|Published (Last):||4 October 2007|
|PDF File Size:||16.94 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||5.41 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
The Centenary of the promulgation of the Encyclical which begins with the words "Rerum novarum ", 1 by my predecessor of venerable memory Pope Leo XIII, is an occasion of great importance for the present history of the Church and for my own Pontificate.
It is an Encyclical that has the distinction of having been commemorated by solemn Papal documents from its fortieth anniversary to its ninetieth. It may be said that its path through history has been marked by other documents which paid tribute to it and applied it to the circumstances of the day.
In doing likewise for the hundredth anniversary, in response to requests from many Bishops, Church institutions, and study centres, as well as business leaders and workers, both individually and as members of associations, I wish first and foremost to satisfy the debt of gratitude which the whole Church owes to this great Pope and his "immortal document".
This is evident from the various initiatives which have preceded, and which are to accompany and follow the celebration, initiatives promoted by Episcopal Conferences, by international agencies, universities and academic institutes, by professional associations and by other institutions and individuals in many parts of the world.
The present Encyclical is part of these celebrations, which are meant to thank God — the origin of "every good endowment and every perfect gift" Jas — for having used a document published a century ago by the See of Peter to achieve so much good and to radiate so much light in the Church and in the world. Although the commemoration at hand is meant to honour Rerum novarum, it also honours those Encyclicals and other documents of my Predecessors which have helped to make Pope Leo's Encyclical present and alive in history, thus constituting what would come to be called the Church's "social doctrine", "social teaching" or even "social magisterium".
The validity of this teaching has already been pointed out in two Encyclicals published during my Pontificate: Laborem exercens on human work, and Sollicitudo rei socialis on current problems regarding the development of individuals and peoples. I now wish to propose a "re-reading" of Pope Leo's Encyclical by issuing an invitation to "look back" at the text itself in order to discover anew the richness of the fundamental principles which it formulated for dealing with the question of the condition of workers.
But this is also an invitation to "look around" at the "new things" which surround us and in which we find ourselves caught up, very different from the "new things" which characterized the final decade of the last century. Finally, it is an invitation to "look to the future" at a time when we can already glimpse the third Millennium of the Christian era, so filled with uncertainties but also with promises — uncertainties and promises which appeal to our imagination and creativity, and which reawaken our responsibility, as disciples of the "one teacher" cf.
Mt , to show the way, to proclaim the truth and to communicate the life which is Christ cf. Jn A re-reading of this kind will not only confirm the permanent value of such teaching, but will also manifest the true meaning of the Church's Tradition which, being ever living and vital, builds upon the foundation laid by our fathers in the faith, and particularly upon what "the Apostles passed down to the Church" 5 in the name of Jesus Christ, who is her irreplaceable foundation cf.
Like Pope Leo and the Popes before and after him, I take my inspiration from the Gospel image of "the scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven", whom the Lord compares to "a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old" Mt The treasure is the great outpouring of the Church's Tradition, which contains "what is old" — received and passed on from the very beginning — and which enables us to interpret the "new things" in the midst of which the life of the Church and the world unfolds.
Among the things which become "old" as a result of being incorporated into Tradition, and which offer opportunities and material for enriching both Tradition and the life of faith, there is the fruitful activity of many millions of people, who, spurred on by the social Magisterium, have sought to make that teaching the inspiration for their involvement in the world.
Acting either as individuals or joined together in various groups, associations and organizations, these people represent a great movement for the defence of the human person and the safeguarding of human dignity. Amid changing historical circumstances, this movement has contributed to the building up of a more just society or at least to the curbing of injustice.
The present Encyclical seeks to show the fruitfulness of the principles enunciated by Leo XIII, which belong to the Church's doctrinal patrimony and, as such, involve the exercise of her teaching authority.
But pastoral solicitude also prompts me to propose an analysis of some events of recent history. It goes without saying that part of the responsibility of Pastors is to give careful consideration to current events in order to discern the new requirements of evangelization.
However, such an analysis is not meant to pass definitive judgments since this does not fall per se within the Magisterium's specific domain. Towards the end of the last century the Church found herself facing an historical process which had already been taking place for some time, but which was by then reaching a critical point. The determining factor in this process was a combination of radical changes which had taken place in the political, economic and social fields, and in the areas of science and technology, to say nothing of the wide influence of the prevailing ideologies.
In the sphere of politics, the result of these changes was a new conception of society and of the State, and consequently of authority itself. A traditional society was passing away and another was beginning to be formed — one which brought the hope of new freedoms but also the threat of new forms of injustice and servitude. In the sphere of economics, in which scientific discoveries and their practical application come together, new structures for the production of consumer goods had progressively taken shape.
A new form of property had appeared — capital; and a new form of labour — labour for wages, characterized by high rates of production which lacked due regard for sex, age or family situation, and were determined solely by efficiency, with a view to increasing profits. In this way labour became a commodity to be freely bought and sold on the market, its price determined by the law of supply and demand, without taking into account the bare minimum required for the support of the individual and his family.
Moreover, the worker was not even sure of being able to sell "his own commodity", continually threatened as he was by unemployment, which, in the absence of any kind of social security, meant the spectre of death by starvation. The result of this transformation was a society "divided into two classes, separated by a deep chasm". Thus the prevailing political theory of the time sought to promote total economic freedom by appropriate laws, or, conversely, by a deliberate lack of any intervention.
At the same time, another conception of property and economic life was beginning to appear in an organized and often violent form, one which implied a new political and social structure. At the height of this clash, when people finally began to realize fully the very grave injustice of social realities in many places and the danger of a revolution fanned by ideals which were then called "socialist", Pope Leo XIII intervened with a document which dealt in a systematic way with the "condition of the workers".
The Encyclical had been preceded by others devoted to teachings of a political character; still others would appear later. Indeed, what is the origin of all the evils to which Rerum novarum wished to respond, if not a kind of freedom which, in the area of economic and social activity, cuts itself off from the truth about man? The Pope also drew inspiration from the teaching of his Predecessors, as well as from the many documents issued by Bishops, from scientific studies promoted by members of the laity, from the work of Catholic movements and associations, and from the Church's practical achievements in the social field during the second half of the nineteenth century.
The "new things" to which the Pope devoted his attention were anything but positive. The first paragraph of the Encyclical describes in strong terms the "new things" rerum novarum which gave it its name: "That the spirit of revolutionary change which has long been disturbing the nations of the world should have passed beyond the sphere of politics and made its influence felt in the related sphere of practical economics is not surprising.
Progress in industry, the development of new trades, the changing relationship between employers and workers, the enormous wealth of a few as opposed to the poverty of the many, the increasing self-reliance of the workers and their closer association with each other, as well as a notable decline in morality: all these elements have led to the conflict now taking place".
The Pope and the Church with him were confronted, as was the civil community, by a society which was torn by a conflict all the more harsh and inhumane because it knew no rule or regulation. It was the conflict between capital and labour, or — as the Encyclical puts it — the worker question. It is precisely about this conflict, in the very pointed terms in which it then appeared, that the Pope did not hesitate to speak. Here we find the first reflection for our times as suggested by the Encyclical.
In the face of a conflict which set man against man, almost as if they were "wolves", a conflict between the extremes of mere physical survival on the one side and opulence on the other, the Pope did not hesitate to intervene by virtue of his "apostolic office", 9 that is, on the basis of the mission received from Jesus Christ himself to "feed his lambs and tend his sheep" cf.
Jn , and to "bind and loose" on earth for the Kingdom of Heaven cf. Mt The Pope's intention was certainly to restore peace, and the present-day reader cannot fail to note his severe condemnation, in no uncertain terms, of the class struggle.
The Church, in fact, has something to say about specific human situations, both individual and communal, national and international. She formulates a genuine doctrine for these situations, a corpus which enables her to analyze social realities, to make judgments about them and to indicate directions to be taken for the just resolution of the problems involved.
Indeed, a two-fold approach prevailed: one directed to this world and this life, to which faith ought to remain extraneous; the other directed towards a purely other-worldly salvation, which neither enlightens nor directs existence on earth.
