“The name for peace is development.”  This is one of the most expressive subheadings and one of the main thrusts in the encyclical on the Development of Peoples issued by Pope Paul VI in 1967.  “Peace,” he said, “is something that is built up day after day in the pursuit of an order intended by God which implies a more perfect form of justice among men.”1 Today, the mystique of development has taken on universal proportions — national, international, and even cosmic dimensions.  The spirirtual institutions on earth share in the building of a world that will be more humane.  Theirs is a special mission, that of giving to the world and to development the spiritual dimension and the inspiration which it so badly needs, — in short, its soul.

It is in this context that we, the Bishops of the Philippines, address ourselves to you, on the anniversaries of the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith.  Celebrating its 350th anniversary is the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, until recently called the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.  This department of the Roman Curia, charged with the supreme direction and administration of the missionary activity of the Church, works “to bring about more united and concerted missionary action by drawing up the fundamental principles governing all missionary activity, improving missionary methods, increasing the supply of laborers, and especially in fostering the development of an indigenous clergy.”  The Society for the Propagation of the Faith is the “organ of the Holy See for the world-wide collection of alms of the faithful and their distribution among all Catholic missions.”2

Since the mission of the Church has been and still is intimately connected with both the preaching of the Gospel and the uplifting of everything that is human, it would be a most appropriate manifestation of our concern to speak on the subject Evangelization and Development.

We are now in the second development decade.  In this hour, we make particularly ours what the Second Vatican Council has expressed in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World .  “Holding faithfully to the gospel and exercising her mission in the world, the Church consolidates peace among men, to God’s glory.  For it is her task to uncover, cherish and ennoble all that is true, good, and beautiful in the human community.”3

Our intent is not to consider all the aspects involved in the problem.  We want to reflect together with you some ideas and facts which give solid foundation to a proper understanding of evangelization and development and its mutual relationship.4

This letter does not pretend to present startling, new ideas.  We will rather try to offer basic relevant inspiration from official documents of the Church, such as the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, from Pontifical encyclicals such as Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris promulgated by the late Pope John XXIII and Populorum Progressio and Octogesima Adveniens of Pope Paul VI, and from the more recent document of the Synod of Bishops on Justice in the World.  We will avail ourselves, too, of the documents issued by our fellow bishops from other parts of the Third World who have deeply reflected on the situation we share.

Overall View of the Present Situation

A. Underdevelopment in the Third World

• It is an understatement to say that the world is undergoing radical changes.  Since John XXIII and Vatican II much talk has been made about these changes as representing the “signs of the times.”  More than the external changes in themselves, the signs of the times are (in the proper sense) the effects of these vast and rapid changes on human consciousness, on human knowledge, on human sensibility, on human aspirations and desires, and so on.
Among these aspirations two persistently make themselves felt in these new contexts, and grow stronger to the extent that man becomes better informed and better educated:  the aspiration to equality and the aspiration to participation, two forms of man’s dignity and freedom.
Equality means that every man, first of all, wants to grow to that full personhood through which he becomes, and can see himself, as truly an equal of every other man.  Obviously this equality refers to man as man, as a human person; since there are necessary inequalities stemming from the very essence of human life in concrete situations, such as authority in the family, in society, in religious groups, or in the different capacity for leadership, natural qualities for leadership, or even age or health.  Equality also means that he is the subject, the agent of his own destiny.
Equality and participation:  the two go together.  Participation means that every man is given  access, given the possibility to participate in the decisions, activities, movements which involve and affect his own life, and the lives of those he is responsible for.5 On the other hand, among these changes the basic relationships of world wealth and world poverty remain unchanged.  Seventy five per cent of the world’s resources are controlled and consumed by the third of humanity who are in the modern technological community where the great majority of Christians live. There are several reasons why the situation has grown worse:  first , even if  in some developed countries more funding agencies had been opened or established to give aid to developing countries, it is still a fact that a number among the wealthiest nations appear steadily less committed, less concerned, less inventive in their approach to world development.  Aid has been cut; new obstacles are being placed to exports from developing countries; prices of imports to developing countries have gone up. Second , there is an increasing realization that development in the full social, cultural, and economic sense is much more difficult to achieve in the latter part of the 20th century.  Population growth is twice as great as in the 19th century, resulting in the doubling of annual growth twice as much as population does, and we confront a new situation.  Much of modern industry in developing countries is still under foreign ownership and control, and tends to require more capital which developing countries lack, and need less labor which they have in abundance.  The result is a rise in unemployment, which in developing cities is already equal to a quarter of the labor force.  Industrial unemployment is further aggravated by the obstacles placed by developed countries in the way of manufactured exports from developing countries. Third , there is the issue of the distribution of the world’s resources.  At least three quarters of the world’s supplies are consumed by the already rich.  Their  demand for energy, for instance, is increasing by at least 3% a year.  Much of this energy comes from oil, coal and gas, and we are going through some of it, notably oil, at a pace that may lead to complete depletion early next century. The use of resources becomes part of a wider problem:  high consumption means high wastes.  Wastes pollute not only the rich nations’ own streams and airsheds, but slop out into the oceans.  What would happen to planet earth if three quarters of people in developing countries sought the same levels of income?  Do the rich then say to the poor “Bad luck.  While we keep our standards, you must hold down yours in the interests of human survival?”  Once again, the ultimate issue of distributive justice stares us in the face.6

