Tag Quadragesimo Anno

Church and Labour

Church and Labour

By Neilan D’souza

Dear Readers, during this month of September as we are making preparations for the feast of Nativity of Mother Mary, Asian Lay Leaders Forum wishes you a very happy feast!

In this months’ issue of the E-Newsletter we dive in once again into the teachings of
Quadragesimo Anno and focus particularly on issues pertaining labour. The Church for a long time has encouraged and supported the idea that labourers and workers must must be taken care and compensated well by the Employers; but the Industrial Era resulted in less freedom at the individual and communal levels, because numerous free social entities got absorbed by larger ones, which we continue to see even today. And in order to strengthen the voice of the labourers the Church supported the idea of Labour Unions as it created space for labourers to demand fair wages from their employers and come to mutual agreements on numerous work related problems.

Pope Pius XI in his encyclical developed a mandate stating three elements which determine a fair wage for the labourers: 1)The worker’s family responsibilities, 2) The economic condition of the enterprise and 3) The economy as a whole. He emphasised that “The family has an innate right to development, but this is only possible within the framework of a functioning economy and sound enterprises.” Looking at the growing wage gap, class divide, oppression and violent uprisings  Pope Pius XI concluded that “Solidarity, not conflict, is a necessary condition given the mutual interdependence of the parties involved.”

Witnessing the drastic political developments and problematic ideological dilemmas of the time Pope Pius XI condemned Capitalism, Communism and Socialism; and firmly stats that “Dignity and human freedom are ethical considerations, which cannot be solved by a hostile class confrontation. Ethics are based on religion and this is the realm where the Church meets industrial society.”

On this note we invite you, Our Readers to reflect on how Ethical Implications can bring about drastic change in this world, although keeping in mind the multifacetedness of Culture, Religion, Gender, Value and Belief systems.


Social Justice in Quadragesimo Anno II

Social Justice in Quadragesimo Anno II

By Dr. Paul Hwang –  Director of ALL Forum

Quardragesimo Anno on Labor Issues

I pointed out in the previous writing in the August newsletter, Pope Pius XI looked with concern at the working condition in which workers were treated as simple production tools in society at the time, youth and female workers were exposed to ethical risks, and even domestic life was threatened. After the Great Depression in 1929, the US and global economy had to confront the result in the mass production of unemployed people. The world’s working environment was getting worse due to the rise of unemployed people. The pope deplored the poor conditions of the workers.

Basically, Pius XI inherited the teachings of Leo XIII, and regarded it as an intrinsic right for workers to form a union, and the principle that they should form a union according to their occupation and work based on religion for the good of the union members. Also, although workers can form unions, the union was viewed as a voluntary organization because it was up to them to decide whether or not to join the union. This is different from the “union shop system”, which was popular at the time, when hired, had to join a labor union and if it lost its status as a union member, workers would be fired. Stimulated by the teachings of the church, Western countries legally approved trade unions or labor groups, and by granting them exclusive privileges in activities for workers, unions can

represent workers and sign labor contracts and trade agreements. Pius XI said regarding the union’s activities, “The new system of trade unions and labor organizations is overly bureaucratic and political. Rather than contributing to the reconstruction and improvement of the social order, there is a risk of being used for special political purposes 75) In fact, communists have turned workers into a tool for realizing their ideology by pushing them into class struggle.

Pius XI believed that the wages of workers should be determined in consideration of the livelihood of workers and their families, the circumstances of businesses and the request of common good.

 He identified it as a social justice obligation that wages must ensure livelihood. “We can never say that social justice has been met unless workers are paid enough to make a safe living for themselves and their families.”56) In order for social justice to be satisfied, wages must be sufficient to maintain a family’s livelihood and sufficient measures should be taken in cases of old age, disease, unemployment, etc.

Quardragesimo Anno and Pope John XXIII

After one generation later, Pope John XXIII summed up his teaching in the encyclical Mater et Magistra . He wrote the encyclical in 1961 in a way that continued Quadragesimo Anno (1931). The world had changed considerably in the previous 30 years both politically and economically. The Great Depression and World War II had ended, the cold war had begun, and technology allowed for increased productivity, but vast poverty remained across the globe.

