ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI
ON RECONSTRUCTION OF THE SOCIAL ORDER
TO OUR VENERABLE BRETHREN, THE PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES,
ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS, AND OTHER ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE,
AND LIKEWISE TO ALL THE FAITHFUL OF THE CATHOLIC WORLD.
Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children, Health
and Apostolic Benediction.
Forty years have passed since Leo XIII's peerless
Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, first saw the light,
and the whole Catholic world, filled with grateful recollection,
is undertaking to commemorate it with befitting solemnity.
2. Other Encyclicals of Our Predecessor had in
a way prepared the path for that outstanding document and proof
of pastoral care: namely, those on the family and the Holy Sacrament
of Matrimony as the source of human society, on the origin
of civil authority and its proper relations with the Church,
on the chief duties of Christian citizens, against the tenets
of Socialism against false teachings on human liberty, and
others of the same nature fully expressing the mind of Leo XIII.
Yet the Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, compared with
the rest had this special distinction that at a time when it was
most opportune and actually necessary to do so, it laid down for
all mankind the surest rules to solve aright that difficult problem
of human relations called "the social question."
3. For toward the close of the nineteenth century,
the new kind of economic life that had arisen and the new developments
of industry had gone to the point in most countries that human
society was clearly becoming divided more and more into two classes.
One class, very small in number, was enjoying almost all the advantages
which modern inventions so abundantly provided; the other, embracing
the huge multitude of working people, oppressed by wretched poverty,
was vainly seeking escape from the straits wherein it stood.
4. Quite agreeable, of course, was this state
of things to those who thought it in their abundant riches the
result of inevitable economic laws and accordingly, as if it were
for charity to veil the violation of justice which lawmakers not
only tolerated but at times sanctioned, wanted the whole care
of supporting the poor committed to charity alone. The workers,
on the other hand, crushed by their hard lot, were barely enduring
it and were refusing longer to bend their necks beneath so galling
a yoke; and some of them, carried away by the heat of evil counsel,
were seeking the overturn of everything, while others, whom Christian
training restrained from such evil designs, stood firm in the
judgment that much in this had to be wholly and speedily changed.
5. The same feeling those many Catholics, both
priests and laymen, shared, whom a truly wonderful charity had
long spurred on to relieve the unmerited poverty of the non-owning
workers, and who could in no way convince themselves that so enormous
and unjust an in equality in the distribution of this world's
goods truly conforms to the designs of the all-wise Creator.
6. Those men were without question sincerely
seeking an immediate remedy for this lamentable disorganization
of States and a secure safeguard against worse dangers. Yet such
is the weakness of even the best of human minds that, now rejected
as dangerous innovators, now hindered in the good work by their
very associates advocating other courses of action, and, uncertain
in the face of various opinions, they were at a loss which way
7. In such a sharp conflict of mind, therefore,
while the question at issue was being argued this way and that,
nor always with calmness, all eyes as often before turned to the
Chair of Peter, to that sacred depository of all truth whence
words of salvation pour forth to all the world. And to the feet
of Christ's Vicar on earth were flocking in unaccustomed numbers,
men well versed in social questions, employers, and workers themselves,
begging him with one voice to point out, finally, the safe road
8. The wise Pontiff long weighed all this in
his mind before God; he summoned the most experienced and learned
to counsel; he pondered the issues carefully and from every angle.
At last, admonished "by the consciousness of His Apostolic
Office" lest silence on his part might be regarded as
failure in his duty he decided, in virtue of the Divine Teaching
Office entrusted to him, to address not only the whole Church
of Christ but all mankind.
9. Therefore on the fifteenth day of May, 1891,
that long awaited voice thundered forth; neither daunted by the
arduousness of the problem nor weakened by age but with vigorous
energy, it taught the whole human family to strike out in the
social question upon new paths.
10. You know, Venerable Brethren and Beloved
Children, and understand full well the wonderful teaching which
has made the Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, illustrious
forever. The Supreme Pastor in this Letter, grieving that so large
a portion of mankind should "live undeservedly in miserable
and wretched conditions," took it upon himself with great
courage to defend "the cause of the workers whom the present
age had handed over, each alone and defenseless, to the inhumanity
of employers and the unbridled greed of competitors."
He sought no help from either Liberalism or Socialism, for the
one had proved that it was utterly unable to solve the social
problem aright, and the other, proposing a remedy far worse than
the evil itself, would have plunged human society into great dangers.
11. Since a problem was being treated "for
which no satisfactory solution" is found "unless religion
and the Church have been called upon to aid," the Pope,
clearly exercising his right and correctly holding that the guardianship
of religion and the stewardship over those things that are closely
bound up with it had been entrusted especially to him and relying
solely upon the unchangeable principles drawn from the treasury
of right reason and Divine Revelation, confidently and as one
having authority, declared and proclaimed "the rights
and duties within which the rich and the proletariat - those who
furnish material things and those who furnish work - ought to
be restricted in relation to each other," and what the
Church, heads of States and the people themselves directly concerned
ought to do.
12. The Apostolic voice did not thunder forth
in vain. On the contrary, not only did the obedient children of
the Church hearken to it with marveling admiration and hail it
with the greatest applause, but many also who were wandering far
from the truth, from the unity of the faith, and nearly all who
since then either in private study or in enacting legislation
have concerned themselves with the social and economic question.
13. Feeling themselves vindicated and defended
by the Supreme Authority on earth, Christian workers received
this Encyclical with special joy. So, too, did all those noble-hearted
men who, long solicitous for the improvement of the condition
of the workers, had up to that time encountered almost nothing
but indifference from many, and even rankling suspicion, if not
open hostility, from some. Rightly, therefore, have all these
groups constantly held the Apostolic Encyclical from that time
in such high honor that to signify their gratitude they are wont,
in various places and in various ways, to commemorate it every
14. However, in spite of such great agreement,
there were some who were not a little disturbed; and so it happened
that the teaching of Leo XIII, so noble and lofty and so utterly
new to worldly ears, was held suspect by some, even among Catholics,
and to certain ones it even gave offense. For it boldly attacked
and overturned the idols of Liberalism, ignored long-standing
prejudices, and was in advance of its time beyond all expectation,
so that the slow of heart disdained to study this new social philosophy
and the timid feared to scale so lofty a height. There were some
also who stood, indeed, in awe at its splendor, but regarded it
as a kind of imaginary ideal of perfection more desirable then
15. Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children,
as all everywhere and especially Catholic workers who are pouring
from all sides into this Holy City, are celebrating with such
enthusiasm the solemn commemoration of the fortieth anniversary
of the Encyclical On the Condition of Workers, We deem it fitting
on this occasion to recall the great benefits this Encyclical
has brought to the Catholic Church and to all human society; to
defend the illustrious Master's doctrine on the social and economic
question against certain doubts and to develop it more fully as
to some points; and lastly, summoning to court the contemporary
economic regime and passing judgment on Socialism, to lay bare
the root of the existing social confusion and at the same time
point the only way to sound restoration: namely, the Christian
reform of morals. All these matters which we undertake to treat
will fall under three main headings, and this entire Encyclical
will be devoted to their development.
16. To begin with the topic which we have proposed
first to discuss, We cannot refrain, following the counsel of
St. Ambrose who says that "no duty is more important
than that of returning thanks," from offering our fullest
gratitude to Almighty God for the immense benefits that have come
through Leo's Encyclical to the Church and to human society. If
indeed We should wish to review these benefits even cursorily,
almost the whole history of the social question during the last
forty years would have to be recalled to mind. These benefits
can be reduced conveniently, however, to three main points, corresponding
to the three kinds of help which Our Predecessor ardently desired
for the accomplishment of his great work of restoration.
17. In the first place Leo himself clearly stated
what ought to be expected from the Church: "Manifestly
it is the Church which draws from the Gospel the teachings through
which the struggle can be composed entirely, or, after its bitterness
is removed, can certainly become more tempered. It is the Church,
again, that strives not only to instruct the mind, but to regulate
by her precepts the life and morals of individuals, and that ameliorates
the condition of the workers through her numerous and beneficent
18. The Church did not let these rich fountains
lie quiescent in her bosom, but from them drew copiously for the
common good of the longed-for peace. Leo himself and his Successors,
showing paternal charity and pastoral constancy always, in defense
especially of the poor and the weak, proclaimed and urged
without ceasing again and again by voice and pen the teaching
on the social and economic question which On the Condition of
Workers presented, and adapted it fittingly to the needs of time
and of circumstance. And many bishops have done the same, who
in their continual and able interpretation of this same teaching
have illustrated it with commentaries and in accordance with the
mind and instructions of the Holy See provided for its application
to the conditions and institutions of diverse regions.
19. It is not surprising, therefore, that many
scholars, both priests and laymen, led especially by the desire
that the unchanged and unchangeable teaching of the Church should
meet new demands and needs more effectively, have zealously undertaken
to develop, with the Church as their guide and teacher, a social
and economic science in accord with the conditions of our time.
20. And so, with Leo's Encyclical pointing the
way and furnishing the light, a true Catholic social science has
arisen, which is daily fostered and enriched by the tireless efforts
of those chosen men whom We have termed auxiliaries of the Church.
They do not, indeed, allow their science to lie hidden behind
learned walls. As the useful and well attended courses instituted
in Catholic universities, colleges, and seminaries, the social
congresses and "weeks" that are held at frequent intervals
with most successful results, the study groups that are promoted,
and finally the timely and sound publications that are disseminated
everywhere and in every possible way, clearly show, these men
bring their science out into the full light and stress of life.
21. Nor is the benefit that has poured forth
from Leo's Encyclical confined within these bounds; for the teaching
which On the Condition of Workers contains has gradually and imperceptibly
worked its way into the minds of those outside Catholic unity
who do not recognize the authority of the Church. Catholic principles
on the social question have as a result, passed little by little
into the patrimony of all human society, and We rejoice that the
eternal truths which Our Predecessor of glorious memory proclaimed
so impressively have been frequently invoked and defended not
only in non-Catholic books and journals but in legislative halls
also courts of justice.
22. Furthermore, after the terrible war, when
the statesmen of the leading nations were attempting to restore
peace on the basis of a thorough reform of social conditions,
did not they, among the norms agreed upon to regulate in accordance
with justice and equity the labor of the workers, give sanction
to many points that so remarkably coincide with Leo's principles
and instructions as to seem consciously taken therefrom? The Encyclical
On the Condition of Workers, without question, has become a memorable
document and rightly to it may be applied the words of Isaias:
"He shall set up a standard to the nations."
23. Meanwhile, as Leo's teachings were being
widely diffused in the minds of men, with learned investigations
leading the way, they have come to be put into practice. In the
first place, zealous efforts have been made, with active good
will, to lift up that class which on account of the modern expansion
of industry had increased to enormous numbers but not yet had
obtained its rightful place or rank in human society and was,
for that reason, all but neglected and despised - the workers,
We mean - to whose improvement, to the great advantage of souls,
the diocesan and regular clergy, though burdened with other pastoral
duties, have under the leadership of the Bishops devoted themselves.
This constant work, undertaken to fill the workers' souls with
the Christian spirit, helped much also to make them conscious
of their true dignity and render them capable, by placing clearly
before them the rights and duties of their class, of legitimately
and happily advancing and even of becoming leaders of their fellows.
