The encyclical Centesimus Annus is a letter prepared by Pope John Paul II and made publicly available. The aim of the letter was to inform Catholic social doctrine as it concerned the issue and threat posed by dictatorial communist regimes. At the time the letter was prepared, most territories under communism were going through social upheavals due to extreme human rights abuses. Individual freedoms and rights, including those of private ownership, were being infringed upon by different dictatorial regimes. Through his encyclical, Pope John Paul II called upon the different regimes to become agents of social and economic justice by protecting the rights of all its citizens.
Centesimus Annus remains relevant today because it seeks to improve the status of international human rights given some current regimes are still perpetrating human rights abuses. The letter also informs people of their responsibility to peacefully reject dictatorial regimes and practices. In addition, the letter outlines the responsibility of developed countries in assisting developing countries to improve the quality of life for their people.