Common Home Development Education for Sustainable Development Integral Human Development Objetivos Laudato Si'

Populorum progressio: The turning point

Populorum progressio: The turning point

Helga Martins1 & Silvia Caldeira2

1Helga Martins

Pos-doctoral Fellow at Integral Human Development Program, PhD, RN, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Doctoral School (CADOS). Faculty of Health Sciences and Nursing, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Health, Lisbon, Portugal.

Instituto Politécnico de Beja, Escola Superior de Saúde. R. Dr. José Correia Maltez, 7800-111 Beja, Portugal.



2Sílvia Caldeira

PhD, MSc, RN, Associate Professor, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Faculty of Health Sciences and Nursing, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Health, Lisbon, Portugal.



Populorum progressio: The turning point

The encyclical “Populorum Progressio” was released on 26 March 1967, and was written by Pope Paul VI. This encyclical marked a key moment in the spread of the Integral Human Development due to its comprehensive approach to the wholeness of individuals as it underscored the interconnectedness of various aspects of human existence: economic, social, cultural, and spiritual. In addition, the encyclical advocated for a more comprehensive and equitable approach to the human development of all individuals.

The release of “Populorum Progressio” was revolutionary, presenting a discordant vision compared to the prevailing notion that economic development was the ultimate aspiration. This work underscored that progress extends beyond mere economic growth; in the same way, human development cannot be separated without including all its dimensions. The notion of human progress must be understood from an integral and holistic perspective of the human being, where individuals engage in an ongoing process of striving towards their best “self”.

Over time, the Catholic Church issued other documents which also meet this philosophy, namely: “Sollıcıtudo Reı Socıalıs”,Caritas in Veritate”, and “Laudato Si’”. Here we highlight the encyclical “Laudato Si’” since it introduces the new concept of “Care for the Common Home” alongside providing directives for addressing numerous societal issues necessitating a comprehensive approach to alleviate poverty and reinstate dignity to marginalised individuals. Moreover, integral ecology is highlighted, emphasising the need for harmonious interactions between natural and social systems in devising integral solutions.

Another significant milestone was the creation of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on 17 August 2016, in which Cardinal Peter Turkson was named its first Prefect. At the start of January 1, 2022, a new leadership team took charge of the Dicastery, with Cardinal Michael Czerny serving as the Prefect and Sister Alessandra Smerilli as the Secretary. The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (2024) has the main mission to promote the “integral development of the person in light of the Gospel and in line with the Social Doctrine of the Church”. In addition, “it dedicates particular attention to taking care of the goods of justice, peace and the safeguarding of Creation, as well as issues regarding disarmament, human rights, human mobility, health, charitable works, expressing the concern and attention of the Pope towards a humanity that suffers, among whom are the needy, the ill and the excluded (Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 2024)”.

Nevertheless, the academic sphere has also endeavoured to incorporate the principles of Integral Human Development into curriculum, motivated to ensure a comprehensive approach to education that addresses this vital topic. Therefore, we highlight the LUMSA (Libera Università Maria Ss. Assunta) University in Rome, which offers advanced PhD training in Contemporary Humanism; the Post-Doctoral Program in Integral Human Development of Catholic University of Portugal; the PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences of University of Ljubljana in Slovenia; the PhD Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development of The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in the United States.

The movement for “Integral Human Development” still presents small niches, but this philosophy is increasingly taking shape and importance in contemporary society. While there is still a considerable journey ahead, the initial strides have been made with the aspiration of achieving greater prominence and impact in the future.


Catholic Church. (1967). Encyclical letter (Populorum progressio) of His Holiness Pope Paul VI. London: Catholic Truth Society.

Catholic Church. (2015). Encyclical letter (Laudato Si’) of His Holiness Pope Francis. London: Catholic Truth Society.

Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. (2024). Mission. Available on:

OpenEdition sugere que esta publicação seja citada da seguinte forma:
helgamartins (1 de Abril de 2024). Populorum progressio: The turning point. Desenvolvimento Humano Integral. Recuperado em 15 de Julho de 2024 de

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