a tendency has also been manifested, and even a desire expressed, to ask the Church to re-examine this characteristic institution. It is said that in the world of our time the observance of celibacy has come to be difficult or even impossible.

2. This state of affairs is troubling consciences, perplexing some priests and young aspirants to the priesthood; it is a cause for alarm in many of the faithful and constrains Us to fulfill the promise We made to the Council Fathers. We told them that it was Our intention to give new luster and strength to priestly celibacy in the world of today.[1] Since saying this We have, over a considerable period of time, earnestly implored the enlightenment and assistance of the Holy Spirit and have examined before God opinions and petitions which have come to Us from all over the world, notably from many pastors of God’s Church.

3. The great question concerning the sacred celibacy of the clergy in the Church has long been before Our mind in its deep seriousness: must that grave, ennobling obligation remain today for those who have the intention of receiving major orders? Is it possible and appropriate nowadays to observe such an obligation? Has the time not come to break the bond linking celibacy with the priesthood in the Church? Could the difficult observance of it not be made optional? Would this not be a way to help the priestly ministry and facilitate ecumenical approaches? And if the golden law of sacred celibacy is to remain, what reasons are there to show that it is holy and fitting? What means are to be taken to observe it, and how can it be changed from a burden to a help for the priestly life?

4. Our attention has rested particularly on the objections which have been and are still made in various forms against the retention of sacred celibacy. In virtue of Our apostolic office We are obliged by the importance, and indeed the complexity, of the subject to give faithful consideration to the facts and the problems they involve, at the same time bringing to them – as it is Our duty and Our mission to do – the light of truth which is Christ. Our intention is to do in all things the will of Him who has called Us to this office and to show what we are in the Church: the servant of the servants of God.

5. It may be said that today ecclesiastical celibacy has been examined more penetratingly than ever before and in all its aspects. It has been examined from the doctrinal, historical, sociological, psychological and pastoral point of view. The intentions prompting this examination have frequently been basically correct although reports may sometimes have distorted them. Let us look openly at the principal objections against the law that links ecclesiastical celibacy with the priesthood. The first seems to come from the most authoritative source, the New Testament which preserves the teaching of Christ and the Apostles. It does not openly demand celibacy of sacred ministers but proposes it rather as a free act of obedience to a special vocation or to a special spiritual gift.[2] Jesus Himself did not make it a prerequisite in His choice of the Twelve, nor did the Apostles for those who presided over the first Christian communities.[3]

6. The close relationship that the Fathers of the Church and ecclesiastical writers established over the centuries between the ministering priesthood and celibacy has its origin partly in a mentality and partly in historical circumstances far different from ours. In patristic texts we more frequently find exhortations to the clergy to abstain from marital relations rather than to observe celibacy; and the reasons justifying the perfect chastity of the Church’s ministers seem often to be based on an overly pessimistic view of man’s earthly condition or on a certain notion of the purity necessary for contact with sacred things. In addition, it is said that the old arguments no longer are in harmony with the different social and cultural milieus in which the Church today, through her priests, is called upon to work.

7. Many see a difficulty in the fact that in the present discipline concerning celibacy the gift of a vocation to the priesthood is identified with that of perfect chastity as a state of life for God’s ministers. And so people ask whether it is right to exclude from the priesthood those who, it is claimed, have been called to the ministry without having been called to lead a celibate life.

8. It is asserted, moreover, that the maintaining of priestly celibacy in the Church does great harm in those regions where the shortage of the clergy – a fact recognized with sadness and deplored by the same Council[4]–gives rise to critical situations: that it prevents the full realization of the divine plan of salvation and at times jeopardizes the very possibility of the initial proclamation of the Gospel. Thus the disquieting decline in the ranks of the clergy is attributed by some to the heavy burden of the obligation of celibacy.

9. Then there are those who are convinced that a married priesthood would remove the occasions for infidelity, waywardness and distressing defections which hurt and sadden the whole Church. These also maintain that a married priesthood would enable Christ’s ministers to witness more fully to Christian living by including the witness of married life, from which they are excluded by their state of life.

10. There are also some who strongly maintain that priests by reason of their celibacy find themselves in a situation that is not only against nature but also physically and psychologically detrimental to the development of a mature and well-balanced human personality. And so it happens, they say, that priests often become hard and lacking in human warmth; that, excluded from sharing fully the life and destiny of the rest of their brothers, they are obliged to live a life of solitude which leads to bitterness and discouragement. So they ask: Don’t all these things indicate that celibacy does unwarranted violence to nature and unjustifiably disparages human values which have their source in the divine work of creation and have been made whole through the work of the Redemption accomplished by Christ?

11. Again, in view of the way in which a candidate for the priesthood comes to accept an obligation as momentous as this, the objection is raised that in practice this acceptance results not from an authentically personal decision, but rather from an attitude of passivity, the fruit of a formation that neither is adequate nor makes sufficient allowance for human liberty. For the degree of knowledge and power of decision of a young person and his psychological and physical maturity fall far below – or at any rate are disproportionate to – the seriousness of the obligation he is assuming, its real difficulties and its permanence.

12. We well realize that there are other objections that can be made against priestly celibacy. This is a very complex question, which touches intimately upon the very meaning of being alive, yet is penetrated and resolved by the light of divine revelation. A never-ending series of difficulties will present themselves to those who cannot “receive this precept”[5] and who do not know or have forgotten it is a “gift of God,”[6] and who moreover are unaware of the loftier reasoning, wonderful efficacy and abundant riches of this new insight into life.

13. The sum of these objections would appear to drown out the solemn and age-old voice of the pastors of the Church and of the masters of the spiritual life, and to nullify the living testimony of the countless ranks of saints and faithful ministers of God, for whom celibacy has been the object of the total and generous gift of themselves to the mystery of Christ, as well as its outward sign. But no, this voice, still strong and untroubled, is the voice not just of the past but of the present too. Ever intent on the realities of today, we cannot close our eyes to this magnificent, wonderful reality: that there are still today in God’s holy Church, in every part of the world where she exercises her beneficent influence, great numbers of her ministers – subdeacons, deacons, priests and bishops – who are living their life of voluntary and consecrated celibacy in the most exemplary way. Nor can we overlook the immense ranks of men and women in religious life, of laity and of young people too, united in the faithful observance of perfect chastity. They live in chastity, not out of disdain for the gift of life, but because of a greater love for that new life which springs from the Paschal mystery. They live this life of courageous self-denial and spiritual joyfulness with exemplary fidelity and also with relative facility. This magnificent phenomenon bears testimony to an exceptional facet of the kingdom of God living in the midst of modern society, to which it renders humble and beneficial service as the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth.”[7] We cannot withhold the expression of our admiration; the spirit of Christ is certainly breathing here.

14. Hence We consider that the present law of celibacy should today continue to be linked to the ecclesiastical ministry. This law should support the minister in his exclusive, definitive and total choice of the unique and supreme love of Christ; it should uphold him in the entire dedication of himself to the public worship of God and to the service of the Church; it should distinguish his state of life both among the faithful and in the world at large.

15. The gift of the priestly vocation dedicated to the divine worship and to the religious and pastoral service of the People of God, is undoubtedly distinct from that which leads a person to choose celibacy as a state of consecrated life.[8] But the priestly vocation, although inspired by God, does not become definitive or operative without having been tested and accepted by those in the Church who hold power and bear responsibility for the ministry serving the ecclesial community. It is, therefore, the task of those who hold authority in the Church to determine, in accordance with the varying conditions of time and place, who in actual practice are to be considered suitable candidates for the religious and pastoral service of the Church, and what should be required of them.

