Appeared in Winter 1991, Vol. XVII, No. 4

There are a number of positive remarks which should be made about John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus at the outset. To anyone who is familiar with the thought of Leo XIII, whose Rerum Novarum the recent encyclical intends to commemorate, Pope John Paul II has certainly captured Leo’s mind and is therefore in tune with the Catholic social teaching initiated by Leo. Also in the tradition of Pope Pius XI, who in Quadregesimo Anno, applied Leo’s teaching to the changed economic and political situation at Pius’ time, Pope John Paul II has done the same, expanding Leo’s teaching and applying it to changing historic, political and economic events of our times, events which can only be referred to as tumultuous. In fact, one of the main things which strikes the reader after reading the encyclical, and which is a great advance over the thought of Leo, is that this encyclical addresses more broad and penetrating issues than Rerum Novarum did.

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