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Word Count: 433
The opening words and the title of the Encyclical issued by Leo XIII 15 May 1891 on the Condition of Labour Although the Encyclical follows the lines of the traditional teaching concerning the rights and duties of property and the relations of employer and employee it applies the old doctrines specifically to modern conditions Opening with a description of the grievances of the working classes it proceeds to refute the false theories of the Socialists and to defend the right of private ownership The true remedy continues the pope is to be found in the combined action of the Church the State the employer and the employed The Church is properly interested in the social question because of its religious and moral aspects the State has the right and the duty to intervene on behalf of justice and individual and social well-being and employers and workers should organize into both mixed and separate associations for mutual protection and for self protection All this is set forth with sufficient detail to reach the principal problems and relations of industrial and social life Probably no other pronouncement on the social question has had so many readers or exercised such a wide influence It has inspired a vast Catholic social literature while many non-Catholics have acclaimed it as one of the most definite and reasonable productions ever written on the subject Sometimes criticized as vague it is as specific as any document could be written for several countries in different stages of industrial development On one point it is strikingly definite Let it be taken for granted that workman and employer should as a rule make free agreements and in particular should agree freely as to wages nevertheless there is a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man that remuneration should be sufficient to maintain the wage-earner in reasonable and frugal comfort If through necessity or fear of
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