B.  Evangelization and Underdevelopment in the Philippine Context

• This leads us to face the grim realities of Philippine social life.  We should not forget that the situation in our country mirrors the general situation of the Third World to which we belong; that great differences exist between different social classes in our country.  A small minority receives the largest share of the income.  It has concentrated its holdings in agricultural property and industrial production facilities, while the masses have a minimal income and are constantly in danger of unemployment.  We must admit this in all simplicity without intending to wound anyone.7 Let us present by way of example a few data taken from experts in the field of Philippine economics.  If we examine the distribution of income the evidence on it seems to show that about  70% of all the families in this country earn less than P2,500 per year.  And of the other 30, 20% earn less than P5,000; some 7% earn less than P10,000; 2% earn less than P20,000; and only six-tenths of 1% earn over P20,000.  The average yearly income of the working Filipino is US$166.90 (at the present rate of exchange this is P1,131.58 a year).  Although this is higher than the average earning in some Asian contries, this is ten times lower than in Western European countries.  The average per capita income is P589 per annum or floating on the present rate of exchange the inhumanly meager sum of US$90.8
We are proud, and justly proud, of our system of elementary education.  But to how many of the children in our rural and slum areas is it really free?  To how many of them do the hard realities of life in a nipa shack or barong-barong afford the freedom to go to school for the full six years, and to learn something of value from that experience?9  The average number of years of schooling of the male members of our labor force is four years. Of the 13 million or so in the labor force, 3 million are working part time; 24.1% are underemployed.  Five per cent of our men who are looking for work, and 10% of our women who want to work, cannot find a job.  Unemployment is highest among industrial workers, especially among day laborers and those who work with their hands.  But unemployment has decreased steadily since 1965.  The Filipinos who want to work have been finding their way into productive jobs.10
In the City of Manila alone until the very recent past, 1,102.554 persons were either squatters or slum dwellers.  The average number of people in a squatter’s shack was eight.
No one seriously doubts that there has been some economic progress, but there is much evidence that the fruits of this progress have been periodically appropriated for the most part by a very small proportion of the population.  Thus poverty has become the way of life for as much as 70% of all Filipinos on this land. It is a well-known fact that until recently the distribution of land in the Philippines had been a constant source of strife and evil.  Land Reform is a large problem not only in the Philippines but in the whole Asia.  Many farms in the Philippines had already been mortgaged  completely to the banks.  In this situation, although Land Reform faces difficulties, it has far-reaching effects.  The picture has considerably changed, at least in principle, when what had been legislated as Republic Acts 3844, 6389, and 6390 has begun to be implemented under the new decree making the whole country a Land Reform area.11 Christians should be sincerely happy that a positive step has been taken which is in perfect accordance with Christian principles repeated time and again by the Church magisterium and in particular by Vatican Council II.  After having lamented the evils of unjust tenancy and the wages and income unworthy of human beings, the council says:  “Indeed, insufficiently cultivated estates should be distributed to those who can make these lands fruitful.”12 The scandal of poverty in this country had been strongly intensified — at least until the very recent past — by the ostentation by which some rich individuals or families had flounted their easily earned wealth before the massive poor with extravagant parties, useless trips abroad, and outlandish fashions.  More and more Filipinos have been seeking to live like Americans, but on the basis of an agricultural economy far inferior to that which made possible the American style of life.  This brings up to the surface the existence not only of material poverty but of spiritual poverty as well, which itself demands spiritual development. It is at this point that the objective poverty of absolute difference in income levels translates into subjective poverty which is the consciousness of the relative gap between the haves and the have-nots.13 Our tax structure has also been generally regressive, i.e., the lower a family’s income, the higher a share of that income is taken by the government in the form of taxes.  New trends though, seem to indicate an initial or partial revision and approach to the tax structure; but this needs to be pursued further and implemented without discrimination and within the appearances of favoritism or harrassment.
Both the changes and the situation described above bring with them an important implication for the life of the Church in general. While in the past the Church worked almost everywhere in a sacralized temporal environment, she now sees spreading out before her, around her, and even within her, a process of secularization. She does not have the power to stop it nor even the right to condemn it in toto, since it contains both positive aspects (the liberation from attitudes and practices that smack of magic) and negative ones (the danger of the disappearance of an authentic spiritualization).14 We turn now our eyes to the condition of the Church in the Philippines.  When the Holy Father Pope Paul VI came to the Philippines on his historic visit, he said he had come in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ  “to glorify and thank Him for the wonders accomplished in this part of Asia… Our first wish is to render heartfelt homage to the generations of missionaries who, from the first beginnings, have built up this admirable Christian community of the Philippines.”15 We also wish to offer to the Lord our heartfelt thanks for the gift of faith He has bestowed upon our country, making us, without any merit of ours, the only Christian nation in Asia.  This is not the place to describe in detail the history of the evangelization of the Philippines nor do we intend to sing triumphalistically the glories of the Church in our country.  Suffice it to say that since the celebration of the first Mass in Limasawa’s shores on Easter Sunday, March 21, 1521, and the establishment of the See of Manila first as diocese in 1579 and later as archdiocese in 1595, until the joyous days of the coming of Pope Paul VI to our islands, the christian faith has grown steadily in numbers and in depth in the hearts of the people.
