In 1818, when only 8 years old, Gioacchino Pecci began his studies with the Jesuits at a school in Italy. Seventy-three years later, as Pope Leo XIII, he published Rerum Novarum, an encyclical letter simultaneously defending the rights of working people and private property.
As this pope saw it, they were inseparable.
“It is surely undeniable that, when a man engages in remunerative labor, the impelling reason and motive for his work is to obtain property, and thereafter to hold it as his own,” he wrote.
“If one man hires out to another his strength or his skill, he does so for the purpose of receiving in return what is necessary for the satisfaction of his needs; he therefore expressly intends to acquire a right full and real, not only to the remuneration, but also to the disposal of that remuneration, just as he pleases,” he said.
“Thus, if he lives sparingly, saves money, and, for greater security, invests his savings in land, the land, in such case, is only his wages in another form,” said this pope, “and, consequently, a working man’s little estate thus purchased should be as completely at his full disposal as are the wages he receives for his labor.”
So what was the first great threat this pope saw to the thrifty working man and his hard-earned property? Socialists.