24. From that time on, fuller means of livelihood
have been more securely obtained; for not only did works of beneficence
and charity begin to multiply at the urging of the Pontiff, but
there have also been established everywhere new and continuously
expanding organizations in which workers, draftsmen, farmers and
employees of every kind, with the counsel of the Church and frequently
under the leadership of her priests, give and receive mutual help
25. With regard to civil authority, Leo XIII,
boldly breaking through the confines imposed by Liberalism, fearlessly
taught that government must not be thought a mere guardian of
law and of good order, but rather must put forth every effort
so that "through the entire scheme of laws and institutions
. . . both public and individual well-being may develop spontaneously
out of the very structure and administration of the State."
Just freedom of action must, of course, be left both to individual
citizens and to families, yet only on condition that the common
good be preserved and wrong to any individual be abolished. The
function of the rulers of the State, moreover, is to watch over
the community and its parts; but in protecting private individuals
in their rights, chief consideration ought to be given to the
weak and the poor. "For the nation, as it were, of the rich
is guarded by its own defenses and is in less need of governmental
protection, whereas the suffering multitude, without the means
to protect itself relies especially on the protection of the State.
Wherefore, since wageworkers are numbered among the great mass
of the needy, the State must include them under its special care
26. We, of course, do not deny that even before
the Encyclical of Leo, some rulers of peoples have provided for
certain of the more urgent needs of the workers and curbed more
flagrant acts of injustice inflicted upon them. But after the
Apostolic voice had sounded from the Chair of Peter throughout
the world, rulers of nations, more fully alive at last to their
duty, devoted their minds and attention to the task of promoting
a more comprehensive and fruitful social policy.
27. And while the principles of Liberalism were
tottering, which had long prevented effective action by those
governing the State, the Encyclical On the Condition of Workers
in truth impelled peoples themselves to promote a social policy
on truer grounds and with greater intensity, and so strongly encouraged
good Catholics to furnish valuable help to heads of States in
this field that they often stood forth as illustrious champions
of this new policy even in legislatures. Sacred ministers of the
Church, thoroughly imbued with Leo's teaching, have, in fact,
often proposed to the votes of the peoples' representatives the
very social legislation that has been enacted in recent years
and have resolutely demanded and promoted its enforcement.
28. A new branch of law, wholly unknown to the
earlier time, has arisen from this continuous and unwearied labor
to protect vigorously the sacred rights of the workers that flow
from their dignity as men and as Christians. These laws undertake
the protection of life, health, strength, family, homes, workshops,
wages and labor hazards, in fine, everything which pertains to
the condition of wage workers, with special concern for women
and children. Even though these laws do not conform exactly everywhere
and in all respects to Leo's recommendations, still it is undeniable
that much in them savors of the Encyclical, On the Condition of
Workers, to which great credit must be given for whatever improvement
has been achieved in the workers' condition.
29. Finally, the wise Pontiff showed that "employers
and workers themselves can accomplish much in this matter, manifestly
through those institutions by the help of which the poor are opportunely
assisted and the two classes of society are brought closer to
each other." First place among these institutions, he
declares, must be assigned to associations that embrace either
workers alone or workers and employers together. He goes into
considerable detail in explaining and commending these associations
and expounds with a truly wonderful wisdom their nature, purpose,
timeliness, rights, duties, and regulations.
30. These teachings were issued indeed most opportunely.
For at that time in many nations those at the helm of State, plainly
imbued with Liberalism, were showing little favor to workers'
associations of this type; nay, rather they openly opposed them,
and while going out of their way to recognize similar organizations
of other classes and show favor to them, they were with criminal
injustice denying the natural right to form associations to those
who needed it most to defend themselves from ill treatment at
the hands of the powerful. There were even some Catholics who
looked askance at the efforts of workers to form associations
of this type as if they smacked of a socialistic or revolutionary
31. The rules, therefore, which Leo XIII issued
in virtue of his authority, deserve the greatest praise in that
they have been able to break down this hostility and dispel these
suspicions; but they have even a higher claim to distinction in
that they encouraged Christian workers to found mutual associations
according to their various occupations, taught them how to do
so, and resolutely confirmed in the path of duty a goodly number
of those whom socialist organizations strongly attracted by claiming
to be the sole defenders and champions of the lowly and oppressed.
32. With respect to the founding of these societies,
the Encyclical On the Condition of Workers most fittingly declared
that "workers' associations ought to be so constituted and
so governed as to furnish the most suitable and most convenient
means to attain the object proposed, which consists in this, that
the individual members of the association secure, so far as is
possible, an increase in the goods of body, of soul, and of property,"
yet it is clear that "moral and religious perfection ought
to be regarded as their principal goal, and that their social
organization as such ought above all to be directed completely
by this goal." For "when the regulations of associations
are founded upon religion, the way is easy toward establishing
the mutual relations of the members, so that peaceful living together
and prosperity will result."
33. To the founding of these associations the
clergy and many of the laity devoted themselves everywhere with
truly praiseworthy zeal, eager to bring Leo's program to full
realization. Thus associations of this kind have molded truly
Christian workers who, in combining harmoniously the diligent
practice of their occupation with the salutary precepts of religion,
protect effectively and resolutely their own temporal interests
and rights, keeping a due respect for justice and a genuine desire
to work together with other classes of society for the Christian
renewal of all social life.
34. These counsels and instructions of Leo XIII
were put into effect differently in different places according
to varied local conditions. In some places one and the same association
undertook to attain all the ends laid down by the Pontiff; in
others, because circumstances suggested or required it, a division
of work developed and separate associations were formed. Of these,
some devoted themselves to the defense of the rights and legitimate
interests of their members in the labor market; others took over
the work of providing mutual economic aid; finally still others
gave all their attention to the fulfillment of religious and moral
duties and other obligations of like nature.
35. This second method has especially been adopted
where either the laws of a country, or certain special economic
institutions, or that deplorable dissension of minds and hearts
so widespread in contemporary society and an urgent necessity
of combating with united purpose and strength the massed ranks
of revolutionarists, have prevented Catholics from founding purely
Catholic labor unions. Under these conditions, Catholics seem
almost forced to join secular labor unions. These unions, however,
should always profess justice and equity and give Catholic members
full freedom to care for their own conscience and obey the laws
of the Church. It is clearly the office of bishops, when they
know that these associations are on account of circumstances necessary
and are not dangerous to religion, to approve of Catholic workers
joining them, keeping before their eyes, however, the principles
and precautions laid down by Our Predecessor, Pius X of holy memory.
Among these precautions the first and chief is this: Side by side
with these unions there should always be associations zealously
engaged in imbuing and forming their members in the teaching of
religion and morality so that they in turn may be able to permeate
the unions with that good spirit which should direct them in all
their activity. As a result, the religious associations will bear
good fruit even beyond the circle of their own membership.
36. To the Encyclical of Leo, therefore, must
be given this credit, that these associations of workers have
so flourished everywhere that while, alas, still surpassed in
numbers by socialist and communist organizations, they already
embrace a vast multitude of workers and are able, within the confines
of each nation as well as in wider assemblies, to maintain vigorously
the rights and legitimate demands of Catholic workers and insist
also on the salutary Christian principles of society.
37. Leo's learned treatment and vigorous defense
of the natural right to form associations began, furthermore,
to find ready application to other associations also and not alone
to those of the workers. Hence no small part of the credit must,
it seems, be given to this same Encyclical of Leo for the fact
that among farmers and others of the middle class most useful
associations of this kind are seen flourishing to a notable degree
and increasing day by day, as well as other institutions of a
similar nature in which spiritual development and economic benefit
are happily combined.
38. But if this cannot be said of organizations
which Our same Predecessor intensely desired established among
employers and managers of industry - and We certainly regret that
they are so few - the condition is not wholly due to the will
of men but to far graver difficulties that hinder associations
of this kind which We know well and estimate at their full value.
There is, however, strong hope that these obstacles also will
be removed soon, and even now We greet with the deepest joy of
Our soul, certain by no means insignificant attempts in this direction,
the rich fruits of which promise a still richer harvest in the
39. All these benefits of Leo's Encyclical, Venerable
Brethren and Beloved Children, which We have outlined rather than
fully described, are so numerous and of such import as to show
plainly that this immortal document does not exhibit a merely
fanciful, even if beautiful, ideal of human society. Rather did
our Predecessor draw from the Gospel and, therefore, from an ever-living
and life-giving fountain, teachings capable of greatly mitigating,
if not immediately terminating that deadly internal struggle which
is rending the family of mankind. The rich fruits which the Church
of Christ and the whole human race have, by God's favor, reaped
therefrom unto salvation prove that some of this good seed, so
lavishly sown forty years ago, fell on good ground. On the basis
of the long period of experience, it cannot be rash to say that
Leo's Encyclical has proved itself the Magna Charta upon which
all Christian activity in the social field ought to be based,
as on a foundation. And those who would seem to hold in little
esteem this Papal Encyclical and its commemoration either blaspheme
what they know not, or understand nothing of what they are only
superficially acquainted with, or if they do understand convict
themselves formally of injustice and ingratitude.
40. Yet since in the course of these same years,
certain doubts have arisen concerning either the correct meaning
of some parts of Leo's Encyclical or conclusions to be deduced
therefrom, which doubts in turn have even among Catholics given
rise to controversies that are not always peaceful; and since,
furthermore, new needs and changed conditions of our age have
made necessary a more precise application of Leo's teaching or
even certain additions thereto, We most gladly seize this fitting
occasion, in accord with Our Apostolic Office through which We
are debtors to all, to answer, so far as in Us lies, these
doubts and these demands of the present day.
41. Yet before proceeding to explain these matters,
that principle which Leo XIII so clearly established must be laid
down at the outset here, namely, that there resides in Us the
right and duty to pronounce with supreme authority upon social
and economic matters. Certainly the Church was not given the
commission to guide men to an only fleeting and perishable happiness
but to that which is eternal. Indeed" the Church holds that
it is unlawful for her to mix without cause in these temporal
concerns"; however, she can in no wise renounce the duty
God entrusted to her to interpose her authority, not of course
in matters of technique for which she is neither suitably equipped
nor endowed by office, but in all things that are connected with
the moral law. For as to these, the deposit of truth that God
committed to Us and the grave duty of disseminating and interpreting
the whole moral law, and of urging it in season and out of season,
bring under and subject to Our supreme jurisdiction not only social
order but economic activities themselves.
42. Even though economics and moral science employs
each its own principles in its own sphere, it is, nevertheless,
an error to say that the economic and moral orders are so distinct
from and alien to each other that the former depends in no way
on the latter. Certainly the laws of economics, as they are termed,
being based on the very nature of material things and on the capacities
of the human body and mind, determine the limits of what productive
human effort cannot, and of what it can attain in the economic
field and by what means. Yet it is reason itself that clearly
shows, on the basis of the individual and social nature of things
and of men, the purpose which God ordained for all economic life.
43. But it is only the moral law which, just
as it commands us to seek our supreme and last end in the whole
scheme of our activity, so likewise commands us to seek directly
in each kind of activity those purposes which we know that nature,
or rather God the Author of nature, established for that kind
of action, and in orderly relationship to subordinate such immediate
purposes to our supreme and last end. If we faithfully observe
this law, then it will follow that the particular purposes, both
individual and social, that are sought in the economic field will
fall in their proper place in the universal order of purposes,
and We, in ascending through them, as it were by steps, shall
attain the final end of all things, that is God, to Himself and
to us, the supreme and inexhaustible Good.
