|Gap between rich and poor
growing fastest in Britain
This recent article on the BBC News web site suggests that British citizens sick of the corrupt state of politics and culture in their country and looking for ethical guidance are turning to Catholic social teaching for inspiration. Why? Matthew Taylor writes:
I set out to understand more about these ideas, to find out why they are engaging so many different groups of people right now, and whether their current influence is likely to make any substantive difference to policy or politics.
Although its roots can be traced back not just to the Bible, but to the ideas of Aristotle, rediscovered in the 13th Century by St Thomas Aquinas, the modern expression of Catholic Social Teaching came in an encyclical – the highest form of papal teaching – titled Rerum Novarum and issued in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII.
The Pope offered the “gift” of Catholic social thought to a troubled world. He called on the one hand for compassion for the poor and respect for the dignity of labour and, on the other hand, for respect for property and the family – all held together by the core idea of the common good.
The encyclical can be seen as the Church both realigning itself towards the concerns of the urban working-class, but also seeking to find a path of reform as an alternative to the growing threat of revolutionary unrest. These origins offer one explanation for the current revival of interest in these ideas. For today too we live in a time of rapid change and social unrest.
It is heartening to think that Pope Leo’s gift to a trouble world may keep on giving in our own day. Read more.