Paul VI’s Encyclical on the development of peoples remains one of the most important documents of Catholic Social Teaching. Written in 1967, it still retains its clarity and power calling for a fairer division of the riches of the world as a goal to be strived for by all.
Of particular resonance in today’s international climate is the argument, forcefully made that development and peace go hand in hand. The extreme disparity between nations in economic, social and educational levels provokes jealousy and discord, often putting peace in jeopardy.
Pope Paul warns, however, that greater access to goods and possessions can simply swap one type of slavery and oppression for another. If the development of peoples is to be authentic then it must foster the development of each individual and of the whole person. For man can set about organising terrestrial realities without God, but closed off from God, they will end up being directed against man.