Centesimus annus

Last updated
Centesimus annus
Latin  for 'The Hundredth Year'
Encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II
John paul 2 coa.svg
Date1 May 1991
SubjectThe centenary of the encyclical Rerum novarum
Number9 of 14 of the pontificate
Text

Centesimus annus (Latin for "the hundredth year") is an encyclical which was written by Pope John Paul II in 1991 on the hundredth anniversary of Rerum novarum , an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. It is part of a larger body of writings, known as Catholic social teaching, that trace their origin to Rerum novarum and ultimately the New Testament.

Contents

It was one of fourteen encyclicals issued by John Paul II. Cardinal Georges Cottier, Theologian emeritus of the Pontifical Household and Cardinal-Deacon of Santi Domenico e Sisto , the University Church of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum, [1] [2] was influential in drafting the encyclical. [3]

Overview

Written in 1991, during the last days of the Cold War, Centesimus annus specifically examines contemporaneous political and economic issues. The encyclical is partially a refutation of Marxist/communist ideology and a condemnation of the dictatorial regimes that practiced it. The particular historical context in which it was written prompted Pope John Paul II to condemn the horrors of the communist regimes throughout the world.

The encyclical expounds on issues of social and economic justice. The encyclical includes a defense of private property rights and the right to form private associations, including labor unions. It compares socialism to consumerism, identifying atheism as the source of their common denial, the dignity of the human person.

The reoccurring themes of social and economic justice mentioned in Centesimus annus articulate foundational beliefs in the social teaching of the Catholic Church. Throughout the encyclical the Pope calls on the State to be the agent of justice for the poor and to protect human rights of all its citizens, repeating a theme from Pope Leo XIII's Rerum novarum. [4] Addressing the question of the State's obligation to defend human rights, Pope Leo XIII states:

When there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the defenceless and the poor have a claim to special consideration. The richer class has many ways of shielding itself, and stands less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back on, and must chiefly depend on the assistance of the State. It is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong to the latter class, should be specially cared for and protected by the Government [5]

But Pope John Paul II also defends private property, markets, and honorable business as necessary elements of a system of political economy that respects the dignity of the individual and allows the individual to express his full humanity. He formulates an Adam Smithian "invisible hand" argument:

Man fulfills himself by using his intelligence and freedom. In so doing he utilizes the things of this world as objects and instruments and makes them his own. The foundation of the right to private initiative and ownership is to be found in this activity. By means of his work man commits himself, not only for his own sake but also for others and with others. Each person collaborates in the work of others and for their good. Man works in order to provide for the needs of his family, his community, his nation, and ultimately all humanity.

Principles

General

Solidarity

Subsidiarity

Synopsis

Introduction

Characteristics of Rerum novarum

Toward the "New Things" of Today

End of the Cold War

Private property and the universal destination of material goods

State and culture

Humans as the way of the Church

Impact

Unlike Pope Leo XIII who addressed his encyclical to the Bishops of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Pope John Paul II directs his encyclical to both the Bishops of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and all members of the Church.

The Document begins by pointing out various events that happened in the year of 1989 but more importantly how it embraced a longer period of the 1800s with dictatorial and oppressive regimes. This chapter expresses the importance of using moral, peaceful and visibility of the truth to diminish dictatorship or whatever they may have had which was negative to society as a whole. This approach was opposite of what the Marxists thought ought to be followed. Marxist believed that only by social conflict would such matters be able to be resolved. The inefficiency of the economic system in different dimensions was greatly looked down upon as well. It was made clear that "no political society should ever be confused with the kingdom of God" because many firms because of the industrial developments had a sense of possibly obtaining a "kingdom" due to the wealth and the financial level that they were placed made them feel at a certain stage of perfection. Overall this chapter is an overview of how the events of 1989 had a worldwide importance because of the negative and positive outcomes that it brought upon the whole human society.

See also

Related Research Articles

Distributism is an economic theory asserting that the world's productive assets should be widely owned rather than concentrated.

Social justice Concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society

Social justice is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society, as measured by the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity, and social privileges. In Western as well as in older Asian cultures, the concept of social justice has often referred to the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive what was their due from society. In the current global grassroots movements for social justice, the emphasis has been on the breaking of barriers for social mobility, the creation of safety nets and economic justice.

Pope Leo XIII 256th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Leo XIII was head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death. He was the oldest pope, and had the third-longest confirmed pontificate, behind those of Pius IX and John Paul II.

<i>Rerum novarum</i> Encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on May 15, 1891

Rerum novarum, or Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor, is an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on 15 May 1891. It was an open letter, passed to all Catholic patriarchs, primates, archbishops and bishops, that addressed the condition of the working classes.

An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Roman Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop. The word comes from Late Latin encyclios.

