2016 marks the 125th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s ground-breaking encyclical, Rerum Novarum. Known for its strong stand against socialism, its defense of private property, and its affirmation of the legitimacy of trade unions, Rerum Novarum also represented the beginning of modern Catholic social teaching. But Pope Leo’s encyclical on revolutionary things also had much to say about the demands for freedom and social justice in the late-nineteenth century as increasing numbers of people became focused upon what was called “the social question.”
125 years later, what does Rerum Novarum say to us today about the state of freedom in all its forms – political, religious, and economic – in developed and developing societies? Have its insights into the demands of justice and the necessity of freedom been superseded by time and political and economic changes? Or does the encyclical provide us with ways for strengthening the free society and all the dimensions of liberty while also helping the Church as it seeks to promote justice among the new things of today?
On Wednesday, 20 April 2016, the Acton Institute will hold an afternoon conference in Rome – Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time – bringing together leading thinkers from around the world to discuss these and other questions.
This conference is the fifth and final in the five-part series One and Indivisible? The Relationship Between Religious and Economic Freedom.