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Centesimus Annus


Written in 1991 on the occasion of the 100-year anniversary of Leo XIII's ground-breaking social encyclical Rerum Novarum, John Paul II's Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year) brought the principles of Catholic social teaching to bear on contemporaneous political and economic issues. It emphasizes the dignity and rights of workers, the right to private property, the right to a just wage, and the right to religious freedom. It also articulates that the kingdom of God cannot be confused with temporal political or economic arrangements and seeks to explicate the two over-riding principles of the Church's social teaching: solidarity (which focuses on empathy and human dignity), and subsidiarity (the principle that communities of a higher order should not interfere in the life of communities of a lower order unless necessary). The encyclical is made up of six sections: "Characteristics of Rerum Novarum," "Towards the 'New Things' of Today," "The Year 1989," "Private Property and the Universal Destination of Material Goods," "State and Culture," and "Man Is the Way of the Church."