Quadragesimo anno is an encyclical issued by Pope Pius XI on 15 May 1931, 40 years after Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum novarum, further developing Catholic social teaching. Unlike Leo XIII, who addressed the condition of workers, Pius XI discusses the ethical implications of the social and economic order. He describes the major dangers for human freedom and dignity arising from unrestrained capitalism, socialism, and totalitarian communism. He also calls for the reconstruction of the social order based on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.

Catholic social teaching is the Catholic doctrines on matters of human dignity and common good in society. The ideas address oppression, the role of the state, subsidiarity, social organization, concern for social justice, and issues of wealth distribution. Its foundations are widely considered to have been laid by Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical letter Rerum novarum, which advocated economic distributism. Its roots can be traced to the writings of Catholic thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo, and is also derived from concepts present in the Bible and the cultures of the ancient Near East.

Pacem in terris was a papal encyclical issued by Pope John XXIII on 11 April 1963 on the rights and obligations of individuals and of the state, as well as the proper relations between states. It emphasized human dignity and equality among all people, and made mention of issues such as the rights of women, nuclear non-proliferation, and the United Nations, all of which it endorsed. It was the last encyclical drafted by John XXIII, who had been diagnosed with cancer in September 1962 and died two months after the encyclical's completion. Biographer Peter Hebblethwaite called it Pope John's "last will and testament". Published on Holy Thursday, the Pope called it his "Easter gift".

Mater et magistra is the encyclical written by Pope John XXIII on the topic of "Christianity and Social Progress". It was promulgated on 15 May 1961. The title means "mother and teacher", referring to the role of the church. It describes a necessity to work towards authentic community in order to promote human dignity. It taught that the state must sometimes intervene in matters of health care, education, and housing.

Veritatis splendor is an encyclical by Pope John Paul II. It expresses the position of the Catholic Church regarding fundamentals of the Church's role in moral teaching. The encyclical is one of the most comprehensive and philosophical teachings of moral theology in the Catholic tradition. It was promulgated on 6 August 1993. Cardinal Georges Cottier, Theologian emeritus of the Pontifical Household and Cardinal-Deacon of Santi Domenico e Sisto the University Church of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas was influential in drafting the encyclical, as was Servais-Théodore Pinckaers, a professor of moral theology at the University of Fribourg.

Luigi Taparelli Italian scholar

Luigi Taparelli was an Italian Catholic scholar of the Society of Jesus who coined the term social justice.

Laborem exercens is an encyclical written by Pope John Paul II in 1981, on human work. It is part of the larger body of Catholic social teaching, which traces its origin to Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical Rerum novarum.

Octogesima adveniens Apostolic letter by pope Paul VI

Octogesima adveniens is the incipit of the 14 May 1971 Apostolic Letter addressed by Pope Paul VI to Cardinal Maurice Roy, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on the occasion of the eightieth anniversary of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum novarum. Generally known as A Call to Action on the Eightieth Anniversary of Rerum novarum, it discusses themes such as securing democratic foundations in society.

Social teachings of the papacy gives a succinct review of salient features in the papal social encyclicals beginning with Rerum novarum, the groundbreaking encyclical of Pope Leo XIII in 1891, and going to the present time.

<i>Caritas in veritate</i> encyclical

Caritas in veritate is the third and last encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, and his first social encyclical. It was signed on 29 June 2009 and was published on 7 July 2009. It was initially published in Italian, English, French, German, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Catholic social activism in the United States is the practical application of the notions of Catholic social teaching into American public life. Its roots can be traced to the 19th century encyclical Rerum novarum of Pope Leo XIII.

Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.

<i>Quamquam pluries</i> encyclical

Quamquam pluries is an encyclical on Saint Joseph by Pope Leo XIII. It was issued on August 15, 1889 in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Quod apostolici muneris is the second encyclical of Pope Leo XIII. It was published on 28 December 1878.

References

  1. Consistory of October 21, 2003, Office of Liturgical Celebrations, Accessed 17 February 2013
  2. "Cottier, Card. George Marie Martin O.P.", Holy See Press Office, Accessed 17 February 2013
  3. Valente, Gianni. In an interview in "30Days", 3-2004 Cottier remarked: "Going back to the early years, the first 'big' text I worked on was the social encyclical Centesimus annus. And then the Ut unum sint on ecumenicalism, the moral encyclical Veritatis splendor, and the Fides et ratio… also the Catechism of the Catholic Church." Accessed 17 February 2013
  4. 37. Cf. Encyclical Letter Rerum novarum: loc. cit., 101f.; 104f.; 130f.; 136.
  5. 33. Cf. Encyclical Letter Rerum novarum: loc. cit., 125.
  6. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-31. Retrieved 2011-11-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)