16. In a spirit of faith, therefore, We look on this occasion afforded Us by Divine Providence as a favorable opportunity for setting forth anew, and in a way more suited to the men of our time, the fundamental reasons for sacred celibacy. If difficulties against faith “can stimulate our minds to a more accurate and deeper understanding” of it,[9] the same is true of the ecclesiastical discipline which guides and directs the life of the faithful. We are deeply moved by the joy this occasion gives Us of contemplating the richness in virtue and the beauty of the Church of Christ. These may not always be immediately apparent to the human eye, because they derive from the love of the divine Head of the Church and because they are revealed in the perfection of holiness[10] which moves the human spirit to admiration, and which human resources cannot adequately explain.

17. Virginity undoubtedly, as the Second Vatican Council declared, “is not, of course, required by the nature of the priesthood itself. This is clear from the practice of the early Church and the traditions of the Eastern Churches.”[11] But at the same time the Council did not hesitate to confirm solemnly the ancient, sacred and providential present law of priestly celibacy. In addition, it set forth the motives which justify this law for those who, in a spirit of faith and with generous fervor, know how to appreciate the gifts of God.

18. Consideration of how celibacy is particularly suited”[12] to God’s ministers is not something recent. Even if the explicit reasons have differed with different mentalities and different situations, they were always inspired by specifically Christian considerations; and from these considerations we can get an intuition of the more fundamental motives underlying them.[13] These can be brought into clearer light only under the influence of the Holy Spirit, promised by Christ to His followers for the knowledge of things to come[14] and to enable the People of God to increase in the understanding of the mystery of Christ and of the Church. In this process the experience gained through the ages from a deeper penetration of spiritual things also has its part.

19. The Christian priesthood, being of a new order, can be understood only in the light of the newness of Christ, the Supreme Pontiff and eternal Priest, who instituted the priesthood of the ministry as a real participation in His own unique priesthood.[15] The minister of Christ and dispenser of the mysteries of God,[16] therefore, looks up to Him directly as his model and supreme ideal.[17] The Lord Jesus, the only Son of God, was sent by the Father into the world and He became man, in order that humanity which was subject to sin and death might be reborn, and through this new birth[18] might enter the kingdom of heaven. Being entirely consecrated to the will of the Father,[19] Jesus brought forth this new creation by means of His Paschal mystery;[20] thus, He introduced into time and into the world a new form of life which is sublime and divine and which radically transforms the human condition.[21]

20. Matrimony, according to the will of God, continues the work of the first creation;[22] and considered within the total plan of salvation, it even acquired a new meaning and a new value. Jesus, in fact, has restored its original dignity,[23] has honored it[24] and has raised it to the dignity of a sacrament and of a mysterious symbol of His own union with the Church.[25] Thus, Christian couples walk together toward their heavenly fatherland in the exercise of mutual love, in the fulfillment of their particular obligations, and in striving for the sanctity proper to them. But Christ, “Mediator of a superior covenant,”[26] has also opened a new way, in which the human creature adheres wholly and directly to the Lord, and is concerned only with Him and with His affairs;[27] thus, he manifests in a clearer and more complete way the profoundly transforming reality of the New Testament.

21. Christ, the only Son of the Father, by the power of the Incarnation itself was made Mediator between heaven and earth, between the Father and the human race. Wholly in accord with this mission, Christ remained throughout His whole life in the state of celibacy, which signified His total dedication to the service of God and men. This deep concern between celibacy and the priesthood of Christ is reflected in those whose fortune it is to share in the dignity and mission of the Mediator and eternal Priest; this sharing will be more perfect the freer the sacred minister is from the bonds of flesh and blood.[28]

22. Jesus, who selected the first ministers of salvation, wished them to be introduced to the understanding of the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,”[29] but He also wished them to be coworkers with God under a very special title, and His ambassadors.[30] He called them friends and brethren,[31] for whom He consecrated Himself so that they might be consecrated in truth;[32] He promised a more than abundant recompense to anyone who should leave home, family, wife and children for the sake of the kingdom of God.[33] More than this, in words filled with mystery and hope, He also commended an even more perfect consecration[34] to the kingdom of heaven by means of celibacy, as a special gift.[35] The motive of this response to the divine call is the kingdom of heaven;[36] similarly, this very kingdom,[37] the Gospel[38] and the name of Christ[39] motivate those called by Jesus to undertake the work of the apostolate, freely accepting its burdens, that they may participate the more closely in His lot.

23. To them this is the mystery of the newness of Christ, of all that He is and stands for; it is the sum of the highest ideals of the Gospel and of the kingdom; it is a particular manifestation of grace, which springs from the Paschal mystery of the Savior. This is what makes the choice of celibacy desirable and worthwhile to those called by our Lord Jesus. Thus they intend not only to participate in His priestly office, but also to share with Him His very condition of living

24. The response to the divine call is an answer of love to the love which Christ has shown us so sublimely.[40] This response is included in the mystery of that special love for souls who have accepted His most urgent appeals.[41] With a divine force, grace increases the longings of love. And love, when it is genuine, is all-embracing, stable and lasting, an irresistible spur to all forms of heroism. And so the free choice of sacred celibacy has always been considered by the Church “as a symbol of, and stimulus to, charity”:[42] it signifies a love without reservations; it stimulates to a charity which is open to all. In a life so completely dedicated and motivated, who can see the sign of spiritual narrowness or self-seeking, and not see rather that celibacy is and ought to be a rare and very meaningful example of a life motivated by love, by which man expresses his own unique greatness? Who can doubt the moral and spiritual richness of such a life, consecrated not to any human ideal, no matter how noble, but to Christ and to His work to bring about a new form of humanity in all places and for all generations?

25. This biblical and theological view associates our ministerial priesthood with the priesthood of Christ; the total and exclusive dedication of Christ to His mission of salvation provides reason and example for our assimilation to the form of charity and sacrifice proper to Christ our Savior. This vision seems to Us so profound and rich in truth, both speculative and practical, that We invite you, venerable brothers, and you, eager students of Christian doctrine and masters of the spiritual life, and all you priests who have gained a supernatural insight into your vocation, to persevere in the study of this vision, and to go deeply into the inner recesses and wealth of its reality. In this way, the bond between the priesthood and celibacy will more and more be seen as closely knit – as the mark of a heroic soul and the imperative call to unique and total love for Christ and His Church.

26. “Laid hold of by Christ”[43] unto the complete abandonment of one’s entire self to Him, the priest takes on a closer likeness to Christ, even in the love with which the eternal Priest has loved the Church His Body and offered Himself entirely for her sake, in order to make her a glorious, holy and immaculate Spouse.[44] The consecrated celibacy of the sacred ministers actually manifests the virginal love of Christ for the Church, and the virginal and supernatural fecundity of this marriage, by which the children of God are born, “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh.”[45],[46]

27. The priest dedicates himself to the service of the Lord Jesus and of His Mystical Body with complete liberty, which is made easier by his total offering, and thus he depicts more fully the unity and harmony of the priestly life.[47] His ability for listening to the word of God and for prayer increases. Indeed, the word of God, as preserved by the Church, stirs up vibrant and profound echoes in the priest who daily meditates on it, lives it and preaches it to the faithful.

28. Like Christ Himself, His minister is wholly and solely intent on the things of God and the Church,[48] and he imitates the great High priest who lives ever in the presence of God in order to intercede in our favor.[49] So he receives joy and encouragement unceasingly from the attentive and devout recitation of the Divine Office, by which he dedicates his voice to the Church who prays together with her Spouse,[50] and he recognizes the necessity of continuing his diligence at prayer, which is the profoundly priestly occupation.[51]

29. The rest of a priest’s life also acquires a greater richness of meaning and sanctifying power. In fact, his individual efforts at his own sanctification find new incentives in the ministry of grace and in the ministry of the Eucharist, in which “the whole spiritual good of the Church is contained”:[52] acting in the person of Christ, the priest unites himself most intimately with the offering, and places on the altar his entire life, which bears the marks of the holocaust.

