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Ioannes Paulus PP. II
Ecclesia in Africa

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Integral human development

68. Integral human development — the development of every person and of the whole person, especially of the poorest and most neglected in the community — is at the very heart of evangelization. "Between evangelization and human advancementdevelopment and liberation — there are in fact profound links. These include links of an anthropological order, because the man who is to be evangelized is not an abstract being but is subject to social and economic questions. They also include links in the theological order, since one cannot dissociate the plan of creation from the plan of Redemption. The latter plan touches the very concrete situations of injustice to be combatted and of justice to be restored. They include links of the eminently evangelical order, which is that of charity: how in fact can one proclaim the new commandment of love without promoting in justice and peace the true, authentic advancement of man?"117

When the Lord Jesus began his public ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth, he chose the Messianic text of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah in order to shed light on his mission: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Lk 4:18-19; cf. Is 61:1-2).

The Lord thus considers himself as sent to relieve human misery and combat every kind of neglect. He came to liberate humanity; he came to take upon himself our infirmities and diseases. "The entire ministry of Jesus is marked by the concern he showed to all those around him who were affected by suffering: persons in mourning, paralytics, lepers, the blind, the deaf, the mute (cf. Mt 8:17)".118 "It is impossible to accept that in evangelization one could or should ignore the importance of the problems so much discussed today, concerning justice, liberation, development and peace in the world".119 The liberation that evangelization proclaims "cannot be contained in the simple and restricted dimension of economics, politics, social or cultural life; it must envisage the whole man, in all his aspects, right up to and including his openness to the absolute, even the Divine Absolute".120

The Second Vatican Council says so well: "Pursuing the saving purpose which is proper to her, the Church does not only communicate divine life to men but in some way casts the reflected light of that life over the entire earth, most of all by its healing and elevating impact on the dignity of the person, by the way in which it strengthens the seams of human society and imbues the everyday activity of men with a deeper meaning and importance. Thus through her individual members and her whole community, the Church believes she can contribute greatly towards making the family of man and its history more human".121 The Church proclaims and begins to bring about the Kingdom of God after the example of Jesus, because "the Kingdom's nature ... is one of communion among all human beings — with one another and with God".122 Thus "the Kingdom is the source of full liberation and total salvation for all people: with this in mind then, the Church walks and lives intimately bound in a real sense to their history".123

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