Human beings are social, and how we live together affects the dignity of the individual and the progress of society. All persons are entitled to participate in community and in decisions that affect their lives. Societies must encourage and enable people to be protagonists, not passive but active players in history.


It is impossible to imagine a future for society without the active participation of great majorities as protagonists, and such proactive participation overflows the logical procedures of formal democracy. Moving towards a world of lasting peace and justice calls us to go beyond paternalistic forms of assistance; it calls us to create new forms of participation that include popular movements and invigorate local, national and international governing structures with that torrent of moral energy that springs from including the excluded in the building of a common destiny. And all this with a constructive spirit, without resentment, with love.

Example in action:

Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada is a member-driven, democratic organization. Members across Canada form diocesan councils that elect from among themselves our governing body, the national council. Each year, we mobilize an education campaign that highlights our roles and responsibilities as global citizens and gives members an opportunity act. Abroad, we support grassroots organizations that work to empower communities. Some of our partners help marginalized communities form cooperatives and unions. Others educate communities about their legal rights and defend the territorial rights of threatened peoples.

Our partners empower communities to be the protagonists of their own development. Be it in long-term social change programs or emergency and reconstruction activities, the communities we work with are active participants in identifying their needs, proposing solutions and implementing new ways of working together. This participatory approach often takes longer and sometimes even costs more, but it guarantees the ownership and sustainability of process and results.

When people can participate and feel like protagonists, they are able to help write the story of God’s work for justice in our world.

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