Octogesima Adveniens (Eightieth Anniversary)

Pope Paul VI, 1971

Pope Paul VI wrote the Apostolic letter “Octogesima Adveniens” in 1971 as a letter to Cardinal Maurice Roy, the President of the Council of Laity and of the Pontifical Commission on Justice and Peace on the eightieth anniversary of the encyclical Rerum Novarum.  His Holiness sought to highlight many social issues facing people at the time and to inspire renewed action for lay members to participate in social and political reform according to the Gospel.

Eighty years after the publication of Rerum Novarum, many pressing issues still concerned the world.  Pope Paul VI noted that many new social problems confronted society including urbanization and movement away from largely agrarian societies, the challenges of living and working in a city, discrimination, the ability of workers to form associations and find employment, and the ability to emigrate.

The Holy Father noted that many of these inequities are common to all peoples and are problems that the whole world must be addressed.  At the same time, there are many different and unique situations around the world and it is up to local Christian communities to analyze their societies’ problems in light of the Gospel and the social teachings.  (Paragraph 4)

In the face of these problems and new technological and scientific advances, the Church is supportive of community’s efforts to give direction to their future.  Today, people are striving to achieve equality and participation, manifestations of dignity and freedom. These two aspirations promote education and a democratic type of society.

As noted in Populorum Progressio, the Church desires to see the full flowering of people.  Scientific advances an important element in this mission, and although they cannot give a complete picture of humankind, they have a positive impact on humanity.

To solve the multitude of problems facing humanity today the Church must be vigilant works for the common good.  There must be greater justice in the sharing of goods nationally and internationally.

The goal of political power must be the common good, but in the political process there is often a legitimate variety of possible options.  The same Christian faith can lead to different commitments.  Christians must be involved in the building up of a just world at the local level in their communities.

Link to: Octogesima Adveniens

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