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Social Encyclicals

November 21, 2011 Social Encyclicals, Catholic Social Teaching

Pope John XXII, 1961

Pope John XXIII wrote this encyclical in 1961 to continue the tradition of Rerum Novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo Anno (1931). The world had changed considerably in the previous 30 years both politically and economically. The Great Depression and World War II had ended, the cold war had begun, and technology allowed for increased productivity, but vast poverty remained across the globe.

November 21, 2011 Social Encyclicals, Catholic Social Teaching
John Paul II, 1981

The encyclical Laborem Exercens was written by Pope John Paul II in 1981 to celebrate 90 years since the publication of Rerum Novarum.

In those ninety years issues surrounding employment and labor have not ceased to remain of importance to the Church.  Work has changed considerably since the industrial revolution and technological and innovative advances are accelerating that change.  In this encyclical His Holiness focuses on the dignity of human work in the contemporary world.

November 21, 2011 Social Encyclicals, Catholic Social Teaching
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2004

Almost 115 years after the publication of Rerum Novarum the Church sought to compile and summarize its modern social teachings.  In 2004 the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace published Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church to summarize and restate the Church’s social teachings to serve as a reference for all Catholics.

November 21, 2011 Social Encyclicals, Catholic Social Teaching
Pope John XXIII, 1963

Pope John XXIII wrote the encyclical Pacem in Terris in April of 1963 to address a world deeply engaged in the Cold War. The Berlin Wall had just gone up and the Cuban Missile Crisis frightened millions as nuclear weapons began to proliferate.

At a time in world history marked by powerful new weapons, rivalry, and fear His Holiness sought to reassure not only the Catholic World, but also all people, that peace on earth is possible through the divinely established order.

November 21, 2011 Social Encyclicals, Catholic Social Teaching
Pope John Paul II, 1987

In Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Pope John Paul II celebrates the twentieth anniversary of Populorum Progressio by updating the Church’s teaching on the “development of peoples” and changes that took place in the preceding two decades.

Populorum Progressio was inspired by the Church’s desire to help the millions of people who lived in a state of poverty and underdevelopment.  The document concluded by noting that “development is the new name for peace,” (Paragraph 10) another mission of the Church.

November 21, 2011 Social Encyclicals, Catholic Social Teaching
Pope Benedict XVI, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI wrote the encyclical Deus Caritas Est in 2005 about God’s love for humanity.  In a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even hatred, Benedict seeks to speak of the limitless love that God lavishes on humanity.

The encyclical is divided into two parts.  The first section discusses God’s love and the reality of human love.  In the second part, Benedict focuses on the commandment to love one’s neighbor especially the laities role in creating a just society.

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