If Redemptor Hominis gave us an outline of the focus of John Paul II’s papacy, a reflection and elaboration of the relationship between people and their God, this encyclical will focus on a particular quality that Christ reveals to us: the mercy of the Father. Without that quality, we have no hope of the “lofty calling” of which the Holy Father reminds us.
Following the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and paying close attention to the special needs of our times, I devoted the encyclical Redemptor hominis to the truth about (humankind), a truth that is revealed to us in its fullness and depth in Christ. A no less important need in these critical and difficult times impels me to draw attention once again in Christ to the countenance of the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”(2 Cor. 1:3) We read in the Constitution Gaudium et spes: “Christ the new Adam…fully reveals (us) to (ourselves) and brings to light (our) lofty calling,” and does it “in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love.”(GS 22) The words that I have quoted are clear testimony to the fact that (humankind) cannot be manifested in the full dignity of (our) nature without reference – not only on the level of concepts but also in an integrally existential way – to God. (Humankind) and (its) lofty calling are revealed in Christ through the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana