Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Economic and Social Justice

The Catholic Church’s concerns with economic and social well-being and justice date back to the early years of the Christian community, but it was not until 1891 when the position was solidified into modern Catholic social teaching with the promulgation of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. Emphasizing the inherent dignity of the worker and the defense of the weakest members of society, Catholic teaching on economic and social justice has had significant impact and influence around the world, especially in Latin America. In the United States, the American bishops’ 1986 pastoral letter “Economic Justice for All” espoused a firmer position for economic and social justice in a wealthy society, calling for human dignity in all economic activities and a preferential option for the poor.

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