Today 94% of the population is Christian, with the Catholic church comprising 84% of the total population.  Our people’s faith is simple; their attachment to the Lord is sincere; the love for the Church lacks any kind of sophistication; they are inclined to devotion and there is a noticeable increase in the reception of the sacraments as a means of fostering a fervent Christian life.  All this is God’s gift and at the same time a witness to the work of evangelization done in the past and continuing to be done today. We find then that the Church has been implanted, the gospel has been preached, and it has permeated the people’s culture. However, we must acknowledge that in many instances it has done so only in a superficial or mediocre way.  The community has apostolic personnel and pastoral structures, but the whole situation is rather precarious because many people have not come to understand the gospel as a living, personal commitment; the nation or community group as such has not yet carried out an adequate process of evangelization because not a few people have not received adequate Christian formation or do not evince an apostolic form of life.  Often they see religion more as a ritualistic or pietist set of practice than as a life of fervor and active effort.16 We must acknowledge that for not a few of our countrymen Christianity has been and perhaps still is a social fact more than personal conviction, and the Church institution only rather than community. There were and still are many, especially among the poor and uninstructed who clung and still cling to their catholic faith with tenacity, we would unhesitatingly die for it — and in this sense they have a profound “instinct of faith” — but would never be able to give reason for their belief.  Catholicism has been and for many  still is a landmark by which one steers, but which one takes for granted, a social fact.
The external reality which makes this fact visible is the Church, which many tend to regard as institution rather than community.  Even today, when many Filipinos say that the Church must do this, do that, they mean the institutional Church, the bishops, priests, religious, hardly ever the ecclesia, the assembly of God’s people.  The Church is sila , “they” who instruct us, direct us, give us counsel or consolation, strengthen and nourish us with sacraments, offer the holy sacrifice in our behalf, and in the end, bury us with a blessing.  “They” are those who make decisions for us, decisions which we did not, as a community, participate in.  The Church is sila, “they”, not tayo, “we”, you and I and all of us.17 We have to acknowledge that not a few Filipino Christians, especially among the youth and among the intellectuals, seem to have experienced in their daily lives the distance that tends to separate the Church from her roots in the gospel, and some lack of harmony with the real world of the Philippines.  She is also being called into question by many people who are far away from her — many more perhaps than our traditional pastoral outlook is willing to admit — who see her as an obstructive force in the effort to construct a more just society. Since the end of the last century, the Philippine Church, like the Church in many other countries has been marked by an attitude of defense, a defensive posture which has led her to engage in silent retreat on occasions, when perhaps she could have been more vocal. Today the Church in the Philippines is confronted in a special way with “happenings” and with Christ, the Lord of history, through them.  There is every indication that the coming years will provide us with very different ways of viewing the Church, that we shall view her presence in ways that are quite different from those which we have been accustomed to in the past or which we might formulate today.18 It is within the framework of an old paternalism that many people (including perhaps some of us) approach present-day realitites and social problems.  They attempt to solve them by appealing to the duty of fraternal charity.  They establish countless charitable organizations, social programs and money campaigns.  They launch philanthropic initiatives that are dear to the middle class, and still more to the rich, because the latter can thereby work off their feeling of guilt and the responsibility they bear for the gap which separates their standard of living from that of the impoverished people around them.  Some of these initiatives or acts of Christian charity are definitely good.  But this is not enough.  People may try to alleviate the effects produced without tackling the causes behind them.  But with our new insights we discover here a misguided effort to solve poverty and illness on an individual basis.19 However, the root of the evil is deeper:  we would not be far off the mark in saying that the one sin which summarizes our collective guilt is the sin of internal colonialism, in a word open to misinterpretation, although to understand it aright, we need only to think of the relationship between underdeveloped areas and developed areas within our own country.
From the moment the Philippines was discovered by the Western world, her societal life has grown and developed under the influence of the Church.  Her social, economic, political, and cultural structures were poured into the molds of Iberian Christianity.  Even the Philippine revolution and the war for independence did not provoke any structural changes in this general situation outside the general policy of separation of Church and State which was implanted with the new regime.  Today, for the first time, we are seeing the prelude to substantial transformations.  The Church is inextricably linked to this historical past by her positive values, her authentic achievements, and her moments of glory, and also by her failures, aberrations, and false values.20 However, the religious fervor of the Filipino people is a rich treasure.  Even if the underlying motivations are not always clear, the practices do at least suggest that our people are open to God.  This basic treasure has not been utilized adequately to form living habits that are authentically Christian.21 But still today the Church in the Philippines has age-old structures, solid and respectable.  If she moves, she is still widely followed.  If she makes her voice heard, she is still widely listened to.  She must, therefore, show her vitality and take full advantage of her great opportunities to act with a pastoral dynamism that is in proportion to the rhythm of the changes taking place.22 This fact imposes undeniable responsibilities and clearcut obligations on the Philippine Church in the face of the new challenges.  Since Christians can no longer appear as those who simply endure history and let it happen, the Church now locates herself not on the periphery of man’s pilgrimage, but at the center of it.  Not as an alien behind cold, institutional walls, but as the sacrament of salvation, embedded within the flesh of humanity.23
Confronted with this situation the hierarchy of the Philippines feels obliged to condemn the collective sin of unjust and anachronistic structures — not as if the Church were some innocent outside observer but fully acknowledging her own share of responsibility.  She must be courageous enough to admit her solidarity with the past, and to acknowledge her responsibility to the present and the future.  However, reluctant though we may be to admit it, there is hope.
Hence we can speak of development — and development in the context of the Gospel of Christ, of evangelization.  These are the basis of our hope.  We must therefore rethink and apply these two concepts of development and evangelization to our present national condition:  for we are an economically undeveloped people; but we are also, by and large, a Christian people.  And as a Christian people, we have an apostolic vocation with regard to the proper proclamation of the Gospel of Christ; and we have to see this vocation as it must be lived in the political and economic realities that we have spoken of above as the Third World, our world.