The Pope's approach in publishing Rerum novarum gave the Church "citizenship status" as it were, amid the changing realities of public life, and this standing would be more fully confirmed later on. In effect, to teach and to spread her social doctrine pertains to the Church's evangelizing mission and is an essential part of the Christian message, since this doctrine points out the direct consequences of that message in the life of society and situates daily work and struggles for justice in the context of bearing witness to Christ the Saviour.
This doctrine is likewise a source of unity and peace in dealing with the conflicts which inevitably arise in social and economic life. Thus it is possible to meet these new situations without degrading the human person's transcendent dignity, either in oneself or in one's adversaries, and to direct those situations towards just solutions. Today, at a distance of a hundred years, the validity of this approach affords me the opportunity to contribute to the development of Christian social doctrine.
The "new evangelization", which the modern world urgently needs and which I have emphasized many times, must include among its essential elements a proclamation of the Church's social doctrine. As in the days of Pope Leo XIII, this doctrine is still suitable for indicating the right way to respond to the great challenges of today, when ideologies are being increasingly discredited.
Now, as then, we need to repeat that there can be no genuine solution of the "social question" apart from the Gospel, and that the "new things" can find in the Gospel the context for their correct understanding and the proper moral perspective for judgment on them.
With the intention of shedding light on the conflict which had arisen between capital and labour, Pope Leo XIII affirmed the fundamental rights of workers. Indeed, the key to reading the Encyclical is the dignity of the worker as such, and, for the same reason, the dignity of work, which is defined as follows: "to exert oneself for the sake of procuring what is necessary for the various purposes of life, and first of all for self-preservation".
At the same time, work has a "social" dimension through its intimate relationship not only to the family, but also to the common good, since "it may truly be said that it is only by the labour of working-men that States grow rich".
Another important principle is undoubtedly that of the right to "private property ". The Pope is well aware that private property is not an absolute value, nor does he fail to proclaim the necessary complementary principles, such as the universal destination of the earth's goods. On the other hand, it is certainly true that the type of private property which Leo XIII mainly considers is land ownership.
This is something which must be affirmed once more in the face of the changes we are witnessing in systems formerly dominated by collective ownership of the means of production, as well as in the face of the increasing instances of poverty or, more precisely, of hindrances to private ownership in many parts of the world, including those where systems predominate which are based on an affirmation of the right to private property.
As a result of these changes and of the persistence of poverty, a deeper analysis of the problem is called for, an analysis which will be developed later in this document. In close connection with the right to private property, Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical also affirms other rights as inalienable and proper to the human person. Prominent among these, because of the space which the Pope devotes to it and the importance which he attaches to it, is the "natural human right" to form private associations.
This means above all the right to establish professional associations of employers and workers, or of workers alone. Indeed, the formation of unions "cannot Together with this right, which — it must be stressed — the Pope explicitly acknowledges as belonging to workers, or, using his own language, to "the working class", the Encyclical affirms just as clearly the right to the "limitation of working hours", the right to legitimate rest and the right of children and women 21 to be treated differently with regard to the type and duration of work.
If we keep in mind what history tells us about the practices permitted or at least not excluded by law regarding the way in which workers were employed, without any guarantees as to working hours or the hygienic conditions of the work-place, or even regarding the age and sex of apprentices, we can appreciate the Pope's severe statement: "It is neither just nor human so to grind men down with excessive labour as to stupefy their minds and wear out their bodies".
And referring to the "contract" aimed at putting into effect "labour relations" of this sort, he affirms with greater precision, that "in all agreements between employers and workers there is always the condition expressed or understood" that proper rest be allowed, proportionate to "the wear and tear of one's strength".
He then concludes: "To agree in any other sense would be against what is right and just". The Pope immediately adds another right which the worker has as a person. This is the right to a "just wage", which cannot be left to the "free consent of the parties, so that the employer, having paid what was agreed upon, has done his part and seemingly is not called upon to do anything beyond".
This concept of relations between employers and employees, purely pragmatic and inspired by a thorough-going individualism, is severely censured in the Encyclical as contrary to the twofold nature of work as a personal and necessary reality. For if work as something personal belongs to the sphere of the individual's free use of his own abilities and energy, as something necessary it is governed by the grave obligation of every individual to ensure "the preservation of life".
