Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

My Photo
Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Leo and Labor

On this Labor Day, though it is the feast of Saint Pope Gregory the Great, I wanted to bring attention to Pope Leo the 13th who released an encyclical in 1891 to address the concerns of the working class.
Rerum Renovarum ("On the New Things")  The message is capsulized here: (from Wikipedia)

Rerum Novarum is subtitled "On the Conditions of Labor". In this document, Leo set out the Catholic Church's response to the social conflict that had risen in the wake of industrialization and that had led to the rise of socialism. The Pope taught that the role of the State is to promote social justice through the protection of rights, while the Church must speak out on social issues in order to teach correct social principles and ensure class harmony. He restated the Church's long-standing teaching regarding the crucial importance of private property rights, but recognized, in one of the best-known passages of the encyclical, that the free operation of market forces must be tempered by moral considerations:
"Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice."[2]
Rerum Novarum is remarkable for its vivid depiction of the plight of the nineteenth-century urban poor and for its condemnation of unrestricted capitalism. Among the remedies it prescribed were the formation of trade unions and the introduction of collective bargaining, particularly as an alternative to state intervention.
The encyclical declared private property a fundamental principle of natural law. Rerum Novarum has therefore been interpreted as dramatically adapting Thomistic ideas about property, as the Pope attempted to shift the class alliances of the church, by an allegiance with the bourgeoisie, in the face of the perceived threat of socialism.[3]
Rerum Novarum also recognized that the poor have a special status in consideration of social issues: the modern Catholic principle of the "preferential option for the poor" and the notion that God is on the side of the poor were expressed in this document.

In this encyclical, Pope Leo actually quotes Pope Gregory the Great (which is kinda cool given today is his feast day):

"Whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and material, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God's providence, for the benefit of others. "He that hath a talent," said St. Gregory the Great, "let him see that he hide it not; he that hath abundance, let him quicken himself to mercy and generosity; he that hath art and skill, let him do his best to share the use and the utility hereof with his neighbor."


Anonymous Renee Lin said...

This teaching of Pope St. Gregory is beautiful, and soooo different from what I was used to hearing at the conservative Christian churches I used to attend. I love the way Gregory included all the gifts we have been given in his discussion: gifts like intellect and "art and skill." Reminds me of a quote from St. John Chrysostom: "Find out how much God has given you and take from it what you need; the remainder, which you do not require, is needed by others."

September 03, 2012 8:42 PM  

Post a Comment