Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Mater et Magistra (On Christianity and Social Progress)

May 15, 1961

In Mater et Magistra, Pope John XXIII reexamines social and economic issues originally addressed in Rerum Novarum within the post-war milieu. John praises the potential of science and technology for increasing the standard of living but remains cautious about its potential for restricting human freedom. Decrying the growing economic disparity both between and within nations, he challenges wealthy nations to share their resources with developing nations without infringing upon the autonomy of the latter. John presses for the right to political self-determinism among newly formed nations, and he outlines a human rights-based international relations framework. He argues that economic policies must be balanced so that all classes benefit from technological advance. The pope defends private property as a natural right and encourages workers to organize to secure a just wage. While championing the principle of subsidiarity, he exhorts governments to enact national policies that will advance the common good.

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