I am struggling rather with a couple of sections of Populorum Progessio. In  §15-16 the Pontiff makes some statements which seem really very odd.

Personal Responsibility

15. In God’s plan, every man is born to seek self-fulfillment, for every human life is called to some task by God. At birth a human being possesses certain aptitudes and abilities in germinal form, and these qualities are to be cultivated so that they may bear fruit. By developing these traits through formal education of personal effort, the individual works his way toward the goal set for him by the Creator.

Endowed with intellect and free will, each man is responsible for his self-fulfillment even as he is for his salvation. He is helped, and sometimes hindered, by his teachers and those around him; yet whatever be the outside influences exerted on him, he is the chief architect of his own success or failure. Utilizing only his talent and willpower, each man can grow in humanity, enhance his personal worth, and perfect himself.

Man’s Supernatural Destiny

16. Self-development, however, is not left up to man’s option. Just as the whole of creation is ordered toward its Creator, so too the rational creature should of his own accord direct his life to God, the first truth and the highest good. Thus human self-fulfillment may be said to sum up our obligations.

Moreover, this harmonious integration of our human nature, carried through by personal effort and responsible activity, is destined for a higher state of perfection. United with the life-giving Christ, man’s life is newly enhanced; it acquires a transcendent humanism which surpasses its nature and bestows new fullness of life. This is the highest goal of human self-fulfillment.

I find it very hard to see how these passages are not Pelagian. Even Semi-Pelegian seems a bit generous. Especially the words “whatever be the outside influences exerted on him, he is the chief architect of his own success or failure”. I suppose one might say that grace is assumed throughout and that the passage only concerns man’s relation to ‘outside’ influence not grace (which moves from within). One would have to interpret the  ‘higher state of perfection’ referred to as the evangelical counsels. Still it is the most extreme case of ambiguous optimistic magisterium prose I have come across.

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