Beloved co-laborers: A leadership framework from leo xiii's writings on the dignity of labor

Henry Joseph Davis, Fordham University


Many sources identified 19th-century Pope Leo XIII as one of the fathers of modern-day Roman Catholic social teachings. Throughout his church leadership life, Leo authored pastoral and encyclical letters on topics addressing the dignity of labor. In this historical analysis study, the objective was to code Leo's 1877-1878 Lenten Pastoral Letters, his labor encyclical Rerum Novarum, and the Rerum-inspired Graves de Communi Re to extract major recurring themes on the importance of working-class labor and the inherent worth of all human beings. The purpose of this study was to consider the leadership of Pope Leo XIII on the dignity of labor through a historical analysis of his writings. The goal was to bring about social change between managers and employees. The results from the analysis stage indicated five prevalent themes emerged from Leo's selected writings: the natural rights of man via God's natural law, love and Christian charity, Jesus Christ as divine model for laborers and leaders, labor as a practical and moral way of life, and the responsibility of authority's to dignity and labor. From the themes, a series of questions emerged to form a leadership framework for decision-making. The internal questions derived from the themes may offer Catholic leaders an ethical foundation for formulating leadership actions while remaining truthful to their faith tradition, to create a collaborative environment with employees, and to increase servant-based leadership attitudes comparable to the Gospel Christ.

Subject Area

Religious history|Educational leadership|Labor relations

Recommended Citation

Davis, Henry Joseph, "Beloved co-laborers: A leadership framework from leo xiii's writings on the dignity of labor" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3616851.