Sunday, December 18, 2005

Kevin Tierney on Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum

Kevin Tierney has published a six-part commentary on Leo XIII's social encyclical Rerum Novarum:

In many respects, this was the Catholic Churches answer to socialism.  While it had been touched in various fashions before now, it was here Leo XIII provided a point by point rebuttal to the socialists on the issues of private property, class distinctions, and the role and nature of government.  After doing this, he broke new ground in treating at length the way the Catholic Church views the relationship between capital and labor, employee and employer.  There are few works in the Church that have had as profound an impact as Rerum Novarum.  So profound is this impact, in 3 instances various Popes paid tribute to this specific work.  On the 25 year anniversary of the encyclical Pius XI released Quadragesimo Anno, John XXIII paid glowing tribute to it in Mater et Magistra, and finally on the 100th anniversary of the work, John Paul II released Centesimus Annus.  Despite the fears of Leo XIII on the nature of some labor unions (in that they were subtly Masonic or blatantly Anti-Catholic) he endorsed the principle of labor unions, and if a good lot for workers could be achieved through them, he favored it. Unfortunately, today his teaching is not received by the Church.  In all too many areas, the "social justice" movements that have come into being, in many ways, are no different than the socialism Leo XIII condemned with his eloquence.  Calling this to mind, I have attempted to offer a commentary on Rerum Novarum that sets the record straight on social concerns.  The following will be that commentary.
Rerum Novarum, Part I
Rerum Novarum, Part II
Rerum Novarum, Part III
Rerum Novarum, Part IV
Rerum Novarum, Part V
Rerum Novarum, Part VI