Themes

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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 633

The Populorum Progressio was written by Giovanni Battista Montini, better known as Pope Paul VI, in 1967. This text was written for many reasons. To begin with, part of the purpose of the text is to explain the state of the world and the suffering and inequality present in modern-day civilization. Another purpose of the text is to offer advice that may serve to correct some of these aforementioned struggles.

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Human Generosity and Charity

In the text, Montini acknowledges that there are many struggling countries in the world and that those nations with an abundance of resources should offer help and support. Montini says that a Pontifical Commission was set up to inform all of God's people what their moral obligations were on this matter. They were expected to use their time, energy, and resources to "further the progress of poorer peoples, to encourage social justice among nations, [and] to offer less developed nations the means whereby they can further their own progress." Montini states that not only is giving to the less fortunate socially just, but the future of civilization as a whole also depends upon the fulfillment of this duty.

Unity and Solidarity To Cement a Brighter Future

Montini states that it is "in the design of God" that all men should be able to work towards fulfilling their individual destiny. However, he warns that this individual goal should not be a human's only purpose. He goes on to state that each man has a responsibility to society and to all of humanity. For example, today's humans benefitted from those who came before; thus, there is a moral imperative to help lay a positive foundation for those will come later. He states that "we have obligations to all, and we cannot refuse to interest ourselves in those who will come after us to enlarge the human family." Only by working together can humans realize their own full potential and make the future more beautiful for later generations. To accomplish this goal, open dialogue and shared resources are vital.

Human Greed

Montini sees greed as a stumbling block to the unity and solidarity he promotes so vigorously. He calls this vice a "moral deficiency" which will hinder a human's divine fulfillment and stall humanity's ability to gather together in Christ. He urges the reader to practice "the higher values of love and friendship [and] of prayer and contemplation."

The Benefits and Disadvantages of Colonialism

It is Montini's belief that colonialism has had a positive and negative impact on needy and underdeveloped nations. He asserts that colonizing powers helped advance flagging nations' knowledge of technology and science. He says they also helped enhance communication, fostered more sanitary and comfortable living conditions, and made improvements in the general health and wellness of the people whose lands they inhabited. On the other hand, he also warns that needy nations are often deserted by colonizing peoples after their own selfish motives have been met. This often leaves the colonized nations in a "precarious" and unstable situation, both economically and otherwise. He warns that the instability of these nations who have seemingly been used for gain and then abandoned also creates heated emotions in the natives. He fears this bitterness and struggle may rise to the surface and have destructive impacts.

The Struggle Between Tradition And Change And Its Undeniable Impact on the Young

Montini asserts that technology and other widespread industrial developments have created a moral crisis for young people who live in these societies. They are torn between keeping their allegiance to their traditional ways and customs or embracing the new ideas of more modernized societies. Montini hypothesizes that while converts may gain physical advancements and pleasures if they embrace newer ideologies, the loss of traditional religious and societal foundations may cause spiritual and religious decline.

Christian Themes

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 285

In Populorum Progressio, Paul VI offers focused reflection on the Christian themes of solidarity, options for the poor, and Christian anthropology. He explains that all people have the same supernatural destiny and are called to contribute to the building up of the human community. This shared destiny brings people in unity with their brothers and sisters. A fruit of this unity is the virtue of solidarity, which entails being aware of the sufferings of others and assisting those in need.

Central to solidarity is the need to be attentive to the situation of the impoverished. Paul acknowledges that the voices of the impoverished tend to go unheard because they lack the wealth and power to gain the attention of others. Therefore, all people must make efforts to acknowledge the needs of others so that the poor will also have the opportunity to contribute to society. In particular, Paul states that private property should be expropriated when owners abuse their land while others go without necessities. Further, Paul encourages the development of a world fund and calls for reflection on how international trade relations can be equalized.

Paul also makes frequent mention of the need to develop a genuine understanding of humans. Paul states that economic development alone is not sufficient. He argues that for people to be fully human, they must have a peaceful family and political community, education, moral formation, and spiritual orientation toward their origin and end. Paul argues that Christian social teaching is more than a set of principles and rules because this teaching promotes the fulfillment of human life. Promoting Christian social teaching, then, is not an imposition on others but an act of charity expressed for the benefit of others.

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