Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Pope Leo XIII

This individual is not a direct affiliate of the Berkley Center.

Pope Leo XIII (Gioacchino Vincenzo Pecci) laid the groundwork for modern Catholic social teaching while forcefully opposing both Marxism and liberalism. His pontificate (1878-1903) was marked by sustained engagement in political affairs. Leo engaged the wider world to an unprecedented degree, addressing an encyclical to the Bishops of Brazil on slavery, establishing a Catholic hierarchy in India, and corresponding with the Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Persian leaders concerning the rights of the Church in their domains. His decision to set up offices in Athens and Constantinople to advance contact with the Eastern Churches foreshadowed the modern ecumenical movement. Of Leo's 85 encyclicals, Rerum Novarum had the most far-reaching consequences. His thoughts on the relationship between the working class and political society shaped Catholic social teaching throughout the twentieth century.
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