Challenged to Live Eucharistically

The dismissal rite at the end of Mass challenges us to ‘go and announce the gospel’. In other words, we are called to participate in the
transformation of our world.

‘As often as you did this to the least of my people, you did this to me.’ (Mt 25:45)

Catholic Social Teaching promotes a vision of a just society. These teachings are often expressed in formal teaching documents of the Church such as Papal Encyclicals, and in the pastoral letters of local Bishops. In the words of Pope John Paul II there are eleven principles of Catholic Social Teaching:

  1. Human Dignity
  2. Community
  3. Rights and Duties
  4. Options for the Poor
  5. Participation
  6. Economic Justice
  7. Stewardship of Creation
  8. Solidarity
  9. Role of Government
  10. Building Common Ground
  11. Promotion of Peace

These principles should guide how we interact with each other and with our world. Working to achieve the Millennium Development Gaols is one way of translating these principles into practical outcomes.

‘Our responsibility is to keep the promise made to the poorest, for which we will be held accountable.’
Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) stemmed from the Millennium Declaration produced by the United Nations at the Millennium Summit in 2000. The Declaration was adopted by all world leaders present.

It asserts that every individual has the right to dignity, freedom, equality, a basic standard of living that includes freedom from hunger and violence, and encourages tolerance and solidarity. The MDGs were established to equip these ideas by setting targets and indicators for poverty reduction in order to achieve the rights set forth in the Declaration on a set fifteen-year timeline.

The eight MDGs break down into 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators (Kabeer, 2010).

The MDGs focus on three major areas of human development: strengthening human capital, improving infrastructure, and increasing social, economic and political rights, mainly concentrated on improving basic standards of living.

Within the human capital focus, the objectives chosen include improving nutrition, healthcare (including reducing levels of child mortality, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and increasing reproductive health), and education.

With regard to infrastructure, the objectives are aimed at increasing access to safe drinking water, energy and modern information / communication technology; amplifying farm outputs through sustainable practices; improving transportation infrastructure; and preserving the environment.

Lastly, the objectives for the social, economic and political rights focus, incorporate empowering women, reducing violence, increasing political voice, ensuring equal access to public services, and increasing security of property rights. The goals chosen were intended to increase an individual’s human capabilities and ‘advance the means to a productive life’ (United Nations, 2006).

The way in which the MDGs were formulated recognises that policy has to be tailored to the individual needs of countries. As such, most policy suggestions are general in nature.

The MDGs also emphasise the role of developed countries in aiding developing countries, as outlined in Goal Eight. Goal Eight sets objectives and targets for developed countries to achieve a ‘global partnership for development’ by supporting fair trade, debt relief for developing nations, increasing aid and access to affordable essential medicines, and encouraging technology transfer (United Nations, 2006). Thus developing nations are not seen as left to achieve the MDGs on their own, but as an equal in the developing-developed partnership to reduce world poverty.

Human rights are essential to achieving and sustaining development. The Millennium Declaration, recognised the link between human rights, good governance and development. More then ten years after the MDGs were established, it is clear that the objectives of human well being and dignity for all, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, will not be achieved if the MDGs are pursued in isolation from human rights.




Choose a goal and a country to research and write a case study on.


Write an essay on ‘Challenges to the MDGs’ (Hints: debt relief, corruption, lack of local participation)


Prepare and hold a class debate on the MDGs. One side for them, and the other against. Is there a middle ground?


Go to the ‘World Bank – You think, but do you know?’ page and participate in a blog. You can get information about the global issues that matter to you, share your stories, and figure out what you can do to make a difference. 


Think of ways you can get involved and act on them.