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Notable Quotations From The Papal Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno (The Fortieth Year) Pope Pius XI, 1931

November 11, 2009

PiusXIQuadragesimo Anno is an encyclical by Pope Pius XI, issued 15 May 1931, 40 years after Rerum Novarum (thus the name, Latin for ‘in the fortieth year’). Unlike Leo, who addressed the condition of workers, Pius XI discusses the ethical implications of the social and economic order. Pius XI calls for the reconstruction of the social order based on the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity. He notes major dangers for human freedom and dignity, arising from unrestrained capitalism and totalitarian communism.

The function of the rulers of the State is to watch over the community and its parts; but in protecting private individuals in their rights, chief consideration ought to be given to the weak and the poor. (#25)

Every effort must therefore be made that fathers of families receive a wage large enough to meet ordinary family needs adequately. But if this cannot always be done under existing circumstances, social justice demands that changes be introduced as soon as possible whereby such a wage will be assured to every adult workingman.  (#71)

Twin rocks of shipwreck must be carefully avoided. For, as one is wrecked upon, or comes close to, what is known as “individualism” by denying or minimizing the social and public character of the right of property, so by rejecting or minimizing the private and individual character of this same right, one inevitably runs into “collectivism.” (#46)

Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them. (#79)

…the right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces. For from this source, as from a poisoned spring, have originated and spread all the errors of individualist economic teaching. … it held that economic life must be considered and treated as altogether free from and independent of public authority, because in the market, i.e., in the free struggle of competitors, it would have a principle of self direction which governs it much more perfectly than would the intervention of any created intellect. But free competition, while justified and certainly useful provided it is kept within certain limits, clearly cannot direct economic life…. (#88)

…the riches that economic-social developments constantly increase ought to be so distributed among individual persons and classes that … the common good of all society will be kept inviolate. (#57)

It follows from the twofold character of ownership, which we have termed individual and social, that men must take into account in this matter not only their own advantage but also the common good.  (#49)

This concentration of power and might, the characteristic mark of contemporary economic life, is the fruit that the unlimited freedom of struggle among competitors has of its own nature produced, and which lets only the strongest survive; and this is often the same as saying, those who fight the most violently, those who give least heed to their conscience.  (#107)

Unbridled ambition for power has succeeded greed for gain; all economic life has become tragically hard, inexorable, and cruel.  (#109)

How completely deceived, therefore, are those rash reformers who concern themselves with the enforcement of justice alone–and this, commutative justice–and in their pride reject the assistance of charity! Admittedly, no vicarious charity can substitute for justice which is due as an obligation and is wrongfully denied. (#137)

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