the Economic Encyclicals of
John Paul II
John J. Piderit, S.J.
John Paul II has used three encyclicals to articulate his concern for the economic development of the modern world: On Human Work (Laborem Exercens,1981), On Social Concern (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis,1987), and On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum (Centesimus Annus,1991). They present increasingly differentiated views of the economic order and the economic problems faced throughout the world.1
A number of themes articulated by John Paul II cast light on the neoclassical model of economic behavior, which is the standard reference model in the discipline of economics. Reflecting on these themes suggests ways to qualify or situate the neoclassical model. The model, on the other hand, provides a useful analysis of some important topics covered by Pope John Paul II. Since he focuses on fundamental economic motivation and behavior, the paper concentrates on those aspects of the encyclical and the model that highlight motivation and behavior.
1 These encyclicals also comment about political relationships, either within individual nations, between individual nations, or between blocs of nations. As important as such relationships are, they will not be treated in this paper so as to allow a focus on the specifically economic issues.