Read Rerum Novarum: On The Condition Of Working Classes by Pope Leo XIII Online


Rerum novarum (from its first two words, Latin for "of revolutionary change"), or Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor, is an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on 15 May 1891. It was an open letter, passed to all Catholic bishops, that addressed the condition of the working classes.It discussed the relationships and mutual duties between labor and capital, as well as goRerum novarum (from its first two words, Latin for "of revolutionary change"), or Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor, is an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on 15 May 1891. It was an open letter, passed to all Catholic bishops, that addressed the condition of the working classes.It discussed the relationships and mutual duties between labor and capital, as well as government and its citizens. Of primary concern was the need for some amelioration of "The misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class." It supported the rights of labor to form unions, rejected socialism and unrestricted capitalism, whilst affirming the right to private property."Rerum Novarum" is considered a foundational text of modern Catholic social teaching. Many of the positions in Rerum novarum were supplemented by later encyclicals, in particular Pius XI's Quadragesimo anno (1931), John XXIII's Mater et magistra (1961), and John Paul II's Centesimus annus (1991)....

Title : Rerum Novarum: On The Condition Of Working Classes
Author :
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ISBN : 9781860821530
Format Type : ePub
Number of Pages : 373 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Rerum Novarum: On The Condition Of Working Classes Reviews

  • Michael
    2018-11-14 10:48

    Written in 1891, this papal encyclical discusses the problems of workers in the modern world (which was, at the time of this letter's writing, the transition from an agricultural to an industrialized economy). Pope Leo's letter could have been written yesterday since he was discussing issues like private property, the rights of workers, the obligations of the wealthy, and the importance of voluntary organizations in Europe and the United States.I found much of what the Pope said making perfect sense, even now, more than 100 years later. Pope Leo essentially dismissed socialism at being unnatural since men have a God given right to own property and dispose of the fruits of their labor as they see fit. Leo XIII also wrote quite compellingly about the responsibility of those of means toward their fellow man, and about essential fair treatment of workers was. Much of what the Pope discussed echoed my own thinking about these issues, and I found myself wishing that both Tea Partiers and Occupiers would read the Pope's very thoughtful examination of issues that still vex and divide us today. The primacy of the family, the necessity of prudent spending, the morality of paying a fair wage, and the importance of labor unions for the working classes...all while defending the rights of the wealthy and denying state-sponsored redistribution. Pope Leo even called for a government sponsored safety net as a last resort for those who fall upon hard times. Rerum Novarum is highly readable and quite insightful. Pope Leo, it should be pointed out, was deeply critical of free-market capitalism, rightly recognizing that--in the absence of guard rails--the machine of capitalism would careen out of control and bring our entire economic system down (fairly prescient in the light of 1928 and 2007). One of the more compelling sections of the letter talked about how workers should not be caught in a race to the bottom with regard to earnings, and should be paid what has come to be called a living wage. I am looking forward to reading more of the Catholic social encyclicals. I have read about them often enough; now it's time to go to the source. There is much food for thought here, as well as much to drive both the left and the right political wings insane.

  • Stephan Peters
    2018-10-18 15:22

    The entire time I was reading this I kept thinking to myself: "There is nothing new under the sun."WOW! This is a powerful document!This work has something to ruffle anybody's feathers.Pope Leo XIII points out the disparity between the rich and the poor, and offers his solution.Socialists won't like it because he vigorously defends private property.Feminists won't like it because he very clearly defines gender roles in the workplace and the family.Animal activists won't like it because he puts man above the animals, as a higher creation.Plutocrats and the wealthy won't like it because it clearly defines their responsibilities to the impoverished and destitute.Corrupt government officials won't like it because he clearly states: "To the State, the interests of all are equal, whether high or low."Strong union workers won't like it because it defines clear responsibilities of workers to employers.People who think marriage is obsolete won't like it as he puts marriage and family units into a category of natural law.Students will describe it with many seldom used political terms ending in "ism" and dismiss it as unimportant with a wave of a wise, knowing hand that has been on this earth for a full two decades - after skimming it for keywords rather than wasting time reading it.Pope Leo XIII draws extensively from Thomas Aquinas, especially from Summa Theologica for his arguments.Regardless of what anyone thinks of the document itself, his conclusion rings true today as it did in 1891."If human society is to be healed now, in no other way can it be healed save by a return to Christian life and Christian institutions." And "Since religion alone can avail to destroy evil at its root, all men should be persuaded that main thing needful is to re-establish Christian morals, apart from which all the plans and devices of the wisest will prove of little avail."Interesting, this is the same conclusion made by the author who penned the words I began this review with: "The last word, when all is heard: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this concerns all humankind; because God will bring to judgment every work, with all its hidden qualities, whether good or bad."

