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Encyclical Letter

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Pacem in Terris, Peace on Earth
Pope John XXIII, April 11, 1963
This document is available on the Vatican Web Site:

In Peace on Earth, Pope John XXIII contends that peace can be established only if the social order set down by God is fully observed. Relying extensively on reason and the natural law tradition, John XXIII sketches a list of rights and duties to be followed by individuals, public authorities, national governments, and the world community. Peace needs to be based on an order “founded on truth, built according to justice, vivified and integrated by charity, and put into practice in freedom.”

Written during the first year of Vatican II, Peace on Earth was the first encyclical addressed to “all people of good will.” Issued shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and the erection of the Berlin Wall, this document spoke to a world aware of the dangers of nuclear war. Its optimistic tone and development of a philosophy of rights made a significant impression on Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Order Between people Every human is a person, endowed with intelligence and free will, who has universal and inviolable rights and duties (#9). Rights • Rights to life and worthy standard of living, including rights to proper development of life and to basic security (#11). • Rights of cultural and moral values, including freedom to search for and express opinions, freedom of information, and right to education (#s 12-13). • Rights to religion and conscience (#14). • Rights to choose one’s state in life, including rights to establish a family and pursue a religious vocation (#s 15-16). • Economic rights, including right to work, to a just and sufficient wage, and to hold private property (#s 18-22). • Rights of meeting and association (#23). • Right to emigrate and immigrate (#25). • Political rights,...

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