Two encyclicals that changed the world

SIR – Your leading article commemorating the 50th anniversary of Populorum Progressio (March 31) suggests that it, and not Humanae Vitae, changed the world thanks to Blessed Pope Paul VI’s great insight that “authentic development … must safeguard human dignity”.

I don’t dispute that, but it is Benedict XVI who provides the key to understanding the intrinsic link between the two encyclicals. For he states in Caritas in Veritate: “Openness to life is at the centre of true development.” And because Benedict speaks powerfully of marriage and family underpinning the essential economic wellbeing of nations, he echoes the central message of Humanae Vitae by reminding us that “Problems associated with population growth are a very important aspect of authentic development, since it concerns the inalienable values of life and the family.”

In her concern for “man’s authentic development”, he says, “the Church urges him to have full respect for human values in the exercise of his sexuality”. And then in the same paragraph, he drives home the key point echoed by Paul VI in 1967, that the best resource for progress is humans. “Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource” because, he argues, a declining birth rate “narrows the ‘brain pool’ upon which nations

can draw for their needs”.

Yours faithfully,

Edmund P Adamus

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