Pope Paul VI begins Populorum Progressio by explaining that he has turned his attention to the progress of the peoples of the world because of the widespread hunger, poverty, endemic disease, and ignorance present in underdeveloped nations. He explains that he has seen the social evils firsthand and states that the problems are urgent.
Paul breaks Populorum Progressio into two main sections: humankind’s complete development and the common development of humankind. In the first section, Paul repeatedly acknowledges that progress is a “two-edged sword.” He explains that colonialism has led to technological advances but has often entailed self-seeking activities, missionary work has spread the Gospel through charitable activity but has also engaged in cultural imposition, and industrialization has led to economic growth but has encouraged the evils of unbridled liberalism as well as the neglect of moral and spiritual goods.
To avoid the negative effects of progress, Paul proposes that social activity should seek to address the whole person. With this holistic view in mind, Paul provides a list of conditions important for human development. He describes these conditions on three levels: first, material necessities, social peace, education, and refinement and culture; second, awareness of human dignity, spirit of poverty, interest in the common good, and desire for peace; and third, sharing in God’s life. Paul writes that every person has certain aptitudes and tasks to contribute to society and the building of God’s kingdom.
Paul encourages the wealthy to stand in solidarity with those who are impoverished. Solidarity entails acknowledging the sufferings of our brothers and sisters and doing what we can to eliminate their difficulties. In particular, Paul emphasizes the universal destination of goods, which implies that wealthy individuals should share their fruits with those who lack material necessities. Paul states that the universal destination of goods is primary to the rights to private property and free trade. If property is...
(The entire section is 855 words.)