Authentic Human Development

Progressio development worker project, ZimbabweThere is more to progress than economic growth. Genuine progress must be complete. No one can be left out. No part of any one can be left out.” Populorum Progressio -“Development of the peoples” (1967), paragraph 14.

Too often, wealth generation is used as the milestone against which development is measured. But authentic development is much more than economic progress. As Pope Paul VI reminds us, it is about the development of people as human beings. True progress allows every individual to grow into the person God intended them to be.

Whenever one person’s freedom or greed diminishes another person’s flourishing, or wherever one nation’s prosperity is detrimental to another’s, authentic development is denied. Real advancement affirms the dignity of each individual and nourishes their growth as human beings made in the image of God. In the words of the livesimply message, “This would be true progress, worth more than economic growth alone”.

By recognising each other’s needs and joining hands in solidarity, many woman in the majority world often model what authentic development means. They affirm each other’s worth and are eager to embrace changes which bring greater fulfilment to the whole community, whether through working co-operatively, sharing resources or being the voice of peace.

Annabel Shilson-Thomas


CAFOD is the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. CAFOD believes that all human beings have a right to dignity and respect, and that the world’s resources are a gift to be shared equally by all men and women, whatever their race, nationality or religion. Underpinning CAFOD’s work is a deeply held set of values that are central to its ethos and identity. We act based on principles of compassion, solidarity, stewardship and hope.

Photo: Progressio development worker project, Zimbabwe. [Photo credit: Marcus Perkins/Progressio]