Note: English translations of scholarly studies available since 2/2013.
The Principle of Sustainable Development in Catholic Social Teaching
Kněz Miroslav, Míčka Roman
The paper presents the context and development of the concept of sustainable development and asks to what extent it is applied and reflected in Catholic social teaching and the broader context of Christian ethics. It follows the development of the concept in the course of three UN conferences devoted to the environment (Stockholm, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg) as well as in the subsequent expert and ideological debate concerning the content and implications of the concept. It further examines the topic of development and sustainable development in the documents of the social teaching of the Catholic Church and in Christian social-ethical thought, its gradual reception and differences from its general use. In the process of intensification of ecological consciousness Catholic social teaching gradually received the concept of sustainable development in its basic meaning of intergenerational solidarity and respect to nature. However, it sets it in the broader concept of integral human development and underlines the anthropological dimension of ecological issues in the context of biblical and theological anthropology. Besides ecological and economic-developmental accents it fundamentally stresses the dimension of human dignity and life from natural beginning to natural end. Thus it does not identify with the more radical ecological conceptions, which are ecocentric or biocentric in character and are overly sceptical to the perspective of the dynamics of further development, or conversely to the need to limit consumerism. Its emphasis on culture of life will be in permanent opposition to new and powerful instruments of the “culture of death”, which often shroud in the agreeable garment of ecological emphases. With its accent on revising lifestyles and moderating consumption it can markedly contribute to cultivating sustainable integral development of humanity and the natural environment.
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