On May 15, 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Rerum Novarum On the Condition of Workers.

If more Catholics took seriously the social teaching of the Catholic Church, the world would be a different place today.

On Government — “Those who govern must see to it that they protect the community and its constituent parts: the community because nature has entrusted its safeguarding to the sovereign power in the state to such an extent that the protection of the public welfare in not only the supreme law, but is the entire cause and reason for sovereignty; and the constituent parts, because philosophy and Christian faith agree that the administration of the state has from nature its purpose, not the benefit of those to whom it has been entrusted, but the benefit of those who have been entrusted to it.”

On Fraternal Organizations — “It is clear, however, that moral and religious perfection ought to be regarded as their principle goal, and that their social organization as such ought to be directed completely by this goal. For otherwise they would degenerate in nature and would be little better than those associations in which no account is ordinarily taken of religion. Besides, what would it profit a worker to secure through an association an abundance of goods, if his soul through lack of its proper food should run the risk of perishing?”

Photograph: Stephen Wise