John Ryan, "Early Social Education," 1941
Father John A. Ryan had graduated from college and was in his second year of seminary studies when he read Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum. Raised in a devoutly Catholic and strongly Irish home, Ryan brought to his priestly work a firm belief in the Church's mission of salvation and a deep interest in the role of government. These influences, combined with the message of Leo's encyclical, nurtured in him a passion for social reform.
As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:
- What impact did Pope Leo XIII's labor encyclicals have on Fr. Ryan? According to Fr. Ryan, how were these encyclicals received by the people in America? Why was this the case?
- Examine the section of the encyclical on which Ryan focused his paper. How are the ideas expressed by Pope Leo similar to or different from those expressed by William Cardinal O'Connell and Mother Jones?