44. But to come down to particular points, We
shall begin with ownership or the right of property. Venerable
Brethren and Beloved Children, you know that Our Predecessor of
happy memory strongly defended the right of property against the
tenets of the Socialists of his time by showing that its abolition
would result, not to the advantage of the working class, but to
their extreme harm. Yet since there are some who calumniate the
Supreme Pontiff, and the Church herself, as if she had taken and
were still taking the part of the rich against the non-owning
workers - certainly no accusation is more unjust than that - and
since Catholics are at variance with one another concerning the
true and exact mind of Leo, it has seemed best to vindicate this,
that is, the Catholic teaching on this matter from calumnies and
safeguard it from false interpretations.
45. First, then, let it be considered as certain
and established that neither Leo nor those theologians who have
taught under the guidance and authority of the Church have ever
denied or questioned the twofold character of ownership, called
usually individual or social according as it regards either separate
persons or the common good. For they have always unanimously maintained
that nature, rather the Creator Himself, has given man the right
of private ownership not only that individuals may be able to
provide for themselves and their families but also that the goods
which the Creator destined for the entire family of mankind may
through this institution truly serve this purpose. All this can
be achieved in no wise except through the maintenance of a certain
and definite order.
46. Accordingly, twin rocks of shipwreck must
be carefully avoided. For, as one is wrecked upon, or comes close
to, what is known as "individualism" by denying or minimizing
the social and public character of the right of property, so by
rejecting or minimizing the private and individual character of
this same right, one inevitably runs into "collectivism"
or at least closely approaches its tenets. Unless this is kept
in mind, one is swept from his course upon the shoals of that
moral, juridical, and social modernism which We denounced in the
Encyclical issued at the beginning of Our Pontificate. And,
in particular, let those realize this who, in their desire for
innovation, do not scruple to reproach the Church with infamous
calumnies, as if she had allowed to creep into the teachings of
her theologians a pagan concept of ownership which must be completely
replaced by another that they with amazing ignorance call "Christian."
47. In order to place definite limits on the
controversies that have arisen over ownership and its inherent
duties there must be first laid down as foundation a principle
established by Leo XIII: The right of property is distinct from
its use. That justice called commutative commands sacred respect
for the division of possessions and forbids invasion of others'
rights through the exceeding of the limits of one's own property;
but the duty of owners to use their property only in a right way
does not come under this type of justice, but under other virtues,
obligations of which "cannot be enforced by legal action."
Therefore, they are in error who assert that ownership and its
right use are limited by the same boundaries; and it is much farther
still from the truth to hold that a right to property is destroyed
or lost by reason of abuse or non-use.
48. Those, therefore, are doing a work that is
truly salutary and worthy of all praise who, while preserving
harmony among themselves and the integrity of the traditional
teaching of the Church, seek to define the inner nature of these
duties and their limits whereby either the right of property itself
or its use, that is, the exercise of ownership, is circumscribed
by the necessities of social living. On the other hand, those
who seek to restrict the individual character of ownership to
such a degree that in fact they destroy it are mistaken and in
49. It follows from what We have termed the individual
and at the same time social character of ownership, that men must
consider in this matter not only their own advantage but also
the common good. To define these duties in detail when necessity
requires and the natural law has not done so, is the function
of those in charge of the State. Therefore, public authority,
under the guiding light always of the natural and divine law,
can determine more accurately upon consideration of the true requirements
of the common good, what is permitted and what is not permitted
to owners in the use of their property. Moreover, Leo XIII wisely
taught "that God has left the limits of private possessions
to be fixed by the industry of men and institutions of peoples."
That history proves ownership, like other elements of social life,
to be not absolutely unchanging, We once declared as follows:
"What divers forms has property had, from that primitive
form among rude and savage peoples, which may be observed in some
places even in our time, to the form of possession in the patriarchal
age; and so further to the various forms under tyranny (We are
using the word tyranny in its classical sense); and then through
the feudal and monarchial forms down to the various types which
are to be found in more recent times." That the State
is not permitted to discharge its duty arbitrarily is, however,
clear. The natural right itself both of owning goods privately
and of passing them on by inheritance ought always to remain intact
and inviolate, since this indeed is a right that the State cannot
take away: "For man is older than the State," and
also "domestic living together is prior both in thought and
in fact to uniting into a polity." Wherefore the wise
Pontiff declared that it is grossly unjust for a State to exhaust
private wealth through the weight of imposts and taxes. "For
since the right of possessing goods privately has been conferred
not by man's law, but by nature, public authority cannot abolish
it, but can only control its exercise and bring it into conformity
with the common weal." Yet when the State brings private
ownership into harmony with the needs of the common good, it does
not commit a hostile act against private owners but rather does
them a friendly service; for it thereby effectively prevents the
private possession of goods, which the Author of nature in His
most wise providence ordained for the support of human life, from
causing intolerable evils and thus rushing to its own destruction;
it does not destroy private possessions, but safeguards them;
and it does not weaken private property rights, but strengthens
50. Furthermore, a person's superfluous income,
that is, income which he does not need to sustain life fittingly
and with dignity, is not left wholly to his own free determination.
Rather the Sacred Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church constantly
declare in the most explicit language that the rich are bound
by a very grave precept to practice almsgiving, beneficence, and
51. Expending larger incomes so that opportunity
for gainful work may be abundant, provided, however, that this
work is applied to producing really useful goods, ought to be
considered, as We deduce from the principles of the Angelic Doctor,
an outstanding exemplification of the virtue of munificence and
one particularly suited to the needs of the times.
52. That ownership is originally acquired both
by occupancy of a thing not owned by any one and by labor, or,
as is said, by specification, the tradition of all ages as well
as the teaching of Our Predecessor Leo clearly testifies. For,
whatever some idly say to the contrary, no injury is done to any
person when a thing is occupied that is available to all but belongs
to no one; however, only that labor which a man performs in his
own name and by virtue of which a new form or increase has been
given to a thing grants him title to these fruits.
53. Far different is the nature of work that
is hired out to others and expended on the property of others.
To this indeed especially applies what Leo XIII says is "incontestible,"
namely, that "the wealth of nations originates from no other
source than from the labor of workers." For is it not
plain that the enormous volume of goods that makes up human wealth
is produced by and issues from the hands of the workers that either
toil unaided or have their efficiency marvelously increased by
being equipped with tools or machines? Every one knows, too, that
no nation has ever risen out of want and poverty to a better and
nobler condition save by the enormous and combined toil of all
the people, both those who manage work and those who carry out
directions. But it is no less evident that, had not God the Creator
of all things, in keeping with His goodness, first generously
bestowed natural riches and resources - the wealth and forces
of nature - such supreme efforts would have been idle and vain,
indeed could never even have begun. For what else is work but
to use or exercise the energies of mind and body on or through
these very things? And in the application of natural resources
to human use the law of nature, or rather God's will promulgated
by it, demands that right order be observed. This order consists
in this: that each thing have its proper owner. Hence it follows
that unless a man is expending labor on his own property, the
labor of one person and the property of another must be associated,
for neither can produce anything without the other. Leo XIII certainly
had this in mind when he wrote: "Neither capital can do without
labor, nor labor without capital." Wherefore it is wholly
false to ascribe to property alone or to labor alone whatever
has been obtained through the combined effort of both, and it
is wholly unjust for either, denying the efficacy of the other,
to arrogate to itself whatever has been produced.
54. Property, that is, "capital," has
undoubtedly long been able to appropriate too much to itself.
Whatever was produced, whatever returns accrued, capital claimed
for itself, hardly leaving to the worker enough to restore and
renew his strength. For the doctrine was preached that all accumulation
of capital falls by an absolutely insuperable economic law to
the rich, and that by the same law the workers are given over
and bound to perpetual want, to the scantiest of livelihoods.
It is true, indeed, that things have not always and everywhere
corresponded with this sort of teaching of the so-called Manchesterian
Liberals; yet it cannot be denied that economic social institutions
have moved steadily in that direction. That these false ideas,
these erroneous suppositions, have been vigorously assailed, and
not by those alone who through them were being deprived of their
innate right to obtain better conditions, will surprise no one.
55. And therefore, to the harassed workers there
have come "intellectuals," as they are called, setting
up in opposition to a fictitious law the equally fictitious moral
principle that all products and profits, save only enough to repair
and renew capital, belong by very right to the workers. This error,
much more specious than that of certain of the Socialists who
hold that whatever serves to produce goods ought to be transferred
to the State, or, as they say "socialized," is consequently
all the more dangerous and the more apt to deceive the unwary.
It is an alluring poison which many have eagerly drunk whom open
Socialism had not been able to deceive.
56. Unquestionably, so as not to close against
themselves the road to justice and peace through these false tenets,
both parties ought to have been forewarned by the wise words of
Our Predecessor: "However the earth may be apportioned among
private owners, it does not cease to serve the common interests
of all." This same doctrine We ourselves also taught
above in declaring that the division of goods which results from
private ownership was established by nature itself in order that
created things may serve the needs of mankind in fixed and stable
order. Lest one wander from the straight path of truth, this is
something that must be continually kept in mind.
57. But not every distribution among human beings
of property and wealth is of a character to attain either completely
or to a satisfactory degree of perfection the end which God intends.
Therefore, the riches that economic-social developments constantly
increase ought to be so distributed among individual persons and
classes that the common advantage of all, which Leo XIII had praised,
will be safeguarded; in other words, that the common good of all
society will be kept inviolate. By this law of social justice,
one class is forbidden to exclude the other from sharing in the
benefits. Hence the class of the wealthy violates this law no
less, when, as if free from care on account of its wealth, it
thinks it the right order of things for it to get everything and
the worker nothing, than does the non-owning working class when,
angered deeply at outraged justice and too ready to assert wrongly
the one right it is conscious of, it demands for itself everything
as if produced by its own hands, and attacks and seeks to abolish,
therefore, all property and returns or incomes, of whatever kind
they are or whatever the function they perform in human society,
that have not been obtained by labor, and for no other reason
save that they are of such a nature. And in this connection We
must not pass over the unwarranted and unmerited appeal made by
some to the Apostle when he said: "If any man will not work
neither let him eat." For the Apostle is passing judgment
on those who are unwilling to work, although they can and ought
to, and he admonishes us that we ought diligently to use our time
and energies of body, and mind and not be a burden to others when
we can provide for ourselves. But the Apostle in no wise teaches
that labor is the sole title to a living or an income.
58. To each, therefore, must be given his own
share of goods, and the distribution of created goods, which,
as every discerning person knows, is laboring today under the
gravest evils due to the huge disparity between the few exceedingly
rich and the unnumbered propertyless, must be effectively called
back to and brought into conformity with the norms of the common
good, that is, social justice.
