Ando Isamu, S.J. (Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo)
Our Bulletin likes to remember John Paul II for his contributions to involve Christians and the whole Catholic Church in the real problems of modern society and especially of poor countries.

Right after his election, John Paul II attended the Latin American Bishops' Conference (CELAM) of Puebla (Mexico), at the end of January 1979, where Liberation theologies were originated and had promoted very dynamic Christian communities. There the Pope could meet with the real poverty of Mexico and other Latin American countries, a fact that is said made him change his ready speeches and invite the bishops to take a strong stand in favor of the poor.
Social Thinking of John Paul II
1. "Laborem Exercens"   in 1981
John Paul published his first Social Encyclical "Laborem Exercens" on human work, in 1981. After summarizing the social thinking of the Catholic Church, the Pope insists that its starting point is to consider the human person as the way for the Church. It is in this perspective that work becomes a central aspect of the human condition. Work produces bread, science, culture. The modern world calls for the discovery of the new meaning and new tasks of human work at all various levels of human existence. The social teaching of the Church impels us to move from the class question to the world question. And an analysis of the situation of the world today shows an ever deeper and fuller meaning of previous analysis of social injustices.
The Church sees work from the point of view of its human and moral value and promotes a spirituality of work. Work, whether manual or intellectual, is always a personal action, the whole person, body and spirit, participates in it. Through work all people can come closer to each other and to God, the Creator and Redeemer. Work expresses and increases human dignity.

2. "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis"   in 1987
In 1987 John Paul published a new encyclical letter, "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis", stressing that authentic development rests on the Solidarity of all. Development cannot be reduced to a "technical" problem. Men and women expend their efforts in search of the happiness that is possible in this world, in line with their dignity as persons. Making negative observations on the realities of underdevelopment and denouncing actual mechanisms that strengthen only a few, the Pope brings the attention to positive aspects about awareness of human dignity and human rights, solidarity and concern for peace and sound ecology, and further affirms that 'economic development' is in crisis, that a crass materialism makes people to believe that happiness is based in 'having' so that we tend to forget our 'being' truly human. True development should consider human nature with his/her relationship to God. True development is obstaculized by structural and personal sin and there is a need of conversion, a deep sense of interdependence and solidarity to overcome 'evil mechanisms or the structures of sin'. Peace becomes the fruit of solidarity.

3. "Centesimus Annus"   in 1991
In 1991 the Pope published a new encyclical letter with a full political message. The public funeral of the Pope shows clearly his image as a religious and political leader. Without doubt he was a main actor in the fall of communism in East Europe. The Encyclical "Centesimus Annus" (1991) gives a detailed account of the deep meaning for the world of the year 1989 that symbolizes the fall of communism in East Europe. This official document deals with a series of difficult human situations: workers' conditions and trade unions, work vs. capital, relationship between the State and citizens, socialism and Marxism, liberalism and capitalism, East-West confrontation, consumer society, natural resources and full human development, arms race, human capabilities, the free market system and the poor, creative alternatives to the present systems, authentic democracy, option for the poor and international cooperation and dialogue.
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