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The marriage settlements and any modification thereof shall be in writing, signed by the parties and executed before the celebration of the marriage. They shall not prejudice third persons unless they are registered in the local civil registry where the marriage contract is recorded as well as in the proper registries of properties. A minor who according to law may contract marriage may also execute his or her marriage settlements, but they shall be valid only if the persons designated in Article 14 to give consent to the marriage are made parties to the agreement, subject to the provisions of Title IX of this Code.

For the validity of any marriage settlement executed by a person upon whom a sentence of civil interdiction has been pronounced or who is subject to any other disability, it shall be indispensable for the guardian appointed by a competent court to be made a party thereto. In the absence of a contrary stipulation in a marriage settlement, the property relations of the spouses shall be governed by Philippine laws, regardless of the place of the celebration of the marriage and their residence.

If the future spouses agree upon a regime other than the absolute community of property, they cannot donate to each other in their marriage settlements more than one-fifth of their present property. Any excess shall be considered void. Donations of future property shall be governed by the provisions on testamentary succession and the formalities of wills. Donations by reason of marriage of property subject to encumbrances shall be valid.

In case of foreclosure of the encumbrance and the property is sold for less than the total amount of the obligation secured, the donee shall not be liable for the deficiency. If the property is sold for more than the total amount of said obligation, the donee shall be entitled to the excess. A donation by reason of marriage may be revoked by the donor in the following cases:.

No waiver of rights, shares and effects of the absolute community of property during the marriage can be made except in case of judicial separation of property. When the waiver takes place upon a judicial separation of property, or after the marriage has been dissolved or annulled, the same shall appear in a public instrument and shall be recorded as provided in Article The creditors of the spouse who made such waiver may petition the court to rescind the waiver to the extent of the amount sufficient to cover the amount of their credits.

The provisions on co-ownership shall apply to the absolute community of property between the spouses in all matters not provided for in this Chapter. The following shall be excluded from the community property:. However, jewelry shall form part of the community property;. In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the administration of the common properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers of administration.

These powers do not include disposition or encumbrance without authority of the court or the written consent of the other spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent, the disposition or encumbrance shall be void. However, the transaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the part of the consenting spouse and the third person, and may be perfected as a binding contract upon the acceptance by the other spouse or authorization by the court before the offer is withdrawn by either or both offerors.

Either spouse may dispose by will of his or her interest in the community property. Neither spouse may donate any community property without the consent of the other. However, either spouse may, without the consent of the other, make moderate donations from the community property for charity or on occasions of family rejoicing or family distress.

The absolute community terminates:. The spouse present shall, upon proper petition in a summary proceeding, be given judicial authority to administer or encumber any specific separate property of the other spouse and use the fruits or proceeds thereof to satisfy the latter's share. The obligations to the family mentioned in the preceding paragraph refer to marital, parental or property relations. A spouse is deemed to have abandoned the other when her or she has left the conjugal dwelling without intention of returning.

The spouse who has left the conjugal dwelling for a period of three months or has failed within the same period to give any information as to his or her whereabouts shall be prima facie presumed to have no intention of returning to the conjugal dwelling. In case of insufficiency of said assets, the spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate properties in accordance with the provisions of the second paragraph of Article For purpose of computing the net profits subject to forfeiture in accordance with Articles 43, No.

Children below the age of seven years are deemed to have chosen the mother, unless the court has decided otherwise. In case there in no such majority, the court shall decide, taking into consideration the best interests of said children. If no judicial settlement proceeding is instituted, the surviving spouse shall liquidate the community property either judicially or extra-judicially within six months from the death of the deceased spouse.

If upon the lapse of the six months period, no liquidation is made, any disposition or encumbrance involving the community property of the terminated marriage shall be void. Should the surviving spouse contract a subsequent marriage without compliance with the foregoing requirements, a mandatory regime of complete separation of property shall govern the property relations of the subsequent marriage. Whenever the liquidation of the community properties of two or more marriages contracted by the same person before the effectivity of this Code is carried out simultaneously, the respective capital, fruits and income of each community shall be determined upon such proof as may be considered according to the rules of evidence.

In case of doubt as to which community the existing properties belong, the same shall be divided between the different communities in proportion to the capital and duration of each. The provisions of this Chapter shall also apply to conjugal partnerships of gains already established between spouses before the effectivity of this Code, without prejudice to vested rights already acquired in accordance with the Civil Code or other laws, as provided in Article Under the regime of conjugal partnership of gains, the husband and wife place in a common fund the proceeds, products, fruits and income from their separate properties and those acquired by either or both spouses through their efforts or by chance, and, upon dissolution of the marriage or of the partnership, the net gains or benefits obtained by either or both spouses shall be divided equally between them, unless otherwise agreed in the marriage settlements.

The rules provided in Articles 88 and 89 shall also apply to conjugal partnership of gains. The conjugal partnership shall be governed by the rules on the contract of partnership in all that is not in conflict with what is expressly determined in this Chapter or by the spouses in their marriage settlements. Either spouse may, during the marriage, transfer the administration of his or her exclusive property to the other by means of a public instrument, which shall be recorded in the registry of property of the place the property is located.

A spouse of age may mortgage, encumber, alienate or otherwise dispose of his or her exclusive property, without the consent of the other spouse, and appear alone in court to litigate with regard to the same. The alienation of any exclusive property of a spouse administered by the other automatically terminates the administration over such property and the proceeds of the alienation shall be turned over to the owner-spouse.

Property donated or left by will to the spouses, jointly and with designation of determinate shares, shall pertain to the donee-spouses as his or her own exclusive property, and in the absence of designation, share and share alike, without prejudice to the right of accretion when proper.

If the donations are onerous, the amount of the charges shall be borne by the exclusive property of the donee spouse, whenever they have been advanced by the conjugal partnership of gains. Retirement benefits, pensions, annuities, gratuities, usufructs and similar benefits shall be governed by the rules on gratuitous or onerous acquisitions as may be proper in each case. The following are conjugal partnership properties:. However, losses therefrom shall be borne exclusively by the loser-spouse.

Whenever an amount or credit payable within a period of time belongs to one of the spouses, the sums which may be collected during the marriage in partial payments or by installments on the principal shall be the exclusive property of the spouse. However, interests falling due during the marriage on the principal shall belong to the conjugal partnership. The ownership of improvements, whether for utility or adornment, made on the separate property of the spouses at the expense of the partnership or through the acts or efforts of either or both spouses shall pertain to the conjugal partnership, or to the original owner-spouse, subject to the following rules:.

In either case, the ownership of the entire property shall be vested upon the reimbursement, which shall be made at the time of the liquidation of the conjugal partnership. The payment of personal debts contracted by the husband or the wife before or during the marriage shall not be charged to the conjugal properties partnership except insofar as they redounded to the benefit of the family.

Neither shall the fines and pecuniary indemnities imposed upon them be charged to the partnership. However, the payment of personal debts contracted by either spouse before the marriage, that of fines and indemnities imposed upon them, as well as the support of illegitimate children of either spouse, may be enforced against the partnership assets after the responsibilities enumerated in the preceding Article have been covered, if the spouse who is bound should have no exclusive property or if it should be insufficient; but at the time of the liquidation of the partnership, such spouse shall be charged for what has been paid for the purpose above-mentioned.

Whatever may be lost during the marriage in any game of chance or in betting, sweepstakes, or any other kind of gambling whether permitted or prohibited by law, shall be borne by the loser and shall not be charged to the conjugal partnership but any winnings therefrom shall form part of the conjugal partnership property. In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the administration of the conjugal properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers of administration. Neither spouse may donate any conjugal partnership property without the consent of the other.

However, either spouse may, without the consent of the other, make moderate donations from the conjugal partnership property for charity or on occasions of family rejoicing or family distress. The spouse present shall, upon petition in a summary proceeding, be given judicial authority to administer or encumber any specific separate property of the other spouse and use the fruits or proceeds thereof to satisfy the latter's share.

A spouse is deemed to have abandoned the other when he or she has left the conjugal dwelling without intention of returning. In case of insufficiency of said assets, the spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate properties, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 2 of Article In case there is no such majority, the court shall decide, taking into consideration the best interests of said children.

If no judicial settlement proceeding is instituted, the surviving spouse shall liquidate the conjugal partnership property either judicially or extra-judicially within six months from the death of the deceased spouse. If upon the lapse of the six-month period no liquidation is made, any disposition or encumbrance involving the conjugal partnership property of the terminated marriage shall be void.

Whenever the liquidation of the conjugal partnership properties of two or more marriages contracted by the same person before the effectivity of this Code is carried out simultaneously, the respective capital, fruits and income of each partnership shall be determined upon such proof as may be considered according to the rules of evidence. In case of doubt as to which partnership the existing properties belong, the same shall be divided between the different partnerships in proportion to the capital and duration of each.

The Rules of Court on the administration of estates of deceased persons shall be observed in the appraisal and sale of property of the conjugal partnership, and other matters which are not expressly determined in this Chapter. From the common mass of property support shall be given to the surviving spouse and to the children during the liquidation of the inventoried property and until what belongs to them is delivered; but from this shall be deducted that amount received for support which exceeds the fruits or rents pertaining to them.

Any of the following shall be considered sufficient cause for judicial separation of property:. The spouses may jointly file a verified petition with the court for the voluntary dissolution of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership of gains, and for the separation of their common properties. All creditors of the absolute community or of the conjugal partnership of gains, as well as the personal creditors of the spouse, shall be listed in the petition and notified of the filing thereof.

The court shall take measures to protect the creditors and other persons with pecuniary interest. Once the separation of property has been decreed, the absolute community or the conjugal partnership of gains shall be liquidated in conformity with this Code. During the pendency of the proceedings for separation of property, the absolute community or the conjugal partnership shall pay for the support of the spouses and their children.

After dissolution of the absolute community or of the conjugal partnership, the provisions on complete separation of property shall apply. The petition for separation of property and the final judgment granting the same shall be recorded in the proper local civil registries and registries of property. The separation of property shall not prejudice the rights previously acquired by creditors. The spouses may, in the same proceedings where separation of property was decreed, file a motion in court for a decree reviving the property regime that existed between them before the separation of property in any of the following instances:.

No voluntary separation of property may thereafter be granted. The administration of all classes of exclusive property of either spouse may be transferred by the court to the other spouse:. Separation of property may refer to present or future property or both. It may be total or partial.

In the latter case, the property not agreed upon as separate shall pertain to the absolute community. Each spouse shall own, dispose of, possess, administer and enjoy his or her own separate estate, without need of the consent of the other. To each spouse shall belong all earnings from his or her profession, business or industry and all fruits, natural, industrial or civil, due or received during the marriage from his or her separate property.

Both spouses shall bear the family expenses in proportion to their income, or, in case of insufficiency or default thereof, to the current market value of their separate properties. The liabilities of the spouses to creditors for family expenses shall, however, be solidary. In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares.

For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former's efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household. Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the property acquired during cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of the other, until after the termination of their cohabitation.

When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in the co-ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of the common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent party.

In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation. In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article, only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal.

The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit. If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership shall accrue to the absolute community or conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of the preceding Article. The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties are in bad faith.

Family relations include those:. This rules shall not apply to cases which may not be the subject of compromise under the Civil Code. The family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from the time it is occupied as a family residence. From the time of its constitution and so long as any of its beneficiaries actually resides therein, the family home continues to be such and is exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment except as hereinafter provided and to the extent of the value allowed by law.

The beneficiaries of a family home are:. Nevertheless, property that is the subject of a conditional sale on installments where ownership is reserved by the vendor only to guarantee payment of the purchase price may be constituted as a family home. The actual value of the family home shall not exceed, at the time of its constitution, the amount of the three hundred thousand pesos in urban areas, and two hundred thousand pesos in rural areas, or such amounts as may hereafter be fixed by law.

In any event, if the value of the currency changes after the adoption of this Code, the value most favorable for the constitution of a family home shall be the basis of evaluation. For purposes of this Article, urban areas are deemed to include chartered cities and municipalities whose annual income at least equals that legally required for chartered cities. All others are deemed to be rural areas. The family home may be sold, alienated, donated, assigned or encumbered by the owner or owners thereof with the written consent of the person constituting the same, the latter's spouse, and a majority of the beneficiaries of legal age.

In case of conflict, the court shall decide. The family home shall continue despite the death of one or both spouses or of the unmarried head of the family for a period of ten years or for as long as there is a minor beneficiary, and the heirs cannot partition the same unless the court finds compelling reasons therefor. This rule shall apply regardless of whoever owns the property or constituted the family home. When a creditor whose claims is not among those mentioned in Article obtains a judgment in his favor, and he has reasonable grounds to believe that the family home is actually worth more than the maximum amount fixed in Article , he may apply to the court which rendered the judgment for an order directing the sale of the property under execution.

The court shall so order if it finds that the actual value of the family home exceeds the maximum amount allowed by law as of the time of its constitution. If the increased actual value exceeds the maximum allowed in Article and results from subsequent voluntary improvements introduced by the person or persons constituting the family home, by the owner or owners of the property, or by any of the beneficiaries, the same rule and procedure shall apply.

At the execution sale, no bid below the value allowed for a family home shall be considered. The proceeds shall be applied first to the amount mentioned in Article , and then to the liabilities under the judgment and the costs. The excess, if any, shall be delivered to the judgment debtor. For purposes of availing of the benefits of a family home as provided for in this Chapter, a person may constitute, or be the beneficiary of, only one family home.

The provisions in this Chapter shall also govern existing family residences insofar as said provisions are applicable. Children conceived or born during the marriage of the parents are legitimate. Children conceived as a result of artificial insemination of the wife with the sperm of the husband or that of a donor or both are likewise legitimate children of the husband and his wife, provided, that both of them authorized or ratified such insemination in a written instrument executed and signed by them before the birth of the child.

The instrument shall be recorded in the civil registry together with the birth certificate of the child. Children conceived and born outside a valid marriage are illegitimate, unless otherwise provided in this Code. Legitimacy of a child may be impugned only on the following grounds:. If the marriage is terminated and the mother contracted another marriage within three hundred days after such termination of the former marriage, these rules shall govern in the absence of proof to the contrary:. The action to impugn the legitimacy of the child shall be brought within one year from the knowledge of the birth or its recording in the civil register, if the husband or, in a proper case, any of his heirs, should reside in the city or municipality where the birth took place or was recorded.

If the husband or, in his default, all of his heirs do not reside at the place of birth as defined in the first paragraph or where it was recorded, the period shall be two years if they should reside in the Philippines; and three years if abroad. If the birth of the child has been concealed from or was unknown to the husband or his heirs, the period shall be counted from the discovery or knowledge of the birth of the child or of the fact of registration of said birth, whichever is earlier. The heirs of the husband may impugn the filiation of the child within the period prescribed in the preceding article only in the following cases:.

Legitimate children shall have the right:. The action must be brought within the same period specified in Article , except when the action is based on the second paragraph of Article , in which case the action may be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent. Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. The legitime of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child. Except for this modification, all other provisions in the Civil Code governing successional rights shall remain in force.

Legitimation shall take place by a subsequent valid marriage between parents. The annulment of a voidable marriage shall not affect the legitimation. Legitimated children shall enjoy the same rights as legitimate children. The effects of legitimation shall retroact to the time of the child's birth. The legitimation of children who died before the celebration of the marriage shall benefit their descendants.

Legitimation may be impugned only by those who are prejudiced in their rights, within five years from the time their cause of action accrues. Only minors may be adopted, except in the cases when the adoption of a person of majority age is allowed in this Title. In addition, the adopter must be at least sixteen years older than the person to be adopted, unless the adopter is the parent by nature of the adopted, or is the spouse of the legitimate parent of the person to be adopted.

The following persons may not adopt:. Husband and wife must jointly adopt, except in the following cases:. The following may not be adopted:. The adopters may petition the court for the judicial rescission of the adoption in any of the following cases:. Judicial rescission of the adoption shall extinguish all reciprocal rights and obligations between the adopters and the adopted arising from the relationship of parent and child.

The adopted shall likewise lose the right to use the surnames of the adopters and shall resume his surname prior to the adoption. The court shall accordingly order the amendment of the records in the proper registries. The education of the person entitled to be supported referred to in the preceding paragraph shall include his schooling or training for some profession, trade or vocation, even beyond the age of majority.

Transportation shall include expenses in going to and from school, or to and from place of work. Subject to the provisions of the succeeding articles, the following are obliged to support each other to the whole extent set forth in the preceding article:. In case of legitimate ascendants; descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate; and brothers and sisters, whether legitimately or illegitimately related, only the separate property of the person obliged to give support shall be answerable provided that in case the obligor has no separate property, the absolute community or the conjugal partnership, if financially capable, shall advance the support, which shall be deducted from the share of the spouse obliged upon the liquidation of the absolute community or of the conjugal partnership.

During the proceedings for legal separation or for annulment of marriage, and for declaration of nullity of marriage, the spouses and their children shall be supported from the properties of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership. After the final judgment granting the petition, the obligation of mutual support between the spouses ceases. However, in case of legal separation, the court may order that the guilty spouse shall give support to the innocent one, specifying the terms of such order.

Whenever two or more persons are obliged to give support, the liability shall devolve upon the following persons in the order herein provided:. However, in case of urgent need and by special circumstances, the judge may order only one of them to furnish the support provisionally, without prejudice to his right to claim from the other obligors the share due from them. When two or more recipients at the same time claim support from one and the same person legally obliged to give it, should the latter not have sufficient means to satisfy all claims, the order established in the preceding article shall be followed, unless the concurrent obligees should be the spouse and a child subject to parental authority, in which case the child shall be preferred.

The amount of support, in the cases referred to in Articles and , shall be in proportion to the resources or means of the giver and to the necessities of the recipient. Support in the cases referred to in the preceding article shall be reduced or increased proportionately, according to the reduction or increase of the necessities of the recipient and the resources or means of the person obliged to furnish the same.

The obligation to give support shall be demandable from the time the person who has a right to receive the same needs it for maintenance, but it shall not be paid except from the date of judicial or extra-judicial demand. Support pendente lite may be claimed in accordance with the Rules of Court. Payment shall be made within the first five days of each corresponding month or when the recipient dies, his heirs shall not be obliged to return what he has received in advance. The person obliged to give support shall have the option to fulfill the obligation either by paying the allowance fixed, or by receiving and maintaining in the family dwelling the person who has a right to receive support.

The latter alternative cannot be availed of in case there is a moral or legal obstacle thereto. The right to receive support under this Title as well as any money or property obtained as such support shall not be levied upon on attachment or execution. When, without the knowledge of the person obliged to give support, it is given by a stranger, the latter shall have a right to claim the same from the former, unless it appears that he gave it without intention of being reimbursed.

When the person obliged to support another unjustly refuses or fails to give support when urgently needed by the latter, any third person may furnish support to the needy individual, with right of reimbursement from the person obliged to give support.


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This Article shall particularly apply when the father or mother of a child under the age of majority unjustly refuses to support or fails to give support to the child when urgently needed. In case of contractual support or that given by will, the excess in amount beyond that required for legal support shall be subject to levy on attachment or execution. Furthermore, contractual support shall be subject to adjustment whenever modification is necessary due to changes of circumstances manifestly beyond the contemplation of the parties. Parental authority and responsibility may not be renounced or transferred except in the cases authorized by law.

The father and the mother shall jointly exercise parental authority over the persons of their common children. In case of disagreement, the father's decision shall prevail, unless there is a judicial order to the contrary. Children shall always observe respect and reverence towards their parents and are obliged to obey them as long as the children are under parental authority. In case of absence or death of either parent, the parent present shall continue exercising parental authority. The remarriage of the surviving parent shall not affect the parental authority over the children, unless the court appoints another person to be the guardian of the person or property of the children.

In case of separation of the parents, parental authority shall be exercised by the parent designated by the Court. The Court shall take into account all relevant considerations, especially the choice of the child over seven years of age, unless the parent chosen is unfit. Although parties may enter into prenuptial agreements defining support obligations in the event of divorce, the court has the ultimate authority to approve or reject the agreement.

Even if the court approves the agreement, it has the authority to later modify it. Since your will or estate plan may be affected by any prenuptial agreement you may enter into, you should consult a lawyer to make sure that all these instruments conform. Although it has been customary for the woman to assume her husband's last name upon marriage, there is no legal reason for doing so.

A woman may retain her maiden name without any formal legal proceedings simply by continuing to use it. In addition, a man may assume his wife's last name upon marriage. If a woman chooses to use her husband's last name, the husband's first name does not become a part of the woman's name- Consequently, the woman should sign her name as Jane A- Smith and not as Mrs. John Smith. The same rule applies if the man chooses to use his wife's last name.

It is important for a person to always sign his or her name in the same way. Any name change should be communicated to the Social Security Administration and the division of motor vehicles so that you can obtain a corrected driver's license. You should also notify employers, banks, insurance companies, and creditors of your marriage and any change in your name. Although in South Dakota it is not illegal for two people to live together as husband and wife without marrying, it is still illegal in some states.

If you choose to live together without marrying, you should be sure that you understand your legal rights and obligations if you have children, buy or sell property together, sign a lease or a contract, or make other important commitments. You should also realize that an agreement, either informal or written, which establishes your rights and responsibilities to each other, may not be legally enforceable.

If you have any questions, you should talk with a lawyer. Both parents of a child are under a legal duty to support the child in accordance with the law until the child attains the age of eighteen, or until the child reaches the age of nineteen if he or she is a full-time student in a secondary school adoption? There are several social service agencies that will assist married couples or single persons in finding a child for adoption.

Before a child can be legally adopted, the child must live in the home of the prospective parents for at least six months. If the child is over twelve years of age, the child must also consent to the adoption. A child, when adopted, may take the name of the adoptive parents. The adopted child and the adoptive parents have the legal relation of parent and child and have all the rights, duties, and responsibilities of that relationship.

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Following an adoption, the natural parents relinquish all rights, duties, and responsibilities toward the child. Any minor child may be adopted by any adult person as long as the person adopting the child is at least ten years older than the adopted child. A married person cannot adopt a child without the consent of his or her spouse. In some circumstances, adoption also requires the consent of the child's parents, if living. A home study must be completed prior to adoption.

The files and records of the court in adoption proceedings are confidential and may not be inspected or copied. Denzinger - A. Letter Encyclical Letter ibid. Migne q. Continuing to expound and update the rich patrimony of Catholic social doctrine, Pope John Paul II has for his part published three great Encyclicals — Laborem Exercens , Sollicitudo Rei Socialis and Centesimus Annus — that represent fundamental stages of Catholic thought in this area. For their part, numerous Bishops in every part of the world have contributed in recent times to a deeper understanding of the Church's social doctrine.

Numerous scholars on every continent have done the same. It was therefore hoped that a compendium of all this material should be compiled, systematically presenting the foundations of Catholic social doctrine. It is commendable that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has taken up this task, devoting intense efforts to this initiative in recent years. This work also shows the value of Catholic social doctrine as an instrument of evangelization cf. Centesimus Annus , 54 , because it places the human person and society in relationship with the light of the Gospel.

The principles of the Church's social doctrine, which are based on the natural law, are then seen to be confirmed and strengthened, in the faith of the Church, by the Gospel of Christ. In this light, men and women are invited above all to discover themselves as transcendent beings, in every dimension of their lives, including those related to social, economic and political contexts. Faith brings to fullness the meaning of the family, which, founded on marriage between one man and one woman, constitutes the first and vital cell of society.

It moreover sheds light on the dignity of work, which, as human activity destined to bring human beings to fulfilment, has priority over capital and confirms their rightful claim to share in the fruits that result from work. In the present text we can see the importance of moral values, founded on the natural law written on every human conscience; every human conscience is hence obliged to recognize and respect this law. Humanity today seeks greater justice in dealing with the vast phenomenon of globalization; it has a keen concern for ecology and a correct management of public affairs; it senses the need to safeguard national consciences, without losing sight however of the path of law and the awareness of the unity of the human family.

The world of work, profoundly changed by the advances of modern technology, reveals extraordinary levels of quality, but unfortunately it must also acknowledge new forms of instability, exploitation and even slavery within the very societies that are considered affluent.

In different areas of the planet the level of well-being continues to grow, but there is also a dangerous increase in the numbers of those who are becoming poor, and, for various reasons, the gap between less developed and rich countries is widening. The free market, an economic process with positive aspects, is nonetheless showing its limitations. On the other hand, the preferential love for the poor represents a fundamental choice for the Church, and she proposes it to all people of good will.

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Contemporary cultural and social issues involve above all the lay faithful, who are called, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, to deal with temporal affairs and order them according to God's will cf. Lumen Gentium , We can therefore easily understand the fundamental importance of the formation of the laity, so that the holiness of their lives and the strength of their witness will contribute to human progress.

This document intends to help them in this daily mission. Moreover, it is interesting to note how the many elements brought together here are shared by other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, as well as by other Religions. The text has been presented in such a way as to be useful not only from within ab intra , that is among Catholics, but also from outside ab extra. In fact, those who share the same Baptism with us, as well as the followers of other Religions and all people of good will, can find herein fruitful occasions for reflection and a common motivation for the integral development of every person and the whole person.

The Holy Father, while hoping that the present document will help humanity in its active quest for the common good, invokes God's blessings on those who will take the time to reflect on the teachings of this publication. In expressing my own personal good wishes for the success of this endeavour, I congratulate Your Eminence and your collaborators at the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace for the important work carried out, and with sentiments of respect I remain.

I am pleased to present the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church , which, according to the request received from the Holy Father, has been drawn up in order to give a concise but complete overview of the Church's social teaching. Transforming social realities with the power of the Gospel, to which witness is borne by women and men faithful to Jesus Christ, has always been a challenge and it remains so today at the beginning of the third millennium of the Christian era.

For this very reason the men and women of our day have greater need than ever of the Gospel: of the faith that saves, of the hope that enlightens, of the charity that loves. The reading of these pages is suggested above all in order to sustain and foster the activity of Christians in the social sector, especially the activity of the lay faithful to whom this area belongs in a particular way; the whole of their lives must be seen as a work of evangelization that produces fruit.

This work, entrusted to me and now offered to those who will read it, carries therefore the seal of a great witness to the Cross who remained strong in faith in the dark and terrible years of Vietnam. This witness will know of our gratitude for all his precious labour, undertaken with love and dedication, and he will bless those who stop to reflect on these pages. I invoke the intercession of Saint Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer and Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patron of the Universal Church and of Work, so that this text will bear abundant fruit in the life of society as an instrument for the proclamation of the Gospel, for justice and for peace.

At the dawn of the Third Millennium. Jn through which we passed during the Great Jubilee of the year [1]. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life cf. Jn : contemplating the Lord's face, we confirm our faith and our hope in him, the one Saviour and goal of history. The Church continues to speak to all people and all nations, for it is only in the name of Christ that salvation is given to men and women. At the dawn of this Third Millennium, the Church does not tire of proclaiming the Gospel that brings salvation and genuine freedom also to temporal realities.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. To the people of our time, her travelling companions, the Church also offers her social doctrine. Discovering that they are loved by God, people come to understand their own transcendent dignity, they learn not to be satisfied with only themselves but to encounter their neighbour in a network of relationships that are ever more authentically human. They are people capable of bringing peace where there is conflict, of building and nurturing fraternal relationships where there is hatred, of seeking justice where there prevails the exploitation of man by man.

Only love is capable of radically transforming the relationships that men maintain among themselves. This is the perspective that allows every person of good will to perceive the broad horizons of justice and human development in truth and goodness. Love faces a vast field of work and the Church is eager to make her contribution with her social doctrine, which concerns the whole person and is addressed to all people. So many needy brothers and sisters are waiting for help, so many who are oppressed are waiting for justice, so many who are unemployed are waiting for a job, so many peoples are waiting for respect.

Condemned to illiteracy? Lacking the most basic medical care? Without a roof over their head? The scenario of poverty can extend indefinitely, if in addition to its traditional forms we think of its newer patterns. These latter often affect financially affluent sectors and groups which are nevertheless threatened by despair at the lack of meaning in their lives, by drug addiction, by fear of abandonment in old age or sickness, by marginalization or social discrimination And how can we remain indifferent to the prospect of an ecological crisis which is making vast areas of our planet uninhabitable and hostile to humanity?

Or by the problems of peace, so often threatened by the spectre of catastrophic wars? Or by contempt for the fundamental human rights of so many people, especially children? Christian love leads to denunciation, proposals and a commitment to cultural and social projects; it prompts positive activity that inspires all who sincerely have the good of man at heart to make their contribution. Humanity is coming to understand ever more clearly that it is linked by one sole destiny that requires joint acceptance of responsibility, a responsibility inspired by an integral and shared humanism.

It sees that this mutual destiny is often conditioned and even imposed by technological and economic factors, and it senses the need for a greater moral awareness that will guide its common journey. Marvelling at the many innovations of technology, the men and women of our day strongly desire that progress be directed towards the true good of the humanity, both of today and tomorrow.

The significance of this document. The Christian knows that in the social doctrine of the Church can be found the principles for reflection, the criteria for judgment and the directives for action which are the starting point for the promotion of an integral and solidary humanism. It is in this light that the publication of a document providing the fundamental elements of the social doctrine of the Church, showing the relationship between this doctrine and the new evangelization [6], appeared to be so useful.

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which has drawn up the present document and is fully responsible for its content, prepared the text in a broad-based consultation with its own Members and Consulters, with different Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, with the Bishops' Conferences of various countries, with individual Bishops and with experts on the issues addressed. This document intends to present in a complete and systematic manner, even if by means of an overview, the Church's social teaching, which is the fruit of careful Magisterial reflection and an expression of the Church's constant commitment in fidelity to the grace of salvation wrought in Christ and in loving concern for humanity's destiny.

Herein the most relevant theological, philosophical, moral, cultural and pastoral considerations of this teaching are systematically presented as they relate to social questions. In this way, witness is borne to the fruitfulness of the encounter between the Gospel and the problems that mankind encounters on its journey through history.

In studying this Compendium, it is good to keep in mind that the citations of Magisterial texts are taken from documents of differing authority. Alongside council documents and encyclicals there are also papal addresses and documents drafted by offices of the Holy See. As one knows, but it seems to bear repeating, the reader should be aware that different levels of teaching authority are involved.

The document limits itself to putting forth the fundamental elements of the Church's social doctrine, leaving to Episcopal Conferences the task of making the appropriate applications as required by the different local situations[7]. This document offers a complete overview of the fundamental framework of the doctrinal corpus of Catholic social teaching.

This overview allows us to address appropriately the social issues of our day, which must be considered as a whole, since they are characterized by an ever greater interconnectedness, influencing one another mutually and becoming increasingly a matter of concern for the entire human family. The exposition of the Church's social doctrine is meant to suggest a systematic approach for finding solutions to problems, so that discernment, judgment and decisions will correspond to reality, and so that solidarity and hope will have a greater impact on the complexities of current situations.

These principles, in fact, are interrelated and shed light on one another mutually, insofar as they are an expression of Christian anthropology[8], fruits of the revelation of God's love for the human person. However, it must not be forgotten that the passing of time and the changing of social circumstances will require a constant updating of the reflections on the various issues raised here, in order to interpret the new signs of the times.

The document is presented as an instrument for the moral and pastoral discernment of the complex events that mark our time; as a guide to inspire, at the individual and collective levels, attitudes and choices that will permit all people to look to the future with greater trust and hope ; as an aid for the faithful concerning the Church's teaching in the area of social morality. From this there can spring new strategies suited to the demands of our time and in keeping with human needs and resources. In short, the text is proposed as an incentive for dialogue with all who sincerely desire the good of mankind.

This document is intended first of all for Bishops, who will determine the most suitable methods for making it known and for interpreting it correctly. Priests, men and women religious , and, in general, those responsible for formation will find herein a guide for their teaching and a tool for their pastoral service. Christian communities will be able to look to this document for assistance in analyzing situations objectively, in clarifying them in the light of the unchanging words of the Gospel, in drawing principles for reflection, criteria for judgment and guidelines for action[12].

This document is proposed also to the brethren of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to the followers of other religions, as well as to all people of good will who are committed to serving the common good : may they receive it as the fruit of a universal human experience marked by countless signs of the presence of God's Spirit. It is a treasury of things old and new cf. It is a sign of hope in the fact that religions and cultures today show openness to dialogue and sense the urgent need to join forces in promoting justice, fraternity, peace and the growth of the human person.

The Catholic Church joins her own commitment to that made in the social field by other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, whether at the level of doctrinal reflection or at the practical level. Together with them, the Catholic Church is convinced that from the common heritage of social teachings preserved by the living tradition of the people of God there will come motivations and orientations for an ever closer cooperation in the promotion of justice and peace[13]. At the service of the full truth about man.

Ex ; Jn and moves among them cf. By means of the present document, the Church intends to offer a contribution of truth to the question of man's place in nature and in human society, a question faced by civilizations and cultures in which expressions of human wisdom are found. Rooted in a past that is often thousands of years old and manifesting themselves in forms of religion, philosophy and poetic genius of every time and of every people, these civilizations and cultures offer their own interpretation of the universe and of human society, and seek an understanding of existence and of the mystery that surrounds it.

Who am I? Why is there pain, evil, death, despite all the progress that has been made? What is the value of so many accomplishments if the cost has been unbearable? What will there be after this life? These are the basic questions that characterize the course of human life[17]. The direction that human existence, society and history will take depends largely on the answers given to the questions of man's place in nature and society; the purpose of the present document is to make a contribution to these answers.

The deepest meaning of human existence, in fact, is revealed in the free quest for that truth capable of giving direction and fullness to life. The aforementioned questions incessantly draw human intelligence and the human will to this quest. They are the highest expression of human nature, since they require a response that measures the depth of an individual's commitment to his own existence. The fundamental questions accompanying the human journey from the very beginning take on even greater significance in our own day, because of the enormity of the challenges, the novelty of the situations and the importance of the decisions facing modern generations.

The first of the great challenges facing humanity today is that of the truth itself of the being who is man. The boundary and relation between nature, technology and morality are issues that decisively summon personal and collective responsibility with regard to the attitudes to adopt concerning what human beings are, what they are able to accomplish and what they should be.

A second challenge is found in the understanding and management of pluralism and differences at every level: in ways of thinking, moral choices, culture, religious affiliation, philosophy of human and social development. The third challenge is globalization , the significance of which is much wider and more profound than simple economic globalization, since history has witnessed the opening of a new era that concerns humanity's destiny.

The disciples of Jesus Christ feel that they are involved with these questions; they too carry them within their hearts and wish to commit themselves, together with all men and women, to the quest for the truth and the meaning of life lived both as individual persons and as a society. They contribute to this quest by their generous witness to the free and extraordinary gift that humanity has received : God has spoken his Word to men and women throughout history; indeed he himself has entered history in order to enter into dialogue with humanity and to reveal to mankind his plan of salvation, justice and brotherhood.

In Jesus Christ, his Son made man, God has freed us from sin and has shown us the path we are to walk and the goal towards which we are to strive. The Church journeys along the roads of history together with all of humanity. She lives in the world, and although not of the world cf. Jn she is called to serve the world according to her innermost vocation. This attitude, found also in the present document, is based on the deep conviction that just as it is important for the world to recognize the Church as a reality of history and a leaven in history, so too is it important for the Church to recognize what she has received from history and from the development of the human race[19].

The Church, the sign in history of God's love for mankind and of the vocation of the whole human race to unity as children of the one Father [21], intends with this document on her social doctrine to propose to all men and women a humanism that is up to the standards of God's plan of love in history, an integral and solidary humanism capable of creating a new social, economic and political order, founded on the dignity and freedom of every human person, to be brought about in peace, justice and solidarity. This humanism can become a reality if individual men and women and their communities are able to cultivate moral and social virtues in themselves and spread them in society.

Centesimus Annus , God's gratuitous presence. Every authentic religious experience, in all cultural traditions, leads to an intuition of the Mystery that, not infrequently, is able to recognize some aspect of God's face. On the one hand, God is seen as the origin of what exists , as the presence that guarantees to men and women organized in a society the basic conditions of life, placing at their disposal the goods that are necessary. On the other hand, he appears as the measure of what should be , as the presence that challenges human action — both at the personal and at the social levels — regarding the use of those very goods in relation to other people.

In every religious experience, therefore, importance attaches to the dimension of gift and gratuitousness , which is seen as an underlying element of the experience that the human beings have of their existence together with others in the world, as well as to the repercussions of this dimension on the human conscience, which senses that it is called to manage responsibly and together with others the gift received. Against the background of universal religious experience, in which humanity shares in different ways, God's progressive revelation of himself to the people of Israel stands out.

This revelation responds to the human quest for the divine in an unexpected and surprising way, thanks to the historical manner — striking and penetrating — in which God's love for man is made concrete. These become historical action, which is the origin of the manner in which the Lord's people collectively identify themselves, through the acquisition of freedom and the land that the Lord gives them. The gratuitousness of this historically efficacious divine action is constantly accompanied by the commitment to the covenant, proposed by God and accepted by Israel. On Mount Sinai, God's initiative becomes concrete in the covenant with his people, to whom is given the Decalogue of the commandments revealed by the Lord cf.

Ex Moral existence is a response to the Lord's loving initiative. It is the acknowledgment and homage given to God and a worship of thanksgiving. The Ten Commandments, which constitute an extraordinary path of life and indicate the surest way for living in freedom from slavery to sin, contain a privileged expression of the natural law. They describe universal human morality. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds the rich young man that the Ten Commandments cf.

There comes from the Decalogue a commitment that concerns not only fidelity to the one true God, but also the social relations among the people of the Covenant. The gift of freedom and the Promised Land, and the gift of the Covenant on Sinai and the Ten Commandments are therefore intimately linked to the practices which must regulate, in justice and solidarity, the development of Israelite society.

Among the many norms which tend to give concrete expression to the style of gratuitousness and sharing in justice which God inspires, the law of the sabbatical year celebrated every seven years and that of the jubilee year celebrated every fifty years [27] stand out as important guidelines — unfortunately never fully put into effect historically — for the social and economic life of the people of Israel. Besides requiring fields to lie fallow, these laws call for the cancellation of debts and a general release of persons and goods: everyone is free to return to his family of origin and to regain possession of his birthright.

This legislation is designed to ensure that the salvific event of the Exodus and fidelity to the Covenant represents not only the founding principle of Israel's social, political and economic life, but also the principle for dealing with questions concerning economic poverty and social injustices. This principle is invoked in order to transform, continuously and from within, the life of the people of the Covenant, so that this life will correspond to God's plan.

To eliminate the discrimination and economic inequalities caused by socio-economic changes, every seven years the memory of the Exodus and the Covenant are translated into social and juridical terms, in order to bring the concepts of property, debts, loans and goods back to their deepest meaning.

CHAPTER 2 THE LAW IN OTHER LEGAL SYSTEMS

The precepts of the sabbatical and jubilee years constitute a kind of social doctrine in miniature [28]. They show how the principles of justice and social solidarity are inspired by the gratuitousness of the salvific event wrought by God, and that they do not have a merely corrective value for practices dominated by selfish interests and objectives, but must rather become, as a prophecy of the future, the normative points of reference to which every generation in Israel must conform if it wishes to be faithful to its God.

These principles become the focus of the Prophets' preaching, which seeks to internalize them. God's Spirit, poured into the human heart — the Prophets proclaim — will make these same sentiments of justice and solidarity, which reside in the Lord's heart, take root in you cf.


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Jer and Ezek Then God's will, articulated in the Decalogue given on Sinai, will be able to take root creatively in man's innermost being. This process of internalization gives rise to greater depth and realism in social action, making possible the progressive universalization of attitudes of justice and solidarity , which the people of the Covenant are called to have towards all men and women of every people and nation.

The reflection of the Prophets and that found in the Wisdom Literature, in coming to the formulation of the principle that all things were created by God, touch on the first manifestation and the source itself of God's plan for the whole of humanity. In Israel's profession of faith, to affirm that God is Creator does not mean merely expressing a theoretical conviction, but also grasping the original extent of the Lord's gratuitous and merciful action on behalf of man.

In fact, God freely confers being and life on everything that exists. Man and woman, created in his image and likeness cf. Gen , are for that very reason called to be the visible sign and the effective instrument of divine gratuitousness in the garden where God has placed them as cultivators and custodians of the goods of creation. It is in the free action of God the Creator that we find the very meaning of creation, even if it has been distorted by the experience of sin. In fact, the narrative of the first sin cf. Gen describes the permanent temptation and the disordered situation in which humanity comes to find itself after the fall of its progenitors.

Disobedience to God means hiding from his loving countenance and seeking to control one's life and action in the world. Breaking the relation of communion with God causes a rupture in the internal unity of the human person, in the relations of communion between man and woman and of the harmonious relations between mankind and other creatures[29]. It is in this original estrangement that are to be sought the deepest roots of all the evils that afflict social relations between people, of all the situations in economic and political life that attack the dignity of the person, that assail justice and solidarity.

In Jesus Christ the decisive event of the history of God with mankind is fulfilled. The benevolence and mercy that inspire God's actions and provide the key for understanding them become so very much closer to man that they take on the traits of the man Jesus, the Word made flesh. Is Jesus therefore places himself on the frontline of fulfilment, not only because he fulfils what was promised and what was awaited by Israel, but also in the deeper sense that in him the decisive event of the history of God with mankind is fulfilled.

Jesus, in other words, is the tangible and definitive manifestation of how God acts towards men and women. The love that inspires Jesus' ministry among men is the love that he has experienced in his intimate union with the Father. Jesus announces the liberating mercy of God to those whom he meets on his way, beginning with the poor, the marginalized, the sinners. He invites all to follow him because he is the first to obey God's plan of love, and he does so in a most singular way, as God's envoy in the world. Jesus' self-awareness of being the Son is an expression of this primordial experience.

For Jesus, recognizing the Father's love means modelling his actions on God's gratuitousness and mercy; it is these that generate new life. It means becoming — by his very existence — the example and pattern of this for his disciples. Jesus' followers are called to live like him and, after his Passover of death and resurrection, to live also in him and by him , thanks to the superabundant gift of the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, who internalizes Christ's own style of life in human hearts. With the unceasing amazement of those who have experienced the inexpressible love of God cf. Rom , the New Testament grasps, in the light of the full revelation of Trinitarian love offered by the Passover of Jesus Christ, the ultimate meaning of the Incarnation of the Son and his mission among men and women.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? The Face of God, progressively revealed in the history of salvation, shines in its fullness in the Face of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. God is Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; truly distinct and truly one, because God is an infinite communion of love.

God's gratuitous love for humanity is revealed, before anything else, as love springing from the Father, from whom everything draws its source; as the free communication that the Son makes of this love, giving himself anew to the Father and giving himself to mankind; as the ever new fruitfulness of divine love that the Holy Spirit pours forth into the hearts of men cf. Rom By his words and deeds, and fully and definitively by his death and resurrection [30], Jesus reveals to humanity that God is Father and that we are all called by grace to become his children in the Spirit cf.

Rom ; Gal , and therefore brothers and sisters among ourselves. Meditating on the gratuitousness and superabundance of the Father's divine gift of the Son, which Jesus taught and bore witness to by giving his life for us, the Apostle John grasps its profound meaning and its most logical consequence. The commandment of mutual love shows how to live in Christ the Trinitarian life within the Church, the Body of Christ, and how to transform history until it reaches its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The commandment of mutual love, which represents the law of life for God's people [32], must inspire, purify and elevate all human relationships in society and in politics. Trinitarian love, the origin and goal of the human person. The revelation in Christ of the mystery of God as Trinitarian love is at the same time the revelation of the vocation of the human person to love. This revelation sheds light on every aspect of the personal dignity and freedom of men and women, and on the depths of their social nature. In the communion of love that is God, and in which the Three Divine Persons mutually love one another and are the One God, the human person is called to discover the origin and goal of his existence and of history.

It follows, then, that if man is the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself cf.

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Christian revelation shines a new light on the identity, the vocation and the ultimate destiny of the human person and the human race. Every person is created by God, loved and saved in Jesus Christ, and fulfils himself by creating a network of multiple relationships of love, justice and solidarity with other persons while he goes about his various activities in the world.

Human activity, when it aims at promoting the integral dignity and vocation of the person, the quality of living conditions and the meeting in solidarity of peoples and nations, is in accordance with the plan of God, who does not fail to show his love and providence to his children. The pages of the first book of Sacred Scripture, which describe the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God cf.

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Gen , contain a fundamental teaching with regard to the identity and the vocation of the human person. Gen This vision of the human person, of society and of history is rooted in God and is ever more clearly seen when his plan of salvation becomes a reality. Christian salvation: for all people and the whole person. The salvation offered in its fullness to men in Jesus Christ by God the Father's initiative, and brought about and transmitted by the work of the Holy Spirit, is salvation for all people and of the whole person: it is universal and integral salvation.

It concerns the human person in all his dimensions: personal and social, spiritual and corporeal, historical and transcendent. It begins to be made a reality already in history, because what is created is good and willed by God, and because the Son of God became one of us[39].

Its completion, however, is in the future, when we shall be called, together with all creation cf. Rom 8 , to share in Christ's resurrection and in the eternal communion of life with the Father in the joy of the Holy Spirit. This outlook shows quite clearly the error and deception of purely immanentistic visions of the meaning of history and in humanity's claims to self-salvation.

The salvation offered by God to his children requires their free response and acceptance. In fact, the divine plan of salvation does not consign human creatures to a state of mere passivity or of lesser status in relation to their Creator, because their relationship to God, whom Jesus Christ reveals to us and in whom he freely makes us sharers by the working of the Holy Spirit, is that of a child to its parent: the very relationship that Jesus lives with the Father cf.

Jn ; Gal The universality and integrality of the salvation wrought by Christ makes indissoluble the link between the relationship that the person is called to have with God and the responsibility he has towards his neighbour in the concrete circumstances of history. This is sensed, though not always without some confusion or misunderstanding, in humanity's universal quest for truth and meaning, and it becomes the cornerstone of God's covenant with Israel, as attested by the tablets of the Law and the preaching of the Prophets.

This link finds a clear and precise expression in the teaching of Jesus Christ and is definitively confirmed by the supreme witness of the giving of his life, in obedience to the Father's will and out of love for his brothers and sisters. Inextricably linked in the human heart are the relationship with God — recognized as Creator and Father, the source and fulfilment of life and of salvation — and openness in concrete love towards man, who must be treated as another self, even if he is an enemy cf.

Mt In man's inner dimension are rooted, in the final analysis, the commitment to justice and solidarity, to the building up of a social, economic and political life that corresponds to God's plan. The disciple of Christ as a new creation. Personal and social life, as well as human action in the world, is always threatened by sin. Christ's disciple adheres, in faith and through the sacraments, to Jesus' Paschal Mystery, so that his old self , with its evil inclinations, is crucified with Christ.

The inner transformation of the human person, in his being progressively conformed to Christ, is the necessary prerequisite for a real transformation of his relationships with others. It is not possible to love one's neighbour as oneself and to persevere in this conduct without the firm and constant determination to work for the good of all people and of each person, because we are all really responsible for everyone [44].

This path requires grace, which God offers to man in order to help him to overcome failings, to snatch him from the spiral of lies and violence, to sustain him and prompt him to restore with an ever new and ready spirit the network of authentic and honest relationships with his fellow men[46].

Even the relationship with the created universe and human activity aimed at tending it and transforming it, activity which is daily endangered by man's pride and his inordinate self-love, must be purified and perfected by the cross and resurrection of Christ. Man thanks his divine benefactor for all these things, he uses them and enjoys them in a spirit of poverty and freedom. Jesus Christ is the Son of God made man in whom and thanks to whom the world and man attain their authentic and full truth.

The mystery of God's being infinitely close to man — brought about in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, who gave himself on the cross, abandoning himself to death — shows that the more that human realities are seen in the light of God's plan and lived in communion with God, the more they are empowered and liberated in their distinctive identity and in the freedom that is proper to them. Sharing in Christ's life of sonship, made possible by the Incarnation and the Paschal gift of the Spirit, far from being a mortification, has the effect of unleashing the authentic and independent traits and identity that characterize human beings in all their various expressions.

For by the very circumstance of their having been created, all things are endowed with their own stability, truth, goodness, proper laws and order. There is no state of conflict between God and man, but a relationship of love in which the world and the fruits of human activity in the world are objects of mutual gift between the Father and his children, and among the children themselves, in Christ Jesus; in Christ and thanks to him the world and man attain their authentic and inherent meaning.

In a universal vision of God's love that embraces everything that exists, God himself is revealed to us in Christ as Father and giver of life, and man as the one who, in Christ, receives everything from God as gift, humbly and freely, and who truly possesses everything as his own when he knows and experiences everything as belonging to God, originating in God and moving towards God. The human person, in himself and in his vocation, transcends the limits of the created universe, of society and of history: his ultimate end is God himself [50], who has revealed himself to men in order to invite them and receive them into communion with himself [51].

The human person cannot and must not be manipulated by social, economic or political structures, because every person has the freedom to direct himself towards his ultimate end. We can speak here of an eschatological relativity , in the sense that man and the world are moving towards their end, which is the fulfilment of their destiny in God; we can also speak of a theological relativity , insofar as the gift of God, by which the definitive destiny of humanity and of creation will be attained, is infinitely greater than human possibilities and expectations.

Any totalitarian vision of society and the State, and any purely intra-worldly ideology of progress are contrary to the integral truth of the human person and to God's plan in history. The Church, sign and defender of the transcendence of the human person. The goal of salvation, the Kingdom of God embraces all people and is fully realized beyond history, in God. The Church places herself concretely at the service of the Kingdom of God above all by announcing and communicating the Gospel of salvation and by establishing new Christian communities. Jn It follows from this, in particular, that the Church is not to be confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system [58].

Indeed, it can be affirmed that the distinction between religion and politics and the principle of religious freedom constitute a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions. Precisely for this reason, the Church offers an original and irreplaceable contribution with the concern that impels her to make the family of mankind and its history more human, prompting her to place herself as a bulwark against every totalitarian temptation, as she shows man his integral and definitive vocation[61].

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At the level of concrete historical dynamics, therefore, the coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be discerned in the perspective of a determined and definitive social, economic or political organization. Rather, it is seen in the development of a human social sense which for mankind is a leaven for attaining wholeness, justice and solidarity in openness to the Transcendent as a point of reference for one's own personal definitive fulfilment. The Church, the Kingdom of God and the renewal of social relations. God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person but also the social relations existing between men.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. In this perspective, Church communities, brought together by the message of Jesus Christ and gathered in the Holy Spirit round the Risen Lord cf. Mt , ; Lk , offer themselves as places of communion, witness and mission, and as catalysts for the redemption and transformation of social relationships. The transformation of social relationships that responds to the demands of the Kingdom of God is not fixed within concrete boundaries once and for all. Rather, it is a task entrusted to the Christian community, which is to develop it and carry it out through reflection and practices inspired by the Gospel.

It is the same Spirit of the Lord, leading the people of God while simultaneously permeating the universe[63], who from time to time inspires new and appropriate ways for humanity to exercise its creative responsibility[64]. This inspiration is given to the community of Christians who are a part of the world and of history, and who are therefore open to dialogue with all people of good will in the common quest for the seeds of truth and freedom sown in the vast field of humanity[65]. The dynamics of this renewal must be firmly anchored in the unchangeable principles of the natural law, inscribed by God the Creator in each of his creatures cf.

Rom , and bathed in eschatological light through Jesus Christ.