59. The redemption of the non-owning workers
- this is the goal that Our Predecessor declared must necessarily
be sought. And the point is the more emphatically to be asserted
and more insistently repeated because the commands of the Pontiff,
salutary as they are, have not infrequently been consigned to
oblivion either because they were deliberately suppressed by silence
or thought impracticable although they both can and ought to be
put into effect. And these commands have not lost their force
and wisdom for our time because that "pauperism" which
Leo XIII beheld in all its horror is less widespread. Certainly
the condition of the workers has been improved and made more equitable
especially in the more civilized and wealthy countries where the
workers can no longer be considered universally overwhelmed with
misery and lacking the necessities of life. But since manufacturing
and industry have so rapidly pervaded and occupied countless regions,
not only in the countries called new, but also in the realms of
the Far East that have been civilized from antiquity, the number
of the non-owning working poor has increased enormously and their
groans cry to God from the earth. Added to them is the huge army
of rural wage workers, pushed to the lowest level of existence
and deprived of all hope of ever acquiring "some property
in land," and, therefore, permanently bound to the status
of non-owning worker unless suitable and effective remedies are
60. Yet while it is true that the status of non
owning worker is to be carefully distinguished from pauperism,
nevertheless the immense multitude of the non-owning workers on
the one hand and the enormous riches of certain very wealthy men
on the other establish an unanswerable argument that the riches
which are so abundantly produced in our age of "industrialism,"
as it is called, are not rightly distributed and equitably made
available to the various classes of the people.
61. Therefore, with all our strength and effort
we must strive that at least in the future the abundant fruits
of production will accrue equitably to those who are rich and
will be distributed in ample sufficiency among the workers - not
that these may become remiss in work, for man is born to labor
as the bird to fly - but that they may increase their property
by thrift, that they may bear, by wise management of this increase
in property, the burdens of family life with greater ease and
security, and that, emerging from the insecure lot in life in
whose uncertainties non-owning workers are cast, they may be able
not only to endure the vicissitudes of earthly existence but have
also assurance that when their lives are ended they will provide
in some measure for those they leave after them.
62. All these things which Our Predecessor has
not only suggested but clearly and openly proclaimed, We emphasize
with renewed insistence in our present Encyclical; and unless
utmost efforts are made without delay to put them into effect,
let no one persuade himself that public order, peace, and the
tranquillity of human society can be effectively defended against
agitators of revolution.
63. As We have already indicated, following in
the footsteps of Our Predecessor, it will be impossible to put
these principles into practice unless the non-owning workers through
industry and thrift advance to the state of possessing some little
property. But except from pay for work, from what source can a
man who has nothing else but work from which to obtain food and
the necessaries of life set anything aside for himself through
practicing frugality? Let us, therefore, explaining and developing
wherever necessary Leo XIII's teachings and precepts, take up
this question of wages and salaries which he called one "of
very great importance."
64. First of all, those who declare that a contract
of hiring and being hired is unjust of its own nature, and hence
a partnership-contract must take its place, are certainly in error
and gravely misrepresent Our Predecessor whose Encyclical not
only accepts working for wages or salaries but deals at some length
with it regulation in accordance with the rules of justice.
65. We consider it more advisable, however, in
the present condition of human society that, so far as is possible,
the work-contract be somewhat modified by a partnership-contract,
as is already being done in various ways and with no small advantage
to workers and owners. Workers and other employees thus become
sharers in ownership or management or participate in some fashion
in the profits received.
66. The just amount of pay, however, must be
calculated not on a single basis but on several, as Leo XIII already
wisely declared in these words: "To establish a rule of pay
in accord with justice, many factors must be taken into account."
67. By this statement he plainly condemned the
shallowness of those who think that this most difficult matter
is easily solved by the application of a single rule or measure
- and one quite false.
68. For they are greatly in error who do not
hesitate to spread the principle that labor is worth and must
be paid as much as its products are worth, and that consequently
the one who hires out his labor has the right to demand all that
is produced through his labor. How far this is from the truth
is evident from that We have already explained in treating of
property and labor.
69. It is obvious that, as in the case of ownership,
so in the case of work, especially work hired out to others, there
is a social aspect also to be considered in addition to the personal
or individual aspect. For man's productive effort cannot yield
its fruits unless a truly social and organic body exists, unless
a social and juridical order watches over the exercise of work,
unless the various occupations, being interdependent, cooperate
with and mutually complete one another, and, what is still more
important, unless mind, material things, and work combine and
form as it were a single whole. Therefore, where the social and
individual nature of work is neglected, it will be impossible
to evaluate work justly and pay it according to justice.
70. Conclusions of the greatest importance follow
from this twofold character which nature has impressed on human
work, and it is in accordance with these that wages ought to be
regulated and established.
71. In the first place, the worker must be paid
a wage sufficient to support him and his family. That the
rest of the family should also contribute to the common support,
according to the capacity of each, is certainly right, as can
be observed especially in the families of farmers, but also in
the families of many craftsmen and small shopkeepers. But to abuse
the years of childhood and the limited strength of women is grossly
wrong. Mothers, concentrating on household duties, should work
primarily in the home or in its immediate vicinity. It is an intolerable
abuse, and to be abolished at all cost, for mothers on account
of the father's low wage to be forced to engage in gainful occupations
outside the home to the neglect of their proper cares and duties,
especially the training of children. Every effort must therefore
be made that fathers of families receive a wage large enough to
meet ordinary family needs adequately. But if this cannot always
be done under existing circumstances, social justice demands that
changes be introduced as soon as possible whereby such a wage
will be assured to every adult workingman. It will not be out
of place here to render merited praise to all, who with a wise
and useful purpose, have tried and tested various ways of adjusting
the pay for work to family burdens in such a way that, as these
increase, the former may be raised and indeed, if the contingency
arises, there may be enough to meet extraordinary needs.
72. In determining the amount of the wage, the
condition of a business and of the one carrying it on must also
be taken into account; for it would be unjust to demand excessive
wages which a business cannot stand without its ruin and consequent
calamity to the workers. If, however, a business makes too little
money, because of lack of energy or lack of initiative or because
of indifference to technical and economic progress, that must
not be regarded a just reason for reducing the compensation of
the workers. But if the business in question is not making enough
money to pay the workers an equitable wage because it is being
crushed by unjust burdens or forced to sell its product at less
than a just price, those who are thus the cause of the injury
are guilty of grave wrong, for they deprive workers of their just
wage and force them under the pinch of necessity to accept a wage
less than fair.
73. Let, then, both workers and employers strive
with united strength and counsel to overcome the difficulties
and obstacles and let a wise provision on the part of public authority
aid them in so salutary a work. If, however, matters come to an
extreme crisis, it must be finally considered whether the business
can continue or the workers are to be cared for in some other
way. In such a situation, certainly most serious, a feeling of
close relationship and a Christian concord of minds ought to prevail
and function effectively among employers and workers.
74. Lastly, the amount of the pay must be adjusted
to the public economic good. We have shown above how much it helps
the common good for workers and other employees, by setting aside
some part of their income which remains after necessary expenditures,
to attain gradually to the possession of a moderate amount of
wealth. But another point, scarcely less important, and especially
vital in our times, must not be overlooked: namely, that the opportunity
to work be provided to those who are able and willing to work.
This opportunity depends largely on the wage and salary rate,
which can help as long as it is kept within proper limits, but
which on the other hand can be an obstacle if it exceeds these
limits. For everyone knows that an excessive lowering of wages,
or their increase beyond due measure, causes unemployment. This
evil, indeed, especially as we see it prolonged and injuring so
many during the years of Our Pontificate, has plunged workers
into misery and temptations, ruined the prosperity of nations,
and put in jeopardy the public order, peace, and tranquillity
of the whole world. Hence it is contrary to social justice when,
for the sake of personal gain and without regard for the common
good, wages and salaries are excessively lowered or raised; and
this same social justice demands that wages and salaries be so
managed, through agreement of plans and wills, in so far as can
be done, as to offer to the greatest possible number the opportunity
of getting work and obtaining suitable means of livelihood.
75. A right proportion among wages and salaries
also contributes directly to the same result; and with this is
closely connected a right proportion in the prices at which the
goods are sold that are produced by the various occupations, such
as agriculture, manufacturing, and others. If all these relations
are properly maintained, the various occupations will combine
and coalesce into, as it were, a single body and like members
of the body mutually aid and complete one another. For then only
will the social economy be rightly established and attain its
purposes when all and each are supplied with all the goods that
the wealth and resources of nature, technical achievement, and
the social organization of economic life can furnish. And these
goods ought indeed to be enough both to meet the demands of necessity
and decent comfort and to advance people to that happier and fuller
condition of life which, when it is wisely cared for, is not only
no hindrance to virtue but helps it greatly.
76. What We have thus far stated regarding an
equitable distribution of property and regarding just wages concerns
individual persons and only indirectly touches social order, to
the restoration of which according to the principles of sound
philosophy and to its perfection according to the sublime precepts
of the law of the Gospel, Our Predecessor, Leo XIII, devoted all
his thought and care.
77. Still, in order that what he so happily initiated
may be solidly established, that what remains to be done may be
accomplished, and that even more copious and richer benefits may
accrue to the family of mankind, two things are especially necessary:
reform of institutions and correction of morals.
78. When we speak of the reform of institutions,
the State comes chiefly to mind, not as if universal well-being
were to be expected from its activity, but because things have
come to such a pass through the evil of what we have termed "individualism"
that, following upon the overthrow and near extinction of that
rich social life which was once highly developed through associations
of various kinds, there remain virtually only individuals and
the State. This is to the great harm of the State itself; for,
with a structure of social governance lost, and with the taking
over of all the burdens which the wrecked associations once bore.
the State has been overwhelmed and crushed by almost infinite
tasks and duties.
79. As history abundantly proves, it is true
that on account of changed conditions many things which were done
by small associations in former times cannot be done now save
by large associations. Still, that most weighty principle, which
cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in
social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals
what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry
and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at
the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign
to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate
organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very
nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and
never destroy and absorb them.
80. The supreme authority of the State ought,
therefore, to let subordinate groups handle matters and concerns
of lesser importance, which would otherwise dissipate its efforts
greatly. Thereby the State will more freely, powerfully, and effectively
do all those things that belong to it alone because it alone can
do them: directing, watching, urging, restraining, as occasion
requires and necessity demands. Therefore, those in power should
be sure that the more perfectly a graduated order is kept among
the various associations, in observance of the principle of "subsidiary
function," the stronger social authority and effectiveness
will be the happier and more prosperous the condition of the State.
81. First and foremost, the State and every good
citizen ought to look to and strive toward this end: that the
conflict between the hostile classes be abolished and harmonious
cooperation of the Industries and Professions be encouraged and
82. The social policy of the State, therefore,
must devote itself to the re-establishment of the Industries and
Professions. In actual fact, human society now, for the reason
that it is founded on classes with divergent aims and hence opposed
to one another and therefore inclined to enmity and strife, continues
to be in a violent condition and is unstable and uncertain.
