Populorum Progressio 74: An Appeal to Youth

74. We are fully aware of the fact that many young people have already responded wholeheartedly to the invitation of Our predecessor Pius XII, summoning the laity to take part in missionary work. (Fidei Donum (1957)) We also know that other young people have offered their services to public and private organizations that seek to aid developing nations.

I’ve seen a huge difference in the approach of high schools and colleges since the time I was a student in the 70s. Then, outreach was largely an  individual motivation supported by a club here and there. Today, even secular schools have multitudes of service opportunities.

So, US, whatever happened to the Peace Corps?

I’d have to agree that this development would still be delightful, even today:

We are delighted to learn that in some nations their requirement of military duty can be fulfilled, in part at least, by social service or, simply, service. We commend such undertakings and the
(women and) men of good will who take part in them. Would that all those who profess to be followers of Christ might heed His plea: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; naked and you covered me; sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)

No one is permitted to disregard the plight of (their sisters and) brothers living in dire poverty, enmeshed in ignorance and tormented by insecurity. The Christian, moved by this sad state of affairs, should echo the words of Christ: “I have compassion on the crowd.” (Mark 8:2)

Compassion sums up the Christian approach. Anything else is antigospel, coming from a believer. The pandemic has brought this out in the US, certainly. Resistance to the common good is a grave scandal to Christianity in the shame it heaps on the Church.

This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link.

The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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