2011 marks the 120 year anniversary of the promulgation of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891), which is considered by many to be the first such document to address modern social problems. The world that Pope Leo XIII addressed resembles our own:
“The elements of the conflict now raging are unmistakable, in the vast expansion of industrial pursuits and the marvelous discoveries of science; in the changed relations between masters and workmen; in the enormous fortunes of some few individuals, and the utter poverty of the masses; the increased self reliance and closer mutual combination of the working classes; as also, finally, in the prevailing moral degeneracy. The momentous gravity of the state of things now obtaining fills every mind with painful apprehension; wise men are discussing it; practical men are proposing schemes; popular meetings, legislatures, and rulers of nations are all busied with it – actually there is no question which has taken deeper hold on the public mind.” (#1)
The next several posts in this Tuesday blog will include passages from this seminal document in the history of Catholic Social Teaching. To read the entire encyclical, please visit the Vatican website via this shortened url: http://bit.ly/CUzob.
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies