Inclusion is not a fact or a goal; it is a process. As such and like development itself, it contributes to unity and well-being. Inclusion is about organized fraternity offering welcome and care; it is about a shared existence and a promise for coming generations. In all of its expressions, inclusion roots in the deeper concern for humanity. In working towards a better place for all, in devising global policies, ensuring universal access to education and social services, in moving beyond present limits, reviewing economic processes, addressing climate issues or considering new labor opportunities, inclusion grows from a true respect for every human being and nourishes a culture of care for today and tomorrow. Inclusion is indeed a very strong driver and builds on shared responsibility: a horizontal and societal process involving all of humanity and through which cohesive dynamics between all persons are generated.
Contributing to a perspective of global development and further shaping mankind’s future implies rights, respect for every human person and people- oriented policies. Rights come with duties and both rights and duties call upon all persons to share responsibility in development and community building. Policies and mechanisms that incentivize inclusion are therefore also at the core of vertical structures contributing to justice and peace, equity and freedom. It should nevertheless be emphasized that the strength and identity of social cohesion is largely found in the horizontal community dynamics. This is where Catholic organizations work.
"Leaving no one behind" is today heralded as a motto for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, it cannot be just another landmark in development. It urgently calls for inclusion, a responsibility to be shared by all and at all stages of societal growth. Such shared responsibility is a matrix for a person-centered approach, for solidarity and global fraternity. It enhances the respect for life, the roles of family and educators, the “space” offered to foreigners, the implementation of rights and duties, the participation of the youth and the elderly, as well as the care given to our common home.
Today's policies and mentalities have gradually become subject to strong feelings of overall insecurity and of uncertainties ingraining material well-being. Never before was there so much talk on preserving and organizing the future, yet never before have we seen so much resistance to comply with the means to reach the goals set. The paradox is mainly explained by the individualism that increasingly permeates communities and nations. It confirms the urgency to promote a more inclusive society and the need to address social ruptures, thus generating renewed confidence in the future. Profit-centered policies can therefore no longer remain the sole or major reference value for sustainable development: additional societal dynamics and ethics based on a more integral and anthropological vision of development are needed.
Bulding on these premises, Catholic inspired organizations fully integrate inclusion as a Christian mission. Inspired by the Gospel message, and well aware of today’s numerous challenges and their increasing complexity, the Forum of Catholic Inspired Organizations developed a dedicated space of collaboration. In his address to the Forum participants, Pope Francis emphasized the need for such collaboration, highlighting how much “today’s world is calling for new boldness and new imagination in opening new paths of dialogue and cooperation, in order to promote a culture of encounter where, in accordance with the creative plan of God, the dignity of every human person is foremost.” (1)
We would like to express our gratitude to the Holy Father for these encouraging words. We also thank all of the participating organizations for their detailed contributions, dedicated analysis and creative responses.
Members of the Board
(1) Francis, Address to Participants in the Forum of Catholic-Inspired Non-Governmental Organizations, December 7, 2019.