83. Labor, as Our Predecessor explained well
in his Encyclical, is not a mere commodity. On the contrary,
the worker's human dignity in it must be recognized. It therefore
cannot be bought and sold like a commodity. Nevertheless, as the
situation now stands, hiring and offering for hire in the so-called
labor market separate men into two divisions, as into battle lines,
and the contest between these divisions turns the labor market
itself almost into a battlefield where, face to face, the opposing
lines struggle bitterly. Everyone understands that this grave
evil which is plunging all human society to destruction must be
remedied as soon as possible. But complete cure will not come
until this opposition has been abolished and well-ordered members
of the social body - Industries and Professions - are constituted
in which men may have their place, not according to the position
each has in the labor market but according to the respective social
functions which each performs. For under nature's guidance it
comes to pass that just as those who are joined together by nearness
of habitation establish towns, so those who follow the same industry
or profession - whether in the economic or other field - form
guilds or associations, so that many are wont to consider these
self-governing organizations, if not essential, at least natural
to civil society.
84. Because order, as St. Thomas well explains,
is unity arising from the harmonious arrangement of many objects,
a true, genuine social order demands that the various members
of a society be united together by some strong bond. This unifying
force is present not only in the producing of goods or the rendering
of services - in which the employers and employees of an identical
Industry or Profession collaborate jointly - but also in that
common good, to achieve which all Industries and Professions together
ought, each to the best of its ability, to cooperate amicably.
And this unity will be the stronger and more effective, the more
faithfully individuals and the Industries and Professions themselves
strive to do their work and excel in it.
85. It is easily deduced from what has been said
that the interests common to the whole Industry or Profession
should hold first place in these guilds. The most important among
these interests is to promote the cooperation in the highest degree
of each industry and profession for the sake of the common good
of the country. Concerning matters, however, in which particular
points, involving advantage or detriment to employers or workers,
may require special care and protection, the two parties, when
these cases arise, can deliberate separately or as the situation
requires reach a decision separately.
86. The teaching of Leo XIII on the form of political
government, namely, that men are free to choose whatever form
they please, provided that proper regard is had for the requirements
of justice and of the common good, is equally applicable in due
proportion, it is hardly necessary to say, to the guilds of the
various industries and professions.
87. Moreover, just as inhabitants of a town are
wont to found associations with the widest diversity of purposes,
which each is quite free to join or not, so those engaged in the
same industry or profession will combine with one another into
associations equally free for purposes connected in some manner
with the pursuit of the calling itself. Since these free associations
are clearly and lucidly explained by Our Predecessor of illustrious
memory, We consider it enough to emphasize this one point: People
are quite free not only to found such associations, which are
a matter of private order and private right, but also in respect
to them "freely to adopt the organization and the rules which
they judge most appropriate to achieve their purpose."
The same freedom must be asserted for founding associations that
go beyond the boundaries of individual callings. And may these
free organizations, now flourishing and rejoicing in their salutary
fruits, set before themselves the task of preparing the way, in
conformity with the mind of Christian social teaching, for those
larger and more important guilds, Industries and Professions,
which We mentioned before, and make every possible effort to bring
them to realization.
88. Attention must be given also to another matter
that is closely connected with the foregoing. Just as the unity
of human society cannot be founded on an opposition of classes,
so also the right ordering of economic life cannot be left to
a free competition of forces. For from this source, as from a
poisoned spring, have originated and spread all the errors of
individualist economic teaching. Destroying through forgetfulness
or ignorance the social and moral character of economic life,
it held that economic life must be considered and treated as altogether
free from and independent of public authority, because in the
market, i.e., in the free struggle of competitors, it would have
a principle of self direction which governs it much more perfectly
than would the intervention of any created intellect. But free
competition, while justified and certainly useful provided it
is kept within certain limits, clearly cannot direct economic
life - a truth which the outcome of the application in practice
of the tenets of this evil individualistic spirit has more than
sufficiently demonstrated. Therefore, it is most necessary that
economic life be again subjected to and governed by a true and
effective directing principle. This function is one that the economic
dictatorship which has recently displaced free competition can
still less perform, since it is a headstrong power and a violent
energy that, to benefit people, needs to be strongly curbed and
wisely ruled. But it cannot curb and rule itself. Loftier and
nobler principles - social justice and social charity - must,
therefore, be sought whereby this dictatorship may be governed
firmly and fully. Hence, the institutions themselves of peoples
and, particularly those of all social life, ought to be penetrated
with this justice, and it is most necessary that it be truly effective,
that is, establish a juridical and social order which will, as
it were, give form and shape to all economic life. Social charity,
moreover, ought to be as the soul of this order, an order which
public authority ought to be ever ready effectively to protect
and defend. It will be able to do this the more easily as it rids
itself of those burdens which, as We have stated above, are not
properly its own.
89. Furthermore, since the various nations largely
depend on one another in economic matters and need one another's
help, they should strive with a united purpose and effort to promote
by wisely conceived pacts and institutions a prosperous and happy
international cooperation in economic life.
90. If the members of the body social are, as
was said, reconstituted, and if the directing principle of economic-social
life is restored, it will be possible to say in a certain sense
even of this body what the Apostle says of the mystical body of
Christ: "The whole body (being closely joined and knit together
through every joint of the system according to the functioning
in due measure of each single part) derives its increase to the
building up of itself in love."
91. Recently, as all know, there has been inaugurated
a special system of syndicates and corporations of the various
callings which in view of the theme of this Encyclical it would
seem necessary to describe here briefly and comment upon appropriately.
92. The civil authority itself constitutes the
syndicate as a juridical personality in such a manner as to confer
on it simultaneously a certain monopoly-privilege, since only
such a syndicate, when thus approved, can maintain the rights
(according to the type of syndicate) of workers or employers,
and since it alone can arrange for the placement of labor and
conclude so-termed labor agreements. Anyone is free to join a
syndicate or not, and only within these limits can this kind of
syndicate be called free; for syndical dues and special assessments
are exacted of absolutely all members of every specified calling
or profession, whether they are workers or employers; likewise
all are bound by the labor agreements made by the legally recognized
syndicate. Nevertheless, it has been officially stated that this
legally recognized syndicate does not prevent the existence, without
legal status, however, of other associations made up of persons
following the same calling.
93. The associations, or corporations, are composed
of delegates from the two syndicates (that is, of workers and
employers) respectively of the same industry or profession and,
as true and proper organs and institutions of the State, they
direct the syndicates and coordinate their activities in matters
of common interest toward one and the same end.
94. Strikes and lock-outs are forbidden; if the
parties cannot settle their dispute, public authority intervenes.
95. Anyone who gives even slight attention to
the matter will easily see what are the obvious advantages in
the system We have thus summarily described: The various classes
work together peacefully, socialist organizations and their activities
are repressed, and a special magistracy exercises a governing
authority. Yet lest We neglect anything in a matter of such great
importance and that all points treated may be properly connected
with the more general principles which We mentioned above and
with those which We intend shortly to add, We are compelled to
say that to Our certain knowledge there are not wanting some who
fear that the State, instead of confining itself as it ought to
the furnishing of necessary and adequate assistance, is substituting
itself for free activity; that the new syndical and corporative
order savors too much of an involved and political system of administration;
and that (in spite of those more general advantages mentioned
above, which are of course fully admitted) it rather serves particular
political ends than leads to the reconstruction and promotion
of a better social order.
96. To achieve this latter lofty aim, and in
particular to promote the common good truly and permanently, We
hold it is first and above everything wholly necessary that God
bless it and, secondly, that all men of good will work with united
effort toward that end. We are further convinced, as a necessary
consequence, that this end will be attained the more certainly
the larger the number of those ready to contribute toward it their
technical, occupational, and social knowledge and experience;
and also, what is more important, the greater the contribution
made thereto of Catholic principles and their application, not
indeed by Catholic Action (which excludes strictly syndical or
political activities from its scope) but by those sons of Ours
whom Catholic Action imbues with Catholic principles and trains
for carrying on an apostolate under the leadership and teaching
guidance of the Church - of that Church which in this field also
that We have described, as in every other field where moral questions
are involved and discussed, can never forget or neglect through
indifference its divinely imposed mandate to be vigilant and to
97. What We have taught about the reconstruction
and perfection of social order can surely in no wise be brought
to realization without reform of morality, the very record of
history clearly shows. For there was a social order once which,
although indeed not perfect or in all respects ideal, nevertheless,
met in a certain measure the requirements of right reason, considering
the conditions and needs of the time. If that order has long since
perished, that surely did not happen because the order could not
have accommodated itself to changed conditions and needs by development
and by a certain expansion, but rather because men, hardened by
too much love of self, refused to open the order to the increasing
masses as they should have done, or because, deceived by allurements
of a false freedom and other errors, they became impatient of
every authority and sought to reject every form of control.
98. There remains to Us, after again calling
to judgment the economic system now in force and its most bitter
accuser, Socialism, and passing explicit and just sentence upon
them, to search out more thoroughly the root of these many evils
and to point out that the first and most necessary remedy is a
reform of morals.
99. Important indeed have the changes been which
both the economic system and Socialism have undergone since Leo
100. That, in the first place, the whole aspect
of economic life is vastly altered, is plain to all. You know,
Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children, that the Encyclical of
Our Predecessor of happy memory had in view chiefly that economic
system, wherein, generally, some provide capital while others
provide labor for a joint economic activity. And in a happy phrase
he described it thus: "Neither capital can do without labor,
nor labor without capital."
101. With all his energy Leo XIII sought to adjust
this economic system according to the norms of right order; hence,
it is evident that this system is not to be condemned in itself.
And surely it is not of its own nature vicious. But it does violate
right order when capital hires workers, that is, the non-owning
working class, with a view to and under such terms that it directs
business and even the whole economic system according to its own
will and advantage, scorning the human dignity of the workers,
the social character of economic activity and social justice itself,
and the common good.
102. Even today this is not, it is true, the
only economic system in force everywhere; for there is another
system also, which still embraces a huge mass of humanity, significant
in numbers and importance, as for example, agriculture wherein
the greater portion of mankind honorably and honestly procures
its livelihood. This group, too, is being crushed with hardships
and with difficulties, to which Our Predecessor devotes attention
in several places in his Encyclical and which We Ourselves have
touched upon more than once in Our present Letter.
103. But, with the diffusion of modern industry
throughout the whole world, the "capitalist" economic
regime has spread everywhere to such a degree, particularly since
the publication of Leo XIII's Encyclical, that it has invaded
and pervaded the economic and social life of even those outside
its orbit and is unquestionably impressing on it its advantages,
disadvantages and vices, and, in a sense, is giving it its own
shape and form.
104. Accordingly, when directing Our special
attention to the changes which the capitalist economic system
has undergone since Leo's time, We have in mind the good not only
of those who dwell in regions given over to "capital"
and industry, but of all mankind.
105. In the first place, it is obvious that not
only is wealth concentrated in our times but an immense power
and despotic economic dictatorship is consolidated in the hands
of a few, who often are not owners but only the trustees and managing
directors of invested funds which they administer according to
their own arbitrary will and pleasure.
106. This dictatorship is being most forcibly
exercised by those who, since they hold the money and completely
control it, control credit also and rule the lending of money.
Hence they regulate the flow, so to speak, of the life-blood whereby
the entire economic system lives, and have so firmly in their
grasp the soul, as it were, of economic life that no one can breathe
against their will.
107. This concentration of power and might, the
characteristic mark, as it were, of contemporary economic life,
is the fruit that the unlimited freedom of struggle among competitors
has of its own nature produced, and which lets only the strongest
survive; and this is often the same as saying, those who fight
the most violently, those who give least heed to their conscience.
