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Pope Leo XIII
1810 - 1903

Pope of the Roman Catholic church 1878 to 1903. Leo XIII reversed much of the conservative political policy of Pius IX. His most famous encyclical was Rerum Novarum, on the condition of workers in the modern world. His pontificate was marked by an openness to scientific progress and concern for reconciling the church with the modern world.


... socialists encourage the poor man's envy of the rich and strive to do away with private property, contending that individual possessions should become the common property of all ... but their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that, were they carried into effect, the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are moreover emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community.

from Gaudium et Spes, Second Vatican Ecumenical Council
People differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition. Such inequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community.

The great mistake made in regard to the matter now under consideration is to take up the notion that class is naturally hostile to class, and that the wealthy and the working man are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict. So irrational and so false is this view, that the direct contrary is the truth. Just as the symmetry of the human frame is the result of the suitable arrangement of the different parts of the body, so in a state is it ordained by nature that these two classes should dwell in harmony and agrement, so as to maintain the balance of the body politic.

1891 - from Rerum Novarum encyclical
The main tenet of socialism, namely the community of goods, must be rejected without qualification, for it would injure those it pretends to benefit, it would be contrary to the rights of man, and it would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonwealth.

1891