Rerum Novarum Lives On

It is surprising to me that, throughout all of the debates about automation and minimum wage laws in the United States over the past few years, hardly any mention of Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 papal encyclical “Rerum Novarum” enters the dialogue.

Personally, I find Paragraph 45 to be one of the most compelling commentaries on the moral validity of a living wage that I have ever encountered.

In it, His Holiness offered:

“Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford Read the rest of this article!