108. This accumulation of might and of power
generates in turn three kinds of conflict. First, there is the
struggle for economic supremacy itself; then there is the bitter
fight to gain supremacy over the State in order to use in economic
struggles its resources and authority; finally there is conflict
between States themselves, not only because countries employ their
power and shape their policies to promote every economic advantage
of their citizens, but also because they seek to decide political
controversies that arise among nations through the use of their
economic supremacy and strength.
109. The ultimate consequences of the individualist
spirit in economic life are those which you yourselves, Venerable
Brethren and Beloved Children, see and deplore: Free competition
has destroyed itself; economic dictatorship has supplanted the
free market; unbridled ambition for power has likewise succeeded
greed for gain; all economic life has become tragically hard,
inexorable, and cruel. To these are to be added the grave evils
that have resulted from an intermingling and shameful confusion
of the functions and duties of public authority with those of
the economic sphere - such as, one of the worst, the virtual degradation
of the majesty of the State, which although it ought to sit on
high like a queen and supreme arbitress, free from all partiality
and intent upon the one common good and justice, is become a slave,
surrendered and delivered to the passions and greed of men. And
as to international relations, two different streams have issued
from the one fountain-head: On the one hand, economic nationalism
or even economic imperialism; on the other, a no less deadly and
accursed internationalism of finance or international imperialism
whose country is where profit is.
110. In the second part of this Encyclical where
We have presented Our teaching, We have described the remedies
for these great evils so explicitly that We consider it sufficient
at this point to recall them briefly. Since the present system
of economy is founded chiefly upon ownership and labor, the principles
of right reason, that is, of Christian social philosophy, must
be kept in mind regarding ownership and labor and their association
together, and must be put into actual practice. First, so as to
avoid the reefs of individualism and collectivism. the twofold
character, that is individual and social, both of capital or ownership
and of work or labor must be given due and rightful weight. Relations
of one to the other must be made to conform to the laws of strictest
justice - commutative justice, as it is called - with the support,
however, of Christian charity. Free competition, kept within definite
and due limits, and still more economic dictatorship, must be
effectively brought under public authority in these matters which
pertain to the latter's function. The public institutions themselves,
of peoples, moreover, ought to make all human society conform
to the needs of the common good; that is, to the norm of social
justice. If this is done, that most important division of social
life, namely, economic activity, cannot fail likewise to return
to right and sound order.
111. Socialism, against which Our Predecessor,
Leo XIII, had especially to inveigh, has since his time changed
no less profoundly than the form of economic life. For Socialism,
which could then be termed almost a single system and which maintained
definite teachings reduced into one body of doctrine, has since
then split chiefly into two sections, often opposing each other
and even bitterly hostile, without either one however abandoning
a position fundamentally contrary to Christian truth that was
characteristic of Socialism.
112. One section of Socialism has undergone almost
the same change that the capitalistic economic system, as We have
explained above, has undergone. It has sunk into Communism. Communism
teaches and seeks two objectives: Unrelenting class warfare and
absolute extermination of private ownership. Not secretly or by
hidden methods does it do this, but publicly, openly, and by employing
every and all means, even the most violent. To achieve these objectives
there is nothing which it does not dare, nothing for which it
has respect or reverence; and when it has come to power, it is
incredible and portentlike in its cruelty and inhumanity. The
horrible slaughter and destruction through which it has laid waste
vast regions of eastern Europe and Asia are the evidence; how
much an enemy and how openly hostile it is to Holy Church and
to God Himself is, alas, too well proved by facts and fully known
to all. Although We, therefore, deem it superfluous to warn upright
and faithful children of the Church regarding the impious and
iniquitous character of Communism, yet We cannot without deep
sorrow contemplate the heedlessness of those who apparently make
light of these impending dangers, and with sluggish inertia allow
the widespread propagation of doctrine which seeks by violence
and slaughter to destroy society altogether. All the more gravely
to be condemned is the folly of those who neglect to remove or
change the conditions that inflame the minds of peoples, and pave
the way for the overthrow and destruction of society.
113. The other section, which has kept the name
Socialism, is surely more moderate. It not only professes the
rejection of violence but modifies and tempers to some degree,
if it does not reject entirely, the class struggle and the abolition
of private ownership. One might say that, terrified by its own
principles and by the conclusions drawn therefrom by Communism,
Socialism inclines toward and in a certain measure approaches
the truths which Christian tradition has always held sacred; for
it cannot be denied that its demands at times come very near those
that Christian reformers of society justly insist upon.
114. For if the class struggle abstains from
enmities and mutual hatred, it gradually changes into an honest
discussion of differences founded on a desire for justice, and
if this is not that blessed social peace which we all seek, it
can and ought to be the point of departure from which to move
forward to the mutual cooperation of the Industries and Professions.
So also the war declared on private ownership, more and more abated,
is being so restricted that now, finally, not the possession itself
of the means of production is attacked but rather a kind of sovereignty
over society which ownership has, contrary to all right, seized
and usurped. For such sovereignty belongs in reality not to owners
but to the public authority. If the foregoing happens, it can
come even to the point that imperceptibly these ideas of the more
moderate socialism will no longer differ from the desires and
demands of those who are striving to remold human society on the
basis of Christian principles. For certain kinds of property,
it is rightly contended, ought to be reserved to the State since
they carry with them a dominating power so great that cannot without
danger to the general welfare be entrusted to private individuals.
115. Such just demands and desire have nothing
in them now which is inconsistent with Christian truth, and much
less are they special to Socialism. Those who work solely toward
such ends have, therefore, no reason to become socialists.
116. Yet let no one think that all the socialist
groups or factions that are not communist have, without exception,
recovered their senses to this extent either in fact or in name.
For the most part they do not reject the class struggle or the
abolition of ownership, but only in some degree modify them. Now
if these false principles are modified and to some extent erased
from the program, the question arises, or rather is raised without
warrant by some, whether the principles of Christian truth cannot
perhaps be also modified to some degree and be tempered so as
to meet Socialism half-way and, as it were, by a middle course,
come to agreement with it. There are some allured by the foolish
hope that socialists in this way will be drawn to us. A vain hope!
Those who want to be apostles among socialists ought to profess
Christian truth whole and entire, openly and sincerely, and not
connive at error in any way. If they truly wish to be heralds
of the Gospel, let them above all strive to show to socialists
that socialist claims, so far as they are just, are far more strongly
supported by the principles of Christian faith and much more effectively
promoted through the power of Christian charity.
117. But what if Socialism has really been so
tempered and modified as to the class struggle and private ownership
that there is in it no longer anything to be censured on these
points? Has it thereby renounced its contradictory nature to the
Christian religion? This is the question that holds many minds
in suspense. And numerous are the Catholics who, although they
clearly understand that Christian principles can never be abandoned
or diminished seem to turn their eyes to the Holy See and earnestly
beseech Us to decide whether this form of Socialism has so far
recovered from false doctrines that it can be accepted without
the sacrifice of any Christian principle and in a certain sense
be baptized. That We, in keeping with Our fatherly solicitude,
may answer their petitions, We make this pronouncement: Whether
considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement,
Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded
to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot
be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because
it conceives society in a way utterly alien to Christian truth.
118. For, according to Christian teaching, man,
endowed with a social nature, is placed on this earth so that
by leading a life in society and under an authority ordained of
God he may fully cultivate and develop all his faculties unto
the praise and glory of his Creator; and that by faithfully fulfilling
the duties of his craft or other calling he may obtain for himself
temporal and at the same time eternal happiness. Socialism, on
the other hand, wholly ignoring and indifferent to this sublime
end of both man and society, affirms that human association has
been instituted for the sake of material advantage alone.
119. Because of the fact that goods are produced
more efficiently by a suitable division of labor than by the scattered
efforts of individuals, socialists infer that economic activity,
only the material ends of which enter into their thinking, ought
of necessity to be carried on socially. Because of this necessity,
they hold that men are obliged, with respect to the producing
of goods, to surrender and subject themselves entirely to society.
Indeed, possession of the greatest possible supply of things that
serve the advantages of this life is considered of such great
importance that the higher goods of man, liberty not excepted,
must take a secondary place and even be sacrificed to the demands
of the most efficient production of goods. This damage to human
dignity, undergone in the "socialized" process of production,
will be easily offset, they say, by the abundance of socially
produced goods which will pour out in profusion to individuals
to be used freely at their pleasure for comforts and cultural
development. Society, therefore, as Socialism conceives it, can
on the one hand neither exist nor be thought of without an obviously
excessive use of force; on the other hand, it fosters a liberty
no less false, since there is no place in it for true social authority,
which rests not on temporal and material advantages but descends
from God alone, the Creator and last end of all things.
120. If Socialism, like all errors, contains
some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied),
it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar
to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious
socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one
can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.
121. All these admonitions which have been renewed
and confirmed by Our solemn authority must likewise be applied
to a certain new kind of socialist activity, hitherto little known
but now carried on among many socialist groups. It devotes itself
above all to the training of the mind and character. Under the
guise of affection it tries in particular to attract children
of tender age and win them to itself, although it also embraces
the whole population in its scope in order finally to produce
true socialists who would shape human society to the tenets of
122. Since in Our Encyclical, The Christian Education
of Youth, We have fully taught the principles that Christian
education insists on and the ends it pursues, the contradiction
between these principles and ends and the activities and aims
of this socialism that is pervading morality and culture is so
clear and evident that no demonstration is required here. But
they seem to ignore or underestimate the grave dangers that it
carries with it who think it of no importance courageously and
zealously to resist them according to the gravity of the situation.
It belongs to Our Pastoral Office to warn these persons of the
grave and imminent evil: let all remember that Liberalism is the
father of this Socialism that is pervading morality and culture
and that Bolshevism will be its heir.
123. Accordingly, Venerable Brethren, you can
well understand with what great sorrow We observe that not a few
of Our sons, in certain regions especially, although We cannot
be convinced that they have given up the true faith and right
will, have deserted the camp of the Church and gone over to the
ranks of Socialism, some to glory openly in the name of socialist
and to profess socialist doctrines, others through thoughtlessness
or even, almost against their wills to join associations which
are socialist by profession or in fact.
124. In the anxiety of Our paternal solicitude,
We give Ourselves to reflection and try to discover how it could
happen that they should go so far astray and We seem to hear what
many of them answer and plead in excuse: The Church and those
proclaiming attachment to the Church favor the rich, neglect the
workers and have no concern for them; therefore, to look after
themselves they had to join the ranks of socialism .
125. It is certainly most lamentable, Venerable
Brethren, that there have been, nay, that even now there are men
who, although professing to be Catholics, are almost completely
unmindful of that sublime law of justice and charity that binds
us not only to render to everyone what is his but to succor brothers
in need as Christ the Lord Himself, and - what is worse -
out of greed for gain do not scruple to exploit the workers. Even
more, there are men who abuse religion itself, and under its name
try to hide their unjust exactions in order to protect themselves
from the manifestly just demands of the workers. The conduct of
such We shall never cease to censure gravely. For they are the
reason why the Church could, even though undeservedly, have the
appearance of and be charged with taking the part of the rich
and with being quite unmoved by the necessities and hardships
of those who have been deprived, as it were, of their natural
inheritance. The whole history of the Church plainly demonstrates
that such appearances are unfounded and such charges unjust. The
Encyclical itself, whose anniversary we are celebrating, is clearest
proof that it is the height of injustice to hurl these calumnies
and reproaches at the Church and her teaching.
