Last Updated September 5, 2023.
One important concept to understand in the Populorum Progressio is what the author means by development. He says,
The development We speak of here cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man. As an eminent specialist on this question has rightly said: "We cannot allow economics to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place. What counts for us is man—each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole.''
This means that the Catholic Church needs to approach development from a holistic perspective. It's not just about building countries up so that everyone is on the same level. It's about working to build up each individual human person. This is one of the reasons why education, safe working conditions, and fair wages are addressed in the document as functions of development. Each of these things allows man the dignity of work and allows him to focus on improving his community and his relationship with God.
When putting forth ideas about how to stimulate development, there are three things the author believes are the obligations of wealthy nations. These are things they need to focus on as they work to help less-wealthy nations build themselves up. He says:
This duty concerns first and foremost the wealthier nations. Their obligations stem from the human and supernatural brotherhood of man and present a three-fold obligation: 1) mutual solidarity—the aid that the richer nations must give to developing nations; 2) social justice—the rectification of trade relations between strong and weak nations; 3) universal charity—the effort to build a more humane world community, where all can give and receive, and where the progress of some is not bought at the expense of others. The matter is urgent, for on it depends the future of world civilization.
These require countries to work together; not every country has the same amount to give or the same need. To fulfill the mission that the author is giving wealthier countries, they need to come together in solidarity to help other countries. They also need to understand that trade can be automatically unfair when one country is more privileged than another. These guidelines are things that the author believes can help create development in a more fair and God-centered way.
Another way that the author suggests the world stimulate development is through the creation of a world fund. He suggests that nations put aside part of their military budget to help fight worldwide poverty. He explains that
It is certainly all right to maintain bilateral and multilateral agreements. Through such agreements, ties of dependence and feelings of jealousy—holdovers from the era of colonialism —give way to friendly relationships of true solidarity that are based on juridical and political equality. But such agreements would be free of all suspicion if they were integrated into an overall policy of worldwide collaboration. The member nations, who benefit from these agreements, would have less reason for fear or mistrust. They would not have to worry that financial or technical assistance was being used as a cover for some new form of colonialism that would threaten their civil liberty, exert economic pressure on them, or create a new power group with controlling influence.
So not only would it help eliminate poverty but it, too, would create more friendly, trustful relations between countries. This seems to be one of the benefits that the Pope mentions repeatedly would come from the actions he urges countries to take. Working together will, of course, foster better communication. So not only will promoting holistic development help impoverished people, but it will benefit the wealthier nations as well by creating better ties to other countries.