Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Hinze, Christine F.

Second Advisor

Carey, Patrick

Third Advisor

Fahey, Michael


This dissertation closely examines Populorum Progressio, the encyclical On the Development of Peoples of Pope Paul VI, promulgated on March 26, 1967, and attempts to bring the insights of this document into conversation with some of the economic and social problems common to the globalized world of the 21st century. This encyclical, while composed in a particular historical context and focused on the problems present at that time, nonetheless provides a rich and fertile field for developing new approaches to the moral challenges faced in the 21st century. Populorum Progressio provides a crucial source of insight into questions of economic and social justice, especially when seen as a part of the long tradition of Catholic social teaching. This historical and intellectual context is explored, particularly the contributions of the principal author of Populorum Progressio , Louis-Joseph Lebret, and the philosophical background of the encyclical, found in the work of Jacques Maritain. To date this document has been surprisingly under-utilized, and a fresh examination from the perspective of more than 30 years can provide a strong foundation for new dimensions of thinking about economics and economic development, the larger context of human development and growth, solidarity, and the possibility of peace. Populorum Progressio is written in the language and style of social science, not the more-familiar language of faith and morals, and this language and style tends to obscure its core message. A four-fold structure, consisting of four key facets of the document that, taken together, provide a framework for better understanding and apprehending this central message, is offered as a foundation for bringing Populorum Progressio forward into dialogue with more contemporary issues. This structure is then applied to several contemporary challenges in order to demonstrate how this discussion might be fruitful for the work of Catholic social ethics.



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