The Prophetic Dimension of the Vincentian Charism • Part 7 • “Human Promotion” and “Integral Development” #famvin400

by | Apr 1, 2017 | Formation, Spirituality and Spiritual Practice

This is the seventh of a series of formation packages meant for individual or group study based upon “The Prophetic Dimension of the Vincentian Charism in light of the Social Doctrine of the Church” by Sr. María Pilar López.

The title of the seventh section of the article presents a problem! At least in English. “Human Promotion” is not a phrase most native English speakers are accustomed to even if they recognize the meaning once they reflect on it.

In some senses, this is similar to the problems created for other languages by the English word “advocacy,” commonly used to express championing human rights.

Apparently advocacy is not a word commonly used in other languages. Thus, native  English-speakers are horrified when they see advocacy translated in other languages as “political charity.” In other languages this phrase may carry the nuances of advocacy. But, in English, political charity speaks of something quite different and, indeed, contradictory to the meaning of advocacy in English.

Perhaps that is why Sister Pilar begins with a quotation from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, p.253, #449).

The poor should be seen not as a problem, but as people who can become the principal builders of a new and more human future for everyone (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, p.253, #449).

Rather than wade into the waters of translation of human promotion, I suggest readers of her text in various languages pay attention to her descriptions of human promotion.

For example, she writes …

  • the poor are able to become responsible actors in their own promotion;
  • awaken  their personal development … bettering their situation in both the medium and long range;
  • constant concern for the promotion of the whole person;
  • respect for the other person’s ability to organize his/her life. Therefore here we are not dealing with problem solving but rather with a process of accompaniment.

What all these expresses have in common is the difference between a “hand out“ and a “hand up.”

handout is something given freely or distributed free to those in need. It can refer to government welfare or a charitable gift, and it may take the form of money, food, or other necessities. As such it addresses an immediate need.

A hand up, in contrast, seems to go beyond “first aid” and meeting an immediate need. A hand up literally means helping someone stand up on their own. It does not mean carrying them if they can walk.

Today we tend to think of a hand up as helping a person beyond their immediate need. Much of the social doctrine of the Church stresses addressing the root causes of various forms of poverty. It is encapsulated in the phrase “integral human development.”

Pope Francis, steeply rooted in a tradition forcefully articulated by Pope Paul VI 50 years ago and affirmed by his successors, has recently elevated the concept of integral human development. He merged four (4) separate Vatican departments (Dicasteries) in the Vatican into one super department focused on Integral Human Development.

Reading the powerful quotes from Vincent and our tradition presented by Sister Pilar will without doubt lead us to appreciate the quote from Mother Guillemin in 1963 “The better we know Saint Vincent and Saint Louise, the more astonished we are in seeing to what extent they are relevant today.”

Then, take some time to reflect on these questions while viewing the slide presentation below:

    • How aware am I of riches of the Church’s social doctrine on integral human development?
    • How aware am I of how closely the approaches of Vincent and Louise foreshadow the concept of integral human development?
    • How are my horizons challenged by the concept of integral human development?

See you next week!

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