On October 20th, 1967, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace was incorporated as a non-profit organization duly recognized by the Registrar-General of Canada. This important milestone in the life of our movement came eight months after the publication of Pope Paul VI’s great social encyclical Populorum Progressio: On the Development of People.
Referring to the times as an “hour of crisis,” Pope Paul challenged the affluent of the world to recognize that the “road to peace” lies in overcoming the problems of underdevelopment that afflict two-thirds of humanity. He emphasized that the central purpose of development is the human person and that our dignity as persons confers on us certain inalienable rights and duties. Of primary importance is the right to life, and all that renders life possible: food, clothing, shelter, education, employment and the right to participate in decisions affecting our lives. For the past 47 years Development and Peace has risen to this great challenge.
Yesterday, at the Mass celebrating the beatification of Pope Paul VI, Pope Francis repeated the words used by Paul VI when he first established the Synod of Bishops: “By carefully observing the signs of the times, we strive to adapt the guidelines and methods […] the growing needs of our time and the evolution of society.”
These words should continue to inspire us as we are about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Development and Peace. This anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the many achievements of Development and Peace and its partners. It will also be a time of reflection and renewal – a time to recall our past and courageously face the years ahead.
Together we will journey towards our 50th anniversary when we will celebrate our rich history, inspire deeper solidarity and relaunch Development and Peace into the future.