Integrated with the framework of God’s salvific design, the pilgrim Church is necessarily an active missionary organism.24   She carries on the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit,25 which derives from the Father’s plan to recapitulate all things in Christ.26  Thus her missionary activity is not a marginal thing; it is the fundamental duty of the Church27 as a messianic people involved in human history.28  The Gospel must be preached sincerely and openly.  And the Gospel reveals man’s infinite destiny and his salvation through Christ and His Church.  The Savior Himself gave a strict command that this message of salvation was to be preached to all men, everywhere and always — to the ends of the world and till the end of time.  The cry of St. Paul, “Woe to me if I preach not the Gospel”  (I Cor 9:16), rings in the conscience of every Christian and judges him.  No other duty can take precedence over the duty of announcing Christ; and if it is true that we shall be judged on our charity, at the last judgment we shall be examined on the specific obligation in charity of announcing Christ’s truth.  The whole Church is missionary, because every baptized person is by his very nature a missionary.  The words of St. John Crysostom are fundamentally true:  “Christian, you bear the burden of the whole world.”

As for the substance of the Gospel message, there can be little doubt:  it is there, in the teaching and the life of Our Lord, with such explicit clarity that to bring forward arguments in its favour would be superflous.  The Gospel is what it is, and there can be no question of watering it down or altering it in any way.  The mission means above all and before all, the preaching of the Gospel.29

The missionary responsibility, rests with the whole Church and all its members by virtue of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.30  So there is authentic equality among all with respect to the common effort to build up the Body of Christ.31

The Church is the sign and instrument of God’s plan of salvation for the whole of mankind;32  and those who wish to really live their Christianity should realize its essential dynamism,33 its innate urge to spread, its intrinsic duty to communicate the faith to all men.34  In the post-Conciliar period the duty of spreading the faith imposes itself with even greater urgency on all, though in different ways and degrees.

The Church’s mission, is religious in nature.  She must prophetically proclaim the message of salvation, for from this message derive tasks and energies capable of endowing all man’s daily activities with a deeper meaning.35  Fundamentally she has one single mission:  to pour out God’s light and life on all the dimensions of man’s personal and social existence.

Faith is the fundamental element both in the Christian life of the ecclesial community and its formation.  Thus we can readily see the essential importance of the Christian initiation process.  A sound education in the faith is needed if the believer is to live out his membership in the Church in a conscious and responsible way.36

There is no doubt that the spreading and the defense of the faith must take first place in our spiritual expression, and must be the prime object of our pastoral care.  We bishops are the teachers of the faith.  This is our main task and commitment.  We must strive to make the faith the fundamental driving principle of the Christian life of our communities.37

At the same time the Church gives due consideration to all human beings of other faiths.  “A sense of the dignity of the human person has been expressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man.  And the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgment, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty…  The Vatican Synod declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom.”38  In recognizing this freedom the Church strives to promote fellowship and unity among all men.  “For all peoples comprise a single community and have a single origin, since God made the whole race of men dwell over the entire face of the earth (Acts 17,26).  One also is their final goal:  God.”39

In respecting the rights of others, the Church still strives to deepen the faith of its members.  The life of faith cannot be regarded simply as an intellectual exercise; it must be regarded as an attitude or commitment, in the light of God’s plan, to everything that makes up the human world on the individual, social, economic, political, and educational plane.

In many areas and due to factors beyond our control the expression of Christian faith has been reduced to ritualism and sacramentalization at the expense of a more dynamic proclamation of the Word and the formation of the human person.  It is man, not only his soul, that has to be converted and saved.  Thus, salvation is the salvation of the whole man, as development is total human development.40

The true Gospel is not this kind of mechanical religious practice that certain poorly enlightened Christians have reduced it to.  It is definitely necessary to terminate the separation between faith and life, “because in Christ Jesus…  only faith working through love avails.”41  As James the Apostle says:  “Faith is like that:  if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.”42  It is only by living a Christian life that the Christian faith will operate our salvation.

The Church has endeavored to maintain her evangelizing heritage, using methods that were certainly valid for a long period of time.  But in recent times some bishops and priests have raised an important question:  What is the real status of faith among the people?  With the great changes taking place in the world, we may not yet have a clear idea of the new demands placed on proclamation and catechesis for our own people.

It pains us to see that few are the Christians who see Christianity as a personal commitment to Christ, as a sharing in his life, leading them to examine and implement the social implication of the faith.  Many Christians and perhaps quite a few priests may stand in perplexity when faced with new opinions.  If some theologians insist on the primordial and irreplaceable character of the proclamation of God’s Word and of the sacramental ministry, those who are taken up with the task of development, are troubled by an uneasy conscience.  If other theologians stress the primary role of development, then those whose task are those which belong to the more traditional patterns of the apostolate begin to question the value of what they are doing.43

As we have noted above, diverse circumstances create differing missionary situations and give rise to different modes of activity.  These circumstances depend fundamentally on the degree to which the Church is alive and firmly rooted in a given  situation, and on the degree to which the gospel is implanted in the life and culture of the people.44

“Without giving way to confusion or complete identification, we must make clear the deep underlying unity between God’s salvific plan, carried out by Christ, and man’s aspirations; between salvation history and human history; between Church, the People of God, and temporal communities; between God’s revelatory activity and human values.  We may thus rule out any and all dichotomy or dualism in the Christian…”45

We must see to it that our preaching, catechesis and liturgy take due account of the social and communitarian dimension of Christianity, forming human beings who are committed to building a peaceful world.

Cardinal Pignedoli has put it forcefully:  “We are not suprised that there are people who ask themselves in good faith:  Which duty should be given precedence:  evangelization or development?  Is it possible to preach the Gospel without having first fed one’s hungry listeners, without having first satisfied their basic human needs in matters such as housing, education and medical care?”

In reply, we must first of all point out a fundamental truth, namely that the two duties should not be considered as if they were separate and, still less, as if they were mutually exclusive.  They are not  opposed to each other, but are complementary.  To try to oppose religious values to earthly values is to show that one understands neither God nor man.  God wishes to save the ‘whole’ man, with both the temporal needs of his body and the eternal aspirations of his soul.  But it is his eternal destiny that has the priority; it conditions his earthly existence and gives its meaning.  Eternal values provide the only real safeguard for earthly values:  “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all the rest shall be added unto you …”  (Mt. 6:33; Lk 12:31).  One does not need to be a specialist in theology in order to realize the essential link between earthly values and eternal ones, and, here in his native land, I may quote Goethe in support of this:  “We are here on earth,”  he said, “to make what is temporary eternal, but we can do this only when we are able to appreciate both”.

“Missionaries of all times have perfectly well understood this harmony between the two values and have acted upon it; all missions have been like a Benedictine Abbey, which, alongside the church, has a school, a dispensary, a guesthouse, a farm.  The history of ‘Propaganda Fide’ is rich in directives and initiatives of a social nature.  “Pure evangelization,”  in  a disembodied form, has in fact never existed.  The theorists of development as an aspect of evangelization are in danger of inventing what was invented ages ago, though we must thank them for having given us a deeper realization of the need for social cooperation and for having pointed out that it is a duty, not merely in charity, but in justice.”46

In the midst of this apparent confusion it is important to stress that the Church has the prophetic task of awakening the conscience of the public, especially of those who are the decision-makers, in the light of God’s demand for justice.  The Church has received from Christ the mission of preaching the Gospel message, which contains a call to man to turn away from sin to the love of the Father, universal brotherhoood and a consequent demand for justice in the world.47

Briefly stated, therefore, by evangelization we mean the strictly religious activity of preaching God’s kingdom, the Gospel as a revelation of the plan of salvation in Christ, through the action of the Holy Spirit’s activity that has the ministry of the Church as its instrument, the building-up of the Church as its aim, and God’s glory as its final end:  this is the traditional doctrine and to it the Council has given its authoritative support.48

Development:  Its Relationship to Evangelization

Let us consider now the notion of development.  It goes far beyond the socio-economic level.  What is called perhaps too emphatically, the auto-creation of man, is also concerned with his culture and includes all that makes man a free and conscious being.  Development always postulates even a “mystique”.  We mean by this a vision and goal beyond man directing his searching, going beyond the individual to the limits of mankind, beyond the visible to the invisible, beyond time to the hope of eternity.49

By the word development we mean what the encyclical Populorum Progressio means:  we are dealing with integral development of the whole man and of every man.  This is first of all the working out of the new commandment of the Gospel:  “as Christ has loved you, love one another.”  In this perspective, work undertaken toward integral development is a genuine way of evangelization.  Its thrust goes beyond the temporal; this work, taken concretely, is a task which involves the whole of man, a task which demands a radical option of his spiritual freedom.50

Thus development is a series of changes, well or poorly coordinated, abrupt or gradual, from a phase of life perceived by a population and all of its components as being less human to a phase perceived as more human.51  Development is thus social and individual, material and spiritual.

The Church conscious of human aspirations towards dignity and well-being, pained by the unjust inequalities which still exist and often become more acute between nations and within nations, while respecting the competence of states, must offer her assistance for promoting “a fuller humanism”, that is to say “the full development of the whole man and of every man.”52  This is a logical consequence of our Christian faith.

The Church, indeed, is not alone responsible for justice in the world; however, she has a proper and specific responsibility which is identified with her mission of giving witness before the world of the need for love and justice contained in the Gospel message, a witness to be carried out in Church institutions themselves and in the lives of Christians.53

Seen in depth in this way, evangelization and development far from being in opposition, or even being separated from one another, compenetrate each other in the concrete in a unique movement of progress and of salvation, embracing every man and all mankind.  From this and only from this point of view will the discussion concerning the exact frontiers separating the temporal from the spiritual, the sacred from the secular be replaced with more profit by a convergence into the manifold concrete symbiosis of one and the other.  This symbiosis discovers its principle, its unity and its richness in man; it is man who reunites all.  But it belongs to Christians, in the light of Revelation and by the strength of the Spirit, to bring about a more profound unity perceived and seen in God by Jesus Christ, as Image and Head.54  As we said on another occasion:  “Christianity and democracy have one basic principle in common:  the respect for the dignity and value of the human person, the respect of those means which man requires to make himself fully human.”  (9 July 19.0)55

When  we try to look for this meaning in our national life and culture, we find we have a socio-cultural basis which facilitates the endeavor.  As a well-known writer has put it we have, embedded in our souls and culture, qualities of the spirit that are of no little significance to the task at hand.  He uses five pregnant words:  pagsasarili, which means the will to secure for every Filipino the means to develop himself as a responsible human being; pakikisama, the willingness to share with one another the burdens as well as the rewards of living together; pagkakaisa , the building up of an articulated national community through forms of social organizations understood, accepted, and undertaken by the people themselves; pakikipagkapwa-tao, which is human solidarity, but human solidarity understood as, first of all, a dedication to the development of one’s own nation that will enable it to participate on free and equal terms in the total development of mankind; finally, pagkabayani, the readiness to put the common good of the nation above private interests, whether of one’s own personal group or class.56  Is it not our common task, then, as Filipinos and as Christians, to try imbuing these basic attitudes of our people with a Christian spirit, to use them to the full in the service of the development of the whole man and of every man?

Coming back to the relationship between the two concepts of evangelization and development, we see that the first one, in the traditional sense, is constituted by the ministry of the word and the sacraments; and as such it reveals to men the deepest, the ultimate meaning of development, and gives to it a dynamism which is no longer a merely human thing.  To the extent that Christians are the visible instrument of the mediation of Christ, they render an irreplaceable service to the task of development.  For one’s acceptance of, and faithfulness to the Word gives him a new sense — a new understanding — of his responsibility for, and of the oneness of, the history and adventure of man.57

“It is in the name of this principle that the Church must support as best she can the struggle against ignorance, hunger, disease and social insecurity.  Taking her place in the vanguard of social action, she must bend all her efforts to support, encourage and push toward initiatives working for the full promotion of man.  Since she is the witness of human conscience and of divine love for men, she must take up the defense of the poor and the weak against every form of social injustice.”58

On the practical level , those who are engaged in “preaching the Good News”  must realize that evangelization is helped by activities concerned with the temporal and human development of the peoples being evangelized.  Those activities can become one with evangelization when, raised to the level of charity, they become ends, as it were, themselves, and also when, used rather as means, they precede and complete the work of evangelization.  This is especially important for the laity, called as they are to “seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs,”59 for they are fostering the full growth of man within this new framework of development.

It is important therefore that they do not lose heart, believing that the mission of Christ has been drowned, submerged, in a great technical or human enterprise, when in truth this same mission is its very soul and life-giving force.

To the extent that this task involves man, development becomes for us a reality which is not merely an “object lesson”;  it is a living and eloquent witness of the Lordship of Christ over the world.  This witnessing should be acknowledged as a work of evangelization in its strict sense, as an act which is explicitly religious.  This witness which is one of the ways by which evangelization is carried out, requires in turn the proclamation of the genuine word of salvation, thus revealing to men the mystery of our divine calling and answering “the problems and longings of the man of today.”

Wherever the personal preaching of the Word is not possible, the task of development, inspired by this spirit, retains a truly evangelizing significance.  It is a witness, a living and eloquent one at that.  For Christ “began to do and to teach.”60

Consequently, a Christian, a community — both Christian and missionary at once — will undoubtedly perceive in them a mystery.  And this mystery will already be a proclamation, not yet of Jesus explicitly preached, but at least of the presence in man of an ideal, of a faith, of a life which surpasses man and already has a reference to Jesus Christ although this reference does not appear clearly yet.

As Paul VI put it:  “If the debate between evangelization and development is considered on the doctrinal level , in terms of end and purpose, then the answer is to be found in the words of the Council decree:  “The specific purpose of missionary activity is evangelization and the planting of the Church…”61

The debate between evangelization and development will be rather, then, a question of method:  which should be attended to first.  The answer cannot be the same for all cases, but must depend on particular circumstances, faithful to the apostolic spirit and to the needs of different situations, always with a view to the efficacy and sanctity of the work.62  There should be no dilemma therefore.

The Church however must make her contribution to the task of development, a contribution that should be rendered in a spirit of service and not of paternalism.  “I have come, no to be served, but to serve.”  It is in the light of this principle that we must decide as to the opportunities of setting up or keeping alive certain institutions and as to the desirability of involvement in ways and structures which are not those of the Church itself:  we are here to serve.

It is against this background that we as bishops of the Philippines, commit ourselves resolutely to the concern for the total development of our people.  We believe that man’s humanity is God’s gift and making, and its promotion a task and duty laid on all of us by Him.

In Christ, God radically took on humanness:  “For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man.  He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice, and loved with a human heart.  Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.”63  All the dimensions, aspirations, and potentionalities of man are given divine confirmation. Thus, the necessity of human development is affirmed and assumed in Christ.  “Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom.”64  “Taking on human nature, He bound the whole human race to Himself as a family…”65  Therefore, there is need of fostering development based on Christian spirituality.  Without it something is missing in the whole human dimension.  And if the lack of cooperation for development comes from radical selfishness, then man becomes disloyal to man, then he is disloyal to the God who became incarnate in concrete, historical human nature. Man’s authentic and integral development finds its source and summit in Christ.66

When we examine the activity of Christ, the lessons of the finest missionary tradition, and the teachings of the Council, we see that proclaiming the gospel involves more than preaching and catechetics.  Every effort of evangelization must take account of the real life of the people at whom it is directed.  It must start from their life, their needs, their problems, and their aspirations.  Then it must go on to reveal and develop in them the values of the Gospel — particularly the Sermon on the Mount and Chapter 25 of Saint Matthew’s Gospel.  It must reveal these things in words, and then explain or bear witness to them in deeds when possible; this will put demands on us and call for some basic commitments.  The Church’s mission, then, must involve the proclamation of the Gospel message and the witness of the ecclesial community, for these things help human beings to carry out man’s integral development.67

Hence the reason why the Church should foster and promote development is theological and religious.  Ultimately it is not threatening features of a changing society nor human suffering, but the Gospel and God himself, that oblige the Christian to participate in the work of development.  The Church’s place however is not to direct this task since it is a properly temporal task that falls within the competence of civil authority and societal institutions.  The Church participates in this  work of civilizing society with her eyes on the Gospel, knowing that all human culture misses its true end without the Gospel.68

For a great majority of Christians in the Philippines, development and the structural changes it entails have no connection with faith and the sacraments.  Injustice and ignorance are not among the sins ordinarily acknowledged.  Thus Filipino Christians must become keenly aware of these things.  For poverty, violence, and the task of building a new society with its own intrinsic values are questions that relate to salvation itself.  Man is not saved by activities that take place on the outer rim of his life, but by the meaning that he gives to his own personal life and that of the community.

Hence springs our duty of promoting the betterment of man:  “In the socio-economic realm, too, the dignity and total vocation of the human person must be honored and advanced along with the welfare of society as a whole.  For man is the source, the center, and the purpose of all socio-economic life.”69

The specific function of the Church is to communicate to civil society the light and inspiration that wells up  from the gospel rounded vision of man and humanity.  “For the force which the Church can inject into the modern society of man consist in that faith and charity put into the vital practice, not in any external dominion exercised by merely human means.70  Addressing himself to the political aspect of society, Pope Paul VI says in his Apostolic Letter to Cardinal Roy:

• Political activity… should  be the projection of  a plan of  society which is consistent in its concrete means and in its  inspiration, and which springs  from  a complete conception  of man’s vocation and of its differing social expressions. It is not for the State or  even  for  political  parties..  to  try to impose an ideology by means  that  would lead to a dictatorship over minds, the worst kind  of  all.  It  is  for  cultural  and religious groupings, in the freedom  of  acceptance  which  they  presume  to develop in the social   body,  disinterestedly  and   in  their  own  ways,  those ultimate  convictions  on  the  nature,  origin  and end  of man and society…
This is why the need is felt to  pass from economics to  politics.  It  is  true  that  in  the  term  ‘politics’,  many confusions  are possible  and  must be clarified, but each man feels  that in the social   and  economic  field,  both national and  international, the ultimate decision rests with political power… Politics are a demanding manner –  but not the only ones — of living  the   Chrisitan  commitment   to  the  service  of  others.  Without of course solving every problem, it endeavors to apply solutions to the relationships men have with one another.
The domain  of politics is wide and comprehensive, but it is not exclusive.   An  attitude  of  encroachment which would tend to set up politics as an absolute value would bring serious danger.  While   recognizing  the  autonomy  of  the  reality  of   politics, Christians  who  are invited to take up political activity should try  to  make  their  choices  consistent with  the Gospel and, in the framework  of  a  legitimate plurality, to give both personal and   collective  witness  to  the  seriousness  of  their  faith  by effective and disinterested service of men.71

The last Synod of bishops, in their document Justice in the World, spoke forcefully when they said:

