Is it Enough?

Pope Leo XIII concludes his writing by stating that the employer and the worker need each other; they have a dependent relationship. This may seem obvious, but the simplicity of the situation did not occur to me until I read Rerum Novarum where Pope Leo related the struggle of the worker to human nature. Pope Leo was an intelligent, adaptable, decently educated young boy who caught the eye of members in the Church. He eventually worked up the line on rank due to his enthusiastic energy and self-control. Pope Leo XIII offered a new pursepective during the time of nation wide suffering. He earned his popularity through his acceptance of the changing world around him and his willingness to prove to the public that the church was willing to adapt to these changes.

 

In his piece Rerum Novarum meaning “of new things”, written in 1891, the pope acknowledges the struggle many members of the working class were facing during that time as a result of the Industrial Revolution. He explains the reasons why he sees this struggle, stating that since the guilds were abolished, there was no one to protect the working class man. One can tell from this reading, that he is not a fan of the State, although he believe that its existence is necessary when resolving familial issues etc. he believes that man is in charge of his own life and therefore does not need to rely on the state. He brings up God when discussing the idea of private property (which he is in favor of) stating that He did not create land for people to own all for themselves as a symbol of power, rather He created it as a resource so man could satisfy his needs. He also critiques socialism, a proposed solution to the power struggle capitalism created, by saying that it would only hinder the working class man and cause more chaos. He ends his piece by analyzing the relationship between the landowner and the laborer, stating that they need each other in order to survive and progress.

 

Pope Leo XIII analyzes and proposes an abundance of ideas in this piece, some I am still trying to wrap my head around. Do you think that the working class accepted his theory about the relationship between the landowner and laborer? Do you think because it was coming from the Pope, people would be more or less likely to accept this idea? What I am getting at is, do you think religion was enough for people to settle and accept their situation and Pope Leo XIII says they should?

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