Populorum progressio is the encyclical written by Pope Paul VI on the topic of "the development of peoples" and that the economy of the world should serve mankind, and not just the few. It was released on March 26, 1967.
In the first section, Pope Paul repeatedly acknowledged that progress is a "two-edged sword." He explains that colonialism has led to technological advances, but has often entailed self-seeking activities. Missionary work has spread the Gospel through charitable activity, but has also engaged in cultural imposition, and industrialisation has led to economic growth, but has encouraged the evils of unbridled liberalism, as well as the neglect of moral and spiritual goods. To avoid the negative effects of progress, he proposed that social activity should seek to address the whole person, and provided a list of conditions important for human development. He described these conditions on three levels: first, material necessities, social peace, education, and refinement and culture; second, awareness of human dignity, spirit of poverty, interest in the common good, and desire for peace; and third, sharing in God's life. Pope Paul wrote that every person has certain aptitudes and tasks to contribute to society and the building of God's kingdom.
March 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the encyclical. As most of our Community Centres in the diocese are established to organise the people for community development, the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), along with the staff of Centres for Community Organisation (CCOs) revisited the teachings from this document on 'Development'. Thereafter, in preparation for International Women's Day commemoration in March 2017, we planned to reflect with our groups in each CCO, using some common guidelines to monitor the progress made on "development" and refocus on what more needs to be done.
The JPC enlisted some areas that we could examine, looking back at the condition from the time each CCO was set up till date in the present scenario. While every CCO may not have concentrated on all the indicators mentioned below, this was a general list put together, endeavouring to cover the issues that various CCOs across the diocese attempted to address.
1. Infant mortality rate (then and now)
2. Life Expectancy rate (then and now)