126. Although pained by the injustice and downcast
in fatherly sorrow, it is so far from Our thought to repulse or
to disown children who have been miserably deceived and have strayed
so far from the truth and salvation that We cannot but invite
them with all possible solicitude to return to the maternal bosom
of the Church. May they lend ready ears to Our voice, may they
return whence they have left, to the home that is truly their
Father's, and may they stand firm there where their own place
is, in the ranks of those who, zealously following the admonitions
which Leo promulgated and We have solemnly repeated, are striving
to restore society according to the mind of the Church on the
firmly established basis of social justice and social charity.
And let them be convinced that nowhere, even on earth, can they
find full happiness save with Him who, being rich, became poor
for our sakes that through His poverty we might become rich,
Who was poor and in labors from His youth, Who invited to Himself
all that labor and are heavily burdened that He might refresh
them fully in the love of His heart, and Who, lastly, without
any respect for persons will require more of them to whom more
has been given and "will render to everyone according
to his conduct."
127. Yet, if we look into the matter more carefully
and more thoroughly, we shall clearly perceive that, preceding
this ardently desired social restoration, there must be a renewal
of the Christian spirit, from which so many immersed in economic
life have, far and wide, unhappily fallen away, lest all our efforts
be wasted and our house be builded not on a rock but on shifting
128. And so, Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons,
having surveyed the present economic system, We have found it
laboring under the gravest of evils. We have also summoned Communism
and Socialism again to judgment and have found all their forms,
even the most modified, to wander far from the precepts of the
129. "Wherefore," to use the words
of Our Predecessor, "if human society is to be healed, only
a return to Christian life and institutions will heal it."
For this alone can provide effective remedy for that excessive
care for passing things that is the origin of all vices; and this
alone can draw away men's eyes, fascinated by and wholly fixed
on the changing things of the world, and raise them toward Heaven.
Who would deny that human society is in most urgent need of this
130. Minds of all, it is true, are affected almost
solely by temporal upheavals, disasters, and calamities. But if
we examine things critically with Christian eyes, as we should,
what are all these compared with the loss of souls? Yet it is
not rash by any means to say that the whole scheme of social and
economic life is now such as to put in the way of vast numbers
of mankind most serious obstacles which prevent them from caring
for the one thing necessary; namely, their eternal salvation .
131. We, made Shepherd and Protector by the Prince
of Shepherds, Who Redeemed them by His Blood, of a truly innumerable
flock, cannot hold back Our tears when contemplating this greatest
of their dangers. Nay rather, fully mindful of Our pastoral office
and with paternal solicitude, We are continually meditating on
how We can help them; and We have summoned to Our aid the untiring
zeal of others who are concerned on grounds of justice or charity.
For what will it profit men to become expert in more wisely using
their wealth, even to gaining the whole world, if thereby they
suffer the loss of their souls? What will it profit to teach
them sound principles of economic life if in unbridled and sordid
greed they let themselves be swept away by their passion for property,
so that "hearing the commandments of the Lord they do all
132. The root and font of this defection in economic
and social life from the Christian law, and of the consequent
apostasy of great numbers of workers from the Catholic faith,
are the disordered passions of the soul, the sad result of original
sin which has so destroyed the wonderful harmony of man's faculties
that, easily led astray by his evil desires, he is strongly incited
to prefer the passing goods of this world to the lasting goods
of Heaven. Hence arises that unquenchable thirst for riches and
temporal goods, which has at all times impelled men to break God's
laws and trample upon the rights of their neighbors, but which,
on account of the present system of economic life, is laying far
more numerous snares for human frailty. Since the instability
of economic life, and especially of its structure, exacts of those
engaged in it most intense and unceasing effort, some have become
so hardened to the stings of conscience as to hold that they are
allowed, in any manner whatsoever, to increase their profits and
use means, fair or foul, to protect their hard-won wealth against
sudden changes of fortune. The easy gains that a market unrestricted
by any law opens to everybody attracts large numbers to buying
and selling goods, and they, their one aim being to make quick
profits with the least expenditure of work, raise or lower prices
by their uncontrolled business dealings so rapidly according to
their own caprice and greed that they nullify the wisest forecasts
of producers. The laws passed to promote corporate business, while
dividing and limiting the risk of business, have given occasion
to the most sordid license. For We observe that consciences are
little affected by this reduced obligation of accountability;
that furthermore, by hiding under the shelter of a joint name,
the worst of injustices and frauds are penetrated; and that, too,
directors of business companies, forgetful of their trust, betray
the rights of those whose savings they have undertaken to administer.
Lastly, We must not omit to mention those crafty men who, wholly
unconcerned about any honest usefulness of their work, do not
scruple to stimulate the baser human desires and, when they are
aroused, use them for their own profit.
133. Strict and watchful moral restraint enforced
vigorously by governmental authority could have banished these
enormous evils and even forestalled them; this restraint, however,
has too often been sadly lacking. For since the seeds of a new
form of economy were bursting forth just when the principles of
rationalism had been implanted and rooted in many minds, there
quickly developed a body of economic teaching far removed from
the true moral law, and, as a result, completely free rein was
given to human passions.
134. Thus it came to pass that many, much more
than ever before, were solely concerned with increasing their
wealth by any means whatsoever, and that in seeking their own
selfish interests before everything else they had no conscience
about committing even the gravest of crimes against others. Those
first entering upon this broad way that leads to destruction
easily found numerous imitators of their iniquity by the example
of their manifest success, by their insolent display of wealth,
by their ridiculing the conscience of others, who, as they said,
were troubled by silly scruples, or lastly by crushing more conscientious
135. With the rulers of economic life abandoning
the right road, it was easy for the rank and file of workers everywhere
to rush headlong also into the same chasm; and all the more so,
because very many managements treated their workers like mere
tools, with no concern at all for their souls, without indeed
even the least thought of spiritual things. Truly the mind shudders
at the thought of the grave dangers to which the morals of workers
(particularly younger workers) and the modesty of girls and women
are exposed in modern factories; when we recall how often the
present economic scheme, and particularly the shameful housing
conditions, create obstacles to the family bond and normal family
life; when we remember how many obstacles are put in the way of
the proper observance of Sundays and Holy Days; and when we reflect
upon the universal weakening of that truly Christian sense through
which even rude and unlettered men were wont to value higher things,
and upon its substitution by the single preoccupation of getting
in any way whatsoever one's daily bread. And thus bodily labor,
which Divine Providence decreed to be performed, even after original
sin, for the good at once of man's body and soul, is being everywhere
changed into an instrument of perversion; for dead matter comes
forth from the factory ennobled, while men there are corrupted
136. No genuine cure can be furnished for this
lamentable ruin of souls, which, so long as it continues, will
frustrate all efforts to regenerate society, unless men return
openly and sincerely to the teaching of the Gospel, to the precepts
of Him Who alone has the words of everlasting life, words
which will never pass away, even if Heaven and earth will pass
away. All experts in social problems are seeking eagerly a
structure so fashioned in accordance with the norms of reason
that it can lead economic life back to sound and right order.
But this order, which We Ourselves ardently long for and with
all Our efforts promote, will be wholly defective and incomplete
unless all the activities of men harmoniously unite to imitate
and attain, in so far as it lies within human strength, the marvelous
unity of the Divine plan. We mean that perfect order which the
Church with great force and power preaches and which right human
reason itself demands, that all things be directed to God as the
first and supreme end of all created activity, and that all created
good under God be considered as mere instruments to be used only
in so far as they conduce to the attainment of the supreme end.
Nor is it to be thought that gainful occupations are thereby belittled
or judged less consonant with human dignity; on the contrary,
we are taught to recognize in them with reverence the manifest
will of the Divine Creator Who placed man upon the earth to work
it and use it in a multitude of ways for his needs. Those who
are engaged in producing goods, therefore, are not forbidden to
increase their fortune in a just and lawful manner; for it is
only fair that he who renders service to the community and makes
it richer should also, through the increased wealth of the community,
be made richer himself according to his position, provided that
all these things be sought with due respect for the laws of God
and without impairing the rights of others and that they be employed
in accordance with faith and right reason. If these principles
are observed by everyone, everywhere, and always, not only the
production and acquisition of goods but also the use of wealth,
which now is seen to be so often contrary to right order, will
be brought back soon within the bounds of equity and just distribution.
The sordid love of wealth, which is the shame and great sin of
our age, will be opposed in actual fact by the gentle yet effective
law of Christian moderation which commands man to seek first the
Kingdom of God and His justice, with the assurance that, by virtue
of God's kindness and unfailing promise, temporal goods also,
in so far as he has need of them, shall be given him besides.
137. But in effecting all this, the law of charity,
"which is the bond of perfection," must always take
a leading role. How completely deceived, therefore, are those
rash reformers who concern themselves with the enforcement of
justice alone - and this, commutative justice - and in their pride
reject the assistance of charity! Admittedly, no vicarious charity
can substitute for justice which is due as an obligation and is
wrongfully denied. Yet even supposing that everyone should finally
receive all that is due him, the widest field for charity will
always remain open. For justice alone can, if faithfully observed,
remove the causes of social conflict but can never bring about
union of minds and hearts. Indeed all the institutions for the
establishment of peace and the promotion of mutual help among
men, however perfect these may seem, have the principal foundation
of their stability in the mutual bond of minds and hearts whereby
the members are united with one another. If this bond is lacking,
the best of regulations come to naught, as we have learned by
too frequent experience. And so, then only will true cooperation
be possible for a single common good when the constituent parts
of society deeply feel themselves members of one great family
and children of the same Heavenly Father; nay, that they are one
body in Christ, "but severally members one of another,"
so that "if one member suffers anything, all the members
suffer with it." For then the rich and others in positions
of power will change their former indifference toward their poorer
brothers into a solicitous and active love, listen with kindliness
to their just demands, and freely forgive their possible mistakes
and faults. And the workers, sincerely putting aside every feeling
of hatred or envy which the promoters of social conflict so cunningly
exploit, will not only accept without rancor the place in human
society assigned them by Divine Providence, but rather will hold
it in esteem, knowing well that everyone according to his function
and duty is toiling usefully and honorably for the common good
and is following closely in the footsteps of Him Who, being in
the form of God, willed to be a carpenter among men and be known
as the son of a carpenter.
138. Therefore, out of this new diffusion throughout
the world of the spirit of the Gospel, which is the spirit of
Christian moderation and universal charity, We are confident there
will come that longed-for and full restoration of human society
in Christ, and that "Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ,"
to accomplish which, from the very beginning of Our Pontificate,
We firmly determined and resolved within Our heart to devote all
Our care and all Our pastoral solicitude, and toward this
same highly important and most necessary end now, you also, Venerable
Brethren, who with Vs rule the Church of God under the mandate
of the Holy Ghost, are earnestly toiling with wholly praiseworthy
zeal in all parts of the world, even in the regions of the holy
missions to the infidels. Let well-merited acclamations of praise
be bestowed upon you and at the same time upon all those, both
clergy and laity, who We rejoice to see, are daily participating
and valiantly helping in this same great work, Our beloved sons
engaged in Catholic Action, who with a singular zeal are undertaking
with Us the solution of the social problems in so far as by virtue
of her divine institution this is proper to and devolves upon
the Church. All these We urge in the Lord, again and again, to
spare no labors and let no difficulties conquer them, but rather
to become day by day more courageous and more valiant. Arduous
indeed is the task which We propose to them, for We know well
that on both sides, both among the upper and the lower classes
of society, there are many obstacles and barriers to be overcome.
