Rerum Novarum

   The Rerum Novarum was the key statement of the Catholic Church’s social doctrine and its response to the rising challenge of socialism. It was promulgated by Pope Leo XIII on 15 May 1891. The attitude to social and economic questions of both the Partito Popolare Italiano/Italian Popular Party (PPI) and its successor, the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy (DC), has been based on this papal encyclical.
   The Rerum Novarum starts from the premise that the masses endure “truly miserable conditions, unworthy of human dignity.” The encyclical goes on, however, to insist that socialism “is unacceptable to the workers” since the purpose of work is the ownership of private property, which socialism seeks to abolish and which is anyway sanctioned by divine law. Socialism is also depicted as the enemy of the family. Socialism, in short, is “harmful for society itself.” It breeds class hatred, and its statist ideology is unnatural.
   The “right remedy” proposed by the Rerum Novarum is one in keeping with the teachings of Christ, of respect for the poor (though with the conviction that human inequality is part of the divine order of things), and the obligation to be charitable. More to the point, however, the encyclical envisages state action, “in perfect harmony with Catholic doctrine,” to “take necessary steps to ensure the welfare of the workers” since this is both good Christian doctrine and the best way of ensuring that the workers do not “attempt other ways to salvation.” Leo recommends cooperatives as an ideal form of private enterprise; paragraph 40 of the encyclical seems much less sure that trade unions are beneficial: Catholic workers, the Rerum Novarum says, must choose between enrolling in organizations “dangerous to religion” or founding their own associations to free themselves from the “unjust and intolerable repression” that unions represent.
   See also Catholicism; Gentiloni Pact.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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  • Rerum Novarum — • The opening words and the title of the Encyclical issued by Leo XIII, 15 May, 1891, on the Condition of Labour Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Rerum Novarum     Rerum Novarum …   Catholic encyclopedia

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  • Rerum novarum — Leo XIII. Papst Leo XIII. verfasste nicht weniger als 86 Enzykliken. Als epochal und als „Mutter aller Sozialenzykliken“ wird seine am 15. Mai 1891 veröffentlichte Enzyklika Rerum Novarum betrachtet, die Leo XIII. in die Papstgeschichte als den… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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