30. What other considerations can We offer to describe the increase of the priest’s power, his service, his love and sacrifice for the entire people of God? Christ spoke of Himself when He said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”[53] And the Apostle Paul did not hesitate to expose himself to a daily death in order to obtain among his faithful glory in Christ Jesus.[54] In a similar way, by a daily dying to himself and by giving up the legitimate love of a family of his own for the love of Christ and of His kingdom, the priest will find the glory of an exceedingly rich and fruitful life in Christ, because like Him and in Him, he loves and dedicates himself to all the children of God.

31. In the community of the faithful committed to his charge, the priest represents Christ. Thus, it is most fitting that in all things he should reproduce the image of Christ and in particular follow His example, both in his personal and in his apostolic life. To his children in Christ, the priest is a sign and a pledge of that sublime and new reality which is the kingdom of God; he dispenses it and he possesses it to a more perfect degree. Thus he nourishes the faith and hope of all Christians, who, as such, are bound to observe chastity according to their proper state of life.

32. The consecration to Christ under an additional and lofty title like celibacy evidently gives to the priest, even in the practical field, the maximum efficiency and the best disposition of mind, mentally and emotionally, for the continuous exercise of a perfect charity.[55] This charity will permit him to spend himself wholly for the welfare of all, in a fuller and more concrete way.[56] It also obviously guarantees him a greater freedom and flexibility in the pastoral ministry,[57] in his active and living presence in the world, to which Christ has sent him[58] so that he may pay fully to all the children of God the debt due to them.[59]

33. The kingdom of God, which “is not of this world,”[60] is present here on earth in mystery, and will reach its perfection only with the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus.[61] The Church here below constitutes the seed and the beginning of this kingdom. And as she continues to grow slowly but surely, she longs for the perfect kingdom and ardently desires with all her energy to unite herself with her King in glory.[62] The pilgrim People of God are on a journey through the vicissitudes of this life toward their heavenly homeland,[63] where the divine sonship of the redeemed[64] will be fully revealed and where the transformed loveliness of the Spouse of the Lamb of God will shine completely.[65]

34. Our Lord and Master has said that “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”[66] In the world of man, so deeply involved in earthly concerns and too often enslaved by the desires of the flesh,[67] the precious and almost divine gift of perfect continence for the kingdom of heaven stands out precisely as “a special token of the rewards of heaven”;[68] it proclaims the presence on earth of the final stages of salvation[69] with the arrival of a new world, and in a way it anticipates the fulfillment of the kingdom as it sets forth its supreme values which will one day shine forth in all the children of God. This continence, therefore, stands as a testimony to the ever continuing progress of the People of God toward the final goal of their earthly pilgrimage, and as a stimulus for all to raise their eyes to the things above, “where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” and w here “our life is hid with Christ in God” until it appears “with him in glory.”[70]

35. Although it would be highly instructive to go through the writings of past centuries on ecclesiastical celibacy, this would take so long that We will let a brief account suffice. In Christian antiquity the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers testify to the spread through the East and the West of the voluntary practice of celibacy by sacred ministers[71] because of its profound suitability for their total dedication to the service of Christ and His Church.

36. From the beginning of the 4th century, the Church of the West strengthened, spread and confirmed this practice by means of various provincial councils and through the supreme pontiffs.[72] More than anyone else, the supreme pastors and teachers of the Church of God, the guardians and interpreters of the patrimony of the faith and of holy Christian practices, promoted, defended, and restored ecclesiastical celibacy in successive eras of history, even when they met opposition from the clergy itself and when the practices of a decadent society did not favor the heroic demands of virtue. The obligation of celibacy was then solemnly sanctioned by the Sacred Ecumenical Council of Trent[73] and finally included in the Code of Canon Law.[74]

37. The most recent sovereign pontiffs who preceded Us, making use of their doctrinal knowledge and spurred on by ardent zeal, strove to enlighten the clergy on this matter and to urge them to its observance.[75] We do not wish to fail to pay homage to them, especially to Our well-loved immediate predecessor, whose memory is still fresh in the hearts of men all over the world. During the Roman Synod, with the sincere approval of all the clergy of the city, he spoke as follows: “It deeply hurts Us that . . . anyone can dream that the Church will deliberately or even suitably renounce what from time immemorial has been, and still remains, one of the purest and noblest glories of her priesthood. The law of ecclesiastical celibacy and the efforts necessary to preserve it always recall to mind the struggles of the heroic times when the Church of Christ had to fight for and succeeded in obtaining her threefold glory, always an emblem of victory, that is, the Church of Christ, free, chaste and catholic.”[76]

38. If the legislation of the Eastern Church is different in the matter of discipline with regard to clerical celibacy, as was finally established by the Council of Trullo held in the year 692,[77] and which has been clearly recognized by the Second Vatican Council,[78] this is due to the different historical background of that most noble part of the Church, a situation which the Holy Spirit has providentially and supernaturally influenced. We Ourselves take this opportunity to express Our esteem and Our respect for all the clergy of the Eastern Churches, and to recognize in them examples of fidelity and zeal which make them worthy of sincere veneration.

39. We find further comforting reasons for continuing to adhere to the observance of the discipline of clerical celibacy in the exaltation of virginity by the Eastern Fathers. We hear within Us, for example, the voice of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, reminding us that “the life of virginity is the image of the blessedness that awaits us in the life to come.”[79] We are no less assured by Saint John Chrysostom’s treatise on the priesthood, which is still a fruitful subject for reflection. Intent on throwing light on the harmony which must exist between the private life of him who ministers at the altar and the dignity of the order to which his sacred duties belong, he affirmed: “. . . it is becoming that he who accepts the priesthood be as pure as if he were in heaven.”[80]

40. Further, it is by no means futile to observe that in the East only celibate priests are ordained bishops, and priests themselves cannot contract marriage after their ordination to the priesthood. This indicates that these venerable Churches also possess to a certain extent the principle of a celibate priesthood and even of the appropriateness of celibacy for the Christian priesthood, of which the bishops possess the summit and fullness.[81]

41. In any case, the Church of the West cannot weaken her faithful observance of her own tradition. Nor can she be regarded as having followed for centuries a path which instead of favoring the spiritual richness of individual souls and of the People of God, has in some way compromised it, or of having stifled, with arbitrary juridical prescriptions, the free expansion of the most profound realities of nature and of grace.

42. In virtue of the fundamental norm of the government of the Catholic Church, to which We alluded above,[82] while on the one hand, the law requiring a freely chosen and perpetual celibacy of those who are admitted to Holy Orders remains unchanged, on the other hand, a study may be allowed of the particular circumstances of married sacred ministers of Churches or other Christian communities separated from the Catholic communion, and of the possibility of admitting to priestly functions those who desire to adhere to the fullness of this communion and to continue to exercise the sacred ministry. The circumstances must be such, however, as not to prejudice the existing discipline regarding celibacy. And that the authority of the Church does not hesitate to exercise her power in this matter can be seen from the recent Ecumenical Council, which foresaw the possibility of conferring the holy diaconate on men of mature age who are already married.[83]

43. All this, however, does not signify a relaxation of the existing law, and must not be interpreted as a prelude to its abolition. There are better things to do than to promote this hypothesis, which tears down that vigor and love in which celibacy finds security and happiness, and which obscures the true doctrine that justifies its existence and exalts its splendor. It would be much better to promote serious studies in defense of the spiritual meaning and moral value of virginity and celibacy.[84]

44. Holy virginity is a very special gift. Nevertheless, the whole present-day Church, solemnly and universally represented by the pastors responsible for her welfare (with due respect, as We have said, for the discipline of the Eastern Churches), manifested her absolute faith “in the Holy Spirit that the grace of leading a celibate life, so desirable in the priesthood of the New Testament, will be readily granted by God the Father if those who by ordination share the priesthood of Christ humbly and earnestly ask it together with the whole Church.”[85]

45. We wholeheartedly call on the entire People of God to do their duty in bringing about an increase in priestly vocations.[86] We ask them fervently to beg the Father of all, the divine Spouse of the Church, and the Holy Spirit, her principle of life, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of His Church, to pour out, especially at present, this divine gift, which the Father certainly does not wish to give stintingly. They should also fervently pray, in like manner, that souls may dispose themselves to receive this gift by a profound faith and a generous love. In this way, in our world which needs God’s glory,[87] priests, ever more perfectly conformed to the one and supreme Priest, will be a real glory to Christ,[88] and, through them, “the glory of the grace” of God will be magnified in the world of today.[89]

46. Yes, venerable and well-beloved brothers in the priesthood, whom We cherish “with the affection of Christ Jesus,”[90] it is indeed this world in which we live, tormented by the pains of growth and change, justly proud of its human values and human conquests, which urgently needs the witness of lives consecrated to the highest and most sacred spiritual values. This witness is necessary in order that the rare and incomparable light radiating from the most sublime virtues of the spirit may not be wanting to our times.

47. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not hesitate to confide the formidable task of evangelizing the then-known world to a handful of men to all appearances lacking in number and quality. He bade this little flock not to lose heart,[91] for, thanks to His constant assistance,[92] through Him and with Him, they would overcome the world.[93] Jesus has also taught us that the kingdom of God has an intrinsic and unobservable dynamism which enables it to grow “without [man’s] knowing it.”[94] The harvest of God’s kingdom is great, but the laborers, as in the beginning, are few. Actually, they have never been as numerous as human standards would have judged sufficient. But the heavenly King demands that we pray “the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”[95] The counsels and prudence of man cannot supersede the hidden wisdom of Him who, in the history of salvation, has challenged man’s wisdom and power by His own foolishness and weakness.[96]

48. Supported by the power of faith, We express the Church’s conviction on this matter. Of this she is certain: if she is prompter and more persevering in her response to grace, if she relies more openly and more fully on its secret but invincible power, if, in short, she bears more exemplary witness to the mystery of Christ, then she will never fall short in the performance of her salvific mission to the world – no matter how much opposition she faces from human ways of thinking or misrepresentations. We must all realize that we can do all things in Him who alone gives strength to souls[97] and increase to His Church.[98]

49. We are not easily led to believe that the abolition of ecclesiastical celibacy would considerably increase the number of priestly vocations: the contemporary experience of those Churches and ecclesial communities which allow their ministers to marry seems to prove the contrary. The causes of the decrease in vocations to the priesthood are to be found elsewhere – for example, in the fact that individuals and families have lost their sense of God and of all that is holy, their esteem for the Church as the institution of salvation through faith and the sacraments. The problem must be examined at its real source.

50. As We said above,[99] the Church is nor unaware that the choice of consecrated celibacy, since it involves a series of hard renunciations which affect the very depths of a man, presents also grave difficulties and problems to which the men of today are particularly sensitive. In fact, it might seem that celibacy conflicts with the solemn recognition of human values by the Church in the recent Council. And yet more careful consideration reveals that this sacrifice of the human love experienced by most men in family life and given up by the priest for the love of Christ, is really a singular tribute paid to that great love. For it is universally recognized that man has always offered to God that which is worthy of both the giver and the receiver.

51. Moreover, the Church cannot and should not fail to realize that the choice of celibacy – provided that it is made with human and Christian prudence and responsibility – is governed by grace which, far from destroying or doing violences to nature, elevates it and imparts to it supernatural powers and vigor. God, who has created and redeemed man, knows what He can ask of him and gives him everything necessary to be able to do what his Creator and Redeemer asks of him. Saint Augustine, who had fully and painfully experienced in himself the nature of man, exclaimed: “Grant what You command, and command what You will.”[100]

52. A true knowledge of the real difficulties of celibacy is very useful, even necessary, for the priest, so that he may be fully aware of what his celibacy requires in order to be genuine and beneficial. But with equal fidelity to the truth, these difficulties must not be given greater value or weight than they actually have in the human or religious sphere, or be declared impossible of solution.

53. Considering what contemporary scholarly investigation has ascertained, it is not right to continue repeating[101] that celibacy is against nature because it runs counter to lawful physical, psychic and affective needs, or to claim that a completely mature human personality demands fulfillment of these needs. Man, created to God’s image and likeness,[102] is not just flesh and blood; the sexual instinct is not all that he has; man has also, and preeminently, understanding, choice, freedom, and thanks to these powers he is, and must remain, the chief work of creation; they give him mastery over his physical, mental and emotional appetites.

54. The true, profound reason for dedicated celibacy is, as We have said, the choice of a closer and more complete relationship with the mystery of Christ and the Church for the good of all mankind: in this choice there is no doubt that those highest human values are able to find their fullest expression.

55. The choice of celibacy does not connote ignorance of or contempt for the sexual instinct and man’s capacity for giving himself in love. That would certainly do damage to his physical and psychological balance. On the contrary, it demands clear understanding, careful self-control and a wise elevation of the mind to higher realities. In this way celibacy sets the whole man on a higher level and makes an effective contribution to his perfection.

56. We readily grant that the natural and lawful desire a man has to love a woman and to raise a family is renounced by the celibate in sacred orders; but it cannot be said that marriage and the family are the only way for fully developing the human person. In the priest’s heart love is by no means extinct. His charity is drawn from the purest source,[103] practiced in the imitation of God and Christ, and is no less demanding and real than any other genuine love.[104] It gives the priest a limitless horizon, deepens and gives breadth to his sense of responsibility – a mark of mature personality – and inculcates in him, as a sign of a higher and greater fatherhood, a generosity and refinement of heart[105] which offer a superlative enrichment.

57. All the People of God must give testimony to the mystery of Christ and His kingdom, but this witnessing does not take the same form for all. The Church leaves to her married children the function of giving the necessary testimony of a genuinely and fully Christian married and family life. She entrusts to her priests the testimony of a life wholly dedicated to pondering and seeking the new and delightful realities of God’s kingdom. If this means that the priest is without a direct personal experience of married life, he nevertheless will be able through his training, his ministry and the grace of his office, to gain even deeper insights into every human yearning. This will allow him to meet problems of this kind at their source and give solid support by his advice and assistance to married persons and Christian families.[106] For the Christian family, the example of the priest who is living his life of celibacy to the full will underscore the spiritual dimension of every love worthy of the name, and his personal sacrifice will merit for the faithful united in the holy bond of matrimony the grace of a true union.

58. By reason of his celibacy the priest is a man alone: that is true, but his solitude is not meaningless emptiness because it is filled with God and the brimming riches of His kingdom. Moreover, he has prepared himself for this solitude – which should be an internal and external plenitude of charity – if he has chosen it with full understanding, and not through any proud desire to be different from the rest of men, or to withdraw himself from common responsibilities, or to alienate himself from his brothers, or to show contempt for the world. Though set apart from the world, the priest is not separated from the People of God, because he has been “appointed to act on behalf of men,”[107] since he is “consecrated” completely to charity[108] and to the work for which the Lord has chosen him.[109]

59. At times loneliness will weigh heavily on the priest, but he will not for that reason regret having generously chosen it. Christ, too, in the most tragic hours of His life was alone – abandoned by the very ones whom He had chosen as witnesses to, and companions of, His life, and whom He had loved “to the end”[110] –but He stated, “I am not alone, for the Father is with me.”[111] He who has chosen to belong completely to Christ will find, above all, in intimacy with Him and in His grace, the power of spirit necessary to banish sadness and regret and to triumph over discouragement. He will not be lacking the protection of the Virgin Mother of Jesus nor the motherly solicitude of the Church, to whom he has given himself in service. He will not be without the kindly care of his father in Christ, his bishop; nor will the fraternal companionship of his fellow priests and the love of the entire People of God, most fruitful of consolations, be lacking to him. And if hostility, lack of confidence and the indifference of his fellow men make his solitude quite painful, he will thus be able to share, with dramatic clarity, the very experience of Christ, as an apostle who must not be “greater than he who sent him,”[112] as a friend admitted to the most painful and most glorious secret of his divine Friend who has chosen him to bring forth the mysterious fruit of life in his own life, which is only apparently one of death.[113]

