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Rerum Novarum 130 Years on The Future of the World of Work

Wednesday 5th - Saturday 8th May 2021
Online via Zoom

Hosted by the Cluster for Catholic Public Initiatives and Global Service and supported by the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain, the Centre for Catholic Social Thought and Practice, The Pastoral Review and The Tablet

That’s Pope Leo XIII – he was a great friend of the working class Angela’s Ashes

In May 1891 Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical with the Latin title Rerum Novarum, the first papal document to address the issue of the plight of industrial workers. The letter was a key stage in the development of Catholic Social Teaching. This international conference will look at the theology and historical background of what Pope Leo wrote and assess its continuing importance. The letter shows the Catholic community beginning to engage with the ‘world of work’, and this tradition has developed so much in the last 130 years; the conference will also look at these changes.

The conference began to be planned in December 2019, but the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our understanding of work and leisure have been enormous. Whilst we are only beginning to assess them, the conference will also look at these effects, and the future of work from both local and worldwide perspectives.

St Mary’s University runs the only full Masters degree in Catholic Social Teaching in western Europe and this conference will contribute to the life of the degree programme. The conference participants include academics, practitioners in the field of social justice, figures in public life, writers and also academics from Notre Dame University Australia, the Institute Catholique de Paris, the Catholic University of Leuven, the Catholic University of Portugal, Notre Dame University in Indiana, the St Philip Institute in Texas and Los Andes University in Chile. The conference is also supported by the Centre for Catholic Social Thought and Practice and the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain.

When this conference was first planned in December 2019, it was expected to be a full-scale residential event on the University campus. Sadly, because of COVID-19 restrictions, this is not possible and the conference will be conducted online through lectures, webinars and panel discussions. The conference is open to all and there will be no charge for registration or participation. It is hoped that proceedings will be published in due course.


To register in advance please contact the Revd Dr Ashley Beck:


4.30pm: Welcome session

  • Anthony McClaran (Vice-Chancellor)
  • Bishop Richard Moth
  • Ashley Beck

9-10.30am (BST): The Importance of Rerum Novarum

Chair: Stephen Bullivant

  • Adrian Brown, with Renee Kohler Ryan
    Solidarism: The political-economy of small deeds, or, Economics as if God mattered
  • Matthew Tan
    The ‘social’ in Catholic Social Teaching
  • Iain Benson
    Rerum Novaurm, distributism and subsidiarity

11am-1pm (BST): The Historical and Theological Background of Rerum Novarum

Chair: John Charmley

  • Clifford Longley
    The Immediate History behind Rerum Nova-rum
  • Russell Sparkes
    Reaching Out to the Modern World – how Cardinal Manning shaped Rerum Novarum
  • Richard Finn OP
    Fr Vincent McNabb and the early reception of Rerum Novarum
  • Ashley Beck
    The influence on Rerum Novarum of Cardinal James Gibbons

4-6pm (BST): The History and influences behind Rerum Novarum

Chair: Peter Tyler

  • Anthony Towey
    Work in the Bible
  • Helen Costigane SHCJ
    The Ethical background of Rerum Novarum
  • Jeremy Pilch
    Rerum Novarum, Solov’ev and Russian Orthodox thought

9-11am (BST): Aspects of the Theology of Rerum Novarum

Chair: Ruth Kelly

  • Ellen van Stichel
    Is the ‘social question’ a matter of charity or justice? The strength and ambivalence in LeoXIII’s response.
  • Edward Hadas
    The place of private property in Rerum Novarum
  • Bernard Bourdin OP
    Political conservatism and social reformism in Rerum Novarum
  • Malcolm Brown
    Rerum Novarum and Anglican Social Thought

11.30am-1.30pm (BST): The Future of the World of Work

Chair: Peter Hill

  • Will Hutton
    World of Work, Economics, Europe
  • Matthew Taylor
    The Future of the World of Work
  • Ian Linden
    Workers’ rights in the Developing World

4-6pm (BST): Some aspects of the influence of Rerum Novarum

Chair: Ashley Beck

  • Philip Booth
    Property: Rerum Novarum to Laudato Si’
  • Luke Arredondo
    Rerum Novarum and 20th century theology
  • Mattias Petersen
    Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno

9-10.30am (BST): The wider influence of Rerum Novarum

Chair: Anthony Towey

  • Thomas O’Loughlin
    Rerum Novarum and Sustainable Development
  • Bishop William Kenney CP
    Rerum Novarum as a Vision for Europe

11am-1pm (BST): Work, leisure and business

Chair: Ashley Beck

  • Tina Beattie
    Resting in Creation - Gleanings and Gatherings
  • Charles Wookey
    Social teaching principles and the world of business
  • Maria Exall
    The current state of working conditions
  • Dermot Tredget
    Otia Sancta in the Early Church and its application to a contemporary spirituality of leisure

2-4pm (BST): The abiding influence of Rerum Novarum

Chair: Ashley Beck

  • Clemens Sedmak
    Rerum Novarum and a Just wage
  • Austen Ivereigh
    Pope Francis’s call for a Basic Income: is UBI the new ‘just wage’?
  • Mary McAleese
    Rerum Novarum and Human Rights
  • Christopher Lamb
    Catholic Social Teaching and Pope Francis
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Wednesday 5th - Saturday 8th May 2021
Online via Zoom

Find out more

For more information about this event please contact Revd Dr Ashley Beck (Senior Lecturer - Pastoral Ministry):
Tel: 020 8240 2358

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