• The  Church has  received from Christ the mission of preaching the  Gospel  message, which   contains  a  call  to   man to  turn away from  sin to the love of  the Father, universal brotherhood and  the  consequent demand  for justice in the  world.  This  is the reason  why  the Church has the  right, indeed the  duty, to proclaim justice on the social, national and international level, and to denounce instances of injustices, when the fundamental rights of man  and his very salvation demand  it.  The Church, indeed,   is   not  alone   responsible  for  justice  in  the  world; however,  she  has  a  proper  and specific responsibility which is  identified  with  her  mission  of  giving  witness  before the world  of the need for love and justice contained in the Gospel message,  a  witness  to  be carried out in Church institutions themselves and in the lives of Christians.72

As  it was also well expressed in their document on The Ministerial Priesthood, the Synod of Bishops had this to say of both the priest and the entire Church:

• Together  with  the  entire  Church,  priests  are  obliged  to the utmost  of  their  ability,  to  select a  definite pattern of  action, when  it  is  a  question  of  the defense of  fundamental  human rights,  the  promotion  of the  full development of  persons and the pursuit  of  the cause of  peace and  justice; the means must indeed always be consonant with  the Gospel.  These principles are all valid  not only  in  the individual sphere, but also in the social field…73

Finally, Pope Paul VI wrote in a letter to CELAM in 1966: “In its overall view of development, Gaudium et Spes clearly insists upon the need for thorough-going structural reforms and social changes.”74  Hence his forceful stand:  “Continuing development calls for bold innovations that will work profound changes.  The present critical state of affairs must be corrected for the better without delay.”75

In this connection we must remember again that the thrust of development has to be conditioned by the needs and peculiar characteristics of each people.  There is not one single or unique model for development, and nothing can replace the initiative of the people themselves.  No external force can bring development to them, if they have not determined to commit themselves to their own development.

But we must acknowledge that it would be futile to work for development in our country without working for moral and religious vitalization.  Marxism is not entirely right when it tries to suggest that “better men will come only from a better structure.”  Reason and human experience show rather that there is a mutual interplay between men and the structures they build and it is faith that gives the whole process meaning.  Man is saved insofar as he adds a human dimension to his own existence, but he cannot reach total human fulfillment without God.  Man does not live by bread alone.76  A humanism without God is incomplete and in the end inhuman.77


In the Philippines today, especially under the rule of martial law and the avowed aim of the Government to create a “new society”, our service as Church, as Community, must take the form of support all that is genuinely good in the new directions being taken.  For these new directions are nothing more than concrete means towards the development we have been speaking of here.  Thus, the Government’s programs of land reform, peace and order, good government, more equitable distribution of wealth — all are worthwhile in themselves and look towards the total human development of our people, of the common tao especially, the great mass of the underprivileged among us.

But this service of ours, as we have time and again indicated in this letter, must always be in the light of the Gospel.  Hence we must seriously ask, in view of recent events, whether indeed development is taking place with justice, with truth, and above all with Christian charity.

We speak of justice.  For in the current striving to bring about a “new society” there is ever the danger that basic human rights will be pushed aside and ignored, due processes of law conveniently bypassed in the name of reform.  We have to be all the more wary about this danger then, in the light of what we said earlier about the common aspirations of modern man to participation and equality to the safeguarding of his dignity and freedom.  Our people are no strangers to these aspirations.  For in their ancestral wisdom, they know that the rights that these aspirations connote spell out most concretely for them what it means to be a Filipino.  Hence we must ask that in the new order of things, in the exercise of government and political power in our nation today, these rights remain inviolate.

We also speak of truth.  For if our people are to participate with freedom and dignity in the making of decisions that touch their very lives and persons; if they are to develop as a people in the integral manner we have been talking about here; then their right to the truth must be respected at all times.  “The truth will make you free.”  (Jn. )  This solemn declaration of Christ takes on a deeper meaning for us today in the limitation — temporary, we trust — of our people’s right to full information of events.  And for that same reason, we see all the more clearly its place in the right ordering of life itself.

And lastly, and above all, we speak of charity.  For it is Christ’s love that we have been concerned with here all along:  a love based on justice and on truth; a love that impels us to commit ourselves to the great task of development and evangelization.  Under conditions prevailing in the country today, this means for all of us, both as individuals and as community, unstinting service to the common good of all our people, be they Christian or Muslim, native or foreign-born, rich or poor.  It is in this service that we will incarnate that self-same charity in our lives and give witness to its transforming power.

May Christ’s Spirit guide you in your witness of service to His justice, His truth, and His love.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:



Archbishop of Caceres


July 4, 1973

Baguio City, Philippines

1  Encyclical of Pope Paul VI, “Populorum Progressio”  in Acta Apostolica Sedis, 59 (1967)

2  “Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia (New York, 1967) XI, 840-46.

3  Gaudium et Spes, art. 76.

4  Excellent books have been written as of late regarding this matter.  E.G. Elliot, The Development Debate (London:  SCM Press Ltd. 1971); R. Laurentin, Liberation, Development & Salvation (New York: Orbis Books, 1972); Between Honesty & Hope , trans. by J. Drury (New York:  Orbis Books, 1970).  We hope that in due time we may also have a primer on Evangelization and Development with concrete applications to the Philippine situation which may serve as basis for study and reflection.

5  Cf. C.G. Arevalo, “Mission of the Church in the Philippines,” paper read at Mirador, Baguio City (17 Feb. 1972)

6  “Structures for World Justice,” paper read by Barbara Ward at the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, 20 Oct. 71, in B. Ward, The Angry Seventies:  The Second Development Decade, a Call to the Churches (Rome, 1972) 67-70.

7  Cf. “The Working Draft of the Medellin Conference,” in Between Honesty and Hope, trans. by John Drury (New York, 1971) 173 (hereinafter this book will be referred to as BHH).

8  Cf. H. de la Costa, “Development and Liberation in the Philippines 1970′s,” Impact 6 (1971) 20-23, reprinted in Theology of Development and Liberation , ed. and comp by V. Gorospe, J. Roche, and A. Romualdez (Quezon City 1972) 78.  Hereinafter this compilation will be referred to as TDL .  See also in the same compilation, V. Valdepeñas, “The Filipino Harvest of Shame,” p.93, See The Communicator (Dec. 13, 1972), weekly publication of the National Office of Mass Media.

