Octogesima Adveniens

Topics: Catholic social teaching, God, Pope John Paul II Pages: 9 (3260 words) Published: March 9, 2012

I. The Historical Context/Background of the Encyclical
Octogesima adveniens was not written in a historical vacuum or in discontinuity from Catholic social teachings of the previous decade. Rather the letter continued themes found in Gaudium et spes and Mater et magistra and responded to the historical context in which it was written. To mark the eightieth anniversary of Rerum novarum, Paul VI did not write an encyclical letter, but rather an apostolic letter to Maurice Cardinal Roy, who was president of the Pontifical Commission Justitia et Pax. In fact, the last encyclical letter of his pontificate, humane vitae, was written three years prior to this letter and ten years before his death. The move away from the encyclical as a literary form already suggests Paul VI's awareness of the importance of human experience or a historically conscious methodology. A look at the structure of Octogesima adveniens confirms this awareness. After a seven-paragraph introduction, Octogesima adveniens turns to a reading of the signs of the times, which highlight the challenges faced by particular groups of people (e.g. workers and women), world-wide issues (e.g. media influence and environment) and aspirations (e.g. participation and equality). The remainder of the letter provides some ecclesial reflections on these signs of the times and an exhortation to action. Thus, two-thirds of the letter details the historical context for any ecclesial reflection or action. Paul VI himself had experienced firsthand the diverse situations in which Christians found themselves, especially in his journeys to Israel (1964), to the United States of America (1965), to India (1966), to Turkey and Portugal (1967), to Medellin, Colombia (1968), and to Uganda (1969). These encounters with the people of God, their poverty, and their misery profoundly moved Paul VI, as his Wednesday audience reflections attest. In addition, the years since Populorum progressio and Humane vitae had been years of student unrest, violence, war, and genocide; and their pain was not lost on Paul VI.(10) His concern over the Paris student uprisings came out in two letters to the Semaine Sociale in France and in Italy.(11) He lamented the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.(12) He decried the Six Day War between Israel and the Arab nations, the war in Vietnam, the Czech-Soviet confrontation, and the Biafra civil war with its practices of genocide. II. Identify the major/key themes or principles of the encyclical and briefly explain these themes or principles. * Sanctity of human life and dignity of the person

The foundational principle of all Catholic social teachings is the sanctity of human life. Catholics believe in an inherent dignity of the human person starting from conception through to natural death. They believe that human life must be valued infinitely above material possessions. Pope wrote and spoke extensively on the topic of the inviolability of human life and dignity in his watershed encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, (Latin for "The Gospel of Life"). Catholics oppose acts considered attacks and affronts to human life, including abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, genocide, torture, the direct and intentional targeting of noncombatants in war, and every deliberate taking of innocent human life. In the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes (Latin for "Joy and Hope"), it is written that “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care.". The Church does not oppose war in all circumstances. The Church's moral theology has generally emphasized just war theory.

* Call to family, community, and participation
According to the Book of Genesis, the Lord God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone". The Catholic Church teaches that man is now not only a sacred but also a social animal and that families are the...
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