After the affirmation of DiM 10, St John Paul turns to the problems of the age. This numbered section is titled “Sources of Uneasiness.” And there are some. The nuclear arms race continued into the 1980’s:
Thus, in our world the feeling of being under threat is increasing. There is an increase of that existential fear connected especially, as I said in the encyclical Redemptor hominis, with the prospect of a conflict that in view of today’s atomic stockpiles could mean the partial self-destruction of humanity.
The devaluation of people, and the exaltation of material things–does this ring a bell with what we hear from the current pope?
But the threat does not merely concern what human beings can do to human beings through the means provided by military technology; it also concerns many other dangers produced by a materialistic society which-in spite of “humanistic” declarations-accepts the primacy of things over persons.
An extension of this materialism is the inclination to power over others.
Contemporary (humankind), therefore, fears that by the use of the means invented by this type of society, individuals and the environment, communities, societies and nations can fall victim to the abuse of power by other individuals, environments and societies.
It’s not a thing of the past:
The history of our century offers many examples of this. In spite of all the declarations on the rights of (people) in (our) integral dimension, that is to say in (our) bodily and spiritual existence, we cannot say that these examples belong only to the past.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana