POPE LEO XIII. FOR GOD IS said to have given the earth to mankind in common, not because He intended indiscriminate ownership of it by all, but because He assigned no part to anyone in ownership, leaving the limits of private possessions to be fixed by the industry of men and the institutions of peoples. Yet, however the earth may be apportioned among private owners, it does not cease to serve the common interest of all, inasmuch as no living being is sustained except by what the fields bring forth.
The goods of nature and the gifts of divine grace belong in common and without distinction to all human kind.
Whether you abound in, or whether you lack, riches, and all the other things which are called good, is of no importance in relation to eternal happiness. But how you use them, that is truly of utmost importance.... The well-to-do are admonished that wealth does not give surcease of sorrow, and that wealth is of no avail unto the happiness of eternal life but is rather a hindrance; that the threats pronounced by Jesus Christ, so unusual coming from Him, ought to cause the rich to fear; and that on one day the strictest account for the use of wealth must be rendered to God as Judge.
--Rerum Novarum, Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII issued on May 15, 1891.
Pope Leo XIII was born Count Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci, was the 257th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903 in succession to Pope Pius IX. Reigning until the age of 93, he was the oldest pope, and had the third longest pontificate, behind Pius IX and John Paul II. He is known for intellectualism, the development of social teachings with his encyclical Rerum Novarum and his attempts to define the position of the Church with regard to modern thinking.
Born in Carpineto Romano, near Rome, he was the sixth of the seven sons of Count Lodovico Pecci and his wife Anna Prosperi Buzi. From 1810 to 1818 he was at home with his family, "in which religion counted as the highest grace on earth, as through her, salvation can be earned for all eternity". Together with his brother he studied in the Jesuit College in Viterbo, where he stayed until 1824. He enjoyed the Latin language and was known to write his own Latin poems at the age of eleven.
Anna Prosperi Countess Pecci, Mother of Leo XIII, In 1824 he and his older brother Giuseppe Pecci were called to Rome where their mother was dying. Count Pecci wanted his children near him after the loss of his wife, and so they stayed with him in Rome, attending the Jesuit Collegium Romanum. In 1828, Giuseppe entered the Jesuit order, while Vincenzo decided in favour of secular clergy.He studied at the Academia dei Nobili, mainly diplomacy and law. In 1834 he gave a student presentation, attended by several cardinals, on papal judgements.
For his presentation he received awards for academic excellence, and gained the attention of Vatican officials. Cardinal Secretary of State Luigi Cardinal Lambruschini introduced him to Vatican congregations and to Pope Gregory XVI, who appointed Pecci on 14 February 1837, as personal prelate even before he was ordained priest on 31 December 1837, by the Vicar of Rome. He celebrated his first mass together with his priest brother Giuseppe. He received his doctorate in theology in 1836 and doctorates of civil and Canon Law in Rome also.
Provincial administrator .
Shortly thereafter, Gregory XVI appointed Pecci as legate (provincial administrator) to Benevento. The smallest of papal provinces, Benevento included about 20,000 people. The main problems facing Pecci were a decaying local economy, insecurity because of widespread bandits, and pervasive Mafia structures, which often were allied with aristocratic families. Pecci arrested the most powerful aristocrat in Benevento, and his troops captured others, who were either killed or imprisoned by him.
With the public order restored, he turned to the economy and a reform of the tax system to stimulate trade with neighbouring provinces.Upon completion of the tax reforms, Gregory XVI appointed Pecci to be administrator of Spoleto, a province with 100,000, and then Perugia with 200,000 inhabitants. His immediate concern was to prepare the province for a papal visitation in the same year. Pope Gregory visited hospitals and educational institutions for several days, asking for advice and listing questions. The fight against corruption continued in Perugia, where Pecci himself investigated several incidents. When it was claimed that a bakery was selling bread below the prescribed pound weight, he personally went there, had all bread weighed, and confiscated it if below legal weight. The confiscated bread was distributed to the poor.
Nuncio to Belgium.
In 1843, Pecci, only thirty-four years old, was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium, a position which guaranteed the Cardinal's hat after completion of the tour. On 27 April 1843, Pope Gregory XVI appointed Pecci Archbishop of Damiette and asked his Cardinal Secretary of State Lambruschini to consecrate him. Pecci developed excellent relations with the royal family and used the location to visit neighbouring Germany, where he was particularly interested in the resumed construction of the Cologne Cathedral. Upon his initiative, a Belgian College in Rome was opened in 1844, where 100 years later, in 1946, Pope John Paul II would begin his Roman studies.
He spent several weeks in England with Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, carefully reviewing the condition of the Catholic Church in that country.Bishop Pecci as Nuncio in Brussels in Belgium, the school question was then sharply debated between the Catholic majority and the Liberal minority. Pecci encouraged the struggle for Catholic schools, yet he was able to win the good will of the Court, not only of the pious Queen Louise, but also of King Leopold I, strongly Liberal in his views. The new nuncio succeeded in uniting the Catholics.
Archbishop of Perugia.
Bishop Pecci enters Perugia in 1846 Pecci was named papal assistant in 1843. He first achieved note as the popular and successful Archbishop of Perugia from 1846 to 1877. In 1847, Pope Pius IX issued unlimited freedom for the press, which, after many years of restrictions, was highly welcomed and popular. In the following year, in 1848, revolutionary movements developed throughout Western Europe including France, Germany and Italy. Pecci, who was highly popular in the first years of his episcopate, became now the object of attacks, both in the media and in his residence. The papal minister Rossi was assassinated and Pope Pius IX had to flee to Gaeta. In the following months, Austrian French and Spanish troops reversed the revolutionary gains, but at a price for Pecci and the Catholic Church, who could not regain their former popularity.
Pecci called a provincial council, in order to reform the religious life in his dioceses. He invested in the enlargement of the seminary for future priests and in new and prominent professors, preferably Thomists. He called on his brother Giuseppe Pecci, a noted Thomist scholar, to resign his professorship in Rome and teach instead in Perugia. His own residence was next to the seminary, which aided daily contacts of the students with the de-facto head of the seminary, Archbishop Pecci.Pecci developed several activities in support of Catholic charities: He founded homes for homeless boys and girls, and for elderly women.
Throughout his dioceses he opened branches of a Bank, Monte de Pieta, which focused on low-income people with low interest loans. He created soup-kitchens, which were run by the Capuchins. In the consistory of 19 December 1853, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals, as Cardinal-Priest of S. Crisogono. In light of continuing earthquakes and floods, he donated all resources for festivities to the victims. Much of the public attention turned on the conflict between the Papal State and Italian nationalist, aiming at its annihilation in favour of a unified Italy. Pecci defended the papacy and its claims.
When Italian authorities expropriated convents and monasteries of Catholic orders, turning them into administration or military buildings, Cardinal Pecci protested but acted moderately. When the Italian state took over Catholic schools, Pecci, fearing for his theological seminary, simply added all secular topics from other schools and opened the seminary to non-theologians. The new government in addition to the expropriations levied taxes on the Church and issued legislation, according to which all Episcopal or papal utterances are to be approved by the government before their publication.Archbishop Pecci aids the poor in Perugia Pope Pius IX announced an ecumenical council to take place in the Vatican on 8 December 1869, Pecci was likely to be well informed, since his brother Giuseppe had been named by the Pope to be one of the persons to prepare this event. In his last years in Perugia, Pecci several times addressed the role of the Church in modern society.
Pecci defined the Church as the mother of material civilization, because the Church upholds human dignity of working people, opposes the excesses of industrialization and developed large scale charities for the needy.In August 1877, on the death of Cardinal Filippo de Angelis, Pope Pius IX appointed him Camerlengo, so that he was obliged to reside in Rome. Pope Pius died on 7 February 1878, and during his closing years the Liberal press had often insinuated that the Italian Government should take a hand in the conclave and occupy the Vatican. However the Russo-Turkish War and the sudden death of Victor Emmanuel II (9 January 1878) distracted the attention of the government. The conclave proceeded as usual, and on the third ballot Cardinal Pecci was elected by forty-four votes out of sixty-one.
As soon as he was elected to the papacy, Leo XIII worked to encourage understanding between the Church and the modern world. When he firmly re-asserted the scholastic doctrine that science and religion co-exist, he required the study of Thomas Aquinas and opened the Vatican Secret Archives to qualified researchers, among whom was the noted historian of the Papacy Ludwig von Pastor.Leo XIII was the first Pope to come out strongly in favour of the French Republic, upsetting many French monarchists. In his relations with the Italian state, Leo XIII continued the Papacy's self-imposed incarceration in the Vatican stance, and continued to insist that Italian Catholics should not vote in Italian elections or hold elected office. In his first consistory in 1879 he elevated his older brother Giuseppe a cardinal.Leo XIII was the first Pope of whom a sound recording was made. The recording can be found on a compact disc of Alessandro Moreschi's singing; a recording of his performance of the Ave Maria is available on the web. He was also the first Pope to be filmed on the motion picture camera. He was filmed by its inventor, W. K. Dickson, and blessed the camera afterward.Leo XIII brought normalcy back to the Church after the tumultuous years of Pius IX. Leo's intellectual and diplomatic skills helped regain much of the prestige lost with the fall of the Papal States. He tried to reconcile the Church with the working class, particularly by dealing with the social changes that were sweeping Europe. The new economic order had resulted in the growth of an impoverished working class, with increasing anti-clerical and socialist sympathies. Leo helped reverse this trend.Under Otto von Bismarck, the anti-Catholic kulturkampf in Germany led to massive reprisals against the Church. Under Leo, the anti-Catholic measures subsided. The Centre Party in Germany was largely a Catholic creation and was a positive force for social change. It was encouraged by Leo's support for social welfare legislation and the rights of working people. Leo's forward-looking approach encouraged Catholic Action in other European countries where the social teachings of the Church were incorporated into the agenda of Catholic parties, particularly the Christian Democratic Parties, which became an acceptable alternative to socialist parties. Leo's social teachings were reiterated throughout the 20th century by his successors.While Leo was no radical in theology or politics, his papacy did move the Church back to the mainstream of European life. Considered a great diplomat, he managed to improve relations with Russia, Prussia, German France, England and other countries. However, in light of a hostile anti-Catholic climate in Italy, he continued the policies of Pius IX towards Italy, without major modifications. He had to defend the freedom of the Church against Italian persecutions and attacks in the area of education, expropriation and violation of Catholic Churches, legal measures against the Church and brutal attacks, culminating in anticlerical groups attempting to throw the body of the deceased Pope Pius IX into the Tiber River on 13 July 1881. The Pope even considered moving his residence to Trieste or Salzburg, two cities in Austria, an idea which the Austrian monarch Franz Josef I gently rejected.During the Fifth cholera pandemic in 1891 he ordered the construction of a hospice inside the Vatican. That building would be torn down in 1996 to make way for construction of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. His favourite poets were Virgil and Dante.
Relations with the United Kingdom and the Americas
Among the activities of Leo XIII that were important for the English-speaking world, the encyclical Apostolicæ Curæ of 1896 on the non-validity of the Anglican orders stand out as highly significant. Furthermore, Leo restored the Scottish hierarchy in 1878. In British India, he established a Catholic hierarchy in 1886, and regulated some long-standing conflicts with the Portuguese authorities.The United States at many moments in time attracted the attention and admiration of Pope Leo. He confirmed the decrees of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884), and raised to the cardinalate Archbishop Gibbons of that city in 1886. His role in South America will also be remembered, especially the pontifical benediction extended over Chilean troops on the eve of the Battle of Chorrillos during the War of the Pacific in January 1881. The Chilean soldiers thus blessed then looted the cities of Chorrillos and Barranco, including the churches, and their Chaplains headed the robbery at the Biblioteca Nacional del Perú, where the soldiers ransacked various items along with much capital, and Chilean Priests coveted rare and ancient editions of the Bible that were stored there. Despite this, one year later Chilean President Domingo Santa Marìa issued the Laicist Laws, which separated the Church from the State, this being considered a slap in the face for the Papacy. Pope Leo is also remembered for the First Plenary Council of Latin America held at Rome in 1899, and his encyclical of 1888 to the bishops of Brazil on the abolition of slavery.One of the Papal Tiaras given to Pope Leo XIII during his reign. American newspapers criticized Pope Leo because they claimed that he was attempting to gain control of American public schools. One cartoonist drew Leo as a fox unable to reach grapes that were labelled for American schools; the caption read "Sour grapes!"
John Henry Newman was raised into the College of Cardinals by Pope Leo XIII.Leo XIII is credited with great efforts in the areas of scientific and historical analysis. He opened the Vatican Archives and personally fostered a twenty-volume comprehensive scientific study of the Papacy by Ludwig von Pastor, an Austrian historian. He entrusted the Dominican order with a text critical edition of the collective works of Thomas Aquinas, and furthered the career of noted scholars like Franz Ehrle and John Henry Newman, whom he elevated to the College of Cardinals. He founded the Catholic University of America in 1889.His 1899 apostolic letter Testem Benevolentiae condemned Americanism, an alleged American modernistic view holding that the teachings of the Church must be adapted to American society. Leo condemned the views that Catholic dogmas, which seemed to be contrary to the American experience, should be left out, and that natural virtues are more important than supernatural ones. American bishops led by Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore thanked him and expressed gratitude for setting the record straight. Gibbons, however, pointed out that no Catholic in the United States held those views.
When, at the end of the pontificate of Leo XIII in 1903, the papacy had regained much of its prestige and authority, his theological teachings were given much credit.
H.E. Cardinal John Henry Newman was Beatified in the year 2010 by His Holiness; Pope Benedict XVI in England.