60. Our reflection on the beauty, importance and intimate fittingness of holy virginity for the ministers of Christ and His Church makes it incumbent on those who hold the office of teacher and pastor of that Church to take steps to assure and promote its positive observance, from the first moment of preparation to receive such a precious gift. In fact, the difficulties and problems which make the observance of chastity very painful or quite impossible for some, spring, not infrequently, from a type of priestly formation which, given the great changes of these last years, is no longer completely adequate for the formation of a personality worthy of a “man of God.”[114]

61. The Second Vatican Council has already indicated wise criteria and guidelines to this end. They are in conformity with the progress of psychology and pedagogy, as well as with the changed conditions of mankind and of contemporary society.[115] It is Our wish that appropriate instructions be drawn up with the help of truly qualified men, treating with all necessary detail the theme of chastity. They should be sent out as soon as possible to provide competent and timely assistance to those who have the great responsibility within the Church of preparing future priests.

62. The priesthood is a ministry instituted by Christ for the service of His Mystical Body which is the Church. To her belongs the authority to admit to that priesthood those whom she judges qualified – that is, those to whom God has given, along with other signs of an ecclesiastical vocation, the gift of a consecrated celibacy.[116] In virtue of such a gift, confirmed by canon law, the individual is called to respond with free judgment and total dedication, adapting his own mind and outlook to the will of God who calls him. Concretely, this divine calling manifests itself in a given individual with his own definite personality structure which is not at all overpowered by grace. In candidates for the priesthood, therefore, the sense of receiving this divine gift should be cultivated; so too, a sense of responsibility in their meeting with God, with the highest importance given to supernatural means.

63. It is likewise necessary that exact account be taken of the physical and psychological state of the candidate in order to guide and orient him toward the priestly ideal; so a truly adequate formation should harmoniously coordinate grace and nature in the man in whom one clearly sees the proper conditions and qualifications. These conditions should be ascertained as soon as signs of his holy vocation are first indicated – not hastily or superficially, but carefully, with the assistance and aid of a doctor or a competent psychologist. A serious investigation of hereditary factors should not be omitted.

64. Those who are discovered to be unfit for physical, psychological or moral reasons should be quickly removed from the path to the priesthood. Let educators appreciate that this is one of their very grave duties. They must neither indulge in false hopes and dangerous illusions nor permit the candidate to nourish these hopes in any way, with resultant damage to himself or to the Church. The life of the celibate priest, which engages the whole man so totally and so delicately, excludes in fact those of insufficient physical, psychic and moral qualifications. Nor should anyone pretend that grace supplies for the defects of nature in such a man.

65. After the capability of a man has been ascertained and he has been admitted to the course of studies leading to the goal of the priesthood, care should be taken for the progressive development of a mature personality through physical, intellectual and moral education directed toward the control and personal dominion of his temperament, sentiments and passions.

66. This will be proved by the firmness of the spirit with which he accepts the personal and community type of discipline demanded by the priestly life. Such a regime, the lack or deficiency of which is to be deplored because it exposes the candidate to grave disorders, should not be borne only as an imposition from without. It should be inculcated and implanted as an indispensable component within the context of the spiritual life.

67. The educator should skillfully stimulate the young man to the evangelical virtue of sincerity[117] and to spontaneity by approving every good personal initiative, so that the young man will come to know and properly evaluate himself, wisely assume his own responsibilities, and train himself to that self-control which is of such importance in priestly education.

68. The exercise of authority, the principle of which should be maintained firmly, will be animated by wise moderation and a pastoral attitude. It will be used in a climate of dialogue and will be implemented in a gradual way which will afford the educator an ever deepening understanding of the psychology of the young man, and will appeal to personal conviction.

69. The complete education of the candidate for the priesthood should be directed to help him acquire a tranquil, convinced and free choice of the grave responsibilities which he must assume in conscience before God and the Church. Ardor and generosity are marvelous qualities of youth; illuminated and supported, they merit, along with the blessing of the Lord, the admiration and confidence of the whole Church as well as of all men. None of the real personal and social difficulties which their choice will bring in its train should remain hidden to the young men, so that their enthusiasm will not be superficial and illusory. At the same time it will be right to highlight with at least equal truth and clarity the sublimity of their choice, which, though it may lead on the one hand to a certain physical and psychic void, nevertheless on the other brings with it an interior richness capable of elevating the person most profoundly.

70. Young candidates for the priesthood should be convinced that they cannot follow their difficult way without a special type of asceticism proper to themselves and more demanding than that which is required of the other faithful. It will be a demanding asceticism but not a suffocating one which consists in the deliberate and assiduous practice of those virtues which make a man a priest: self-denial in the highest degree – an essential condition if one would follow Christ;[118] humility and obedience as expressions of internal truth and of an ordered liberty; prudence, justice, courage and temperance – virtues without which it is impossible for true and profound religious life to exist; a sense of responsibility, fidelity and loyalty in the acceptance of one’s obligations; a balance between contemplation and action; detachment and a spirit of poverty, which will give tone and vigor to evangelical freedom; chastity, the result of a persevering struggle, harmonized with all the other natural and supernatural virtues; a serene and secure contact with the world to whose service the young man will dedicate himself for Christ and for His kingdom. In such a way the aspirant to the priesthood will acquire, with the help of a divine grace, a strong, mature and balanced personality, a combination of inherited and acquired qualities, harmony of all his powers in the light of the faith and in intimate union with Christ, whom he has chosen for himself and for the ministry of salvation to the world.

71. However, to judge with more certainty the young man’s fitness for the priesthood and to have successive proofs of his attained maturity on both the human and supernatural levels – for “it is more difficult to conduct oneself correctly in the service of souls because of dangers coming from outside”[119]-it will be advisable to have a preliminary trial period before the observance of holy celibacy becomes something definitive and permanent through ordination to the priesthood.[120]

72. Once moral certainty has been obtained that the maturity of the candidate is sufficiently guaranteed, he will be in a position to take on himself the heavy and sweet burden of priestly chastity as a total gift of himself to the Lord and to His Church. In this way, the obligation of celibacy, which the Church makes a condition of Holy Orders, is accepted by the candidate through the influence of divine grace and with full reflection and liberty, and, as is evident, not without the wise and prudent advice of competent spiritual directors who are concerned not to impose the choice, but rather to dispose the candidate to make it more consciously. Hence, in that solemn moment when the candidate will decide once and for his w hole life, he will not feel the weight of an imposition from outside, but rather the interior joy that accompanies a choice made for the love of Christ.

73. The priest must not think that ordination makes everything easy for him and screens him once and for all from every temptation or danger. Chastity is not acquired all at once but results from a laborious conquest and daily affirmation. Our world today stresses the positive values of love between the sexes but has also multiplied the difficulties and risks in this sphere. In order to safeguard his chastity with all care and affirm its sublime meaning, the priest must consider clearly and calmly his position as a man exposed to spiritual warfare against seductions of the flesh in himself and in the world, continually renewing his resolution to give an ever increasing and ever better perfection to the irrevocable offering of himself which obliges him to a fidelity that is complete, loyal and real.

74. Christ’s priest will dally receive new strength and joy as he deepens in meditation and prayer the motives for his gift and the conviction that he has chosen the better part. He will ask humbly and perseveringly for the grace of fidelity, never denied to those who ask it sincerely. At the same time he will use the natural and supernatural means at his disposal. In particular he will not disregard those ascetical norms which have been substantiated by the Church’s experience and are no less necessary in modern circumstances than in former times.[121]

75. The priest should apply himself above all else to developing, with all the love grace inspires in him, his close relationship with Christ, and exploring this inexhaustible and enriching mystery; he should also acquire an ever deeper sense of the mystery of the Church. There would be the risk of his state of life seeming unreasonable and unfounded if it is viewed apart from this mystery. Priestly piety, nourished at the table of God’s word and the Holy Eucharist, lived within the cycle of the liturgical year, inspired by a warm and enlightened devotion to the Virgin Mother of the supreme and eternal High Priest and Queen of the Apostles,[122] will bring him to the source of a true spiritual life which alone provides a solid foundation for the observance of celibacy.

76. In this way the priest, with grace and peace in his heart, will face with generosity the manifold tasks of his life and ministry. If he performs these with faith and zeal he will find in them new occasions to show that he belongs entirely to Christ and His Mystical Body, for his own sanctification and the sanctification of others. The charity of Christ which urges him on,[123] will help him not to renounce his higher feelings but to elevate and deepen them in a spirit of consecration in imitation of Christ the High Priest, who shared intimately in the life of men, loved and suffered for them,[124] and of Paul the Apostle who shared in the cares of all[125] in order to bring the light and power of the Gospel of God’s grace to shine in the world.[126]

77. Rightly jealous of his full self-giving to the Lord, the priest should know how to guard against emotional tendencies which give rise to desires not sufficiently enlightened or guided by the Spirit. He should beware of seeing spiritual or apostolic pretexts for what are in fact dangerous inclinations of the heart.

78. The priestly life certainly requires an authentic spiritual intensity in order to live by the Spirit;[127] it requires a truly virile asceticism – both interior and exterior – in one who, belonging in a special way to Christ, has in Him and through Him “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,”[128] not hesitating to face arduous and lengthy trials in order to do so.[129] In this way Christ’s minister will be the better able to show to the world the fruits of the Spirit, which are “charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty. continency, chastity.”[130]

79. Moreover, priestly chastity is increased, guarded and defended by a way of life, surroundings and activity suited to a minister of God. For this reason the “close sacramental brotherhood[131] which all priests enjoy in virtue of their ordination must be fostered to the utmost. Our Lord Jesus Christ has taught the urgency of the new commandment of charity. He gave a wonderful example of it when He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist and the Catholic priesthood,[132] and prayed to His Heavenly Father that the love the Father bore for Him from all eternity should be in His ministers and that He too should be in them.[133]

80. So the unity of spirit among priests should be active in their prayers, friendship and help of all kinds for one another. One cannot sufficiently recommend to priests a life lived in common and directed entirely toward their sacred ministry; the practice of having frequent meetings with a fraternal exchange of ideas, counsel and experience with their brother priests; the movement to form associations which encourage priestly holiness.

81. Priests should reflect on the advice of the Council,[134] which reminds them of their common sharing in the priesthood so that they may feel a lively responsibility for fellow priests troubled by difficulties which gravely endanger the divine gift they have. They should have a burning charity for those who have greater need of love, understanding and prayer, who have need of prudent but effective help, and who have a claim on their unbounded charity as those who are, and should be, their truest friends.

82. Venerable brothers in the episcopacy, priest and ministers of the altar, by way of completing and leaving a remembrance of this written conversation with you, we should like to suggest this resolution to you: that on the anniversary of his ordination, or on Holy Thursday when all are united in spirit commemorating the mystery of the institution of the priesthood, each one should renew his total gift of himself to Christ our Lord; reviving in this way the awareness that He has chosen you for His divine service, and repeating at the same time, humbly and courageously, the promise of our unswerving faithfulness to His love alone in your offering of perfect chastity.[135]

83. Now, with fatherly love and affection, Our heart turns anxiously and with deep sorrow to those unfortunate priests who always remain Our dearly beloved brothers and whose absence We keenly regret. We speak of those who, retaining the sacred character conferred by their priestly ordination, have nonetheless been sadly unfaithful to the obligations they accepted when ordained. Their sad state and its consequences to priests and to others move some to wonder if celibacy is not in some way responsible for such dramatic occurrences and for the scandals they inflict on God’s People. In fact, the responsibility falls not on consecrated celibacy in itself but on a judgment of the fitness of the candidate of the priesthood which was not always adequate or prudent at the proper time, or else it falls on the way in which sacred ministers live their life of total consecration.

84. The Church is very conscious of the sad state of these sons of hers and judges it necessary to make every effort to avert or to remedy the wounds she suffers by their defection. Following the example of Our immediate predecessors, We also have, in cases concerning ordination to the priesthood, been prepared to allow inquiry to extend beyond the provisions of the present canon law[136] to other very grave reasons which give ground for really solid doubts regarding the full freedom and responsibility of the candidate for the priesthood and his fitness for the priestly state. This has been done to free those who, on careful judicial consideration of their case, are seen to be really unsuited.

85. The dispensations which are granted after such considerations – a minimal percentage when they are compared with the great number of good, worthy priests – provide in justice for the spiritual salvation of the individual and show at the same time the Church’s concern to safeguard celibacy and the complete fidelity of all her ministers. In granting such dispensations the Church always acts with heartfelt regret, especially in the particularly lamentable cases in which refusal to bear worthily this sweet yoke of Christ results from crises in faith, or moral weakness, and is thus frequently a failure in responsibility and a source of scandal to the Christian people.

86. If these priests knew how much sorrow, dishonor and unrest they bring to the holy Church of God, if they reflected on the seriousness and beauty of their obligations and on the dangers to which they are exposed in this life and in the next, there would be greater care and reflection in their decisions; they would pray more assiduously and show greater courage and logic in forestalling the causes of their spiritual and moral collapse.

87. Mother Church takes particular interest in what befalls young priests who, no matter how great the zeal and enthusiasm with which they entered the sacred ministry, have nevertheless been troubled later on in performing their duties by feelings of hopelessness, doubt, desire, or folly. Hence, especially in these circumstances, it is the wish of the Church that every persuasive means available be used to lead our brothers from this wavering state and restore to them peace of soul, trust, penance, and their former zeal. It is only when no other solution can be found for a priest in this unhappy condition that he should be relieved of his office.

88. There are some whose priesthood cannot be saved, but whose serious dispositions nevertheless give promise of their being able to live as good Christian lay people. To these the Holy See, having studied all the circumstances with their bishops or with their religious superiors, sometimes grants a dispensation, thus letting love conquer sorrow. In order, however, that her unhappy but always dear son may have a salutary sign of her maternal grief and a keener remembrance of the universal need of God’s mercy, in these cases she imposes some works of piety and reparation.

89. Inspiring this discipline, which is at once severe and merciful, are justice and truth, prudence and reserve. It is without doubt a discipline which will confirm good priests in their determination to live lives of purity and holiness. At the same time it will be a warning to those aspiring to the priesthood. Guided by the wisdom of those who educate them, they will approach their priesthood fully aware of its obligations and entirely forgetfully of self, responding generously to divine grace and the will of Christ and His Church.

90. Finally, and with deep joy, We thank our Lord because many priests who for a time had been unfaithful to their obligations have again, with the grace of the High Priest, found the path and given joy to all by becoming anew exemplary pastors. With admirable good will, they used all the means which were helpful to ensure their return, especially an intense life of prayer, humility, persevering effort sustained by regular reception of the Sacrament of Penance.

91. There is an irreplaceable and very effective means to ensure for our dear priests an easier and happier way of being faithful to their obligations, and it is one which they have the right and duty to find in you, venerable brother bishops. It was you who called them and destined them to be priests; it was you who placed your hands on their heads; with you they are one in sharing the honor of the priesthood by virtue of the Sacrament of Orders; it is you whom they make present in the community of the faithful; with you they are united in a spirit of trust and generosity since, in as far as is compatible with their order, they take upon themselves your duties and concerns.[137] In choosing a life dedicated to celibacy they follow the ancient examples of the prelates of the East and West; this provides a new motive for union between bishop and priest and a sound hope that they will live together more closely.

