This picture of today’s world in which there is so much evil both physical and moral, so as to make of it a world entangled in contradictions and tensions, and at the same time full of threats to human freedom, conscience and religion-this picture explains the uneasiness felt by contemporary (people). This uneasiness is experienced not only by those who are disadvantaged or oppressed, but also by those who possess the privileges of wealth, progress and power. And, although there is no lack of people trying to understand the causes of this uneasiness, or trying to react against it with the temporary means offered by technology, wealth or power, still in the very depth of the human spirit this uneasiness is stronger than all temporary means. This uneasiness concerns-as the analyses of the Second Vatican Council rightly pointed out-the fundamental problems of all human existence. It is linked with the very sense of (human) existence in the world, and is an uneasiness for the future of … all humanity; it demands decisive solutions, which now seem to be forcing themselves upon the human race.
I’m not sure about St John Paul’s last point here. I’d say that the past three-point-five decades have been more about delaying solutions. There’s no real force for good at work. Sure: the Soviets fell, but other movements have sprung into their place. One real danger is that the uneasiness of the powers-that-be can parlay apathy into a quasi-status quo. The privileged perhaps make few gains, but they have been able to preserve their economic superiority over the ninety-nine percent with near impunity.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana