The Church: An Analysis of The Rerum Novarum Publication

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Introduction In this essay I will identify the issues which brought about this papal encyclical in 1891, specifically the social conditions of people, resulting from industrialisation and the church’s Christological role in declaring human dignity in terms of God’s plan for mankind. I will set out the historical position in Britain in this late Victorian era within the context of European radical political upheaval, as part of the need for reform and a response from the Church. These issues will be compared with the encyclical one hundred years later, to analyse the development of policy in1891 and 1991 in terms of the church’s teaching, within the…show more content…
It was a paternalistic model which depended upon the state safeguarding rights, but also a system of distributive justice administered by the state. The principle of private property was central to this belief. His ideas stemmed from Aquinas and the belief in natural, God given law. His mind was influenced by the reality of dealing with socialism in the loss of the Papal States and the threat that supporting socialist causes would automatically lead to revolution and anti-church aggression. He argued against the Marxist philosophy, claiming it was the individual’s right, rather than the state, to own property, thus supporting families in their religious duties. The encyclical was issued less than forty years after Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors which declared: ‘It is an error to believe that the Roman pontiff can or should reconcile himself to, and agree with progress, liberalism, and modern civilizations.’ Leo XIII regarded the ius sanctum of property as something implicit in the traditional theory of Thomistic theology, without conceding a ‘liberal’ doctrine of the state. Secondly his approval of societies being set up with a common interest as long as they did not oppose the Church, gave a lasting legacy to this day, for the growth of the modern trade union movement. The medieval concept of craft guilds could be transformed to friendly societies, within a Christian framework. Thirdly the validation of the state in having a role in reconciling social

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