Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Pius XI begins Quadragesimo Anno by honoring and summarizing Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891). He recalls that Leo faced the Industrial Revolution, which contributed to inordinate wealth for a few and wretched working conditions for the majority. Leo critiqued both economic liberalism and socialism as found in the late nineteenth century, and he advised away from class struggle and toward recognition of mutual complementariness. Many applauded Leo’s reflections, but some remained critical. Before defending Leo from his critics, Pius first highlights the benefits that had flowed from Leo’s foundational encyclical.
Pius writes that Rerum Novarum had encouraged many Christian leaders to reflect on social issues within a Christian framework. He states that Leo’s encyclical had also won acceptance outside of the Catholic Church as evidenced by nations that instituted new labor laws. Further, Pius explains that although many were leery of worker associations prior to Rerum Novarum, many clergy and laypersons have since sacrificed much to provide organized support for underprivileged workers.
After summarizing Rerum Novarum, Pius clarifies and updates four issues that Leo had addressed: church authority, private property, just wages, and worker associations. First, Pius discusses the responsibility of the church to address social issues. Whereas Leo sought to defend the right of church leaders to...
(The entire section is 911 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Quadragesimo Anno Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!