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The courage to condemn

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The courage to condemn

On 26 March 1967 Pope Paul VI published his Encyclical Letter Populorum
Progressio, to prompt a reflection on development in the post-colonial
period. Therein lies his famous formula “€œDevelopment is the new name for
peace”€. The Pope calls to mind all of the important principles of the Church”€™s
social doctrine, applying them to the entire world, not just to the developed world. Rejecting ideas of violence and revolution, except in cases of “€œmanifest, longstanding tyranny”€, he calls for justice between nations,
conditions of peace. “€œDevelopment calls for daring transformations, bold innovations”€. He carefully analyzes “€œthe flagrant inequalities not merely in the enjoyment of possessions, but even more in the exercise of power”€.

It is worth lingering over this Encyclical, inspired by Father Lebret and written
immediately after the first important meeting of the Latin American episcopate in Medellín in 1968. The Encylical had a strong influence in Latin America. Paul VI went to Colombia shortly after its publication: during that journey, he rather severely criticized the imperialism of money and was accused of being a Communist by a part of the American population. Affirming that “€œtoday, the
social question has acquired a global dimension”€, it opened the Church to
globalization, development and to that Third World which had never been considered in the Church”€™s reflections. It rather forcefully placed the question of justice on a worldwide level and not only along national borders.

Pierre de Charentenay


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