9  de la Costa, art. cit.

10  See The Communicator (15 Nov. 72)

11  See The Communicator (29 Nov. 72)

12  Gaudium et Spes, no. 71; see also the encyclical letters of Pope Pius XII, “Quadragesimo Anno” and Pope John XXIII, “Mater et Magistra”.

13  Valdepeñas, art. cit., pp. 94, 95, 97.

14  Cf. “Conclusing Reflections” of the 39th Louvain Missiological Week, Namur, Belgium, 24-29 August 1969, English trans. by William Malley, in Cardinal Bea Studies 2 (1970) 166.  Hereinafter referred to as CBS.

15  Cf. the address of Pope Paul VI at the Manila Cathedral in The Visit of His Holiness Pope Paul VI to the Philippines and the Asian Bishops’ Meeting, a pictorial issue published in 1971, p. 43.  Hereinafter this issue will be referred to as The Visit.

16  Cf. “A Missionary Church in Latin America,” in BHH, p. 103.

17  Cf. H. de la Costa, “The Priest in Philippine Life and Society:  An Historical View,” paper read at the AMRSMP Seminar on the Priesthood, Tagaytay City, 19-24 April 1971, a reprinted in Priest and Priesthood after Vatican II, Book I, comp. by C.G. Arevalo for private circulation only, pp. 114-115.

18  Cf. Introduction by Gustavo Gutierrez in BHH , pp. xiii and xv.

19  Cfr. “Brazilian Realities and the Church,” in BHH, p. 134.

20  Cfr. “The Church and Modern Latin America,” in BHH, pp. 30-32.

21  Cf. “The Working Draft of the Medellin Conference,” in BHH, p. 181

22  Cfr. “Servants to Society,” in BHH, p.60.

23  Ibid . p. 59.

24  Ad Gentes, no. 2.

25  Ad Gentes, nos. 3 and 4.

26  Ad Gentes, no. 2.

27  Ad Gentes, no. 35.

28  Lumen Gentium, no. 9.

29  Sergio Card. Pignedoli, “The Preaching of the Gospel to the Underdeveloped World,” “Omnis Terra, XXVIII, 2 (April 1970) 253-54.

30  Ad Gentes, no. 36.

31  Lumen Gentium, nos. 7 and 32.

32  Lumen Gentium, no. 3.

33  Ad Gentes, nos 1, 2 and 6.

34  Ad Gentes, no. 28.

35  Gaudium et Spes, no. 42.

36  Cf. “A Missionary Church in Latin America,” in BHH, p. 108.

37  Cf. the message of Pope Paul VI during the Asian Bishops’ meeting, in The Visit, p. 152.

38  Cf. Declaration on Religious Freedom

39  Cf. Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christians

40  Cf. “Underdevelopment in Colombia,” in BHH, p. 88; cf. also “The Working Draft of the Medellin Conference,” in BHH, p. 186.

41  Cf. “Concluding Reflections” of the 39th Louvain Missiological Week Namur, Belgium, 24-29 August 1969, English translation by William Malley, in Cardinal Bea Studies 2 (1970) 163.  Hereinafter referred to as CBS.

42  James 2:17.

43  Cf. “The Working Draft of the Medellin Conference,” in BHH, pp. 181, 186.

44  Ad Gentes, no. 6.

45  Cf. “Underdevelopment in Colombia,” in BHH, pp. 87-88.

46  Pignedoli, art. cit. pp. 254-55.

47  On this whole matter, cf. “The Philippine Echo Seminar on the Asian Ecumenical Conference on Development,” Philippine Studies 19 (1971)

48  Cf. the Message of Pope Paul VI for Mission Sunday, L’Osservatore Romano (English ed.) 25 June 1970, pp. 3-4.

49  Cf. CBS,p. 163.

50  Cf. C.G. Arevalo, “Mission Theology for our Times,”  a report on the SEDOS Symposium, Rome, 27-31 March 1969, in Teaching All Nations 6 (1969) 256-57.

51  Cf. Denis Goulet, “On the Goals of Development,” reprinted in TDL, p. 52.

52  Populorum Progressio, 42.

53  Cf. “Justice in the World,” Synod of bishops’ document (Rome, 1971) p.14.

54  Cf. CBS, p. 164.

55  Cf. The Visit, p. 153.

56  Cf. H. de la Costa, “The Filipino National Tradition,” Challenges for the Filipino, Lenten Lectures , 1971 (Manila, 1971) pp. 45ff.

57  Cf. Arevalo, “Mission Theology for our Times”, p. 162.

58  Cf. The Visit, p. 152.

59  See note 47.

60  See note 56.

61  See note 47.

62  Ibid.

63  Ibid.

64  Gaudium et Spes, no. 22.

65  Lk. 2:40.

66  Apostolicam Actuositatem, no. 8.

67  Cf. “Presence of the Church in Latin American Development,” in BHH, p.14; also Gaudium et Spes , no. 22.

68  Cf. “Brazilian Realities and the Church,” in BHH, p. 137.

69  Cf. “Presence of the Church in Latin American Development,” in BHH, p. 14.

70  Populorum Progressio, 63.

71  Gaudium et Spes, no. 42.

72  Apostolic Letter of His Holiness Pope Paul VI to Card. Maurice Roy on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the encyc. “Rerum Novarum,” printed by the Daughters of St. Paul (Pasay City, 1971) pp. 33-34, 55, 56-57.

73  Synod of bishops’ document “Justice in the World” (Pasay City: St. Paul Publications, 1972), pp. 18-19.

74  Synod of Bishops document “The Ministerial Priesthood” (Pasay City:  St. Paul Publications, 1972)

75  Cf. “Presence of the Church in Latin American Development,” in BHH, p. 19.

76  Populorum Progressio, 32.

77  Mt. 4:4.

78  Populorum Progressio, 42



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