Catechism of the Catholic Church

586 Part Three 2439 Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events. It is a duty in solidarity and charity; it is also an obligation in justice if the prosperity of the rich nations has come from resources that have not been paid for fairly. 2440 Direct aid is an appropriate response to immediate, extraor­ dinary needs caused by natural catastrophes, epidemics, and the like. But it does not suffice to repair the grave damage resulting from destitution or to provide a lasting solution to a country’s needs. It is also necessary to reform international economic and financial institutions so that they will better promote equitable relationships with less advanced countries. 228 The efforts of poor countries working for growth and liberation must be supported. 229 This doctrine must be applied especially in the area of agricultural labor. Peasants, especially in the Third World, form the over­ whelming majority of the poor. 2441 An increased sense of God and increased self-awareness are fundamental to any full development of human society. This de­ velopment multiplies material goods and puts them at the service of the person and his freedom. It reduces dire poverty and eco­ nomic exploitation. It makes for growth in respect for cultural identities and openness to the transcendent. 230 2442 It is not the role of the Pastors of the Church to intervene directly in the political structuring and organization of social life. This task is part of the vocation of the lay faithful, acting on their own initiative with their fellow citizens. Social action can assume various concrete forms. It should always have the common good in view and be in conformity with the message of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. It is the role of the laity “to animate temporal realities with Christian commitment, by which they show that they are witnesses and agents of peace and justice.” 231 228 Cf. SRS 16. 229 Cf. CA 26. 230 Cf. SRS 32; CA 51. 231 SRS 47 § 6; cf. 42. 1908 899