A workman's wages should be sufficient to enable him to support himself, his wife and his children. Would that these words, written at a time when what has been called "unbridled capitalism" was pressing forward, should not have to be repeated today with the same severity.
Unfortunately, even today one finds instances of contracts between employers and employees which lack reference to the most elementary justice regarding the employment of children or women, working hours, the hygienic condition of the work-place and fair pay; and this is the case despite the International Declarations and Conventions on the subject 26 and the internal laws of States. The Pope attributed to the "public authority" the "strict duty" of providing properly for the welfare of the workers, because a failure to do so violates justice; indeed, he did not hesitate to speak of "distributive justice".
To these rights Pope Leo XIII adds another right regarding the condition of the working class, one which I wish to mention because of its importance: namely, the right to discharge freely one's religious duties.
The Pope wished to proclaim this right within the context of the other rights and duties of workers, notwithstanding the general opinion, even in his day, that such questions pertained exclusively to an individual's private life.
He affirms the need for Sunday rest so that people may turn their thoughts to heavenly things and to the worship which they owe to Almighty God. It would not be mistaken to see in this clear statement a springboard for the principle of the right to religious freedom, which was to become the subject of many solemn International Declarations and Conventions, 30 as well as of the Second Vatican Council's well-known Declaration and of my own repeated teaching.
Another important aspect, which has many applications to our own day, is the concept of the relationship between the State and its citizens. Rerum novarum criticizes two social and economic systems: socialism and liberalism. The opening section, in which the right to private property is reaffirmed, is devoted to socialism.
Liberalism is not the subject of a special section, but it is worth noting that criticisms of it are raised in the treatment of the duties of the State. Otherwise, there would be a violation of that law of justice which ordains that every person should receive his due. The richer class has many ways of shielding itself, and stands less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back on, and must chiefly depend on the assistance of the State.
It is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong to the latter class, should be specially cared for and protected by the Government". These passages are relevant today, especially in the face of the new forms of poverty in the world, and also because they are affirmations which do not depend on a specific notion of the State or on a particular political theory.
Leo XIII is repeating an elementary principle of sound political organization, namely, the more that individuals are defenceless within a given society, the more they require the care and concern of others, and in particular the intervention of governmental authority. In this way what we nowadays call the principle of solidarity, the validity of which both in the internal order of each nation and in the international order I have discussed in the Encyclical Sollicitudo rei socialis, 34 is clearly seen to be one of the fundamental principles of the Christian view of social and political organization.
Pope Pius XI refers to it with the equally meaningful term "social charity".
ISBN 13: 9788471187550
Quito Pichincha. The President of the Republic of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, will participate at the 25th anniversary of the Centesimus Annus that will be held in the Vatican city on April 15 and 16 April The forum, which is strictly academic, is organized by the Academy of Sciences of the Holy See. Meanwhile Centesimus Annus, consisting of six chapters that deal with the relationship of the social doctrine of the Church with the main trends and events that occurred between Refers to property rights and the universality of material goods, also highlights the problems of capitalism and a free market economy which are far from disappearing. Finally, the Encyclical concludes with an express recognition of the responsibility of the Catholic Church to take care of humans and of each individual, since the Social Doctrine of the Church is an instrument of evangelization for salvation. Thus, the Academic Forum for the commemoration of the twenty-five years of Centesimus Annus management seeks to vindicate Saint John Paul II , due to the preparation of this document in
The Ecuadorian President will participate at the Centesimus Annus anniversary forum
It is part of a larger body of writings, known as Catholic social teaching , that trace their origin to Rerum novarum and ultimately the New Testament. It was one of fourteen encyclicals issued by John Paul II. Written in , during the last days of the Cold War , Centesimus annus specifically examines contemporaneous political and economic issues. The particular historical context in which it was written prompted Pope John Paul II to condemn the horrors of the communist regimes throughout the world. The encyclical expounds on issues of social and economic justice. The encyclical includes a defense of private property rights and the right to form private associations, including labor unions. It compares socialism to consumerism, identifying atheism as the source of their common denial, the dignity of the human person.