Role of The Catholic Church in Western Civilization - Social Justice, Care-giving, and The Hospital System - Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution

Further information: Liberation theology

The Industrial Revolution brought many concerns about the deteriorating working and living conditions of urban workers. Influenced by the German Bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel Freiherr von Ketteler, in 1891 Pope Leo XIII published the encyclical Rerum Novarum, which set in context Catholic social teaching in terms that rejected socialism but advocated the regulation of working conditions. Rerum Novarum argued for the establishment of a living wage and the right of workers to form trade unions.

Quadragesimo Anno was issued by Pope Pius XI, on 15 May 1931, 40 years after Rerum Novarum. Unlike Leo, who addressed mainly the condition of workers, Pius XI concentrated on the ethical implications of the social and economic order. He called for the reconstruction of the social order based on the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity. He noted major dangers for human freedom and dignity, arising from unrestrained capitalism and totalitarian communism.

The social teachings of Pope Pius XII repeat these teachings, and apply them in greater detail not only to workers and owners of capital, but also to other professions such as politicians, educators, house-wives, farmers bookkeepers, international organizations, and all aspects of life including the military. Going beyond Pius XI, he also defined social teachings in the areas of medicine, psychology, sport, TV, science, law and education. Pius Xii was called "the Pope of Technology, for his willingness and ability to examine the social implications of technological advances. The dominant concern was the continued rights and dignity of the individual. With the beginning of the space age at the end of his pontificate, Pius XII explored the social implications of space exploration and satellites on the social fabric of humanity asking for a new sense of community and solidarity in light of existing papal teachings on subsidiarity.

In Western nations, governments have increasingly taken up funding and organisation of health services for the poor but the Church still maintains a massive network of health care providers across the world. In the West, these institutions are increasingly run by lay-people after centuries of being run by priests, nuns and brothers, In 2009, Catholic hospitals in the USA received approximately one of every six patients, according to the Catholic Health Association. Catholic Health Australia is the largest non-government provider grouping of health, community and aged care services, representing about 10% of the health sector. In 1968, nuns or priests were the chief executives of 770 of America's 796 Catholic hospitals. By 2011, they presided over 8 of 636 hospitals.

As with schooling, women have played a vital role in running and staffing Catholic care institutions - through religious institutes like the Sisters of Mercy, Little Sisters of the Poor and Sisters of St. Mary - and teaching and nursing have been seen as "women's vocations". Seeking to define the role played by religious in hospitals through American history, the New York Times noted that nuns were trained to "see Jesus in the face of every patient" and that:

Although their influence is often described as intangible, the nuns kept their hospitals focused on serving the needy and brought a spiritual reassurance that healing would prevail over profit, authorities on Catholic health care say.

Read more about this topic:  Role Of The Catholic Church In Western Civilization, Social Justice, Care-giving, and The Hospital System

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