Pope John Paul II, 1987
In Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Pope John Paul II celebrates the twentieth anniversary of Populorum Progressio by updating the Church’s teaching on the “development of peoples” and changes that took place in the preceding two decades.
Populorum Progressio was inspired by the Church’s desire to help the millions of people who lived in a state of poverty and underdevelopment. The document concluded by noting that “development is the new name for peace,” (Paragraph 10) another mission of the Church.
The Pope points out that despite some progress in the two decades since Populorum Progressio’s publication, the gap between developed and developing countries continued to widened in a variety of areas, including: the production and distribution of goods, hygiene, health and housing, availability of drinking water, and working conditions (especially for women).
Lack of adequate housing, unemployment and international debt all threaten humanity. These three phenomenons were characteristic of the 1960s and 1970s when despite praiseworthy efforts, the conditions for many became notably worse.
Although the present danger has lessened, the cold war hampered the development of many nations in the southern hemisphere. Instead of becoming autonomous nations concerned with their own progress, developing nations were pawns in the battle between the West and the East. Instead, Pope John Paul II wrote, developing nations should receive aid from all of the richer and more developed countries.
One area that seems to transcend ideological differences between the East and the West was the arms trade. Instead of using resources to help alleviate the misery of people around the globe, funds and energy are used to stockpile arms to try and gain the upper hand in the Cold War. The new phenomenon of terrorism, which is explicitly forbidden in Christianity, also threatens the safety and security of society.
The dignity and life of all individuals...