Above all, John XXIII pointed out in the encyclical especially the paragraphs 38 to 42 that the supreme criterion in economic matters must not be the special interests of individuals or groups, nor economic despotism, national prestige or imperialism, nor any other aim of this sort. On the contrary, all forms of economic enterprise must be governed by the principles of social justice. Also he said people’s aim must be to achieve in social justice a national and international juridical order, with its network of public and private institutions, in which all economic activity can be conducted not merely for private gain but also in the interests of the common good.

Reconstruction of The Social Order

Reconstruction of The Social Order

by Neilan D’souza

Dear Readers, in this month’s issue of the E-Newsletter we try and understand the teachings of the Papal Encyclical ‘Quadragesimo Anno’ published by Pope Pius XI in 1931. This encyclical commemorated the 40th anniversary of Rerum Novarum (1891), which was published by the preceding Pope Leo XIII. Both these encyclicals are highly valued because of the social conscience they brought into the faithful and the church and encouraged them to involve deeply in the matters of the society at the time. Quadragesimo Anno focuses on two key principles which need to be part of every planning or decision making process in the world even today. Pope Pius XI calls for the reconstruction of the social order based on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.

Why Solidarity ?

Solidarity fosters kinship which is crucial for the betterment of all. Being aware of the needs and struggles of one another, coming together on shared interests and matters; and building meaningful and empathetic relationships make us more humane. Thus making Solidarity a significant concept in Catholic Social Teaching.

Why Subsidiarity?

The Catholic Social Teaching of Subsidiarity designates responsibility upon each one of us, either individually or collectively depending on our capability to solve problems or issues in our society. The idea of Subsidiarity makes every individual, group, Family, Community, Church, Society and The Government at large responsible of their duties to create an environment free from Socio- Economic problems.

Living in this pandemic and realising the deteriorating sense of responsibility by the Governments and other Institutions it is high time that the reconstruction of the social order takes place. As ‘People of God’ it is our duty to participate in solidarity and practice subsidiarity because the responsibility of creating a conscious, safe, sensitive, united and peaceful world is upon us.

Social Justice in Quadragesimo Anno I

Social Justice in Quadragesimo Anno I

by Dr. Paul Hwang –   Director of ALL Forum

Historical background

ALL Forum has been holding an online course on major documents of Pope Francis including ALL Brothers or Fratelli Tutti for Indonesian Catholics including youth.

Mentioned in one session already, Fratelli Tutti has a historical background similar to Pope Pius XI’s 40th Anniversary or Quardragesimo Anno (1931). The latter was published for the 40th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891), which marks the 130th anniversary this year. The first papal document which what we called “Catholic Social Teachings” is a good example of social doctrine.

The 40th Anniversary came almost immediately after the Great Depression (1930), in a situation of fascism in Italy that was Mussolini’s iron fist rule and Hitler’s rush to power in Germany. The encyclical is Pius XI’s attempt to stop the ‘bomb’ called World War II. The background and meaning of the document and Fratelli Tutti which is the most comprehensive of Pope Francis’ documents so far is remarkably similar.

Major Issues

Pius XI criticized both free market capitalism and communism, and sought ‘a third way’ based on traditional Catholic social teachings. Pius XI suggested corporatist structures in place in Italy at that time as the third way between socialism and capitalism. He trusted that such corporatist associations or organizations had the advantages of “peaceful collaboration of the classes, repression of socialist organizations and efforts, the moderating authority of a special ministry.” (no. 95). It introduced the term ‘social justice’ into the social teachings, using it to describe

the just relationships between groups in society required by recognition of the demands of the common good (no. 57-58).

“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.” (no.58)

Another important contribution is its formal articulation of the principle of subsidiarity in Catholic Social Teachings as follows:

“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.” (no.79)

Lastly, Pius XI’s encouragement of laymen’s participation both inside and outside the church by formulating Catholic Action in Quardragesimo Anno and particularly his document called Divini Redemptoris (1937) which more clearly and formally recognized the Catholic Action. That would be compared to the Pope Francis’ statement of the “popular movements” as “social poets” (no.169) in the Fratelli Tutti which we will dig into in the next issue.