St John Paul makes an impassioned and heartfelt appeal to skeptics and non-believers:
And, if any of our contemporaries do not share the faith and hope which lead me, as a servant of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God,(Cf. 1 Cor. 4:1) to implore God’s mercy for humanity in this hour of history, let them at least try to understand the reason for my concern. It is dictated by love for (people), for all that is human and which, according to the intuitions of many of our contemporaries, is threatened by an immense danger. The mystery of Christ, which reveals to us the great vocation of (humankind) and which led me to emphasize in the encyclical Redemptor Hominis (our) incomparable dignity, also obliges me to proclaim mercy as God’s merciful love, revealed in that same mystery of Christ. It likewise obliges me to have recourse to that mercy and to beg for it at this difficult, critical phase of the history of the Church and of the world, as we approach the end of the second millennium.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana