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Authentic Development


Unrestrained economic development is not the answer to improving the lives of the poor. Catholic social teaching has never accepted material growth as a model of development. A “mere accumulation of goods and services, even for the benefit of the majority,” as Pope John Paul II has said, “is not enough for the realization of human happiness” (SR, no.28). He has also warned that in desire “to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow,” humanity “consumes the resources of the earth subjecting it without restraint… as if it did not have its own God-given purposes.

Authentic development supports moderation and even austerity in the use of material resources. It also encourages a balanced view of human progress consistent with respect for nature. Furthermore, it invites the development of alternative visions of the good society and the use of economic models with richer standards of well-being than material productivity alone. Authentic development also requires affluent nations to seek ways to reduce and restructure their overconsumption of natural resources. Finally, authentic development also entails encouraging the proper use of both agricultural and industrial technologies, so that development does not merely mean technological advancement for its own sake but rather that technology benefits people and enhances the land.