Let them not, however, lose heart; to face bitter combats is a
mark of Christians, and to endure grave labors to the end is a
mark of them who, as good soldiers of Christ, follow Him closely.
139. Relying therefore solely on the all-powerful
aid of Him "Who wishes all men to be saved," let
us strive with all our strength to help those unhappy souls who
have turned from God and, drawing them away from the temporal
cares in which they are too deeply immersed, let us teach them
to aspire with confidence to the things that are eternal. Sometimes
this will be achieved much more easily than seems possible at
first sight to expect. For if wonderful spiritual forces lie hidden,
like sparks beneath ashes, within the secret recesses of even
the most abandoned man - certain proof that his soul is naturally
Christian - how much the more in the hearts of those many upon
many who have been led into error rather through ignorance or
140. Moreover, the ranks of the workers themselves
are already giving happy and promising signs of a social reconstruction.
To Our soul's great joy, We see in these ranks also the massed
companies of young workers, who are receiving the counsel of Divine
Grace with willing ears and striving with marvelous zeal to gain
their comrades for Christ. No less praise must be accorded to
the leaders of workers' organizations who, disregarding their
own personal advantage and concerned solely about the good of
their fellow members, are striving prudently to harmonize the
just demands of their members with the prosperity of their whole
occupation and also to promote these demands, and who do not let
themselves be deterred from so noble a service by any obstacle
or suspicion. Also, as anyone may see, many young men, who by
reason of their talent or wealth will soon occupy high places
among the leaders of society, are studying social problems with
deeper interest, and they arouse the joyful hope that they will
dedicate themselves wholly to the restoration of society.
141. The present state of affairs, Venerable
Brethren, clearly indicates the way in which We ought to proceed.
For We are now confronted, as more than once before in the history
of the Church, with a world that in large part has almost fallen
back into paganism. That these whole classes of men may be brought
back to Christ Whom they have denied, we must recruit and train
from among them, themselves, auxiliary soldiers of the Church
who know them well and their minds and wishes, and can reach their
hearts with a tender brotherly love. The first and immediate apostles
to the workers ought to be workers; the apostles to those who
follow industry and trade ought to be from among them themselves.
142. It is chiefly your duty, Venerable Brethren,
and of your clergy, to search diligently for these lay apostles
both of workers and of employers, to select them with prudence,
and to train and instruct them properly. A difficult task, certainly,
is thus imposed on priests, and to meet it, all who are growing
up as the hope of the Church, must be duly prepared by an intensive
study of the social question. Especially is it necessary that
those whom you intend to assign in particular to this work should
demonstrate that they are men possessed of the keenest sense of
justice, who will resist with true manly courage the dishonest
demands or the unjust acts of anyone, who will excel in the prudence
and judgment which avoids every extreme, and, above all, who will
be deeply permeated by the charity of Christ, which alone has
the power to subdue firmly but gently the hearts and wills of
men to the laws of justice and equity. Upon this road so often
tried by happy experience, there is no reason why we should hesitate
to go forward with all speed.
143. These Our Beloved Sons who are chosen for
so great a work, We earnestly exhort in the Lord to give themselves
wholly to the training of the men committed to their care, and
in the discharge of this eminently priestly and apostolic duty
to make proper use of the resources of Christian education by
teaching youth, forming Christian organizations, and founding
study groups guided by principles in harmony with the Faith. But
above all, let them hold in high esteem and assiduously employ
for the good of their disciples that most valuable means of both
personal and social restoration which, as We taught in Our Encyclical,
Mens Nostra, is to be found in the Spiritual Exercises. In
that Letter We expressly mentioned and warmly recommended not
only the Spiritual Exercises for all the laity, but also the highly
beneficial Workers' Retreats. For in that school of the spirit,
not only are the best of Christians developed but true apostles
also are trained for every condition of life and are enkindled
with the fire of the heart of Christ. From this school they will
go forth as did the Apostles from the Upper Room of Jerusalem,
strong in faith, endowed with an invincible steadfastness in persecution,
burning with zeal, interested solely in spreading everywhere the
Kingdom of Christ.
144. Certainly there is the greatest need now
of such valiant soldiers of Christ who will work with all their
strength to keep the human family safe from the dire ruin into
which it would be plunged were the teachings of the Gospel to
be flouted, and that order of things permitted to prevail which
tramples underfoot no less the laws of nature than those of God.
The Church of Christ, built upon an unshakable rock, has nothing
to fear for herself, as she knows for a certainty that the gates
of hell shall never prevail against her. Rather, she knows
full well, through the experience of many centuries, that she
is wont to come forth from the most violent storms stronger than
ever and adorned with new triumphs. Yet her maternal heart cannot
but be moved by the countless evils with which so many thousands
would be afflicted during storms of this kind, and above all by
the consequent enormous injury to spiritual life which would work
eternal ruin to so many souls redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ.
145. To ward off such great evils from human
society nothing, therefore, is to be left untried; to this end
may all our labors turn, to this all our energies, to this our
fervent and unremitting prayers to God! For with the assistance
of Divine Grace the fate of the human family rests in our hands.
146. Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons, let
us not permit the children of this world to appear wiser in their
generation than we who by the Divine Goodness are the children
of the light. We find them, indeed, selecting and training
with the greatest shrewdness alert and resolute devotees who spread
their errors ever wider day by day through all classes of men
and in every part of the world. And whenever they undertake to
attack the Church of Christ more violently, We see them put aside
their internal quarrels, assembling in fully harmony in a single
battle line with a completely united effort, and work to achieve
their common purpose.
147. Surely there is not one that does not know
how many and how great are the works that the tireless zeal of
Catholics is striving everywhere to carry out, both for social
and economic welfare as well as in the fields of education and
religion. But this admirable and unremitting activity not infrequently
shows less effectiveness because of the dispersion of its energies
in too many different directions. Therefore, let all men of good
will stand united, all who under the Shepherds of the Church wish
to fight this good and peaceful battle of Christ; and under the
leadership and teaching guidance of the Church let all strive
according to the talent, powers, and position of each to contribute
something to the Christian reconstruction of human society which
Leo XIII inaugurated through his immortal Encyclical, On the Condition
of Workers, seeking not themselves and their own interests, but
those of Jesus Christ, not trying to press at all costs their
own counsels, but ready to sacrifice them, however excellent,
if the greater common good should seem to require it, so that
in all and above all Christ may reign, Christ may command to Whom
be "honor and glory and dominion forever and ever."
148. That this may happily come to pass, to all
of you, Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children, who are members
of the vast Catholic family entrusted to Us, but with the especial
affection of Our heart to workers and to all others engaged in
manual occupations, committed to us more urgently by Divine Providence,
and to Christian employers and managements, with paternal love
We impart the Apostolic Benediction.
Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, the fifteenth day of May, in
the year 1931, the tenth year of Our Pontificate.
1. Encyclical, Arcanum, Feb. 10, 1880.
2. Encyclical, Diuturnum, June 20, 1881.
3. Encyclical, Immortale Dei, Nov. 1, 1885.
4. Encyclical, Sapientiae Christianae, Jan. 10, 1890.
5. Encyclical, Quod Apostolici Muneris, Dec. 28, 1878.
6. Encyclical, Libertas, June 20, 1888.
7. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, May 15, 1891, 3.
8. Encyclical, On the Conditions of Workers, cf. 24.
9. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, cf. 15.
10. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, cf. 6.
11. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 24.
12. Cf. Matt. 7:29.
13. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 4.
14. St. Ambrose, De excessu fratris sui Satyri 1, 44.
15. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 25.
16. Let it be sufficient to mention some of these only: Leo XIII's
Apostolic Letter Praeclara, June 20, 1894, and Encyclical Graves
de Communi, Jan. 18, 1901; Pius X's Motu Proprio De Actione Populari
Christiana, Dec. 8, 1903; Benedict XV's Encyclical Ad Beatissimi,
Nov. 1, 1914; Pius IX's Encyclical Ubi Arcano, Dec. 23, 1922,
and Encyclical Rite Expiatis, Apr. 30, 1926.
17. Cf. La Hierarchie catholique et le probleme social depuis
l'Encyclique "Rerum Novarum," 1891-1931, pp. XVI-335;
ed. "Union internationale d'Etudes sociales fondee a Malines,
en 1920, sous la presidence du Card. Mercier." Paris, Editions
18. Isa. 11:12.
19. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 48.
20. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 54.
21. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 68.
22. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 77.
23. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 78.
24. Pius X, Encyclical, Singulari Ouadam, Sept. 24, 1912.
25. Cf. the Letter of the Sacred Congregation of the Council to
the Bishop of Lille, June 5, 1929.
26. Cf. Rom. 1:14.
27. Cf. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 24-25.
28. Pius XI, Encyclical, Ubi Arcano, Dec. 23, 1922.
29. Encyclical, Ubi Arcano, Dec. 23, 1922.
30. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 35.
31. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 36.
32. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 14.
33. Allocation to the Convention of Italian Catholic Action, May
34. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 12.
35. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 20.
36. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 67.
37. Cf. St. Thomas, Summa theologica, II-II, Q. 134.
38. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 51.
39. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 28.
40. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 14.
41. II Thess. 3:10.
42. Cf. II Thess. 3:8-10.
43. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 66.
44. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 61.
45. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 31.
46. Cf. Encyclical, Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930.
47. Cf. St. Thomas, De regimine principum I, 15; Encyclical, On
the Condition of Workers, 49-51.
48. Cf. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 31. Art. 2.
49. St. Thomas, Contra Gentiles, III, 71; cf. Summa theologica,
50. Encyclical, Immortale Dei, Nov. 1, 1885.
51. Cf Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 76.
52. Eph. 4:16.
53. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 28
54. Cf. Rom. 13:1.
55. Cf. Encyclical, Diuturnum illud, June 29, 1881.
56. Encyclical, Divini illius Magistri Dec 31 1929
57. Cf. Jas. 2.
58. II Cor. 8:9.
59. Matt. 11:28.
60. Cf. Luke 12:48.
61. Matt. 16:27.
62. Cf. Matt. 7:24ff.
63. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 41.
64. Cf. Matt. 16:26.
65. Cf. Judg. 2:17.
66. Cf. Matt. 7:13.
67. Cf. John 6:69.
68. Cf. Matt. 24:35.
69. Cf. Matt. 6:33.
70. Col. 3:14.
71. Rom. 12:5.
72. I Cor. 12:26.
73. Encyclical, Ubi Arcano, Dec. 23, 1922.
74. Cf. Act. 20:28.
75. Cf. Deut. 31:7.
76. Cf. II Tim. 2:3.
77. I Tim. 2:4.
78. Encyclical, Mens Nostra, Dec. 20, 1929.
79. Cf. Matt. 16:18.
80. Cf. Luke 16:8.
81. Cf. Phil. 2:21.
82. Apoc. 5:13.