Quadragesimo Anno (Forty Years After: On Reconstructing the Social Order and Perfecting it Comformably to the Precepts of the Gospel)

Author: Pope Pius XI

May 15, 1931

Quadragesimo Anno, promulgated on the fortieth anniversary of Rerum Novarum, seeks to clarify and expand upon the principles outlined in the latter, which it credits for the spread of regulation securing the rights of workers and the emergence of Catholic labor unions, among many other benefits. Writing amid the economic woes of the Great Depression, Pope Pius XI develops a doctrine that navigates a middle path between unregulated capitalism and socialist collectivism. He defends private property and the wage system, while emphasizing that the fruits of industry should be distributed equitably among members of society. He reiterates his predecessors' contention that economies must be founded upon a set of reciprocal rights and duties between employers and employees, but also introduces several new concepts, notably that of subsidiarity, which would become crucial in later Catholic economic teaching.

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