In addition to Mater et Magistra (1961), this year marks the anniversary of Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum” (1891), the Church’s first major social encyclical, Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno (1931), Paul VI’s apostolic letter Octogesima Adveniens (1971), and John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens (1981) and Centesimus Annus (1991).
Other documents pertaining to the Church’s social doctrine include a speech by Pius XII broadcast on radio on Pentecost in 1941 concerning the disposition of property, work and the family, and an address in Terni (Italy) made by John Paul II in 1981 to an assembly of the workers and managers at the Terni Steel Mills on the fight for justice and not against man.
Sadly, the Church’s social doctrine has failed to create a strong link between faith and practice, said Fr Reid Shelton Fernando, from the Diocese of Colombo.
“The dignity of human life has always been a key concern for the Church’ social doctrine,” the priest said. “However, Christian business people and politicians have ignored its principles around the world. I appeal to the faithful to play an active role in bearing Christian witness in their daily life.”