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Sollicitudo Rei Socialis


Written in 1987, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (Solicitude for Social Issues) was John Paul II's second social encyclical. In it, the pontiff elaborates on Catholic social teaching and applies its principles to the problem of under-developed and developing nations. Central to this social teaching is that all aspects of social action must "respect and promote all the dimensions of the human person." The pontiff's essential message is that progress is about more than the accumulation of material goods or social power, and so it supersedes vying economic or ideological systems. Rather, progress is found in justice and the "authentic development" of the human person. After the introduction, section two, "Originality of the Encyclical Populorum Progressio," comments on Pope Paul VI's letter of twenty years prior. Section three "Survey of the Contemporary World," lays out the pope's understanding of the current situation. Section four "Authentic Human Development," explores the meaning of "development" in light of Catholic social teaching. Section five, "A Theological Reading of Modern Problems," applies this teaching to the current situation. Section six, "Some Particular Guidelines," provides a way forward, paying special attention to the Church's "preference for the poor."