  • W. Littlejohn
    2018-11-06 12:20

    Some parts were excellent, some parts made me skeptical (the too-willing adoption of an essentially Lockean view of private property, the too-willing faith in states to enact beneficial measures, etc.), but whatever you think of it, it's a must-read for anyone thinking about faith, politics, and economics in modernity. Crucial line: "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."

  • Pedro
    2018-10-18 16:26

    Depois de muitos anos citando a Encíclica sem ter lido toda finalmente li. Impressiona muito o fato de que em 1891 o Papa Leão XIII tivesse previsto todo um panorama social que ainda no século XXI é revolucionário.

  • Marie
    2018-11-02 14:41

    Especially recommended for people under the misconception that the Church operates under the principles of socialism, or that the State has no duties towards the citizens.

  • Jedidiah Tritle
    2018-11-08 08:41

    A brilliant entry-point of the Roman Church to the social debates of the 19th and 20th centuries. Pope Leo provides a sort of "3rd way" between the extremes of Marxist Communism and Nationalist Fascism, focusing instead on the priority of the family--rather than prioritizing the state or the collective. Private property is spoken of as a right of the family in order to ensure the freedom to flourish, while the duty of individuals (especially employers) towards the "family" (represented by the bread-winning "laborer") is rooted in a common destination of goods. A fascinating read, and the prolegomena to all further social encyclicals of the 20th and 21st centuries.

  • pplofgod
    2018-10-17 11:43

    While it does outline an almost fascist-like society(class collaboration). It is still very relevant today.His argument for private ownership over the means of production(and for private ownership in general) was very poor in my opinion. Mixing ones labor with the land is not enough to constitute ownership. Land can only be possessed. Also this encyclical clearly sets out to prove why certain arbitrary gender roles are necessary(which kind of pisses me off).Another problem is the encyclicals endorsement of class collaboration. Class collaboration will never work. The state(being an expression of class interests) will almost always favor the upper class over the proletariat. It is a utopian view of the world.

  • Dahl
    2018-10-17 10:26

    The first work to point out the dangers of Karl Marx's ideology of Socialism and Communism from the Catholic perspective. Leo XIII's concern for the common worker along with his understanding of the rights of mankind put forward a gentle explanation of the balanced Catholic Church teaching on these subjects while refuting the lies told by the Socialist, Communist and Crony Capitalist apologists of the late 19th Century. For anyone looking to sift through the lies told in the mainstream and find out what the Church really teaches on the issues related to the living wage, the rights of workers and business-owners and the balance between work and the rest of life, this book is an absolute must-read.

  • Joe
    2018-10-29 15:34

    Pope Leo XIII fought socialism with this text, explaining why the Church believes that private property is a natural right. Triumphant capitalists should make sure to read to the end, where the pope goes on to explain that the right to form a labor union is also a natural right. Interesting middle ground here; as a Catholic, you can see why the pope wanted the Church to play a larger role in the formation of unions.

  • Galicius
    2018-10-25 09:41

    “Rerum Novarum” is a prescription for a Utopia second to none. I read Plato’s Republic as carefully as I could and Thomas More’s Utopia, not to mention a few dystopias, and they left a felling I was reading fantasies. This encyclical by Leo XIII reads like hard non-fiction for today’s world.

  • Trice
    2018-10-26 09:46

    On the Vatican website: from St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics

  • Adam Olsen
    2018-11-05 14:49

    "Age gives way to age, but the events of one century are wonderfully like those of another" -Pope Leo XIII,Certainly some of the language is dated and is gender biased but in many ways this encyclical is as relevant today as in 1891

  • Kazango
    2018-10-24 15:44

    Superb beginning to the social teaching of the Church. Leo rightly rejects both socialism and any form of capitalism which results in a few sitting on heaps and heaps of money while others struggle to scrape by. Not a long read, but a thought-provoking one.

  • Jane
    2018-11-16 16:30

    Great encyclical.

  • Emily Giuffre
    2018-11-05 12:23

    Not the easiest translation to read but everyone entering the workforce or starting a business should read this encyclical of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII

  • C. Tilden
    2018-10-30 11:31

    an early articulation of what would later become known as distributist economics.

  • David Mosley
    2018-11-02 11:49

    Last Read:27-29 December 20136-12 May 2015

  • joseito
    2018-11-13 11:24


  • Rebekah
    2018-11-07 13:19

    Another illuminating and exceptional encyclical by Pope Leo XIII, he investigates each major economic/societal issue of the modern day with a brutal clarity that is definitely needed.