Marking the birth of modern Catholic Social Teaching

Pope Leo XIII (Wikipedia)

Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum marked the birth of modern Catholic Social Teaching and has continuing relevance today, according to Yarra Theological College’s Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR. Source: Australian Cardijn Institute.

This year is the 130th anniversary of Rerum Novarum, the English title of which was “On the Condition of the Working Classes”.

“Faced with our gig economy, low or stagnant wages, housing stress, astonishing wealth in the hands of a few and neoliberal economics driving growing inequality, Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical, known in Latin as Rerum Novarum, is acutely relevant today,” Fr Duncan said.

“It has guided Catholic social teaching ever since.”

Key teachings of the encyclical include:

  • the dignity of every person and of work in God’s eyes;
  • defending the right to private property when serving the common good;
  • opposing the concentration of great wealth in the hands of a few;

  • maintaining just wages for working people;

  • spreading ownership more equitably and as much as possible;

  • the duty of the State to regulate living and working conditions fairly;

  • the need for systems of arbitration and conciliation to mediate disputes;

  • the right of working people to form unions to bargain equitably with employers; and
  • the duties of the rich to deal justly and redistribute surplus wealth.

To mark the anniversary, Yarra Theological Union, Social Policy Connections and the Australian Cardijn Institute will host a webinar on Saturday, May 15, from 2.30-4 pm.

Fr Duncan will be the keynote speaker and will address the theme "Why Pope Leo’s social manifesto remains critical today", noting also the influence of England’s Cardinal Henry Edward Manning on the document and its impact in Australia.

Details and to register: email [email protected] or visit Celebrating the birth of Catholic Social Teaching


Celebrating the birth of modern Catholic Social Teaching (Australian Cardijn Institute)

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