92. The love which Jesus had for His Apostles showed itself very clearly when he made them ministers of His real and Mystical Body;[138] and even you in whose person “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the high priest, is present in the midst of those who believe,”[139] know that you owe the best part of your hearts and pastoral care to your priests and to the young men preparing to be priests.[140] In no other way can you better show this conviction than in the conscious responsibility and sincere and unconquerable love with which you preside over the education of your seminarians, and help your priests in every way possible to remain faithful to their vocation and their duties.

93. Your fraternal and kindly presence must fill up in advance the human loneliness of the priest, which is so often the cause of his discouragement and temptations.[141] Before being the superiors and judges of your priests, be their teachers, fathers, friends, their good and kind brothers always ready to understand, to sympathize and to help. Encourage your priests in every possible way to be your personal friends and to be very open with you. This will not weaken the relationship of juridical obedience; rather it will transform it into pastoral love so that they will obey more willingly, sincerely and securely. If they have a filial trust in you, your priests will be able in time to open up their souls and to confide their difficulties in you in the certainty that they can rely on your kindness to be protected from eventual defeat, without a servile fear of punishment, but in the filial expectation of correction, pardon and help, which will inspire them to resume their difficult journey with a new confidence.

94. Venerable brothers, all of you are certainly convinced that to restore to the soul of a priest joy in and enthusiasm for his vocation, interior peace and salvation, is an urgent and glorious ministry which has an incalculable influence on a multitude of souls. There will be times when you must exercise your authority by showing a just severity toward those few who, after having resisted your kindness, by their conduct cause scandal to the People of God; but you will take the necessary precautions to ensure their seeing the error of their ways. Following the example of our Lord Jesus, “the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls,”[142] do not crush the “bruised reed” nor quench the “smoldering wick”;[143] like Jesus, heal their wounds,[144] save what was lost;[145] with eagerness and love go in search of the lost sheep and bring him back to the warmth of the sheepfold[146] and like Him, try until the end[147] to call back the unfaithful friend.

95. We are certain, venerable brothers, that you will leave nothing undone to foster, by your teaching, prudence and pastoral zeal, the ideal of consecrated celibacy among your clergy. We are sure too that you will never neglect those priests who have strayed from the house of God, their true home, no matter where their painful odyssey has led them; for they still remain your sons.

96. Priestly virtue is a treasure that belongs to the whole Church. It is an enrichment and a splendor above the ordinary, which redounds to the building up and the profit of the entire People of God. We wish therefore to address to all the faithful, Our children in Christ, an affectionate and urgent exhortation. We wish that they too feel responsible for the virtue of those brothers of theirs who have undertaken the mission of serving them in the priesthood for the salvation of their souls. They should pray and work for priestly vocations; they should help priests wholeheartedly, with filial love and ready collaboration; they should have the firm intention of offering them the consolation of a joyous response to their pastoral labors. They should encourage these, their fathers in Christ, to overcome the difficulties of every sort which they encounter as they fulfill their duties, with entire faithfulness, to the edification of all. In a spirit of faith and Christian love, they should foster a deep respect and a delicate reserve in their dealings with priests, on account of their condition as men entirely consecrated to Christ and to the Church.

97. Our invitation goes out specially to those lay people who seek God with greater earnestness and intensity, and strive after Christian perfection while living in the midst of their fellow men. By their devoted and warm friendship they can be of great assistance to the Church’s ministers since it is the laity, occupied with temporal affairs while at the same time aiming at a more generous and perfect conformity to their baptismal vocation, who are in a position, in many cases, to enlighten and encourage the priest. The integrity of his vocation, one that plunges him into the mystery of Christ and the Church, can suffer harm from various circumstances and from contamination by a destructive worldliness. In this way the whole People of God will honor Christ our Lord in those who represent Him and of whom He has said: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me,”[148] promising an assured reward to anyone who in any way shows charity toward those whom He has sent.[149]

98. Venerable brothers, pastors of God’s flock throughout the world, and dearly beloved priests, Our sons and brothers: as We come to the end of this letter which We have addressed to you, We invite you, with a soul responsive to Christ’s great love, to turn your eyes and heart with renewed confidence and filial hope to the most loving Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church, and to invoke for the Catholic priesthood her powerful and maternal intercession. In her the People of God admire and venerate the image of the Church, and model of faith, charity and perfect union with Him. May Mary Virgin and Mother obtain for the Church, which also is hailed as virgin and mother,[150] to rejoice always, though with due humility, in the faithfulness of her priests to the sublime gift of holy virginity they have received, and to see it flourishing and appreciated ever more and more in every walk of life, so that the army of those who “follow the divine Lamb wherever He goes”[151] may increase throughout the earth.

99. The Church proclaims her hope in Christ; she is conscious of the critical shortage of priests when compared with the spiritual necessities of the world’s population; but she is confident in her expectation which is founded on the infinite and mysterious power of grace, that the high spiritual quality of her ministers will bring about an increase also in their numbers, for everything is possible to God.[152] In this faith and in this hope, may the apostolic blessing which we impart with all Our heart be for all a pledge of heavenly graces and the testimony of Our fatherly affection.

Given at Rome, at Saint Peter’s, 24 June 1967, the feast of Saint John the Baptist, in the fifth year of Our pontificate.


  1. See letter of Oct. 10, 1965, to Cardinal Tisserant, read in the general session of the next day.
  2. See Mt l[9]:11-12.
  3. See I Tm 3.2-5; Ti l.5-6.
  4. See Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church, no. 35: AAS 58 (1966), 690 [TPS XI, 195-96]; Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, no.1: AAS 58 (1966), 837 [TPS XI, 119-20]; Decree on the Priestly, Ministry and Life, nos. 10 ff.: AAS 58 (1966), 1007-08 [TPS XI, 455-56]; Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, nos. 19, 38; AAS 58 (1966), 969, 984 [TPS XI,426,437-38].
  5. Mt 19. 11.
  6. Jn 4. 10.
  7. See Mt 5. 13-14.
  8. See above, nos. 5 and 7 [pp. 292-93].
  9. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, no. 62: AAS 58 (1966), 1082[TPS Xl,300].
  10. See Eph 5. 25-27.
  11. Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 16: AAS 58 (1966),1015[TPS XI,461].
  12. Ibid.
  13. See Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, no. 8: AAS 58 (1966), 820 [TPS XI, 75-76.].
  14. See Jn 16. 13.
  15. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 28: AAS 57 (1965), 33-36 [TPS X, 378-79]; Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 2: AAS 58 (1966),991-93 [TPS XI,442-44].
  16. See 1 Cor 4. 1.
  17. See l Cor 11. 1:
  18. See Jn 3. 5; Ti 3. 5.
  19. See Jn 4. 34; 17. 4.
  20. See 2 Cor 5. 17; Gal 6. 15.
  21. See Gal 3. 28.
  22. See Gn 2. 18.
  23. See Mt 19. 3-8.
  24. See Jn 2. 1-11.
  25. See Eph 5. 32.
  26. Heb 8. 6.
  27. See I Cor 7, 33-35.
  28. See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 16: AAS 58 (1966), 1015-17 [TPS XI, 461-62].
  29. Matthew 13. 11.; see Mk 4. 11;Lk 8. 10.
  30. See 2 Cor 5. 20.
  31. See Jn 15. 15; 20. 17.
  32. Ibid., 7 19.
  33. See Lk 18: 29-30.
  34. See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 16: AAS 58 (1966), 1015-17 [TPS XI, 461-62].
  35. See Mt 19. 11.
  36. Ibid.,19.12.
  37. See Lk 18. 29-30.
  38. Mk 10. 29-30.
  39. Mt 19. 29.
  40. See Jn 3. 16; 15, 13.
  41. See Mk 10. 21.
  42. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 42: AAS 57 (1965), 48 [TPS X, 388].
  43. Phil 3.12.
  44. See Eph 5.25-27.
  45. John 1, 13.
  46. See Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 42: AAS 57 (1965), 48 [TPS X, 388]; Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 16: AAS 58 (1966),1015-17 [TPS XI,461-62].
  47. See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 14: AAS 58 (1966), 1013 [TPS XI, 459-60].
  48. See Lk 2.49; 1 Cor 7.32-33.
  49. See Heb 9.24; 7.25.
  50. Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 13: AAS 58 (1966), 1012 [TPS Xl, 458-59].
  51. See Acts 6. 4.
  52. Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 5: AAS 58(1966),997[TPS XI,447].
  53. John 12. 24-25.
  54. See 1 Cor 15. 31.
  55. See Second Vatican Council, Decree on Training for the Priesthood, no. 10: AAS 58 (1966), 719-20 [TPS XI,[23] 24].
  56. See 2 Cor 12.15.
  57. See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 16: AAS ;[8] (1966), 1015-17 [TPS XI, 461-62].
  58. See Jn 17. 18.
  59. See Rom 1. 14.
  60. Jn 18. 36.
  61. See Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, no. 39: AAS 58 (1966), 1056-57[TPS Xl,[282] 83].
  62. See- Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 5: AAS 57(1965),7-8[TPS X,361].
  63. See Phil 3. 20.
  64. See 1 Jn 3. 2.
  65. See Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 48: AAS 57 (1965),53-54 [TPS X, 391-92].
  66. Mt 22.30.
  67. See I Jn 2. 16.
  68. Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of the Religious Life, no. 12: AAS 58 (1966), 107 [TPS XI, 147].
  69. See 1 Cor 7. 29-31.
  70. Col 3.1-4.
  71. See tertullian, De exhort. castitatis, 13: PL 2. 930; Saint Epiphanius, Adv. Haer. II, 48.[9] and 59.4: PG 41.869, 1025; Saint Efrem, Carmina nisibena, XVIII, XIX: ed. G. Bickell, Leipzig (1866), p. 122; Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstr. evan., 1.9: PG 22.81; Saint Cyril of Jerusalem. Catechesis, 12.25: PG 33.757; Saint Ambrose, De officiis ministr., 1.50: PL 16.[97] ff.; Saint Augustine, De moribus Eccl. cath., 1.32: PL 32.1339; Saint Jerome, Adversus Vigilantium, 2: PL 23.34041; Bishop Synesius of Ptolemais, Epist. 105: PG 66.1485.
  72. First done at the Council of Elvira, c. 300, can. 33: Mansi II,11.
  73. Sess. XXIV, can. 9-10.
  74. Can. 132, § [1].
  75. See Saint Pius X, apost. exhortation Haerent animo: AAS 41 (1908), 555-57; Benedict XV, letter to Francis Kordac, Archbishop of Prague: AAS 12 (1920), 57-58; consistorial address, Dec. 16, 1920: AAS 12 (1920), 585-88; Pius XI, encyc. letter Ad catholici sacerdotii: AAS 28 (1936), 24-30; Pius XII, apost. exhortation Menti Nostrae: AAS 42 (1950), 657-702; encyc. letter Sacra virginitas: AAS 46 (1954), 161-91 [TPS I, 101-23]; John XXIII, encyc. letter Sacerdotii Nostri primordia: AAS 51 (1959), 554-56 [TPS VI,14-16].
  76. Second address, Jan. 26, 1960: AAS 52 (1960), 226.
  77. Can. 6, 12, 13, 48: Mansi XI, 944-48, 965.
  78. See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 16: AAS 58 (1966),1015-16[TPS XI,461-62].
  79. De Virginitate, 13: PG 381-82.
  80. De Sacerdotio, 1, III: PG 48. 642.
  81. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, nos. 21, 28, 64: AAS 57,(1965),24-25;[33]-36;[64][TPS X,372-73,378-79,398].
  82. See above, no. 15.
  83. See Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 29: AAS 57 (1965),[36] [TPS X,380].
  84. Ibid., 7 49 [TPS X, 387-88].
  85. Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 16: AAS 58 (1966), 1015-16 [TPS XI, 462].
  86. See Decree on Training for the Priesthood, no. 2: AAS ;[8] (1966), 714-15 [TPS XI, 17-19]; Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 11: AAS 58 (1966), 1008-09 [TPS N,455-56].
  87. See Rom 3. 23.
  88. See 2 Cor 8. 23.
  89. See Eph 1. 6.
  90. Phil 1. 8.
  91. See Lk 12. 32.
  92. See Mt 28. 20.
  93. See Jn 16. 33.
  94. See Mk 4. 26-29.
  95. Mt 9. 37-38.
  96. See 1 Cor 1. 20-31.
  97. See Phil 4. 13.
  98. See 1 Cor 3.67.
  99. See above, no. 10.
  100. Conf. X, 29, 40: PL 32. 796.
  101. See above, no. 10.
  102. Gn 1. 26-27.
  103. See 1 Jn 4. 8-16.
  104. Ibid., 3. 16-18.
  105. See 1 Thes 2. 11 1Cor.4.15; 1 Cor 6.13;Gal 4.19; 1 Tm 5.1-2.
  106. See I Cor 2. 15.
  107. Heb 5. 1.
  108. See 1 Cor 14. 4 ff.
  109. See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 3: AAS 58 (1966), 993-95 [TPS Xl, 444-45].
  110. Jn 13.1.
  111. Ibid.. 16. 32.
  112. See ibid., 13. 16; 15. 18.
  113. See ibid., 15. 15-16, 20.
  114. See l Tm 6.11.
  115. See Decree on Training for the Priesthood, nos. 3-11:AAS 58 (1966), 715-21 [TPS XI, 19-24]; Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of the Religious Life, no. 12: AAS 58 (1966), 7 [TPS XI, 147].
  116. See above, no. 15.
  117. See Mt 5. 37.
  118. See ibid., 16. 24; Jn 12. 25.
  119. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., II-II, q. 184, a. 8 c.
  120. See Decree on Training for the Priesthood, no. 12: AAS 58 (1966), 721 [TPS XI, 24-25].
  121. See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, nos. 16, 18: AAS 58 (1966), 1015-16, 1019 [TPS XI, 461-62, 463-641.
  122. Ibid., no. 18.
  123. See 2 Cor 5. 14.
  124. See Heb 4. 15.
  125. See 1 Cor 9. 22; 2 Cor 11. 29.
  126. See Acts 20. 24.
  127. See Gal 5. 25.
  128. Ibid., 5. 24.
  129. See I Cor 9. 26-27.
  130. Gal 5. 22-23.
  131. See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 8: AAS 58 (1966), 1003 [TPS XI, 452].
  132. See Jn 13. 15 and 34-35.
  133. Ibid., 17. 26.
  134. See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 8: AAS ;[8] (1966), 1003-05 [TPS XI, 452-53].
  135. See Rom 12. 1.
  136. See Code of Canon Law, can. 214.
  137. See Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 28: AAS 57 (1965), 34-35 [TPS X, 378-79].
  138. See Jn chaps. 13-17.
  139. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 21: AAS 57 (1965),[24] [TPS X,[372] 73]
  140. Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 7: AAS 58 (1966),1001-03 [TPS XI,450-52].
  141. See ibid.
  142. I Pt 2,.25.
  143. See Mt 12. 20.
  144. See Lk 9. 11.
  145. See Mt 18. 11.
  146. See Lk 15. 4 ff.
  147. Ibid., 22. 48.
  148. Mt 10.40.
  149. See ibid., 10. 42.
  150. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, nos. 63. 64: AAS 57 (196;),[64] [TPS X,398].
  151. Ap 14.4.
  152. Mk 10, 27; see Lk 1. 37.