The present generation knows that it is in a privileged position: progress provides it with countless possibilities that only a few decades ago were undreamed of. (Human) creative activity, (our) intelligence and (our) work, have brought about profound changes both in the field of science and technology and in that of social and cultural life.
Progress has not been limited to the natural sciences …
(Humankind) has extended (a) power over nature and has acquired deeper knowledge of the laws of social behavior. (We have) seen the obstacles and distances between individuals and nations dissolve or shrink through an increased sense of what is universal, through a clearer awareness of the unity of the human race, through the acceptance of mutual dependence in authentic solidarity, and through the desire and possibility of making contact with one’s brothers and sisters beyond artificial geographical divisions and national or racial limits.
His admiration for and appreciation of the young …
Today’s young people, especially, know that the progress of science and technology can produce not only new material goods but also a wider sharing in knowledge. The extraordinary progress made in the field of information and data processing, for instance, will increase (human) creative capacity and provide access to the intellectual and cultural riches of other peoples. New communications techniques will encourage greater participation in events and a wider exchange of ideas.
Thinking of worldwide communication via the internet, this certainly has never been more true.
The achievements of biological, psychological and social science will help man to understand better the riches of his own being. It is true that too often this progress is still the privilege of the industrialized countries, but it cannot be denied that the prospect of enabling every people and every country to benefit from it has long ceased to be a mere utopia when there is a real political desire for it.
It’s rather long litany, but it has largely continued in the past thirty-five years. I note not only the expectations of the benefits of the internet, but to anticipate some of the problems ahead, people have to want to make these wider connections and to understand one’s own being.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana