"Quadragesimo Anno"


Pope Pius XI

Courtesy of the Library of Congress


This encyclical, issued by Pope Pius XI, appeared in 1931 on the fortieth anniversary of Rerum Novarum, an encyclical authored by Pope Leo XIII. Like its predecessor, Quadragesimo Anno (translated "In the Fortieth Year") equally condemned unfettered capitalism and socialism, and reiterated workers' rights to form unions as well as to receive "just" wages. In so doing, as David O'Brien argues, it vindicated the Bishop's Program of 1919 and Monsignor John A. Ryan's work as a social reformer. It went beyond Rerum Novarum, however, in its discussion of how "to abolish conflict between classes with divergent interests and thus foster and promote harmony between the various ranks of society." In so doing, in ¶88 through ¶105, this encyclical not only earned its English title "Reconstructing the Social Order," but it also implicitly challenged U.S. Catholic social reformers to develop their version of what Pius XI called "vocational groups."



 Quadragesimo Anno



As you read this document, reflect on the following questions:

1. What connections does Pius XI make between individual moral reform and social transformation?

2. What values ought to govern humankind's economic life?