Silicitudo Rei Socialis
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Sollicitudo Rei Socialis
(Concern for Social Realities)
Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II, 1988
Major Areas of Concern:

Authentic Development

North/South Gap

East/West Blocs


Option for the Poor

Structures of Sin

Ecological Concerns
Historical Note
Came on the 20th Anniversary of “Populorum Progressio”
Written before the full impact of glasnost made itself felt in international relations.
Social doctrine seeks to lead people to respond to their vocation as responsible builders of earthly society
It is marked by continuity and renewal
Current encyclical celebrates 20th anniversary of the development of peoples, emphasizes need for fuller concept of development
Originality of the Development of Peolples
Application of Vatican II
It responded to call of The Church in the Modern World
It applied Councils teachings to specific problems of development and underdevelopment
Originality of Message
It emphasized ethical and cultural character of problems connected with development, and the legitimacy and necessity of Churchs intervention in this field

It affirmed worldwide dimension of social question, and hence the duty of solidarity between rich and poor
It asserted that the “development is the new name for peace,” challenging the arms race and linking peace and justice
Survey of Contemporary World
Unfulfilled Hopes for Development
Twenty years ago there was widespread optimism about possibility of overcoming poverty and promoting development
But in general the present situation is negative:
innumerable multitudes suffer intolerable burden of poverty:
many millions have lost hope, seeing their situation worsened.
Widened Gap between North and South
Developing countries are falling behind developed in terms of production and distribution of basics
Unity of world is compromised, with division into First, Second, Third, Fourth Worlds
Cultural underdevelopment shown in: illiteracy, lack of participation, exploitation, religious oppression, racial discrimination, etc.
Right of economic initiative, for service of the common good, is often suppressed, frustrating peoples creativity
Totalitarianism makes people “objects”
Other form of poverty exist, e.g., denial of human rights such as right to religious freedom
Causes of worsened situation include:
omissions on part of developing countries;
lack of response by the affluent world;
mechanisms (economic, political, social) manipulated to benefit some at the expense of others
Interdependence separated from ethical requirements is disastrous for both rich and poor countries
Specific Signs of Underdevelopment
Housing crisis, experienced universally, is due largely to increasing urbanization
unemployment and underemployment grow, raising serious questions about the type of development pursued
Global debt, forcing debtor nations to export capital, is aggravating underdevelopment
Political Reasons for Underdevelopment
Existence of two opposing blocs, East and West, has considerable impact on development of people
Political opposition rests on deeper ideological opposition:
liberal capitalism of the West
Marxist collectivism of the East
Military opposition results, with tensions of “cold war”, “wars by proxy”
Churchs social doctrine is critical toward both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism
Recently independent countries become involved in, sometimes overwhelmed by, ideological conflict, as two blocs tend toward imperialism and neo-colonialism

Exaggerated concern for security blocks cooperation
Competition between two blocs prevents leadership and solidarity
West abandons self to growing and selfish isolation
East ignores duty to alleviate human misery
Arms trade flourishes, refugees are created, and terrorism increases
Demographic problem is often met without respect for persons
Positive Aspects of Contemporary World
Awareness grows of dignity and human rights, as expressed in UNs Declarations of Human Rights
Conviction increases regarding radical interdependence and solidarity
Peace is seen as indivisible; it is for all, and demands justice
Ecological concern grows, with recognition of limited resources and need to respect nature

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