6.3.1 SRS, chapter I: ‘Introduction’

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Unit 6 Contents

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When we began to look at the Vatican’s response to liberation theology (6.2.7), I listed five main documents which, in whole or in part, respond to it.  We now come to the fifth of these, Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Solicitudo Rei Socialis of 1987, known in English as On Social Concern.

Solicitudo Rei Socialis (SRS) has seven chapters and it is the fifth and sixth that John Paul addresses issues raised by liberation theology directly, namely ‘structures of sin’, the meaning of solidarity, and the preferential option for the poor.  As he does so, he develops CST significantly, and it is especially for this reason that we shall study it more fully than the earlier four documents.

We shall move quickly through chapters I to IV and most readings from these are given as ‘optional’.  We pay most attention to chapters V and VI.  Overall the required readings make up about half the encyclical.

As noted at the start of Unit 6, SRS commemorated Populorum Progressio (PP) of 1967 and, as such, it represented a new trajectory in CST: it was the first encyclical to mark the anniversary of a document other than Rerum Novarum (6.1.1).  This new trajectory of teaching addressed the immense challenge of global poverty and the need for international development.  SRS both reviewed the contribution made by PP and assessed to what extent there had actually been development during the 20 years between the two documents.

The first reading is SRS’s Introduction.

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Reading (2pp)

Solicitudo Rei Socialis, chapter I: ‘Introduction’ (##1-4)

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It is evident from the first sentence of SRS that it has the same defining focus as PP: integral human development.  The Church’s social concern is “directed towards an authentic development… which would respect and promote all the dimensions of the human person” (#1).  The introduction’s final sentence emphasizes the point: “The aim of [SRS] is to emphasize… the need for a fuller and more nuanced concept of development… Its aim is also to indicate some ways of putting it into effect.” (#3)

 

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End of 6.3.1

Go to 6.3.2 SRS chapters II and III

Module B outline

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