The first part of the encyclical examines the dynamic teaching of Benedict’s predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. Both men contributed greatly to the body of doctrine known as “Catholic social teaching”. Both men challenged the simplistic division of political perspectives into “conservative” and “liberal”, and “right” and “left”. Both men were convinced that the natural moral law and the teaching of the Gospel were indispensable for a world in desperate search of hope and meaning.
In the second part Benedict surveys the social issues that confront the human race today—assaults on the dignity of the human person such as the attack on human life, poverty, issues of war and peace, terrorism, globalization, and environmental concerns. Benedict provides sound moral principles to address these social and economic problems, and to promote a culture of life and genuine peace.