4 thoughts on ““Laudato Si’” and Its Preferential Option for the Poor: another world is possible (Part One)”

  1. Northern Europe has a long tradition of socially responsible leadership. Bismarck was a few years ahead of the Pope and his encyclical, according to this Social Security website:


    “Germany became the first nation in the world to adopt an old-age social insurance program in 1889, designed by Germany’s Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. The idea was first put forward, at Bismarck’s behest, in 1881 by Germany’s Emperor, William the First, in a ground-breaking letter to the German Parliament. William wrote: “. . .those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state.”

    ….Despite his impeccable right-wing credentials, Bismarck would be called a socialist for introducing these programs… In his own speech to the Reichstag during the 1881 debates, Bismarck would reply: “Call it socialism or whatever you like. It is the same to me.”

    Centralized government programs can produce remarkable prosperity and a very high standard of living, as happened in Germany. There can also be downsides to consider: if/when unworthy people take the reins of government,

    (a) the trusting population has developed a normalcy bias and assumes that the government always has their best interests in mind;

    (b) these extremely valuable benefits become power tools of a malignant government. Your job, children, education, healthcare, disability, retirement etc. can all be taken away by your government if you do not submit — even if your conscience tells you that your government is violating ethics.


  2. From Mike’s link about *Rerum Novarum*, there are further interesting links that describe the work of one of the major influences on that encyclical: Bishop Ketteler. Thanks Mike, I did not know about Kettler/Ketteler before reading your post.


    “WILHELM EMMANUEL FREIHERR VON KETTELER (1811-1877) made his national debut in 1848, and in the following decades became the leading Catholic social thinker in Germany….

    Ketteler’s social thought had a profound impact on Pope Leo XIII and his encyclical Rerum novarum which laid the foundation of modern Catholic social teaching.– Rolf Weber(edited by Eric Yonke) “


  3. There’s much more from that link about Ketteler’s history, but it could get too long for one post:

    “…In 1848, Father Ketteler was elected to the Frankfurt national assembly. In Frankfurt he joined the Catholic club, whose members were trying to utilize the democratic rights and freedoms to strengthen the influence of the Catholic church and to enshrine freedom of the church in any future constitution of the Reich. Ketteler…rejected the aims of the progressive, liberal and democratic camps and advocated a greater Germany under the Hapsburg monarchy…

    “…Ketteler’s speeches and sermons in 1848 were the prelude to the Catholic-social movement in modern Germany, known as Social Catholicism…the effects of his endeavors for the social question during the revolutiona and the following years were considerable.

    “In January 1849, with the failure to establish a greater Germany under Austrian leadership, the Catholic Club dissolved and Ketteler left Frankfurt to become provost in Berlin. He was later elected Bishop of Mainz, due to the direct interference of the Roman Curia. As bishop, he began his career as a prominent figure in political Catholicism, in the course of which he became the most important German Catholic social reformer of the nineteenth century.

    “After the onset of workers’ agitation led by Ferdinand Lassalle, Ketteler again took up the social question and in 1864 published his programmatic study The Workers’ Question and Christianity. From then on he displayed greater socio-political versatility in discussions with liberals and socialist workers, espousing workers’ rights and legislation to protect the trade union movement.”


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