The Church: An Analysis of The Rerum Novarum Publication
1884 Words8 Pages
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 context of the wider social and political movements of the late twentieth century. I will determine that whilst John Paul II used the centenary in 1991 to publish Centesimus Annus and see it as a ‘re-wording’ of the original, it ultimately failed to take forward the radical change envisaged in Rerum Novarum, with limited exceptions.
Firstly we need to analyse the background to the period leading up to Rerum Novarum’s publication. Historically it can be argued that the encyclical came too late in the period, fifty years after the 1848 year of revolutionary fever in mainland Europe, yet too early for the full effects of socialism and Marxism in Russia, to have played out. Amidst the background of reform, Leo in his capacity as a papal delegate in the 1840s onwards, had witnessed first-hand the poverty and the effects of industrialisation. Rural communities moved wholesale to the crowded cities but were paid subsistence wages, often in dangerous working conditions with long hours and little rest. L...
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